Twitter @CanopySEE

Academic and research interests

Forest canopies create complex heterogeneous environments supporting multiple species. I research how canopies are formed by the sunlight they receive and take information from that sunlight to enact changes in the optical properties of leaves of their contingent species. This knowledge allows us to better model photosynthesis and ecosystem processes in forests and to gain a deeper understanding of their ecology. It can also be applied to improve crop selection and productivity and to assess how stable vs fluctuating experimental conditions affect plant performance.

Research supervision

I supervise post-doctoral, doctoral and masters students studying the effects of the spectral composition of sunlight in forest canopies and understorey on trees, understorey plants and decomposing litter. I also supervise students funded by the Norwegian Research Council looking for paleoecological pollen proxies to trace long-term trends in global solar UV radiation. 

I also supervise final year undergraduates in Woodland Ecology and Conservation at the University of Cumbria studying diverse topics including: woodland soil carbon sequestration, pollinator respose to mowing, and the effects of biotic/abiotic stressors on aspens.



  1. Wang Q-W*, Pieristè M*, Kotilainen TK, Forey E, Chauvat M, Kurokawa H, Robson TM, Jones AG. (2022) The crucial role of blue light as a driver of litter photodegradation in terrestrial ecosystems. Accepted in Plant & Soil Submitted 20/02/2022, Accepted 19/06/2022.
  2. Brelsford CC, Trasser M, Paris T, Hartikainen SM, Robson TM. (2022) Understorey light quality influences leaf pigments and leaf phenology in different plant functional types. Physiologia Plantarum Submitted 27-10-2021, Resubmit 22/12/2021, Accepted 23/05/2022. 174( 3), e13723.
  3. Durand M, Stangl ZR, Salmon Y, Burgess AJ, Murchie EH, and RobsonTM. (2022) Sunflecks in the upper canopy: dynamics of light-use efficiency in sun and shade leaves of Fagus sylvatica. New Phytologist. 235:1365–1378. Major Revision 04/03/2022, Accepted 08/05/2022.
  4. Pieristè M, Hartikainen SM, Jones AG, Kotilainen TK, Peltonen AM, Loehr JA, Robson TM (2022) Practical activities promoting engagement in research into forest ecology. Citizen Science Theory and Practice. 7(1): 27, pp. 1–15. DOI: Submitted 12/07/2021, revisions 23/03/2022, accepted 12/04/2022.
  5. Solanki T, García Plazaola JI, Robson TM*, Fernandez-Marin B* (2022) Comparative Assessment of Changes in Leaf Transmittance in Alpine Plant Species Following Freezing. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences. Submitted 11/10/2021, Major revision 23/12/2021. Resubmitted 17/01/2022. Accepted 10/02/2022
  6. Barnes PW, Robson TM, Neale PJ, Williamson CE, Zepp RG, Madronich S, Wilson SR, Andrady AL, Heikkilä AM, Bernhard GH, Bais AF, Neale RE, Bornman JF, Jansen MAK, Klekociuk AR, Martinez-Abaigar J, Robinson SA, Wang Q-W, Banaszak AT, Häder D-P, Hylander S, Rose KC, Wängberg S-Å, Foereid B, Hou W-C, Ossola R, Paul ND, Ukpebor JE, Andersen MPS, Longstreth J, Schikowski T, Solomon KR, Sulzberger B, Bruckman LS, Pandey KK, White CC, Zhu L, Zhu M, Aucamp PJ, Liley JB, McKenzie RL, Berwick M, Byrne SN, Hollestein LM, Lucas RM, Olsen CM, Rhodes LE, Yazar S, Young AR. (2022) Environmental effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation, and interactions with climate change: UNEP Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, Update 2021. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, Submitted 18/11/2021. Accepted 10/02/2022.
  7. Robson TM, Pieristè M, Durand M, Kotilainen TK, Aphalo PJ. (2022) How can the spectral quality of sunlight be managed to benefit plant production. Plants People Planet. Submitted 28/08/2021. Major Revision 22/10/2021. Accepted 08/02/2022.
  8. Wang Q-W, Robson TM, Pieristè M, Kenta T, Kurokawa (2022) Photodegradation dynamics below a forest canopy. Science of the Total Environment 820 153185. Submitted 15/08/2021. Major Revision 26/10/2021, Minor Revision 11/01/2021 Accepted 24/01/2022, published 10/05/2022.
  9. Seeber J, Tasser E, Rubatscher D, Loacker I, Lavorel S, Robson TM, et al., Bahn M. (2022) Effect of land use on carbon and nitrogen pool partitioning in European mountain grasslands. Science of the Total Environment, 822, 153380 submitted 19/08/2021, Major Revision 24/11/2021, Minor Revision 05/01/2022, accepted 20/01/2022, published 20/05/2022,. STOTEN-D-21-19604R2
  10. Ribas Costa VA, Durand M, Robson TM, Porcar-Castell JA, Korpela I, Atherton J. (2022) UAS-based spherical photography for the vertical characterisation of canopy structural traits. New Phytologist Submitted 06/10/2021. Accepted 03/11/2021.
  11. Durand M, Murchie E, Lindfors A, Urban O, Aphalo PJ Robson TM (2021) Diffuse solar radiation and canopy photosynthesis in a changing environment. For Met. 311 108684 Submitted 14/03/2021, Accepted 11/10/2021.
  12. Burgess AJ, Durand M, Gibbs JA, Retkute R, Robson TM*, Murchie EH*. (2021) The effect of canopy architecture on the patterning of ‘windflecks’ within a wheat canopy. Plant Cell and Environment 44(11), 3524– 3537. Submitted 15/06/2021, minor revisions 04/08/2021, accepted 14/08/2021.
  13. Barnes PW, Bornman JF, Pandey KK, Bernhard GH, Bais AF, Neale RE, Robson TM Neale PJ, Williamson CE, Zepp RG Madronich S, Wilson SR, Andrady AL, Heikkilä AM, Robinson SA. (2021) The Success of the Montreal Protocol in reducing Interactive Effects of Stratospheric Ozone Depletion and Climate Change on the Environment. Global Change Biology, 27, 5681– 5683. Submitted 29/07/2021, accepted 10/08/2021.
  14. Wang Q-W, Liu C, Robson TM, Hikosaka K, Kurokawa H (2021) Leaf density and chemical composition explain variation in leaf mass area with spectral composition among 11 widespread forbs in a common garden. Physiologia Plantarum. 173:698–708 Submitted 14/02/2021, accepted with minor revisions 16/06/2021. Accepted 23/07/2021, published 26/07/2021.
  15. Durand M, Matule B, Burgess A, Robson TM (2021) A method to identify and measure sunfleck properties from irradiance time series of fluctuating light in agricultural crop canopies. For Met. 308-309 108554 Submitted 25/02/2021. Accepted 12/07/2021, published 03/08/2021.
  16. Robson TM, Bernhard GH, Bais AF, Seddon AWR, Barnes PW (2021) Floral-bullseyes and stratospheric ozone (Letter) Current Biology 31, R879–R890. Submitted 04/01/2021 resubmitted 23/02/2021 & 01/03/2021, accepted 12/05/2021, published 26/07/2021/
  17. Porcar-Castell JA, et al. [inc. Robson TM] (2021) Solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence reveals plant photosynthetic function from the molecule to the planet. Nature Plants 7, 998–1009. (submitted 09-10-2020 resubmitted 17/02/2021 accepted 04/06/2021, published 09/08/2021)
  18. Israel D, Khan S, Warren CR, Zwiazek J,* Robson TM* (2021) The contribution of PIP2-type aquaporins to photosynthesis in response to increased vapour pressure deficit. Journal of Experimental Botany 72(13) 5066–5078. Accepted 20-04-2021, published 30-04-2021, erab187,
  19. Seddon AWR, Festi D, Nieuwkerk M, Hamre B, Krüger LC, Östman S, Robson TM (2021) Pollen-chemistry variations along elevation gradients and their implications for the development of a proxy for UV-B radiation in the plant-fossil record. Journal of Ecology 109, 3060– 3073. 15-05-2021.
  20. Torresan C, Benito Garzón M, O’Grady M, Robson TM, Picchi G, Panzacchi P, Tomelleri E, Smith M, Marshall J, Wingate L, Tognetti R. Rustad L, Kneeshaw D (2021) A new generation of sensors and monitoring tools to support climate-smart forestry practices. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 51(12), 1751-1765. Accepted 10-01-2021.
  21. Neale, RE, Barnes, PW, Robson, TM, Neale, PJ, Williamson, CE, Zepp, RG, Wilson, SR, Madronich, S, Andrady, AL, Heikkilä, AM, Bernhard, GH, Bais, AF, Aucamp, PJ, Banaszak, AT, Bornman, JF, Bruckman, LS, Byrne, SN, Foereid, B, Häder, D.-P, Hollestein, LM, Hou, W.-C, Hylander, S, Jansen, MAK, Klekociuk, AR, Liley, JB, Longstreth, J, Lucas, RM, Martinez-Abaigar, J, McNeill, K, Olsen, CM, Pandey, KK, Rhodes, LE, Robinson, SA, Rose, KC, Schikowski, T, Solomon, KR, Sulzberger, B, Ukpebor, JE, Wang, Q.-W, Wängberg, S.-Å, White, CC, Yazar, S, Young, AR, Young, PJ, Zhu, L, & Zhu, M (2021) Environmental effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation, and interactions with climate: UNEP Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, Update 2020. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, 20, 1–67
  22. Fernández-Marín B, Sáenz A, Solanki T, Robson TM, García-Plazaola JI, (2021) Alpine forbs rely on different photoprotective strategies during spring snow melt. Physiologia Plantarum. 172, 1506-1517.
  23. Wang F, Israel D, Ramírez-Valiente J-A, Sánchez-Gómez D, Aranda I, Aphalo PJ, Robson TM. (2021) Seedlings from marginal and core populations of European beech (Fagus sylvatica) respond differently to imposed drought and shade. Trees Structure and Function, 35, 53-67.
  24. Wang QW, Pieristè M, Kenta T, Liu C, Robson TM*, Kurokawa H* (2021) Photodegradation enhances litter decomposition modulated with canopy openness in a temperate forest. New Phytologist, 229 (5) March 2021 NPH17022

Recent external roles

I am co-lead author for Terrestrial Ecosystems and Biogeochemical Cycling on the UNEP Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (EEAP) based around the interactions of climate and ozone depletion at a global scale. As a panel, we synthesize and disseminate knowledge on the anthropogenic impacts of climate change on the environment (see Barnes et al., 2019 Nature Sustainability). The breadth of assessment also incorporates global terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, biogeochemical cycling, pollution and human health.