David Tng, Ph.D.


Center Director


Yungaburra, Queensland, Australia




Ph.D. in Biological Sciences
University of Tasmania (Australia)

B.Sc. Honours in Plant Science
University of Tasmania (Australia)


SFS 3021 Environmental Sustainability and socio-economic values

SFS 3262 Rainforests of Australia

SFS 3691 Tropical Biome Ecology & Climate Change

SFS 4910 Directed Research

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Faculty Profile

As an ecologist, naturalist and teacher, I am passionate about natural sciences, scientific outreach and environmental literacy. I believe that to be able to take empowered action and be good stewards of the resources and biodiversity of our planet we must first nurture an appreciation for nature, and foster ecological awareness in ourselves and others. For this reason, I am delighted to be working at the SFS (starting in 2019) to contribute to this mission to help engender a passion for the natural world and to improve environmental literacy.

Originally from Singapore, I pursued my higher education at the University of Tasmania, Australia, immersing myself in the fascinating study of natural sciences. I moved to North Queensland in 2010 to do my Ph.D research on the fascinating ecology of ecotone habitats of giant Eucalyptus trees and their relationship with fire-sensitive tropical rainforests and flammable savannas. After being awarded my doctorate in 2014, I then spent a year doing 19th century naturalist-style work, collecting tropical plants within the Australian Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to build a field herbarium at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory, and also setting up long term monitoring forest plots.

Following this, I conducted post-doctoral research at the James Cook University looking at how drought will impact Australia’s prime tropical rainforests at Cape Tribulation. Most recently between 2018-2019, I was a visiting Professor at the Federal University of Bahia, Salvador Brazil, where I did ethnobotanical research, and taught plant ecology and courses on academic writing and scientific outreach. These experiences have made me a firm believer of the importance of communicating science and strive to use social media for better scientific outreach, public education and community engagement.

Academics & Research

Professional Activities

  • Ad hoc reviewer for: New Phytologist, Journal of Ecology, Nature Scientific Reports, Plos One, Tree Physiology, Australian Journal of Botany, IAWA Journal.
  • Adjunct researcher at James Cook University
  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee at the Wet Tropics Management Authority

Research Interests

My research interests revolve mainly around biodiversity, ecology and vegetation science. I have an academic interest in a wide range of topics from ethnobotany, fire ecology, plant phenology, plant anatomy, taxonomy, tree rings, ecology of mosses and miniature plants, lepidoptera biodiversity, citizen science, and others. With the opportunity of being in the Australian wet tropics, I actively pursue basic and applied research on strategies for managing and conserving the natural resources of the region.


Select Publications

Tng DYP (2019) The enigma of Eucalyptus grandis (Rose Gum)/rainforest ecotones in the Australian Wet Tropics – the plot thickens. North Queensland Naturalist 49, 25-33.
Tng DYP, Apgaua DMG, Ishida YF, Mencuccini M, Lloyd J, Laurance WF, Laurance SGW (2018) Rainforest trees respond to drought by modifying their hydraulic architecture. Ecology and Evolution 8, 12479-12491. doi: 10.1002/ece3.4601
Gagul J, Tng DYP, Crayn DM (2018) Fruit developmental biology and endosperm rumination in Elaeocarpus ruminatus F. Muell. (Elaeocarpaceae), and its taxonomic significance. Australian Systematic Botany 31, 409-419. doi: 10.1071/SB18010
Araújo FDC, Tng DYP, Apgaua DMG, Coelho PA, Pereira DGS, Santos RM (2017) Post-fire plant regeneration across a closed forest-savanna vegetation transition. Forest Ecology and Management 400, 77-84. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2017.05.058
Reis GH, Terra MCNS, Tng DYP, Apgaua DMG, Coelho PA, Santos RM, Nunes YRF (2017) Temporal vegetation changes in a seasonally dry tropical forest enclave in an ecotonal region between savanna and semiarid zones of Brazil. Australian Journal of Botany 65, 85-93. doi: 10.1071/BT16188
Apgaua DMG, Tng DYP, Cernusak LA, Cheesman AW, Santos RM, Edwards WJ, Laurance SGW (2017) Plant functional groups within a tropical forest exhibit different wood functional anatomy. Functional Ecology 31, 582-591. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12787.
Coelho PA, Santos PF, Paiva EDP, Apgaua DMG, Madeira BG, Menino GCDO, Nunes YRF, Santos RM, Tng DYP (2016) Tree succession across a Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest and forest-savanna ecotone in northern Minas Gerais, Brazil. Journal of Plant Ecology 10, 859-868. doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtw091
Tng DYP, Apgaua DMG, Campbell MJ, Cox CJ, Crayn DM, Ishida FY, Laidlaw MJ, Liddell MJ, Seager M, Laurance SGW (2016) Vegetation and floristics of a lowland tropical rainforest in northeast Australia. Biodiversity Data Journal 4, e7599. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.4.e7599
Tng DYP, Goosem MW, Paz CP, Preece ND, Goosem S, Fensham RJ, Laurance SGW (2016) Characteristics of the Psidium cattleianum invasion of secondary rainforests. Austral Ecology 41, 344-354. DOI: 10.1111/aec.12319
Sunderland T, Apgaua D, Baldauf C, Blackie R, Colfer C, Cunningham AB, Dexter K, Djoudi H, Gautier D, Gumbo D, Ickowitz A, Kassa H, Parthasarathy N, Pennington RT, Paumgarten F, Pulla S, Sola P, Tng D, Waeber P, Wilmé L (2015) Global dry forests: a prologue. International Forestry Review, 17 (Supplement 2), 1-9.(12). doi: 10.1505/146554815815834813
Apgaua DMG, Pereira DGS, Santos RMD, Menino GCDO, Pires GG, Fontes MAL, Tng DYP (2015) Floristic variation in seasonally dry tropical forests (SDTF) in the Caatinga Biogeographic Domain, Brazil, and its conservation implications. International Forestry Review 17 (Supplement 2), 33-44. doi: 10.1505/146554815815834840
Apgaua DMG, Ishida FY, Tng DYP, Laidlaw MJ, Santos RM, Rumman R, Eamus D, Holtum JAM, Laurance SGW (2015) Functional traits and water transport strategies in lowland tropical rainforest trees. PLoS ONE 10, e0130799. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130799
Potts E, Tng D, et al. (2022) Forest Ecology and Management 522, 120485.
Zanne AE, ..., Tng DYP, et al. (2022) Science 377, 1440-1444.
Apgaua DMG, Tng DYP, Laurance SGW (2022) Flora 291, 152072.
Silva MDS, ..., Tng DYP (2022) Plant Ecology and Diversity, doi: 10.1080/17550874.2022.2053600
Renck V, Apgaua DMG, Tng DYP, et al. (2022) Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 18, 25.


Tng DYP, Apgaua DMG, Ishida FY, Mencuccini M, Lloyd J, Laurance WF, Laurance SGW (2018) Responses of tropical lowland rainforest trees to drought. Oral presentation, 55th Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation Conference, July 2018, Kuching – Sarawak.
Apgaua DMG, Tng DYP, Ishida FYI, Laurance SGW (2017) Experimental drought changes wood anatomy of tropical trees. Oral presentation. 9th Pacific Regional Wood Anatomy Conference, Bali, Indonesia.
Tng DYP, Apgaua DMG, Dempsey R, Liddell MJ, Cernusak LA, Laurance SGW (2016) Impacts of experimental drought on tree saplings and shrubs in a lowland rainforest understorey. Poster presentation for the II Simposio de Ecofisiologia Sistemica (SES 2016), 26-28 October 2016. Universidade Federal de Lavras, Lavras – Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Apgaua DMG, Tng DYP, Cernusak LA, Cheesman AW, Santos RM, Edwards WJ, Laurance SGW (2016) Intrinsic water-use efficiency of lowland tropical rainforest plants and their biophysical correlates. Poster presentation for the II Simposio de Ecofisiologia Sistemica (SES 2016), 26-28 October 2016. Universidade Federal de Lavras, Lavras – Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Coelho PA, Tng DYP, Apgaua DMG, Santos RM (2016) Leaf and wood functional traits demonstrate contrasting ecological groups among Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest trees. Oral presentation at the Symposium on Biological Invasion and II Jornada Botânica, July 2016, Viçosa – Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Tng DYP, Jordan GJ, Bowman DMJS (2014) Letting Giants Be. An ecological framework for managing Australia’s tropical giant trees. Oral presentation at the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, July 2014, Cairns – Queensland, Australia.
Apgaua DMG, Tng DYP, Santos RM (2014) Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest: the forgotten biome – Structure, diversity and future directions. Oral presentation at the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, July 2014, Cairns – Queensland, Australia.
Crayn D, Costion C, Miller J, Jolley-Rogers G, Zich F, Tng D, Thornhill A (2014) Linking large phylogenies and large biological datasets to advance research and teaching. Oral presentation at the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, July 2014, Cairns – Queensland, Australia.