Rob Sykes

Tree Breeder

Rob Sykes


Tel: +44 (0)300 067 5900
Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5992
Fax: +44 (0)131 445 5124

Forest Research
Northern Research Station
Midlothian EH25 9SY

Rob completed his forestry training at Newton Rigg College in 1984 and was then employed by the Forestry Commission as a Forester at Tay Forest District until 1987. He then joined Forest Research as a Research Forester firstly located at the Newton field station in Morayshire, and then at the Shobdon field station in Herefordshire. Rob transferred to the Northern Research Station to take up the role of Project Support Officer with the conifer and broadleaf breeding programme in 1997. From 2009 to 2012 Rob was acting Project Leader for broadleaf breeding, he has now resumed his project support role for both conifer and broadleaf breeding.

Current role

Tree breeder

  • Organisation and management of all field experiments to support the conifer and broadleaf breeding programmes
  • Liaising with Project Leaders and field staff to ensure full compliance with experiment objectives, quality standards and financial constraints.

Current programmes

Support role for the conifer and broadleaf tree improvement programme.

Support role for the conifer tree improvement programme.
Selection and testing of conifers
Connifer breeding: Managing field-based aspects of Sitka spruce Marker Aided Selection
Broadleaf breeding: particular emphasis on oak, ash, birch and sycamore.

Support role for the broadleaf genetic conservation programme.
Particular emphasis on ash, rowan and cherry.

These roles all involve:

  • Organising and managing plant raising, allocation and dispatch to sites
  • Ensuring progress of programme and quality of work
  • Liaising with Technical Services staff on site requirements and work schedules.

Research areas

  • Pollination and seed collection
  • Pollen and seed extraction, storage and testing
  • Grafting
  • Clone bank management
  • Broadleaf breeding
  • Conifer breeding
  • Broadleaf genetic conservation
  • Forest Reproductive Materials Regulations

Affiliations and achievements

  • Member of Future Trees Trust Species Groups for oak, ash, birch and sycamore

Main recent publications

Brotherstone, S., White, I.M.S., Sykes, R., Thompson, R., Connolly, T., Lee, S., and Woolliams, J. (2010). Competition Effects in a Young Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis, Bong. Carr) Clonal Trial. Silvae Gentica 60, 3-4 (2011).

Nuopponen, M.H., Birch, G.M., Sykes, R.J., Lee. S.J. and Stewart, D. (2006). Estimation of wood density and chemical composition by means of diffuse reflectance mid-infrared Fourier transform (DRIFT-MIR) spectroscopy. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54, 34-40.

Cottrell, J.E. Samuel C. J. & Sykes, R. (2004). The species and chloroplast DNA haplotype composition of oakwoods in the Forest of Dean planted between 1720 and 1993. Forestry, 77(2), 100-106.