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School of Geography

Ecology and Global Change

Working at locations and biomes across the world, the Ecology and Global Change group aims to determine fundamental ecological patterns and their causes and the nature of environmental change at a range of temporal and spatial scales. The group aims are to link plant geographical observations with physiology; to understand magnitude, rates and timing of ecosystem response to past and future climate change, and effects of terrestrial ecosystems on atmospheric CO2; to establish spatial and evolutionary responses to long-term climate change; and to distinguish natural variability from human-driven processes. EGC has made major advances in understanding short and long-term ecoclimatological interactions. Many of our projects are focussed on forest systems, the most biogeochemically active and complex terrestrial ecosystems.

The group's research interests lie in:

  • Revealing ecological patterns and what determines them. (To what extent are plant distributions controlled by soils, climate, and history?)
  • Revealing fundamental macroecological patterns and what determines them (How is diversity distributed? What factors control biomass and dynamics?)
  • What have been, what are, and what will be the effects of forests on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels?
  • Magnitude, rates, and timing of forest response to past and future change in climate and atmospheric chemistry, including threshold effects.
  • Distinguishing long-term natural variability from anthropogenic forcing.
  • Ecological space and time up-scaling
    (local to global, annual to millennial).
  • Linking palaeo-ecological and contemporary ecological research.
  • The nature and timing of climatic and environmental changes and human impacts at millennial-centennial-decadal timescales.
  • The long-term dynamics of global peatland environments.

Latest News

Simon Lewis published a short commentary piece in Nature on the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit and the planetary boundaries concept. See the nature website for the article.

Simon Lewis spoke at London's Talkfest alongside bestselling science author, Michael Brooks (of Secret Anarchy of Science, and 13 Things That Don't Make Sense fame), on a panel on 'science communication and political divides'.

Simon Lewis gave an invited seminar at the University of Nottingham's Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice on the Anthropocene.

On 28 May Alan Grainger attended a consultation workshop on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. It was held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and organized by DEFRA.

New paper in Press:
Patterson, R.T., Roe, H.M., Swindles, G.T. In Press. Development of an Arcellacean (testate lobose amoebae) based transfer function for sedimentary phosphorous in lakes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.