I am an ecohydrologist with a special interest in floodplain meadows. My research focuses on the relationship between vegetation communities and their soils, particularly their water regime and nutrient status. The question of how numerous species manage to co-exist in these systems is of particular interest. I have been widely involved in advising on water management for nature conservation and in all applied aspects of floodplain-meadow management. My current projects look to expand the research carried out in English meadows to species-rich assemblages of plants elsewhere in the world (particularly the fynbos region of South Africa's Cape, Siberian floodplains and the Iberian mountains.)
My research for the past 20 years has focussed on characterising the water regime of meadow soils and relating the hydrological information to vegetation-community dynamics. The main finding has been that each species within the meadow system has a unique hydrological niche and this fact may allow many species to co-exist in close proximity. Field data have demonstrated that the physical structure of soil is absolutely central to defining the water regime and therefore protection of soil structure should be a high priority for nature-conservation managers.
- 2015-2018 John Ellerman Foundation. Floodplain Meadows restoration project. £120,000 (Principal investigator)
- 2015-2018 Eranda-Foundation funded studentship. The assembly of plant communities on soils wityh fluctuating hydrology. £76,000 (Principal investigator)
- 2015-2017 NERC International Oppportunities Fund. The resilience of floodplian meadow productivity to cliamte change. £39,000 (Principal invrestigator.)
- 2014-2017 Daphne Jackson/NERC Fellowship for Dr Clare Lawson to study soil carbon sequestration in meaodws. £40,000 (Supervisor.)
- 2014-2017 Esmee Fairbairn grant to sustain the Floodplain Meadows Project, £247,000 (Principal investigator.)
- 2011-2013 NERC funded grant: "FUSE." £125,000 (co-Investigator)
- 2011-2014 Esmee Fairbairn grant to sustain the Floodplain Meadows Project, £128,000 (Principal investigator.)
- 2008-2011 Esmee Fairbairn grant to develop the Floodplain Meadows Project, £139,000 (Principal investigator.)
- 2006-2009 NERC funded grant. “Biodiversity of European grasslands – impact of nitrogen deposition (part of the BEGIN consortium).” £174,290 (Principal investigator.)
- 2006-2009 ESF programme EuroDIVERSITY; leader of BEGIN consortium and member of scientific committee. BEGIN consortium funding €785,000.
- 2006-2010 EA funded project. “Barmby Barrage Habitat Regulations and Tidal Order Project” £26,000 (Principal investigator.)
- 2006-2009 Garfield-Weston charitable Foundation funded project. “Floodplain meadows: their conservation and restoration. £50,000 (Principal investigator.)
- 2005-2008 ESRC/NERC funded research grant “Integrated land and water management in floodplains.” £86,634 (co-Investigator)
- 2005-2007 Leverhulme funded grant “Soil moisture gradients and biodiversity in the Cape flora.” £84,822 (co-Investigator)
- 2004-2007 NERC-funded research grant “Woody wetland plants: an overlooked trace gas emission pathway £29,774 (co-Investigator)
- 2004-2008 EU Leader+ funding. “Control of marsh ragwort (Senecio aquaticus) for agriculture and conservation. £73,100 (lead academic)
- 2004-2009 Environment Agency- funded research “Nutrient deposition on floodplain grassland” £83,000 (Principal Investigator)
- 2003-2007 DEFRA-funded research grant via CEH “The role of grips in wetland hydrology” £64,000 (co-Investigator)
- 2003-2007 NERC-funded research grant “The Influence of Woodlands on Recharge in the Pang Catchment” £242,561 (co-Investigator)
My teaching is in the field of Environmental Science; in particular the interactions of plants, soil and water. I have taught at undergrad and Masters Level within Cranfield University and I have been involved in a number of module teams at the Open University: Environmental Science (S216/S206), Environmental Science in the Field (SXR216/SXE288/SXF206), Ecology (S328), Ecosystems (S396), Biology of Survival (S295) and Environment: response to change (SDT306).
Impact and engagement
Since 2007, I have been the director of the Floodplain Meadows Partnership, which aims to pool resources and knowledge amongst all those involved in the conservation of this rare and threatened habitat type. Please refer our website www.floodplainmeadows.org for further information.
I currently chair the Joint Technical Advisory Committee for the Great Fen Project near Peterborough and I sit on the Ecological Advisory Group for the Parks Trust in Milton Keynes.
|Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)||Centre||Faculty of Science|
|Ecology and Evolution Research Group||Group||Faculty of Science|
|Ecosystems Research Group||Research Group||Faculty of Science|
|OpenSpace Research Centre||Centre||Faculty of Social Sciences|
Externally funded projects
Valuing green Infrastructure through Tree Assessment tooLs (VITAL)
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Co-investigator||01/Jan/2016||31/Dec/2017||NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)|
Trees provide a wide range of ecosystem services including provision of wood and timber, regulation of water quality and quantity, carbon sequestration and storage, and cooling local air temperatures, mitigating air pollution, supporting biodiversity, as well as their cultural and public and amenity values. They are a vital component of green infrastructure. Services provided by forest ecosystems are well documented, and a number of tools - including the OU's citizen science based tree mapping Treezilla (www.treezilla.org and i-Tree (www.itreetools.org ) - have been developed to help assess the value of trees in urban environments to support the advocacy of trees in towns and cities, as well as to encourage budgetary support in the maintenance and expansion of urban forests. This project aims to develop these systems with a focus on Treezilla to provide better UK-based data. Our goal is to deliver a platform for valuing trees usable by ordinary citizens, environmental and planning professionals which leads to a broader understanding of the value of green infrastructure to society and which promotes investment and support for green infrastructure amongst individual citizens and organisations.
Climate Change Impacts on a Calcereous Grassland
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Co-investigator||01/Nov/2015||31/Oct/2020||ECT Ecological Continuity Trust|
Understanding the impacts of climate change on sensitive and high-conservation value ecosystems is key for their successful management and provision of ecosystem services. This project will establish a large field-based experimental facility to investigate the impacts of changing hydrological regimes on a calcareous grassland. The experimental set-up involves the construction of up to 16 large rain-shelters, combined with irrigation systems, to apply both drought and wetting treatments to a grassland ecosystem at the Upper Seeds experimental site, Wytham, Oxford. Planned as a platform for long-term ecological experiments, it will host over time a number of research projects from different institutions, with a PhD project from the OU and a DroughtNet-linked project from Oxford due to start field work in spring 2016. This bid is to finalise the construction of the shelters, following prototype trials at the OU. Funds have already been secured for shelter construction from the Patsy Wood Trust through the ECT; decisions on the initial number and time-frame for remaining shelter construction are required for this stage. This project is the continuation of an earlier project initiated by Jonathan Silvertown under budget code HGSE 4240 C4509.
PhD Studentship (Eranda foundation)
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
This project aims to understand how plant communities come together around seasonal pools, where the soil varies between being very wet and very dry within the same year. The communities growing here are often of great conservation importance in their own right (e.g. the turloughs of Ireland,) but they also offer an opportunity to investigate the fundamental processes of how plants compete with one another for resources in a constantly changing environment.
NERC International Opportunities Fund: Resilience of floodplain productivity to environmental change
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||01/Jan/2015||31/May/2016||NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)|
To help us understand how vegetation may respond to climate change, this project takes a plant community that occurs in all climate zones from the west coast of Ireland to central Siberia, namely the floodplain meadow community. We aim to bring together researchers interested in this community from all parts of its range, but particularly from European Russia where many groups have been recording changes within this vegetation for decades. A central question is how responsive is the productivity to variations in temperature and rainfall and whether the species richness of the community reduces the variability by conferring resilience.
Daphne Jackson Trust Fellowship - Clare Lawson
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||01/Oct/2014||30/Sep/2017||Daphne Jackson Trust|
Species-rich floodplain meadows are an important habitat in Britain valued for their diversity and rare and unique species. However, floodplains have an important role providing multiple ecosystem services many of which will become increasingly important with climate change. It is vital to understand the relationship between these different ecosystem services, to determine whether conflicts or complementarities exist and to define the management needed to maximize ecosystem services. This study will investigate the role floodplains have in delivering two ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation and soil-carbon storage. The focus of the study will be the relative importance of plant-community composition, plant functional traits and hydrology in determining carbon storage in the soils of floodplain meadows. This will be investigated through a series of observational field studies and a manipulative mesocosm experiment. Understanding the relationship between plant-community composition and soil-carbon would allow the use of plants as indicators of ecosystem service value.
Garcia-Baquero, Gonzalo; Silvertown, Jonathan; Gowing, David J. and Valle, Cipriano J.
Journal of Vegetation Science, 27(2) (pp. 219-226)
Conserving socio-ecological landscapes: An analysis of traditional and responsive management practices for floodplain meadows in England (2016)
McGinlay, J.; Gowing, D. J. G. and Budds, J.
Environmental Science & Policy ((Early Access))
The contribution of trees to ecosystem methane emissions in a temperate forested wetland (2015-07)
Pangala, Sunitha R.; Hornibrook, Edward R.C.; Gowing, David J. and Gauci, Vincent
Global Change Biology, 21(7) (pp. 2642-2654)
Hydrological niches in terrestrial plant communities: a review (2015-01)
Silvertown, Jonathan; Araya, Yoseph and Gowing, David
Journal of Ecology, 103(1) (pp. 93-108)
Controls on methane emissions from Alnus glutinosa saplings (2014-02)
Pangala, Sunitha R.; Gowing, David J.; Hornibrook, Edward R. C. and Gauci, Vincent
New Phytologist, 201(3) (pp. 887-896)
Does soil nitrogen availability mediate the response of grassland composition to water regime? (2013-05)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Gowing, David J. and Dise, N.
Journal of Vegetation Science, 24(3) (pp. 506-517)
Inferring nitrogen deposition from plant community composition (2013-03)
Payne, Richard J.; Caporn, Simon J. M. ; Stevens, Carly J.; Carroll, Jacky A.; Edmondson, Jill L.; Gowing, David J. and Dise, Nancy B.
Ecological Indicators, 26 (pp. 1-4)
Impact of nitrogen deposition at the species level (2013-01-15)
Payne, Richard J.; Dise, Nancy B.; Stevens, Carly J. and Gowing, David J.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(3) (pp. 984-987)
Do niche-structured plant communities exhibit phylogenetic conservatism? A test case in an endemic clade (2012-11)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Silvertown, Jonathan; Gowing, David J.; McConway, Kevin J.; Linder, H. P. and Midgley, Guy
Journal of Ecology, 100(6) (pp. 1434-1439)
Experimental investigation of the origin of fynbos plant community structure after fire (2012)
Silvertown, Jonathan; Araya, Yoseph N.; Linder, H. Peter and Gowing, David J.
Annals of Botany, 110(7) (pp. 1377-1383)
The combined effect of waterlogging, extractable P and soil pH on α-diversity: a case study on mesotrophic grasslands in the UK. (2011-05)
Michalovà, Dana; Gilbert, Joanne C.; Lawson, Clare S.; Gowing, David J. G. and Marrs, Rob H.
Plant Ecology, 212(5) (pp. 879-888)
Changes in species composition of European acid grasslands observed along a gradient of nitrogen deposition (2011-04)
Stevens, Carly; Duprè, Cecilia; Gaudnik, Cassandre; Dorland, Edu; Dise, Nancy; Gowing, David; Bleeker, Albert; Alard, Didier; Bobbink, Roland; Fowler, David; Vandvik, Vigdis; Corcket, Emmanuel; Mountford, J. Owen; Aarrestad, Per Arild; Muller, Serge and Diekmann, Martin
Journal of Vegetation Science, 22(2) (pp. 207-215)
A fundamental, eco-hydrological basis for niche segregation in plant communities (2011-01)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Silvertown, Jonathan; Gowing, David J.; McConway, Kevin J.; Linder, H. Peter and Midgley, Guy
New Phytologist, 189(1) (pp. 253-258)
Variation in δ13C among species and sexes in the family Restionaceae along a fine-scale hydrological gradient (2010-11)
Araya, Yoseph; Silvertown, Jonathan; Gowing, David; McConway, Kevin; Linder, Peter and Midgley, Guy
Austral Ecology, 35(7) (pp. 818-824)
Woody stem methane emission in mature wetland alder trees (2010-06)
Gauci, Vincent; Gowing, David J. G.; Hornibrook, Edward R. C.; Davis, Joanna M. and Dise, Nancy B.
Atmospheric Environment, 44(17) (pp. 2157-2160)
A controlled water-table depth system to study the influence of fine-scale differences in water regime for plant growth (2010-01)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Gowing, David J. and Dise, Nancy
Aquatic Botany, 92(1) (pp. 70-74)
Explaining hydrological niches: the decisive role of below-ground competition in two closely related Senecio species (2010-01)
Bartelheimer, Maik; Gowing, David and Silvertown, Jonathan
Journal of Ecology, 98(1) (pp. 126-136)
A framework for the assessment of ecosystem goods and services; a case study on lowland floodplains in England (2010)
Posthumus, H.; Rouquette, J. R.; Morris, J.; Gowing, D. J. G. and Hess, T. M.
Ecological Economics, 69(7) (pp. 1510-1523)
Nitrogen deposition threatens species richness of grasslands across Europe (2010)
Stevens, Carly; Duprè, Cecilia; Dorland, Edu; Gaudnik, Cassandre; Gowing, David J. G.; Bleeker, Albert; Diekmann, Martin; Alard, Didier; Bobbink, Roland; Fowler, David; Corcket, Emmanuel; Mountford, J. Owen; Vandvik, Vigdis; Aarrestad, Per Arild; Muller, Serge and Dise, Nancy B.
Environmental Pollution, 158(9) (pp. 2940-2945)
Contribution of acidification and eutrophication to declines in species richness of calcifuge grasslands along a gradient of atmospheric nitrogen deposition (2010)
Stevens, Carly J.; Thompson, Ken; Grime, J. Philip; Long, Christopher J. and Gowing, David J. G.
Functional Ecology, 24(2) (pp. 478-484)
Identifying indicators of atmospheric nitrogen deposition impacts in acid grasslands (2009-10-01)
Stevens, C. J.; Maskell, L. C.; Smart, S. M.; Caporn, S. J. M.; Dise, N. B. and Gowing, D. J. G.
Biological Conservation, 142(10) (pp. 2069-2075)
Modelling the hydrological impacts of climate change on UK lowland wet grassland (2009-10)
Thompson, J. R.; Gavin, H.; Refsgaard, A.; Refstrup Sørenson, H. and Gowing, D. J.
Wetlands Ecology and Management, 17(5) (pp. 503-523)
Available soil phosphorus in semi-natural grasslands: assessment methods and community tolerances (2009-05-01)
Gilbert, Joanne; Gowing, David and Wallace, Hilary
Biological Conservation, 142(5) (pp. 1074-1083)
Valuing nature-conservation interests on agricultural floodplains (2009-04)
Rouquette, J. R.; Posthumus, H.; Gowing, D. J. G.; Tucker, G.; Dawson, Q. L.; Hess, T. M. and Morris, J.
Journal of Applied Ecology, 46(2) (pp. 289-296)
Regional trends in soil acidification and exchangeable metal concentrations in relation to acid deposition rates (2009-01)
Stevens, Carly J.; Dise, Nancy B. and Gowing, David J.
Environmental Pollution, 157(1) (pp. 313-319)
Determining the important environmental variables controlling plant species community composition in mesotrophic grasslands in Great Britain (2009)
Kalusová, Veronika; Le Duc, Michael G.; Gilbert, Joanne C.; Lawson, Clare S.; Gowing, David J. G. and Marrs, Rob H.
Applied Vegetation Science, 12(4) (pp. 459-471)
Changes in species richness and composition in European acidic grasslands over the past 70 years: the contribution of cumulative atmospheric nitrogen deposition (2009)
Dupre, Cecilia; Stevens, Carly J.; Ranke, Traute; Bleeker, Albert; Peppler-Lisbach, Cord; Gowing, David J.; Dise, Nancy B.; Dorland, Edu; Bobbink, Roland and Diekmann, Martin
Global Change Biology, 16(1) (pp. 344-357)
Comparative measurements of transpiration and canopy conductance in two mixed deciduous woodlands differing in structure and species composition (2008-06)
Herbst, Mathias; Rosier, Paul T. W.; Morecroft, Michael D. and Gowing, David J.
Tree Physiology, 28(6) (pp. 959-970)
Seasonal variability of interception evaporation from the canopy of a mixed deciduous forest (2008)
Herbst, Mathias; Rosier, Paul T. W.; McNeil, David D.; Harding, Richard J. and Gowing, David J.
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 148(11) (pp. 1655-1667)
Edge effects and forest water use: A field study in a mixed deciduous woodland (2007-10-20)
Herbst, Mathias; Roberts, John M.; Rosier, Paul T. W.; Taylor, Michèle E. and Gowing, David J.
Forest Ecology and Management, 250(3) (pp. 176-186)
Seasonal and interannual variability of canopy transpiration of a hedgerow in southern England (2007)
Herbst, Mathias; Roberts, John M.; Rosier, Paul T. W and Gowing, David J.
Tree Physiology, 27(3) (pp. 321-333)
Phylogeny and the hierarchical organization of plant diversity (2006-07)
Silvertown, Jonathan; Dodd, Mike; Gowing, David; Lawson, Clare and McConway, Kevin
Ecology, 87(7, Sup) (S39-S49)
Does soil strength play a role in wheat yield losses caused by soil drying? (2006-02)
Whalley, W.R.; Clark, L.J.; Gowing, D.J.G.; Cope, R.E.; Lodge, R.J. and Leeds-Harrison, P.B.
Plant and Soil, 280(1-2) (pp. 279-290)
Absence of phylogenetic signal in the niche structure of meadow plant communities (2006-01-07)
Silvertown, Jonathan; McConway, Kevin; Gowing, David; Dodd, Mike; Fay, Michael F.; Joseph, Jeffrey A. and Dolphin, Konrad
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273(1582) (pp. 39-44)
Loss of forb diversity in relation to nitrogen deposition in the UK: regional trends and potential controls (2006)
Stevens, C. J.; Dise, N. B.; Gowing, D. J. G. and Mountford, J. O.
Global Change Biology, 12(10) (pp. 1823-1833)
Use of effective stress to predict the penetrometer resistance of unsaturated agricultural soils (2005-11)
Whalley, W.R.; Leeds-Harrison, P.B.; Clark, L.J. and Gowing, D.J.G.
Soil and Tillage Research, 84(1) (pp. 18-27)
Sensing the physical and nutritional status of the root environment in the field: a review of progress and opportunities (2005-10)
Clark, L. J.; Gowing, D. J. G.; Lark, R. M.; Leeds-Harrison, P. B.; Miller, A. J.; Wells, D. M.; Whalley, W. R. and Whitmore, A. P.
Journal of Agricultural Science, 143(5) (pp. 347-358)
Impact of nitrogen deposition on the species richness of grasslands (2004-03-19)
Stevens, Carly J.; Dise, Nancy B.; Mountford, J. Owen and Gowing, David J.
Science, 303(5665) (pp. 1876-1879)
Soil aeration status in a lowland wet grassland (2004-02-15)
Barber, K.R.; Leeds-Harrison, P.B.; Lawson, C.S. and Gowing, D.J.G.
Hydrological Processes, 18(2) (pp. 329-341)
Influence of seed mixture and hydrological regime on the establishment of a diverse grassland sward at a site with high phosphorus availability (2003-12)
Gilbert, Joanne C.; Gowing, David J. G. and Bullock, Richard J.
Restoration Ecology, 11(4) (pp. 424-435)
Chemical amelioration of high phosphorus availability in soil to aid the restoration of species-rich grassland (2003-02)
Gilbert, Joanne C.; Gowing, David J.G. and Loveland, Peter
Ecological Engineering, 19(5) (pp. 297-304)
Phylogeny and the niche structure of meadow plant communities (2001-06)
Silvertown, Jonathan; Dodd, Mike and Gowing, David
Journal of Ecology, 89(3) (pp. 428-435)
Hydrologically defined niches reveal a basis for species richness in plant communities (1999-07-01)
Silvertown, Jonathan; Dodd, Mike; Gowing, David J. and Mountford, J. Owen
nature, 400(6739) (pp. 61-63)
Morris, Joseph; Posthumus, Helena; Hess, Timothy; Gowing, David and Rouquette, James
In: Winter, Michael and Lobley, Matt eds. What is Land For? The Food, Fuel and Climate Change Debate
ISBN : 9781844077205 | Publisher : Earthscan | Published : London, UK
Evolution of hydrological niches in Restionaceae: a project update (2008)
Araya, Y. N.; Silvertown, J.; Linder, H. P; Gowing, D. J.; Midgley, G. F. and McConway, K. J.
In: Mucina, L.; Kalwij, J. M.; Smith, V. R.; Chytry, M.; White, P. S.; Cilliers, S. S.; Pillar, V. D.; Zobel, M. and Sun, I-Fang eds. Frontiers of Vegetation Science - An evolutionary angle (pp. 15-16)
ISBN : 9780958476690 | Publisher : Keith Phillips Images | Published : Somerset West
Integrated land and water management in floodplains in England (2008)
Posthumus, H.; Rouquette, J. R.; Morris, J.; Hess, T. M.; Gowing, D. J. and Dawson , Q. L.
In: Samuels, P.; Huntingdon, S.; Allsop, W. and Harrop, J. eds. Flood Risk Management: Research and Practice (pp. 151-153)
ISBN : 978-0-415-48507-4 | Publisher : CRC Press / Balkema | Published : Leiden, Netherlands
Pangala, S. R.; Hornibrook, E. R.; Gowing, D. J.; Bastviken, D.; Enrich-Prast, A. and Gauci, V.
In : AGU Fall Meeting (9-13 Dec 2010, San Francisco, CA, USA)
Trees are important conduits for emission of methane from temperate and tropical wetlands (2013-04)
Gauci, Vincent; Pangala, Sunitha; Gowing, David and Hornibrook, Edward
In : European Geosciences Union General Assembly (07 – 12 April 2013, Vienna)
Methane emission through trees in temperate and tropical wetlands (2012-12)
Pangala, Sunitha R.; Gauci, Vincent; Hornibrook, Edward R. C. and Gowing, David
In : AGU Fall Meeting (3-7 December 2012, San Francisco, CA, USA)
Methane emissions through trees in tropical and temperate forested wetlands (2012-06)
Pangala, Sunitha R.; Gauci, Vincent; Hornibrook, Edward R. C. and Gowing, David J.
In : 9th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference: Wetlands in a Complex World (03-08 June 2012, Orlando, Florida) (p 170)
Tree-mediated methane emissions from tropical and temperate peatlands (2012-04-26)
Pangala, S. R.; Gauci, V.; Hornibrook, E. R. C. and Gowing, D. J.
In : EGU General Assembly 2012 (22-27 April 2012, Vienna)
Gowing, David; Wallace, Hilary; Prosser, Mike and Dodd, Michael
Research Report by The Open University for Black and Veatch/Environment Agency