Natural wetlands are the greatest emitters of atmospheric methane. Plants are important controls of this as they can both stimulate high methane production and suppress emissions by releasing oxygen into the ground supporting bacterially mediated oxidation of methane drastically cutting emissions. Tropical wetlands are particularly important in the global methane cycle, however, the mechanisms behind these processes are poorly understood especially with regards to different tree species. This project is designed to deliver detailed understanding of the magnitude of trees capability of mitigating methane emissions as well as how different trees specific adaptations to wetland conditions control such processes. The research questions this project sets out to address are: How does the physiological adaptations that enables trees species to maintain high productivity in wetlands impact on soil oxygenation? 2. How does species distribution and water table levels impact abundance and activity of methane oxidizing bacteria and net methane emissions? 3. What are the genetic mechanism that controls plant adaptations to wetlands traits and how do they differ amount species/plant functional types?
The project requires travel to tropical forests in Panama to carry out extensive field work and to collect plant and soil material for experiments in the UK. The student will hence have the chance to carry out exciting field expeditions in pristine tropical forest as part of the project and work at renowned field research centers in Bocas del Toro, Panama (https://stri.si.edu/visit/bocas-del-toro). The laboratory work will be carried out at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City (https://stri.si.edu/), the University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey providing access to state of the art research equipment and international research networks. The project will provide training in field botany, plant physiology, biogeochemistry, greenhouse gas measurements, organic geochemistry, stable isotope techniques and plant genetic analysis.
Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Biology, Environmental Science, Geography, Biology or Natural Sciences
For further details please e-mail Sofie Sjogersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.