13 March, 2017

Can nitrogen saturation lead to lower soil N pools? Using paired chronosequences to study the mechanisms governing nitrogen accumulation

Supervisor: Laurence Jones
Registered: Bangor University
Based: Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Nitrogen pollution can reduce plant diversity in dune ecosystems by 50%, but new research suggests that nitrogen saturation may actually limit the amount of nitrogen accumulating in dune soils. This innovative project will use high-resolution chronosequences (sites with soils of varying age, 0-160 years old) and computer modelling to unpick the key soil processes that control nitrogen availability, and ultimately plant diversity.

The project will work on two sites: in the UK (Newborough Warren) and the Netherlands (Luchterduinen). The student will measure soil processes in the field and the laboratory, using these to parameterise the CENTURY-SWAP model. The study will go on to predict how climate change will affect soil nitrogen stocks in the future, and the consequences for plant diversity.

You will be given full training in soil analysis techniques including use of stable isotopes, and in use of the CENTURY model, working closely with UK and Dutch experts.

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Agriculture, Geography or Natural Sciences. The project is multidisciplinary, combining soil science, plant ecology and modelling, and will operate at a number of scales, making a wide range of scientific training suitable. The student must have a good grasp of mathematics and be able to interact in a group containing a wide range of expertise. Applicants must be willing and able to undertake fieldwork and should possess a full driver’s licence. Only open to UK/EU residents.

For further details, please contact Dr Laurence Jones

Further information for applicants

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