October 10, 2017

The role of moss mats on the resilience of soil to climate change

The role of moss mats on the resilience of soil to climate change

We are seeking an enthusiastic PhD student to work as part of our interdisciplinary team based at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Bangor with registration at Bangor University.

You will work in collaboration with Forestry Research and a European climate change network with sites located in Denmark, Hungary and Spain. In our Welsh climate manipulation experiment we found that the development of a moss mat changed the response of soil to climate change. This is because mosses provide a habitat for soil animals, influence nutrient cycling, and modulate soil moisture. The capacity of soil to hold water is vital for soil stability and function, which in turn is crucial for flood mitigation and biodiversity.

The aim of this PhD is to assess the effects of moss mats on the capacity of soils to reduce negative impacts of climate change. We have already collected good evidence that moss mats increase soil moisture and reduce soil degradation. You will investigate the causes of these changes related to soil structure, microbes and soil fauna at our long-term climate manipulation site, in forests and across European shrublands. You will learn and practice environmental measurements in the field and in the laboratory. Measurements will characterise soil structure, soil chemistry and nutrient cycling, biology (plants, microbes and fauna), and soil processes. You will learn to work with, analyse and interpret long-term and large datasets originating from long-term climate change experiments and national monitoring programmes. At the end of the project, you will have developed a holistic understanding of ecosystem stability under environmental change.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Physical Geography, Biology, Ecology or Natural Sciences or related areas. Be enthusiastic about outdoor working and laboratory experimentation. Interest in data analysis using R would be an advantage. A valid driver’s license is required. Some European travel is likely.

For further details please contact the primary supervisor Dr Sabine Reinsch at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Bangor (