Today, I submitted my PhD thesis and, while the whole thing can’t be online just yet, I really wanted to share the acknowledgements section:
I am grateful to so many people for their support during my PhD that thanking them all sufficiently would take up more space than this thesis itself. I hope that, through my actions and words outside this text, they know how much they have meant to me.
Foremost amongst those I need to thank is Daisy Dent, who has worked tirelessly to ensure not only the quality of my research but also my personal happiness within it. Daisy’s insights and encouragement have reenergised me whenever my enthusiasm has wavered and I am deeply appreciative of all her efforts to make this project a success. I have been privileged to work with an amazing team of supervisors and Lindsay Banin, Dan Chapman, and David Burslem have all given tremendous support and dedication of their time. Through their inputs, the research and perspectives of this thesis have been vastly improved and I have been delighted to learn from their experience.
This project has benefitted immensely from a number of collaborators. My thanks go to Chris Philipson, Mark Cutler, and Glen Reynolds for their willingness to share data, as well as their comments on chapter two during peer review. I am also grateful for input from Reuben Nilus and two anonymous reviewers.
Institutional support from the University of Stirling, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Edinburgh, the Sabah Biodiversity Centre, the Danum Valley Management Committee, and the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) has been vital to the success of this project. My PhD was funded by the UKRI Natural Environment Research Council via the Iapetus doctoral training partnership and I am grateful for the many opportunities they have provided. I would like to extend particular thanks to John Wainwright, the director of Iapetus, who provided a friendly face throughout the PhD and was a driving force for student support when the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted and delayed our projects. My PhD received additional funding from the Arnold Arboretum Ashton Award, which was of great help to support fieldwork costs. My thanks to Peter Ashton for establishing the award and for a brief but insightful chat in the coffee room at Kew.
I am grateful to the herbarium staff at Kew, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and the Danum Valley Field Centre for welcoming me, training me, and trusting me to use their collections.
During my PhD I was privileged to spend six months conducting fieldwork in Sabah, Borneo, and I owe thanks to everyone living and working in Danum Valley. I am endlessly grateful to Tambi Karolus, whose experience and hard work kept us safe and productive while we navigated the depths of the forest. For their support of my research and their friendship in the field, I thank Yoel, Sabide, Cco, the monkey king, Dede, Ahmat, Adam, and the entire 50 ha team. For their wealth of herbarium knowledge, I thank Ica, Alex, and Bill, and, for their logistical support, I thank Johnny and Ivy. My thanks to all the friends I made at Danum, who may not have joined me in the forest or ever seen my data but who nonetheless made my time there worthwhile; to Cindy, Chris, Simone, Paddy, Gianluca, Tanith, Peter, Suzanne, Nadine, Ingrid, Josie, Sarah, and Rahman, thank you. I will treasure fond memories of barbecues by the river, songs sung by campfires with karaoke microphones, and the many adventures we shared.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic prevented a second field season at Danum, I received follow-up data from my seedling plots thanks to the efforts of Tambi and the 50 ha team, co-ordinated by Mikey O’Brien. I am massively grateful to them all for juggling the hard work of data collection with safe adherence to local public health guidelines.
I am immensely fortunate to have been supported throughout this PhD by family and friends, new and old. Thanks to my mum, to my dad, and to Matt and to Caz for being there whenever I needed to procrastinate. Thanks also for giving me the occasional nudge to get back to work. To all the friends who have supported me through the ups and downs of life over the last few years, both online and in person, I am unceasingly grateful and it is my ongoing pleasure to support you in turn. My thanks go to Alex, Elliot, and Myrini; to Matt, David, Mia, Paulo, Théo, Xavi, Sarah, Alex and Robbie; to Lucy, Allan, Erin, John, Nina, Kirsten, Jazz, Jess, Doug, Craig, Finley, Hazel, Lidia, and Sophie; to Ellen, James, Kris, and Laura; to Emily, Dave, Julia, and Sol; to Emily, Sarah, and Cos; to Eli; to Duncan; to Danny; and to Kezz. Thank you to everyone at Stirling, not already named above, for your support and camaraderie – particularly to Lynn (and Charlie!) for sorting out my many expenses and to the rest of the Dent Lab (Izzy, Bekah, Tom, Alex, and Adam) for fantastic chats and inspirations over the years. Thanks, finally, to the trees for being so fascinating and to you, the reader, for being interested and/or supportive enough to take a look at my thesis. I hope I have succeeded in making it easier to read than it was to write, and at least as much of a pleasure.