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Dr Harriet D Allen MA MSc PhD

Dr Harriet D Allen MA MSc PhD

University Associate Professor and Fellow of Girton College

Physical geographer with a special interest in biogeography, Quaternary and environmental change



  • 2002-present Fellow,Tutor & Director of Studies, Girton College, Cambridge
  • 2001-present Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 1986-2001 Senior Lecturer in Geography, Homerton College, Cambridge


  • MA Geography, University of Cambridge (Girton College)
  • MSc Geography, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada: A dendrochronological record from the Slims Valley, Yukon, Canada
  • PhD University of Cambridge: Late Quaternary of the Kopais Basin, Greece: sedimentary & environmental history


Harriet Allen is a member of the Geography Department's Environmental Systems and Processes research group.

Harriet is a physical geographer with a range of research interests which focus on

  • Modelling the vegetation structure of Mediterranean ecosystems
  • The response of ecosystems to environmental change
  • Palaeoecological evidence for Holocene and contemporary environmental change

These areas of interest are firmly located within Mediterranean environments.

Current projects include:

  • Mediterrranean wood pastures for biodiversity - making the lynx
  • Modelling the landscape ecology of Mediterranean shrubland ecosystems.
  • Use of airborne LiDAR to characterise vegetation communities.
  • Use of multisensor ariborne data to model Mediterranean sclerophyllous vegetation communities (Crete and Portugal).
  • Holocene and contemporary vegetation dynamics of Mediterranean ecosystems.

Current PhD students

Recent PhD students

  • William Fletcher (2005) 'Holocene Landscape History of Southern Portugal'
  • William Simonson (2012) 'Vegetation structure and composition of Mediterranean oak forests: an investigation with airborne lidar' (co-supervised with Dr DA Coomes, Dept of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge)


Selected publications

  • Simonson, WD and Allen, HD (2014) Cork oak (Quercus suber) forests of western Mediterranean mountains: a plant community comparison ecologia mediterranea, 40, 35-46
  • Simonson, WD, Allen, & Coomes, DA (2014) Applications of airborne lidar for the assessment of animal species diversity Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5, 719-792 doi:10,1111/2041-210X.12219
  • Simonson, WD, Allen, HD & Coomes, DA (2014) Overstorey and topographic effects on understories: Evidence for linkage from cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in southern Spain Forest Ecology and Management, 328, 35-44 doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2014.05.009
  • Simonson, WD, Allen, HD & Coomes, DA (2013) Remotely sensed indicators of forest conservation status: Case study from a Natura 2000 site in southern Portugal Ecological Indicators, 24, 636-647 doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2012.08.024
  • Simonson, WD, Allen, HD & Coomes, DA (2012) Use of an Airborne Lidar System to Model Plant Species Composition and Diversity of Mediterranean Oak Forests Conservation Biology, doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01869.x
  • Allen, HD (2009) Vegetation and Ecosystem Dynamics, in The Physical Geography of the Mediterranean, J Woodward (ed.), Oxford University Press, 203-227
  • Allen, HD (2008) Fire: plant functional types and patch mosaic burning in fire-prone ecosystems Progress in Physical Geography, 32, 421-437 doi:10.1177/0309133308096754
  • Allen, HD, Randall RE, Amable, GS & Devereux, BJ (2006) The impact of changing olive cultivation practices on the ground flora of olive groves in the Messara and Psiloritis regions, Crete, Greece Land Degradation & Development, 17, 249-273 doi:10.1002/ldr.716
  • Allen, HD (2003) Response of past and present Mediterranean ecosystems to environmental change Progress in Physical Geography, 27(3), 359-377 DOI:10.1191/0309133303pp387ra
  • Allen, HD (2003) A transient coastal wetland: from estuarine to supratidal conditions in less than 2000 years - Boca do Rio, Algarve, Portugal Land Degradation & Development, 14, 265-283 doi:10.1002/ldr.552
  • Allen, HD (2003) A Portuguese wetland in transition, in Mediterranean World Environment and History, ed E Fouache (Elsevier, Paris), 397-405
  • Allen, HD (2001) Mediterranean Ecogeography (Prentice Hall)

Conference presentations

  • Allen, HD, Simonson, WD, Amable GS, Milam, A & Coomes, DA (2011) Structure and diversity in Mediterranean evergreen forests: the use of lidar in conservation mapping Fifth International Conference of the International Biogeography Society, Heraklion, Crete, 7-11 January 2011
  • Allen HD, Randall RE, Amable, GS and Devereux, BJ (2006) The use of airborne lidar for characterising canopy structure and ground flora of olive groves: monitoring the effects of agricultural intensification. Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society Annual Meeting, Cambridge, UK, 5-8 September 2006
  • Allen HD, Randall RE, Amable, GS and Devereux BJ (2005) The typology of olive cultivation: integrating LiDAR with vegetation field data. Second Biennial Conference of the International Biogeography Society, Shepherdstown, WV, USA, 5-9 January 2005
  • Amable, GS, Devereux BJ, Allen, HD, Randall RE and Cockerell TF (2005) Application of Airborne LiDAR data in mapping the structure of deciduous woodland communities in Woodwalton Fen Nature Reserve, England. Second Biennial Conference of the International Biogeography Society, Shepherdstown, WV, USA, 5-9 January 2005
  • Devereux BJ, Amable, GS, Allen, HD, and Randall RE (2005) Spatial patterns in the structure of semi-natural vegetation communities on the slopes of Mt Psiloritis in South Central Crete. RGS-IBG Annual Conference. London, 31 August-2 September, 2005
  • Allen, HD, Randall RE, Amable, GS and Devereux, BJ (2004) 3-dimensional structural characteristics and biodiversity patterns of Cretan olive groves: preliminary results from field surveys and airborne LiDAR and VIS/NIR imaging. 30th Congress of the International Geographical Union, Glasgow, August 2004


Contributions as follows:

Geographical Tripos

  • Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Part IA: Physical Geography: Environmental Processes and Change
  • Part IB: Bioogeography
  • Part IB: Fieldtrips to the Algarve, Arolla (Switzerland), Tenerife
  • Part II: Biogeography

External activities

  • Coordinating Editor, Landscape Ecology (Springer)
  • Committee member (Chair), Biogeography Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)
  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society, with the Institute of British Geographers
  • Committee member, Geographical Association (Cambridge Branch)
  • Member, Quaternary Research Association
  • Member, International Biogeography Society
  • Member, British Ecological Society