Dr Sophie Fauset

Dr Sophie Fauset

Associate Professor in Terrestrial Ecology

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Dr Sophie Fauset can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Climate change
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Tropical forests
  • Trees
  • Amazon forest
  • African forests
  • Rainforest
  • Carbon cycle


Lecturer (Teaching and Research) in Environmental Science. 


2022 Apprenticeship in Academic Practice, University of Plymouth, UK.
2020 Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP). University of Plymouth, UK.
2012 PhD Geography. University of Leeds, UK. Thesis title - 'Two decades of change in Ghanaian forests: the impacts of three potential threats to tropical forest structure and composition'.
2008 BSc (Hons) Biology with a Year in Research/Industry. Imperial College London, UK.

Employment history:
2018-present Lecturer, University of Plymouth, UK.
2016-2018 Research Fellow, University of Leeds, UK.
2015 Post-Doctoral Fellowship, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil.
2012-2014 Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, University of Leeds. UK.

Professional membership

British Ecological Society
Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

Roles on external bodies

Associate Editor - Frontiers in Forests and Global Change (Tropical Forests)
Associate Editor - Food and Energy Security (past)



Teaching interests

I teach on the BSc (Hons) Environment Science, BSc (Hons) Environmental Management and Sustainability, and BSc/BA (Hons) Geography. I also supervise projects for undergraduate and postgraduate students. My teaching areas are in ecology, conservation and statistical analysis. I try to embed examples from my own research and the scientific literature into my materials.

ENVS1009 - Sustainability Science (module leader)
ENVS1003 - The Biosphere
ENVS/M2002 - Environmental Expedition
GGP3204 - Biological Conservation (module leader)
Stage 4 tutor



Research interests

My research interests are in the response of forests to global change, including the impacts of climate change, increasing carbon dioxide, and forest degradation. I have experience in tropical forest ecology, ecophysiology and ecosystem modelling. My current broad goal is to use plant functional traits to understand physiological responses of tree and forests to environmental change. A particular focus at present is how different species of tree maintain leaf temperatures, and the impacts of climate change on leaf functioning.

Recent news stories:

Research groups

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

  • William Hagan Brown - PhD commenced 2021 - University of Plymouth (director of studies)
  • Kate Vogiatzis - PhD commenced 2019 - University of Plymouth (director of studies)
  • Igor Araujo - MSc completed 2020 - State University of Mato Grosso (external collaborator)
  • Rakesh Tiwari - PhD completed 2019 - University of Leeds (co-supervisor)

Grants & contracts

2022 £800k Standard Grant - NERC. Led by Dr Lina Mercado, University of Exeter.
2021 ARIES (NERC) DTP PhD Scholarship awarded to William Hagan Brown
2020 £100k Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund - NERC. Networking project with multiple partners in the UK and internationally.
2020 £47k Global Challenge Research Fund. Collaborative project with Dr Shalom Addo-Danso, CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana.
2020 £8.9k Research grant - Seale Hayne Educational Trust. Collaboration with Dr Hail Rihan, University of Plymouth.
2020 £6.5k International Exchanges - Royal Society. Collaborative project with Dr Shalom Addo-Danso, CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana.
2019 £5.5k Presidents International Fellowship Initiative - Chinese Academy of Sciences. Visiting Scientist at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden, collaborating with Dr Hua Lin. 
2019 University Research Scholarship awarded to Kate Vogiatzis
2015 £22k Post-Doctoral Fellowship - FAPESP (Sao Paulo Research Foundation) covering salary and research expenses.



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Cooper DLM, Lewis SL, Sullivan MJP, Prado PI, ter Steege H, Barbier N, Slik F, Sonké B, Ewango CEN & Adu-Bredu S (2024) 'Consistent patterns of common species across tropical tree communities' Nature , DOI Open access
Zhou Y, Kitudom N, Fauset S, Slot M, Fan Z, Wang J, Liu W & Lin H (2023) 'Leaf thermal regulation strategies of canopy species across four vegetation types along a temperature and precipitation gradient' Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 343, , DOI Open access
Doughty CE, Keany JM, Wiebe BC, Rey-Sanchez C, Carter KR, Middleby KB, Cheesman AW, Goulden ML, da Rocha HR & Miller SD (2023) 'Tropical forests are approaching critical temperature thresholds' Nature 621, (7977) 105-111 , DOI Open access
Sousa TR, Schietti J, Ribeiro IO, Emílio T, Fernández RH, ter Steege H, Castilho CV, Esquivel-Muelbert A, Baker T & Pontes-Lopes A (2022) 'Water table depth modulates productivity and biomass across Amazonian forests' Global Ecology and Biogeography 31, (8) 1571-1588 , DOI Open access
Kitudom N, Fauset S, Zhou Y, Fan Z, Li M, He M, Zhang S, Xu K & Lin H (2021) 'Thermal safety margins of plant leaves across biomes under a heatwave' Science of The Total Environment 806, , DOI Open access
ForestPlots.net, Blundo C, Carilla J, Grau R, Malizia A, Malizia L, Osinaga-Acosta O, Bird M, Bradford M & Catchpole D (2021) 'Taking the pulse of Earth's tropical forests using networks of highly distributed plots' Biological Conservation 260, , DOI Open access
Araújo I, Marimon BS, Scalon MC, Cruz WJA, Fauset S, Vieira TCS, Galbraith DR & Gloor MU (2021) 'Intraspecific variation in leaf traits facilitates the occurrence of trees at the Amazonia–Cerrado transition' Flora 279, , DOI Open access
Draper FC, Costa FRC, Arellano G, Phillips OL, Duque A, Macía MJ, ter Steege H, Asner GP, Berenguer E & Schietti J (2021) 'Amazon tree dominance across forest strata' Nature Ecology & Evolution 5, (6) 757-767 , DOI Open access
Araújo I, Marimon BS, Scalon MC, Fauset S, Marimon Junior BH, Tiwari R, Galbraith DR & Gloor MU (2021) 'Trees at the Amazonia-Cerrado transition are approaching high temperature thresholds' Environmental Research Letters 16, (3) , DOI Open access
Esquivel-Muelbert A, Phillips OL, Brienen RJW, Fauset S, Sullivan MJP, Baker TR, Chao K-J, Feldpausch TR, Gloor E & Higuchi N (2021) 'Author Correction: Tree mode of death and mortality risk factors across Amazon forests' Nature Communications 12, (1) , DOI
Esquivel-Muelbert A, Phillips OL, Brienen RJW, Fauset S, Sullivan MJP, Baker TR, Chao K-J, Feldpausch TR, Gloor E & Higuchi N (2020) 'Tree mode of death and mortality risk factors across Amazon forests' Nature Communications 11, (1) , DOI Open access
Reis SM, Marimon BS, Morandi PS, Elias F, Esquivel-Muelbert A, Marimon Junior BH, Fauset S, Oliveira EA, Heijden GMF & Galbraith D (2020) 'Causes and consequences of liana infestation in southern Amazonia' Journal of Ecology 108, (6) 2184-2197 , DOI Open access
Muscarella R, Emilio T, Phillips OL, Lewis SL, Slik F, Baker WJ, Couvreur TLP, Eiserhardt WL, Svenning J & Affum-Baffoe K (2020) 'The global abundance of tree palms' Global Ecology and Biogeography 29, (9) 1495-1514 , DOI Open access
Aguirre-Gutiérrez J, Malhi Y, Lewis SL, Fauset S, Adu-Bredu S, Affum-Baffoe K, Baker TR, Gvozdevaite A, Hubau W & Moore S (2020) 'Long-term droughts may drive drier tropical forests towards increased functional, taxonomic and phylogenetic homogeneity' Nature Communications 11, (1) , DOI Open access
Sullivan MJP, Lewis SL, Affum-Baffoe K, Castilho C, Costa F, Sanchez AC, Ewango CEN, Hubau W, Marimon B & Monteagudo-Mendoza A (2020) 'Long-term thermal sensitivity of Earth’s tropical forests' Science 368, (6493) 869-874 , DOI Open access
Rozendaal DMA, Phillips OL, Lewis SL, Affum-Baffoe K, Alvarez-Davila E, Andrade A, Aragão LEOC, Araujo-Murakami A, Baker TR & Bánki O (2020) 'Competition influences tree growth, but not mortality, across environmental gradients in Amazonia and tropical Africa' Ecology , DOI Open access
Tiwari R, Gloor E, Cruz WJA, Schwantes Marimon B, Marimon-Junior BH, Reis SM, Souza IA, Krause HG, Slot M & Winter K (2020) 'Photosynthetic quantum efficiency in south‐eastern Amazonian trees may be already affected by climate change' Plant, Cell & Environment , DOI Open access
Hubau W, Lewis SL, Phillips OL, Affum-Baffoe K, Beeckman H, Cuní-Sanchez A, Daniels AK, Ewango CEN, Fauset S & Mukinzi JM (2020) 'Asynchronous carbon sink saturation in African and Amazonian tropical forests' Nature 579, (7797) 80-87 , DOI Open access
Esquivel-Muelbert, Bennett, Sullivan, Baker, Gavish, Johnson, Wang, Chambers-Ostler, Giannichi & Gomes (2019) 'A Spatial and Temporal Risk Assessment of the Impacts of El Niño on the Tropical Forest Carbon Cycle: Theoretical Framework, Scenarios, and Implications' Atmosphere 10, (10) 588-588 , DOI Open access
Fauset S, Gloor M, Fyllas NM, Phillips OL, Asner GP, Baker TR, Patrick Bentley L, Brienen RJW, Christoffersen BO & del Aguila-Pasquel J (2019) 'Individual-Based Modeling of Amazon Forests Suggests That Climate Controls Productivity While Traits Control Demography' Frontiers in Earth Science 7, , DOI Open access
Aguirre-Gutierrez J, Oliveras I, Rifai S, Fauset S, Adu-Bredu S, Affum-Baffoe K, Baker T, Feldpausch T, Gvozdevaite A & Hubau W (2019) 'Drier tropical forests are susceptible to functional changes in response to a long-term drought' Ecology Letters 22, (5) 855-865 , DOI Open access
Esquivel-Muelbert A, Baker TR, Dexter KG, Lewis SL, Brienen RJW, Feldpausch TR, Lloyd J, Monteagudo-Mendoza A, Arroyo L & Álvarez-Dávila E (2018) 'Compositional response of Amazon forests to climate change' Global Change Biology Author Site , DOI Open access
Fauset S, Oliveira L, Buckeridge M, Foyer C, Galbraith D, Rakesh T & Gloor M (2018) 'Contrasting responses of stomatal conductance and photosynthetic capacity to warming and elevated CO2 in the tropical tree species Alchornea glandulosa under heatwave conditions' Environmental and Experimental Botany , DOI Open access
Fauset S, Freitas HC, Galbraith DR, Sullivan MJP, Aidar MPM, Joly CA, Phillips OL, Vieira SA & Gloor MU (2018) 'Differences in leaf thermoregulation and water use strategies between three co-occurring Atlantic forest tree species' Plant, Cell and Environment 41, (7) 1618-1631 , DOI Open access
Fauset S, Gloor MU, Aidar MPM, Freitas HC, Fyllas NM, Marabesi MA, Rochelle ALC, Shenkin A, Vieira SA & Joly CA (2017) 'Tropical forest light regimes in a human-modified landscape' Ecosphere 8, (11) e02002-e02002 , DOI Open access
Phillips OL & Brienen RJW (2017) 'Carbon uptake by mature Amazon forests has mitigated Amazon nations’ carbon emissions' Carbon Balance and Management 12, (1) 31-41 , DOI
Sullivan MJP, Talbot J, Lewis SL, Phillips OL, Qie L, Begne SK, Chave J, Cuni-Sanchez A, Hubau W & Lopez-Gonzalez G (2017) 'Diversity and carbon storage across the tropical forest biome' Scientific Reports 7, (0) 0-0 , DOI Open access
Christoffersen BO, Gloor M, Fauset S, Fyllas NM, Galbraith DR, Baker TR, Kruijt B, Rowland L, Fisher RA & Binks OJ (2016) 'Linking hydraulic traits to tropical forest function in a size-structured and trait-driven model (TFS v.1-Hydro)' Geoscientific Model Development 9, (11) 4227-4255 , DOI Open access
Johnson MO, Galbraith D, Gloor M, De Deurwaerder H, Guimberteau M, Rammig A, Thonicke K, Verbeeck H, von Randow C & Monteagudo A (2016) 'Variation in stem mortality rates determines patterns of above‐ground biomass in <scp>A</scp>mazonian forests: implications for dynamic global vegetation models' Global Change Biology 22, (12) 3996-4013 , DOI Open access
Feldpausch TR, Phillips OL, Brienen RJW, Gloor E, Lloyd J, Lopez-Gonzalez G, Monteagudo-Mendoza A, Malhi Y, Alarcón A & Álvarez Dávila E (2016) 'Amazon forest response to repeated droughts' Global Biogeochemical Cycles 30, (7) 964-982 , DOI Open access
Tymen B, Réjou-Méchain M, Dalling JW, Fauset S, Feldpausch TR, Norden N, Phillips OL, Turner BL, Viers J & Chave J (2015) 'Evidence for arrested succession in a liana‐infested Amazonian forest' Journal of Ecology 104, (1) 149-159 , DOI
Réjou-Méchain M, Tymen B, Blanc L, Fauset S, Feldpausch TR, Monteagudo A, Phillips OL, Richard H & Chave J (2015) 'Using repeated small-footprint LiDAR acquisitions to infer spatial and temporal variations of a high-biomass Neotropical forest' Remote Sensing of Environment 169, 93-101 , DOI
Dexter KG, Smart B, Baldauf C, Baker TR, Balinga MPB, Brienen RJW, Fauset S, Feldpausch TR, Silva LF-D & Muledi JI (2015) 'Floristics and biogeography of vegetation in seasonally dry tropical regions' International Forestry Review 17, (2) 10-32 , DOI
Fauset S, Johnson MO, Gloor M, Baker TR, Monteagudo M. A, Brienen RJW, Feldpausch TR, Lopez-Gonzalez G, Malhi Y & ter Steege H (2015) 'Hyperdominance in Amazonian forest carbon cycling' Nature Communications 6, (0) 0-0 , DOI Open access
Brienen RJW, Phillips OL, Feldpausch TR, Gloor E, Baker TR, Lloyd J, Lopez-Gonzalez G, Monteagudo-Mendoza A, Malhi Y & Lewis SL (2015) 'Long-term decline of the Amazon carbon sink' Nature 519, (7543) 344-348 , DOI
Lewis SL, Sonké B, Sunderland T, Begne SK, Lopez-Gonzalez G, van der Heijden GMF, Phillips OL, Affum-Baffoe K, Baker TR & Banin L (2013) 'Above-ground biomass and structure of 260 African tropical forests' Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 368, (1625) 20120295-20120295 , DOI Open access
Fauset S, Baker TR, Lewis SL, Feldpausch TR, Affum-Baffoe K, Foli EG, Hamer KC & Swaine MD (2012) 'Drought‐induced shifts in the floristic and functional composition of tropical forests in Ghana' Ecology Letters 15, (10) 1120-1129 , DOI
Parmentier I, Harrigan RJ, Buermann W, Mitchard ETA, Saatchi S, Malhi Y, Bongers F, Hawthorne WD, Leal ME & Lewis SL (2011) 'Predicting alpha diversity of African rain forests: models based on climate and satellite-derived data do not perform better than a purely spatial model' Journal of Biogeography 38, (6) 1164-1176 , DOI
Kruijt B, Meir P, Johnson M, Rammig A, Fauset S, Baker T, Galbraith D, von Randow C & Verbeeck H (2016) 'Modelling Amazonian Carbon Budgets and Vegetation Dynamics in a Changing Climate' Ecological Studies Springer Berlin Heidelberg 331-366 , DOI