Bruce Nicoll, BSc, PhD, MSB

Programme Group Manager

Bruce Nicoll


Tel: +44 (0)300 067 5900
Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5287 
Fax: +44 (0)131 445 5124

Forest Research
Northern Research Station
Midlothian EH25 9SY

Bruce Nicoll gained a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences from Napier University, Edinburgh in 1987 and joined Forest Research in the same year. While working at Forest Research he completed a PhD in forest ecology with the University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences. The subject of his PhD was ‘The effects of soil, terrain and wind climate on tree root system development and anchorage’.

Initially his research concentrated on the periodicity of tree root growth, and on the tolerance of fine roots and mycorrhizas to waterlogged soil conditions. More recently he has focused on the relationships between structural root architecture and tree wind stability, and between root development and tree establishment.

Current role

Programme Group Manager

Leads the Forest Climate Change Adaptation Strategies Programme.

This multi-disciplinary research programme will assist adaptive forest management by:

  • Developing tools for risk assessment using climate change scenarios to inform adaptation, and to focus adaptation action where it is most needed, and
  • Providing recommendations and guidance for adaptation measures based on expert information and research findings trialled and examined at key case study sites.

Leads the Tree stability and climate research project that released ForestGALES - a PC based wind-risk model for British forests. His research contribution to the Stability project has focused on the influences of soil and site conditions on tree root development and anchorage.

Leads the Forest Research team within the EC MOTIVE project, that is developing methods to manage multiple-objective forestry in a changing climate.

His special interests are the ‘acclimative’ growth of trees in response to wind movement, and modelling the risks to forests in relation to climate change.

Current programmes

  • Physical properties of stands, trees and timber programme:
  • Programme Group Manager for Forest Climate Change Adaptation Strategies Programme.
  • European projects:
    • MOTIVE (EC FP7). “Models for Adaptive Forest Management”. 2009-2013.
    • STORMS (EC DG Environment). “Destructive storms to European forests”. 2009-2010.
    • EFORWOOD (EC FP6). “Sustainability Impact Assessment of the Forestry – Wood Chain” WP2.4 – Risk. 2006 – 2010.
    • FORESTCLIM (EC Interreg North-West region). “Transnational Forestry Management Strategies in Response to Regional Climate Change Impacts 2008 – 2012.
    • ECHOES (EC/ESF) COST Action FP0703 “Expected Climate Change and Options for European Silviculture” 2008-2012.
    • COST Action E38 (EC/ESF) “Woody Root Processes”. 2004-2008.
    • STORMRISK (EC Interreg North Sea Region) project. “Development of STORM resistant landscapes through regional co-operation, adapted management and RISK communication” 2006 – 2008.
    • ECOSLOPES (EC FP5). “Eco-engineering and conservation of slopes for long-term protection from erosion, landslides and storms. 

Affiliations and achievements

Research areas

  • Adaptive forest management for climate change
  • Root physiology and tree establishment
  • Modelling of root architecture and tree stability
  • Soil stability on slopes
  • Protection forestry
  • Woody root processes
  • Tree biomechanics

Main publications

Ray, D., Bathgate, S., Moseley, D., Taylor, P., Nicoll, B., Pizzirani, S. & Gardiner, B. (2014) Comparing the provision of ecosystem services in plantation forests under alternative climate change adaptation management options in Wales. Regional Environmental Change, DOI 10.1007/s10113-014-0644-6.

Jactel, H., Branco, M, Duncker, P., Gardiner, B., Grodzki, W., Långström, B., Moreira, F., Netherer, S., Nicoll, B., Orazio, C., Piou, D., Schelhaas, M-J. and Tojic, K. (2011). A multi-criteria risk analysis to evaluate impacts of forest management alternatives on forest health in Europe. Ecology and Society (In press).

Moffat, A., Nisbet, T. and Nicoll, B. 2011. Environmental effects of stump and root harvesting (PDF-1244K). Forestry Commission Research Note 9. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Hale, S.E., Gardiner, B.A. Wellpott, A. Nicoll, B.C. and Achim, A. (2011). Wind loading of trees: Influence of tree size and competition. European Journal of Forest Research: DOI 10.1007/s10342-010-0448-2  (Online first).

Butler, A.J., Barbier, N., Cermák, J., Koller, J., McEvoy, C., Nicoll, B., Perks, M., Thornily, C., Grace, J., and Meir, P. (2010). Estimates and relationships between above and belowground resource exchange areas in a Sitka Spruce managed forest. Tree Physiology 30(6): 705-714. doi:10.1093/treephys/tpq022.

Gardiner, B., Blennow, K., Carnus, J-M, Fleischer, P., Ingemarson, F., Landmann, G., Lindner, M., Marzano, M., Nicoll, B., Orazio, C., Peyron, J-L., Reviron, M-P., Schelhaas, M-J., Schuck, A., Spielmann, M., and Usbeck, T. (2010). Destructive Storms in European Forests: Past and Forthcoming Impacts. Final Report to EC DG Environment.

Mason, W.L., Nicoll, B.C and Perks, M. (2009). Mitigation potential of sustainably managed forests.  In: Combating climate change: a role for UK forests.  An assessment of the potential of the UK’s trees and woodlands to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  Eds D.J. Read, P.H. Freer-Smith, J.I.L. Morison, N. Hanley, C.C. West and P. Snowdon.  The Stationery Office, Edinburgh. 100–118.

Jactel, H., Nicoll, B.C., Branco, M., Gonzalez-Olabarria, J.R., Grodzki, W., Långström, B., Moreira, F., Netherer, S., Orazio, C., Piou, D., Santos, H., Schelhaas, M.J., Tojic, K., and Vodde, F. (2009). The influences of forest stand management on susceptibility to biotic and abiotic risks of damage. Annals of Forest Science 66: 701 1-18.

Achim, A., and Nicoll, B.C. (2009). Modelling the anchorage of shallow-rooted trees. Forestry. 82: 273-284.

Nicoll, B.C., Achim, A, Crossley, A, Gardiner, B.A. and Mochan, S. (2009). The effects of spacing on root anchorage and tree stability. Scottish Forestry 63: 32-36.

Nicoll, B.C., Gardiner, B.A. and Peace, A.J. (2008). Improvements in anchorage provided by the acclimation of forest trees to wind stress. Forestry 81: 389-398.

Nicoll, B., Gardiner, B., Suarez, J and Bathgate, S. (2008). Managing wind risk to forests in northern Europe. In: Forest Research Annual Report and Accounts 2007-2008. p40. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Norris, J.E.; Stokes, A.; Mickovski, S.B.; Cammeraat, E.; van Beek, R.; Nicoll, B.C.; Achim, A. (Eds.). (2008). Slope stability and erosion control: Ecotechnological solutions. Springer. ISBN: 978-1-4020-6675-7.

Norris, J.E., Greenwood, J.R., Achim, A., Gardiner, B.A., Nicoll, B.C., Cammeraat, L.H. and Mickovski, S.B. (2008). Hazard Assessment of Vegetated Slopes. In: Norris, J.E.; Stokes, A.; Mickovski, S.B.; Cammeraat, E.; van Beek, R.; Nicoll, B.C.; Achim, A. (Eds.). Slope stability and erosion control: Ecotechnological solutions. Springer. p 119 – 166.

Norris, J.E., Di Iorio, A., Stokes, A., Nicoll, B.C. and Achim, A. (2008). Species Selection for Soil Reinforcement and Protection. In: Norris, J.E.; Stokes, A.; Mickovski, S.B.; Cammeraat, E.; van Beek, R.; Nicoll, B.C.; Achim, A. (Eds.). Slope stability and erosion control: Ecotechnological solutions. Springer. p 167 – 210.

Andreu, V., Khuder, H., Mickovski, S., Spanos, I., Norris, J., Dorren, L., Nicoll, B.C., Achim, A., Rubio, J.L., Jouneau, L. and Berger, F. (2008). Ecotechnological Solutions for Unstable Slopes: Ground Bio- and Eco-engineering Techniques and Strategies. In: Norris, J.E.; Stokes, A.; Mickovski, S.B.; Cammeraat, E.; van Beek, R.; Nicoll, B.C.; Achim, A. (Eds.). Slope stability and erosion control: Ecotechnological solutions. Springer. p 211– 276.

Tobin, B., Čermák, J., Chiatante, D., Danjon, F., Di Iorio, A., Dupuy, L., Eshel, A., Jourdan, C., Kalliokoski, T., Laiho, R., Nadezhdina, N., Nicoll, B., Pagès, L., Silva, J., Spanos, I. (2007). Towards developmental modelling of tree root systems. Plant Biosystems 141: 481-501.

Nicoll, B.C. and Gardiner, B.A. (2006). The effects of increased wind action on the radial growth of tree stems and structural roots. In:  Lenart Salmén (Ed.). Proceedings of the 5th Plant Biomechanics Conference – Stockholm, 2006. 281-286.

Gardiner, B., Suarez, J., Achim, A., Hale, S. and Nicoll, B. (2006). ForestGALES – A PC-based wind risk model for British forests. User’s Guide. Version 2.1. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. 54pp.

Nicoll, B.C., Berthier, S., Achim, A., Gouskou, K., Danjon, F., and van Beek, L.P.H. (2006). The architecture of Picea sitchensis structural root systems on horizontal and sloping terrain. Trees – Structure and Function. 20: 701-712.

Nicoll, B.C., Gardiner, B.A., Rayner, B. and Peace, A.J. (2006). Anchorage of coniferous trees in relation to species, soil type and rooting depth. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 36: 1871-1883.

Nicoll, B.C., Achim, A., Mochan, S. and Gardiner, B.A. (2005). Does steep terrain influence tree stability? A field investigation. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 35: 2360-2367.

Levy, P.E., Hale, S.E. and Nicoll, B.C. (2004). Biomass expansion factors and root : shoot ratios for coniferous tree species in Great Britain. Forestry  421-430.

Achim, A., Nicoll, B., Mochan, S. and Gardiner, B. (2003). Wind Stability of Trees on Slopes. In: Proceedings of the International conference Wind effects on trees, Karlsruhe, Germany 16-18 September 2003.

Nicoll, B. (2002). Urban trees fight back – The root cause of sidewalk damage. Tree Care Industry. February 2002.

Nicoll, B and Rayner, B. (2002). Mechanised planting: Planting quality and establishment of machine planted trees. Forestry and British Timber. December 2002.

Nicoll, B.C. (2000). The mechanical consequences of adaptive growth in roots. In: Plant Biomechanics 2000. Proceedings of  the 3rd Plant Biomechanics conference, Freibrg-Badenweiler, August 27 to September 2000. Eds H.C. Spatz and T Speck. 213-216.

Coutts, M.P., Nielsen, C.N. and Nicoll, B.C. (1999). The development of symmetry, rigidity and anchorage in the structural root system of conifers. Plant and Soil 217, 1-15.

Nicoll, B.C. and Armstrong, A. (1998). Development of Prunus root systems in a city street: Pavement damage and root architecture. Arboricultural Journal 22: 259-270.

Ray, D. and Nicoll, B.C. (1998). The effect of soil water-table depth on root-plate development and stability of Sitka spruce. Forestry 71: 169-182.

Nicoll, B.C. and Coutts, M.P. (1998). Timing of root dormancy and tolerance to waterlogging in clonal Sitka spruce. Trees – Structure and Function 12: 241-245.

Nicoll, B.C. and Ray, D. (1996). Adaptive growth of tree root systems in response to wind action and site conditions. Tree Physiology 16: 899-904.

Nicoll, B.C., Redfern, D.B. and McKay, H.M. (1996). Autumn frost damage: clonal variation in Sitka spruce. Forest Ecology and Management 80: 107-112.

Nicoll, B.C., Easton, E.P., Milner, A.D., Walker, C, and Coutts, M.P. (1995). Wind stability factors in tree selection: distribution of biomass within root systems of Sitka spruce clones. In: Wind and Trees. Eds. M.P. Coutts and J. Grace. Cambridge University Press.

Coutts, M.P. and Nicoll, B.C. (1993).  Orientation of the lateral roots of trees II. Hydrotropic and gravitropic responses of lateral roots of Sitka spruce grown in air at different humidities.  New Phytologist 124: 277-281.

Coutts, M.P. and Nicoll, B.C. (1991). Orientation of the lateral roots of trees I. Upward growth of surface roots and deflection near the soil surface. New Phytologist 119: 227-234.

Coutts, M.P. and Nicoll, B.C.  (1990).  Waterlogging tolerance of roots of Sitka spruce clones and of strands from Thelephora terrestris mycorrhizas. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20: 1894-1899.

Coutts, M.P. and Nicoll, B.C. (1990).  Growth and survival of shoots, roots and mycorrhizal mycelium in clonal Sitka spruce during the first growing season after planting.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20: 861-868.