Core research areas and staffing – Københavns Universitet

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Core research areas and staffing

Bangor (School of Environment and Natural Resources, Bangor University)

Forestry and climate change
The current measured increase in concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is considered to be the most important long-term change occurring on this planet. Currently little is known about the response of mixtures of broadleaf species to elevated CO2, even though current plantings will grow most of their lifetime under higher CO2 levels. Planting new forests can be utilised to offset CO2 emissions if the carbon sequestration potential of these newly forested areas can be demonstrated. However, the true sequestration potential of new forests can only be assessed if C sequestration of the whole ecosystem is determined, including C in above and belowground biomass and soil C pools. To determine the influence of elevated CO2 on ecosystem C fluxes, the Free Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) technique has been developed. This technique allows a large area of a plant community to be grown at a level of CO2 which will occur in future atmospheres.

Forest and woodland ecology
Bangor is actively involved in ecological research across a wide range of the world's forests from wet to dry and hot to cold: current work includes Argentina, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi, Thailand, UK, Germany, Czech Republic. Our work spans most of the major disciplines of ecology. Ecophysiological research focuses on tree-soil interactions and mycorrhizas and this links to our work on nutrient cycling, impacts of climate change (including carbon fixation in forests) and pollution, and other aspects of forest ecosystem function. A second major linkage is provided through our work on the dynamics of forest stands and their constituent tree species; the linkage between disturbance and the tree regeneration cycle. Extensive work has been carried out on forest regeneration and restoration, tree seedling establishment and coppicing across a range of temperate and tropical wet and dry forests. The impact of invasive exotic and indigenous woody plant species on forest ecosystems has been a long-standing research theme. Research into forest biodiversity has focussed on the plant community, but more recent temperate research includes work on deer and rodents and their ecological impacts, and applications of landscape ecology. A major dimension to the research is the autoecology of multipurpose tropical tree species and the use of this knowledge to guide their management and conservation.

Forestry biodiversity conservation
Conservation is researched from the genetic to global scales, with a strong emphasis on new approaches to bio-diversity assessment, disturbance impacts, invasive species, restoration of degraded habitats and human perceptions and values. Current research includes: Assessing the impact of invasive species and their management; Valuation of biodiversity; Investigating mechanisms maintaining biodiversity in natural and managed ecosystems; Participatory approaches to biodiversity conservation; Assessing impacts of natural products harvesting and agricultural practices on biodiversity.

Forest and trees in ecosystem restoration
A majority of the world's ecosystems are now degraded, if not completely destroyed, by the impact of humans. Natural successional processes will eventually lead to the recovery of most (if not all) of the environmental properties of the original ecosystem, provided that subsequent disturbance is not too severe or frequent. Where motivation and resources exist for active restoration of ecosystems, the methods used have often been ineffective because of a failure to understand the ecological mechanisms involved. Our approach is to understand natural successional mechanisms (especially the dynamics of the plant and microbial communities and nutrient cycling) and so that they can be managed and accelerated to achieve the desired restoration outcomes. We have used this approach in a wide range of applications.

Relevant staffing:
Five full professors, 6 senior lecturers, 8 lecturers, 7 researchers/senior researchers, and 75 doctoral candidates.