What are the biodiversity implications of upland native woodland expansion?
Across the UK, considerable native woodland creation on open upland moorland is expected over the coming decades, through both governmental and non-governmental initiatives. This is predicted to benefit woodland birds of conservation importance, but impact negatively on moorland species, many of which are themselves also of conservation importance. Much of our knowledge of woodland planting is based upon non-native coniferous woodland, with limited ecological understanding of the impacts of native broadleaved planting. This PhD project, based at the University of Stirling and conducted in collaboration with the RSPB, will examine the effect of upland woodland on a range of taxa at various trophic levels.
How does woodland restoration influence the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of agricultural soils?
Approximately a quarter of all living species are found in soils. The soil biota underpins functions which provide essential ecosystem services such as carbon and nutrient cycling, critical for primary production and human food security. The health and biological diversity of soils are also highly influential for above-ground ecosystem functioning. Modern agricultural practices often impact negatively on soil biodiversity, but the extent to which soils, and the species that support them, change as a result of alterations in management practices is poorly understood. In particular, little is known about the development of soils as a result of restoration efforts such as the creation of woodlands. Researchers at Forest Research, in collaboration with the WrEN project, have been examining soil development and changes over time under different woodlands and adjacent farmland. A new PhD project focussing on below ground biodiversity will begin in October 2019 to develop this research further.