Search site

School of Geography

Ecology & Global Change

Working in biomes across the world from tropical rain forests to Arctic tundra, the Ecology and Global Change (EGC) group aims to determine the nature of environmental change at a range of temporal and spatial scales. EGC has made major advances in understanding the sensitivity of vegetation to orbital millennial scale climate forcing, carbon cycling in tropical forests and ecohydrological responses of peatlands to past climate change. 

One of our key research areas has been the global monitoring of forests by setting up and leading international projects RAINFOR, FORESTPLOTS, AFRITRONAMAZONICA and TForces
.  As a result, our work has made important contributions to both international and national climate and environmental management policy agendas. Within the broad interests of the EGC group, there are four interconnected research themes:

1. Ecosystems and evolution

  • Understanding ecological patterns of diversity, composition and ecosystem function in time and space
  • Quantifying the magnitude, rate and timing of ecosystem response to current and future climate change
  • Identifying the drivers of evolution in tropical ecosystems

2. Palaeoecology, palaeoclimate and chronostratigraphy

  • Understanding the nature and timing of climatic and environmental changes over millennial to decadal timescales
  • Quantifying past human impact on ecosystems
  • Examining the long-term ecohydrological dynamics of peatland environments
  • Developing high-resolution chronologies of past environmental change

3. Biogeochemical cycles

  • Analysing regional and global CO2 records to identify trends and the onset of feedbacks in the coupled climate-carbon cycle system
  • Dynamic vegetation modelling to predict the response of land vegetation to climate change
  • Analysing recent changes in the tropical hydrological cycle and plant functioning using tree ring isotopes
  • Analysing and modelling soil development
  • Understanding the importance of soil physical and chemical properties to ecosystem function in the tropics

4. Global environmental science

  • Designing and implementing measurement schemes to characterise and reduce global environmental uncertainties
  • Assessing dryland degradation and the sustainability of environmental management
  • Modelling long-term trends in national land use and land cover
  • Managing multiple ecosystem services
  • Communicating science concerning global environmental governance to policy makers