Chuck Cannon

Charles H. Cannon, Jr speaking at an outdoor event at The Morton Arboretum
Dr. Chuck Cannon, director of the Center for Tree Science, brings a broad perspective on forests and all of the things that live in them. Starting out in 1989 as an undergraduate research assistant to study primate behavior in the equatorial rainforests of Indonesian Borneo, he quickly learned that trees were the most important (and the most poorly understood) element in any forested landscape. His commitment to tree science has remained firm since that early insight, and his work has taken him to over a dozen countries and involved a wide range of scientific endeavors, from basic species description to on-the-ground forest management policy. He leads the many tree scientists at the Arboretum in the shaping and expansion of our knowledge of trees and forests around the world.

Director, Center for Tree Science

BA, Harvard University (Anthropology)
PhD, Duke University (Botany)

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Driven by issues and management challenges, Dr. Cannon's research has spanned a wide range of research topics, including systematics, biogeography, management of logged forests, forest ecology, ecological economics, genomics, ecoregional conservation assessments, and DNA fingerprinting of timbers.  He has published in many leading academic journals, including Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy.  He has been involved in the teaching and training of future forest scientists since 1989, including the creation of an on-going annual field course in China in 2009.  He has worked with a wide range of institutions, including Harvard University, The Nature Conservancy, The Smithsonian Institute, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  He has received scholarships from the Mellon Foundation and the Agency for Educational Development and funding from the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, the Yunnan Provincial Government (China), and Conservation, Food, and Health.  Between 2007-2011, he was recruited to create and lead a new research group in Ecological Evolution at the Xishaungbanna Tropical Botanic Garden in Yunnan China by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

Selected publications

Cannon, C.H., Peart, D.R., and Leighton, M. (1998). Tree species diversity in commercially logged Bornean rainforest. Science 281, 1366–1368. (

Cannon, C.H., Morley, R.J., and Bush, A.B.G. (2009). The current refugial rainforests of Sundaland are unrepresentative of their biogeographic past and highly vulnerable to disturbance. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America 106, 11188–11193. (

Cannon, C.H., Summers, M., Harting, J.R., and Kessler, P.J.A. (2007). Developing conservation priorities based on forest type, condition, and threats in a poorly known ecoregion: Sulawesi, Indonesia. Biotropica 39, 747–759. (

Wong, M.M.L., Cannon, C.H., and Wickneswari, R. (2011). Identification of lignin genes and regulatory sequences involved in secondary cell wall formation in Acacia auriculiformis and Acacia mangium via de novo transcriptome sequencing. BMC GENOMICS 12. (

Cannon, CH and M Lerdau. 2015. Variable mating behaviors and the maintenance of tropical biodiversity. Frontiers in Genetics 6:183. (

Cannon, C.H. (2012). A Curiosity Moment for Tropical Biology? Science 338, 467–467. (