WETWOOC (WET WOOdlands and Carbon): Quantifying carbon in peat-forming wet woodlands

Theme: Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Primary Supervisor:

Alice Milner

Department of Geography, RHUL

Alice Milner's Profile Picture

Additional Supervisor(s):
Andy Baird (University of Leeds)
Emily Lines (University of Cambridge)

Project Description:

Globally, peatlands are one of the most important terrestrial carbon (C) stores, containing over 400 Gt C. One of the least understood types of peatland are wet woodlands, which store C as peat and as living biomass above and below ground. The relative importance of the latter two stores is unknown; neither do we know the contribution of above and below-ground litter production to peat formation. To address this critical research gap, this project will study wet woodlands in the Norfolk Broads in the UK. On a per unit area basis, the various types of peatland found in the Broads contain more C as peat than tropical forest biomass. However, whether the Broads will be a net C sink or source in future is poorly understood. Drone and other remote sensing technologies offer new opportunities to understand these wet woodlands and their C sink potential. This project will quantify above- and below-ground C production, link C production to ecohydrological variables collected from the Broadland Ecohydrological Observatory, and make comparisons to global systems (e.g. mangroves and tropical peatlands). The studentship is part of a larger project involving a national team of scientists at the University of Leeds, Cambridge, Exeter and QMUL and there is considerable flexibility within the general topic to tailor your research to your main interests. You will be an important member of this vibrant research group and will be encouraged to contribute to wider project discussions and present research findings.

Policy Impact of Research:

The research is highly relevant to a large number of wet woodlands globally. Wet woodlands are often deforested in favour of reedbeds, yet may be highly valuable for ecosystem services. You will have the opportunity to engage with land managers and government organisations to inform management and policy decisions.

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