Once a year we take the first year undergraduates in Geography out to Wytham Woods to teach them field methods in physical geography. They are assigned a project to sub-sample and measure tree diameters, growth rates, crown dimensions, heights and light environments in our large 18 hectare research plot. The aim is to explore ideas of scaling of tree architecture and growth rates. They write up a project as a project that contributes towards their first year marks. For many it is a first introduction to practical fieldwork. This year the morning started out in beautiful autumn sunshine with the woods luminous with yellow beech and sycamore leaves, but by lunchtime the weather had descended into testing, steady, cold rain.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University