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Our focus

Forests & Grasslands

Leading by Prof. Dr. Arshad Ali
Hebei University, China

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) across multi-taxon (plants, animals, and microbes), multi-facet (taxonomic, functional trait, phylogenetic and size diversity and identity or composition), and multi-scale (local, regional, and global, as well as local spatial scales) at various times (single measurements to very long-term temporal scales).


Forests and grasslands play an important role in supporting human well-being by providing various ecosystem services. However, due to the rapidly changing world, they are declining at an alarming rate. Ecologists worldwide are working towards finding solutions to combat climate change while sustainably using natural resources. The Forest Ecology Research Group (FERG), at Hebei University in collaboration with several other universities and institutes, focuses on understanding the causes, impacts, and consequences of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in forests and grasslands in Asian countries including China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, and Nepal, as well as around the world through potential research collaborations and literature synthesis. FERG is interested in leading biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) research at the Asia level through the Asian-BEF Network Initiative. The website of FERG provides access to our interesting research papers, opinions, and reviews published in prestigious journals.

We appreciate scientific research through regional and global collaborations!

Prof. Dr. Arshad Ali

Official Webpages

Public Research Profiles

Prof. Dr. Arshad Ali published a short opinion/ letter in Science

Our Research Focus

Our research investigates how complex interactions between above- (e.g., plants and animals) and below-ground (e.g., microbes and decomposers) biodiversity affect ecosystem functioning (e.g., productivity) across environmental conditions, and how they respond to global change. We are much interested in natural forest ecosystems but not limited to specific biome, thus happy to study agroforestry, plantations, grasslands, and mangroves (including aquatic ecosystems). We are currently working in the less-explored and underrepresented regions (such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, and Iran) as well as well-explored regions of Asia (e.g., China) through regional and global collaborations to better understand the consequences of biodiversity loss on ecosystem functioning in less-explored regions. We are highly interested in to synthesize the global literature through metacommunity concepts, meta-analyses, and reviews. We are also interested in applied science (e.g., restoration ecology) by linking science, policy, and practice to better formulate the consequences of global change on people and nature and their feedback.

Major Subjects: Ecology; Forestry; Biogeography; Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences linking Climate Change with People and Nature

Biodiversity-Ecosystem Functioning (BEF)

We explore the unexplored forests and grasslands of Asian countries such as China, Iran, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka through regional collaborations.

Global meta-analyses and syntheses

Through global meta-anlayses and synthses, we contribute to understand the consequencies of global biodiversity loss on ecosystem functioning, and its impacts on humanity.

Plant functional traits and community assembly processes

Through field and lab work, we strive to understand how plants live together and influence ecosystem functioning at local scale.

Science, policy and practice

We much like to translate ecological theories into applied ecology by linking science, policy, and practice for better management of natural resources to prevent natural disasters such as floods and climate change.

We do original research in Asian Forests & Grasslands

Our study regions and forest types

Tropical forests and agroforests of Sri Lanka

Forest inventory data across 189 tropical forest plots in several districts of the central and southern Sri Lanka, collected during 2008 and 2009. The natural tropical forest types include; low-land rain forests (n = 102), sub-montane (n = 4), moist monsoon forests (n = 10), dry monsoon (n = 16), montane forests (n = 24), and open forests (n = 33). We also collected data in 45 homegarden agroforestry systems.

Temperate deciduous forests of Iran​

This study area is located in the Asalem Watershed basin, the seventh basin (37° 36′ 31″ − 37° 44′40″ N, − 48° 35′ 17″- 48° 56′ 26″ E), in Guilan province of Northern Iran. We established 104 plots (each 20 × 20 m) along eight elevational zones (i.e., 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1600 and 1800 m). We also measured plant functional traits and soil properties. Dr. Ali also published several papers on Iranian forests with other research collaborators from Iran.

Temperate pure and mixed forests of Pakistan

The study area is located in Karakoram region (namely Gilgit-Baltistan) of northern Pakistan. The study region has a latitudinal range of 34º to 37.5º N and a longitudinal range of 72.5º to 77.5º E with an elevational range of 850 to 8,611 m (i.e., Mount K2 Peak) above sea level. During the year 2015-16, we set up 365 circular forest plots, each having a size of 0.1 ha and a radius of 17.84 m.

Forest types of Nepal - National wide

Through collaborative work effort, we collected forest inventory data across nearly 1000 plots in whole Nepal. We are working hard on data analyses to report results as soon as possible. Previously, we worked in local-scale tropical forests of Nepal, led by our MS student, independent of current Nepal project.

Collaborative work, and setting-up forest plots in China

Prof. Dr. Arshad Ali studied subtropical forests of Eastern China during his MS and PhD studies, and produced nearly 10 research papers as a first author. During his postdoc, he studied tropical forests of Hainan Island, Southern China, and produced 5 papers including the Big-sized trees hypothesis in Global Change Biology. He also explored the temperate and arid forests of China through potential collaborations. Currently, we are working hard to establish forest plots in China for our own research work, and we established some plots in Nanjing and Baoding areas.

Global and regional meta-analyses

We synthesis global literature through meta-analyses and reviews. We published two global meta-analyses on functional trait diversity and identity effects on aboveground biomass in global forests. We are currently working to explore the abiotic and biotic drivers of aboveground biomass, demographic processes and ecosystem multifunctionality in global forests. Also, we aim to explore the abiotic and biotic drivers of aboveground biomass and productivity in global grasslands.

Our Collaborative Team

We strive to develop FERG team, please contact us if you are interested in to join us. 

Prof. Dr. Arshad Ali

Forest Ecology Research Group, College of Life Sciences, Hebei University, China
Lead Organizer

Dr. Umar Aftab Abbasi

Forest Ecology Research Group, College of Life Sciences, Hebei University, China
Postdoc Researcher (Full-time)

Dr. Eskil Mattsson

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Sweden
Lead collaborator on Sri Lanka's Forests

Prof. Dr. S. P. Nissanka

Professor at University of Peradeniya
Co-Lead collaborator on Sri Lanka's Forests

Dr. Hammad Gilani

Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan
Lead collaborator on Pakistan's and Nepal's Forests

All collaborators

Various universties
Data contributors through co-work in Sri Lanka's, Iran's, Pakistan's and Nepal's Forests

Prof. Dr. Hassan Pourbabaei

Department of Forestry, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Guilan, Iran
Lead collaborator on Iran's forests

Dr. Maryam Kazempour Larsary

Department of Forestry, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Guilan, Iran
Affiliated Researcher (long-distance)

Why Join FERG


Young leadership

Prof. Dr. Arshad Ali is a young scientist, ranking as the World's Top 2% Scientist, recognized by Stanford University.

Collaborative Environment

Global and regional collaboration is our main strenght.

Productive lab

FERG produce quality of research papers, led by students and postdocs.

Mutual success

We encourage young talents for bright future.

We serve Science & Society

Prof. Dr. Arshad Ali voluntarily serves several scientific journals as an Academic Handling Editor and Editorial Board Member. He also reviews for top academic journals and research grant foundations. He handled over 150 papers and as such reviewed over 150 papers for more than 30 journals.

We published in

We published in top respectful journals of Forestry, Ecology, Environmental Science, and Multidisciplinary Science journals.

FERG Updates and News

Forest Ecological Research Group is/was supported by


Location & contact

Office No. 702, Team Office No. 704, Student Office No. 706, and Research Lab No. 708. Yifu Building, Hebei University, 180 Wusi East Road, Baoding City, Hebei Province, Post Code: 071002, PR China

Email FERG

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