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Biophysical linkages

Projects in this theme address the interaction between physical processes and the biological components of ecosystems (e.g. tidal and wave driven currents and their interaction with coastal vegetation or the role that vegetation plays in the preservation of tephra layers). This sub-group's research recognises that there are a range of environmental systems in which the biological and physical components are so intertwined with each other that they must be considered together rather than in separate sub-disciplines.

Iris Möller, Harriet Allen, Mike Bithell, Nick Cutler, Gareth Rees, Ulf Büntgen, Helen Brooks, Jennifer Brown, Wenkai Guo, James Tempest.

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

Tephra transformations: unpicking the record of past volcanic eruptions

Tephra transformations: unpicking the record of past volcanic eruptions

This study aims to determine how fine, pyroclastic fragments (tephra) that rain down during volcanic eruptions are transformed into tephra layers in the soil, in order to improve the interpretation of these features.

Tephra layers and early warning signals for critical transitions

Tephra layers and early warning signals for critical transitions

This project aims to establish how vegetation cover affects a) the stabilisation of fine, pyroclastic fragments (tephra) that rain down during volcanic eruptions and b) the incorporation of this material into the soil as tephra layers. The ultimate goal of the research is to infer past ecological conditions from tephra layers preserved in the soil.

The relationships between vegetation characteristics and the sea defence value of saltmarsh ecosystems

The relationships between vegetation characteristics and the sea defence value of saltmarsh ecosystems

Global and accompanying regional climatic changes are likely to increase flood and erosion risk on the low-lying coasts of many shores in the near future. To manage such risks, a better understanding of the natural sea-defence capacity of intertidal areas is required. While, at the time of the this study, preceding studies (e.g. Möller and Spencer (2003), Möller et al. (2001)) had indicated that such environments can reduce flood risk by significantly attenuating waves over hydraulically rough vegetated surfaces, no study had, as yet, systematically investigated the relative importance of different types of intertidal vegetation and/or seasonal changes to this bed roughness effect.

Quantifying the saltmarsh vegetation canopy

Quantifying the saltmarsh vegetation canopy

Recent concern over the possibility of increased flood risk (as a result of global and accompanying regional climatic changes) on the low-lying coasts of North-east Europe (including, e.g., the UK East coast) requires a better understanding of the natural sea-defence capacity of intertidal areas. This project involved (a) the testing and validating an innovative digital photograph technique for the measurement and parameterisation of saltmarsh vegetation 'roughness'/'density', and (b) the provision of information on the relationships between wave attenuation and vegetation 'roughness'/'density' on a macro-tidal saltmarsh.

Geology, ecology, hydrology & management of Chalk springs

Geology, ecology, hydrology & management of Chalk springs

This research theme centres on the water supply, water quality, macro-invertebrate communities and management status of coldwater springs within East Anglia. Special emphasis has been placed on certain key species of flatworms (Planarians) and caddis-flies (Trichoptera) sensitive to water quality and temperature.

FLOBAR1 - Floodplain Biodiversity and Restoration

FLOBAR1 - Floodplain Biodiversity and Restoration

The aim of this project was: (i) to contribute to the development of a scientific methodology for determining the flow needs of riparian plant communities on selected European floodplains; and (ii) to create effective links between the scientific understanding of the functioning of riparian ecosystems and the institutional mechanisms by which river management for conservation and restoration can occur.

Earlier projects