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Biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology

Biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology.  Image provided by Sunitha Pangala

Our research focuses on Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems and biosphere-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases. Studies undertaken range from investigations of the smallest microbial unit to whole catchment ecosystems and across a wide range of latitudes, with a developing focus on tropical ecosystems. Our research considers element cycles, water balances and energy budgets in response to change, whether caused by natural catastrophe through volcanic eruptions or fire, or through human impact. There is a strong focus on understanding carbon and nutrient dynamics within wetland ecosystems and ecophysiological responses of forests to change. A key approach undertaken in this area is the application of experimental simulations of individual drivers of global change in order to understand likely ecosystem responses, while providing a mechanistic understanding of any changes to key underlying processes and microbial communities.

Our research has taken place across the globe, including northern peatlands, European grasslands, South African grasslands, and in the tropical forests of Borneo and Central and South America.

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) or an appropriate first degree and postgraduate qualification

Potential research projects

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any aspect of biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology and environmental science. Lists of postgraduate research projects likely to be available for a 2018 start will become available towards the end of 2017.

Current/recent research projects

  • Land-use as a tool in natural flood management
  • Fluvial carbon fluxes in deforested tropical peat swamp forests
  • Methane emissions from trees
  • Ecosystem responses to the low atmospheric CO2 during the Last Glacial Maximum
  • Pollution effects on ecosystems
  • Ecohydrology of riparian forests
  • Ecosystem responses to volcanism

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Michelle Aitken
+44 (0)1908 332943

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.