skip to primary navigation skip to content
 

 

Ecosystem processes

This theme focuses on the study of interacting environmental processes in both marine and terrestrial environments. We seek to understand the spatiotemporal variations in ecosystem processes and the drivers of change, both natural and anthropogenic. Projects within this theme are wide ranging in scale including population ecology, community ecology, vegetation and landscape dynamics. We use a range of techniques in our work, including field observations and measurements, dendroecology and dendrochronology, microscopy, eDNA, remote sensing. We work worldwide, especially in mountainous, high-latitude (including the Southern Ocean), sub-arctic and Mediterranean locations.

Harriet Allen, Nick Cutler, Ulf Büntgen, David Rose, Jennifer Brown, Hannah Cubaynes, Wenkai Guo.

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

Remote Sensing and the landscape ecology of Mediterranean shrubland ecosystems

Remote Sensing and the landscape ecology of Mediterranean shrubland ecosystems

This project investigates whether it is possible to use a fusion of data from Sentinel-1 (radar) with Sentinel-2 (optical) to map different Mediterranean shrubland communities based on their structure (canopy height, closure, local variability) and surface reflectance (biomass, plant functional type, species-specific response).

NSFDEB-NERC: Addressing the plant growth C source-sink debate through observations, experiments, and modelling

NSFDEB-NERC: Addressing the plant growth C source-sink debate through observations, experiments, and modelling

Fossil fuel burning is causing atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas CO₂ to rise, the main driver of man-made climate change. However, the rate of CO₂ rise is much slower than emissions suggest it should be. It appears that the land surface and oceans are together absorbing about 50% of annual CO₂ emissions. Some field studies indicate that a large portion of the land surface uptake is due to increasing tree growth. However, the causes, locations, and future behaviour of this CO₂ uptake remain highly uncertain. In this project, we propose to significantly improve our understanding of this fundamental issue using a unique combination of observations, experiments, and modelling.

The Cambridge contribution to the development of Global Ecosystems Models for use in IPBES and other global biodiversity assessments

The Cambridge contribution to the development of Global Ecosystems Models for use in IPBES and other global biodiversity assessments

This Cambridge Conservation Initiative-funded project brings together Cambridge-based ecosystem modellers to assess the extent to which current models, and their planned future developments, could be useful to policy processes connected to the maintenance of biodiversity at the global scale, in particular the IPBES processes.

Mediterranean wood pastures for biodiversity – making the lynx

Mediterranean wood pastures for biodiversity – making the lynx

This project aims to develop new tools to help conserve biodiversity in the emblematic wood pasture landscapes of southern Portugal. These areas are undergoing major change because of rural depopulation, land abandonment and other pressures. There is serious concern – but little evidence – about what this all means for the rich fauna and flora. As a result, it is difficult take appropriate action to limit any damage to wildlife. Making the Lynx aims to address this, drawing impetus from on-going efforts to save the Critically Endangered Iberian Lynx – a flagship species whose conservation would ensure the survival of a whole host of other wildlife.

The little things matter: microbes of the boreal bryosphere

The little things matter: microbes of the boreal bryosphere

The aim of this project is characterise the microbial communities of the boreal bryosphere i.e. the bacteria and fungi that live in the moss layer that blankets huge swathes of the boreal forest. The research focuses on a) temporal development, specifically community assembly following forest fires and b) fine scale spatial differences e.g. how the microbial communities on the growing tips of the moss stems differ from those on older, senescent stem sections.

Air pollution and ground disturbance in the Russian Arctic

Air pollution and ground disturbance in the Russian Arctic

The Polar Landscapes and Remote Sensing Group is engaged in a long-term programme of research into the potential for satellite and airborne remote sensing to study the phenomena of Arctic surface and airborne pollution effects, in collaboration with the Geography Faculty of Moscow State University.

Earlier projects