New NERC grant to fund research on Amazonian peatlands

Picture of a fieldworker in dense palm swamp forest

Undertaking a forest census in a peatland palm swamp, Loreto, Peru

Ian Lawson, Katy Roucoux, Tim Baker (U. Leeds), Ed Mitchard and Mat Williams (U. Edinburgh) have been awarded NERC funding to continue their research into Amazonian peatlands. The project, “Carbon Storage in Amazonian Peatlands: Distribution and Dynamics”, will run for three years, and aims to improve our understanding of the distribution and functioning of these globally-significant ecosystems.

You can read more about our tropical peatland research on our dedicated website.

Quaternary Palaeoeocology training course

Generating robust reconstructions of the drivers of past environmental change increasingly demands the use of a multi-proxy approach. With this in mind, PhD student Robert Barbour recently attended an advanced training short course on Quaternary Palaeoecology, funded by NERC and held in the Natural History Museum in London.  The week-long course provided a fantastic introduction to a selection of the most widely used palaeoecological proxies, with a focus on diatoms, pollen, chironimids, vertebrates and beetles.  As well as comprehensive overviews of ecology, taxonomy, and issues concerning the inference of environmental information, the course presented the opportunity to practice preparation and identification of each biological group during lab microscope sessions, all under the supervision of leading academics and researchers.  It was a hugely informative and productive week, and many thanks go to the organiser Dr Tom Hill and all the other museum academics involved in making the whole event a great success!

PhD Opportunity – Is naturalised Scots pine a threat or benefit for climate resilience?

Prestwick Carr_DSCF0028

Migration is an essential adaptive response to environmental change, but enabling population movement within cultural landscapes is a real challenge, particularly where the establishment of new species may alter habitats that are designated for their current conservation value. This PhD aims to evaluate the role that tree species growing beyond their accepted native limits play in climate change adaptation, using naturalised Scots pine communities in northern England and southern Scotland as a case study. It will use ecological, dendroecological and palaeoenvironmental methods to assess how newly-formed pine communities develop, how they compare with native and plantation pinewoods, and how they impact surrounding open habitats. Europe lags behind the New World when considering how to move beyond static native/non-native classifications as part of conservation adaptation to environmental change, and this research will provide a robust evidence-base for evaluating the role of these contentious communities in UK conservation. The project will be jointly supervised by Prof Alistair Jump (University of Stirling), Dr Rob Wilson and Dr Althea Davies (both University of St Andrews). The project is available as part of the competitively-funded IAPETUS-Doctoral Training Programme, supported by NERC. The closing date for applications is the 4th January 2016. For details, please see