REP Project

April 25, 2024

Restoring for the Future: Forest Restoration in the Face of Multiple Stressors

Imagine showing glass domes at UKCEH which are used to grow plants in different growing conditions and environments

Location: Bangor University.

7-week placement.

Tree planting and forest restoration has gained significant traction in policy and public discourse in recent years, often presented as a ‘win-win’ for both the biodiversity and climate crisis. The UK government has a target of establishing 30,000 hectares of new forest annually across the devolved governments, an increase in forest cover from 13% to 17% of land area nationwide. However, young trees planted in the present shall experience considerable threats to their establishment and survival with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting an increased frequency of climatic stress events such as heat and drought episodes. These stressors may interact with an ‘out-of-sight’ secondary pollutant, tropospheric ozone, which is produced via a photolysis reaction with precursor pollutants (e.g., NO2). Episodic peaks in tropospheric ozone, that typically occur during the summer, can cause significant oxidative damage to tree species reducing productivity and tree health.

The overarching aim of this project is to determine the sensitivity of tree species to tropospheric ozone pollution and identify the ecological processes sensitive to ozone pollution that are critical to forest restoration. The aim will be met through the following objectives: (1) to determine how tree species’ seed germination may be influenced by ozone; (2) to understand how tree species mixtures may moderate the effect of ozone on tree health; and (3) to establish what impact ozone may have on forest restoration in Southern Ecuador.

The successful candidate will join the international team of researchers at the UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology’s climate change facilities at Bangor University’s Henfaes research centre studying the effect of ozone on tree seed germination and tree growth. The work will include utilise state-of-the-art Solardome ozone research facilities and involving Ecuadorian and UK native species. The appointed candidate will receive training in the use of a LICOR LI-6400 Portable Photosynthesis System for measurements of stomatal conductance, evapotranspiration, and carbon assimilation (gross primary productivity), in addition to making measurement of leaf-level functional traits such as C/N ratios, leaf mass area/specific leaf area using WINDIAS leaf scanning software, and assessments of canopy depth (i.e., leaf area index) using an ACCUPAR LP-80 instrument. Additionally, the student will collect and analyse soil cores from treatment and control plots, examining physical, biogeochemical properties, microbial biomass, and root biomass using advanced imaging software.

This placement is an excellent opportunity for those looking to advance their knowledge and skills in forest ecology and play a role in tackling environmental challenges through scientific research. The intern will interact with research staff from different backgrounds and professional levels, expanding their professional network and provide opportunities to plan and undertake research in the future.

Supervisors: Professor Andy Smith (Bangor University) and Dr Mike Perring (UKCEH).

To apply

We encourage applications from students from all backgrounds. Please check you meet the eligibility criteria before completing the EDI Form 2024 ; this form is a mandatory part of the application process, but contains ‘prefer not to say’ options for all questions asked.

Once you have completed the online data collection form you will receive an email with the application form and details of how to apply to the supervisor. The application form should be completed and emailed to the lead supervisor along with a reference from your personal tutor.