The QMEE CDT Project proposal database

Welcome to the QMEE CDT Project proposal database. This is a live list of projects proposals put forward by PIs across the CDT partner institutions

PIs/Supervisors will continue to add projects to this list over the next few months, so do keep checking back! You can search the projects using the box below: simply enter some text and press Search to do a text search across all the database fields. If you want to search more finely, the search tool also allows you to search on particular details of the project descriptions: you will see these finer search options appear if you click on the search box.

Click on the view button next to a project to get the full proposal description. If you want to download project details, either for all projects, or for a subset you have searched for, then click on the 'Download details' button.

Future forests and wild woods – modelling the responses of trees to climate, land-use, soils, and mycorrhizal symbioses
Describing and modelling the large-scale responses of plants to climate change is essential if we are to design ecologically appropriate management strategies for urban, rural, and wild areas. This project will focus specifically on the development of mathematical models that explore factors contributing to the establishment and persistence of forests and woodlands. Studies of species responses to climate change almost invariably focus on climate itself as a predictor, yet there are several other key determinants of changes in distribution and function. Soils provide the ecological and historical context into which individual plants must disperse, germinate, establish, and develop. Soil biology is particularly important: trees typically form obligate symbotic associations with mycorrhizal fungi, but must also contend with fungal pathogens like Armillaria root disease. Layered onto these ecological components is human land-use, the scale and history of which is an essential component of past and contemporary ecosystems. The disturbances arising from urbanization, farming, forest harvesting practices, the creation of parks, and natural processes can all have significant impacts on future forests and woodlands. The aims of this project are to: • collect quantitative data on i) survival, growth, and aboveground functional traits of multiple provenances of key tree species in the field, and ii) belowground functional traits of roots and fungal symbionts using experimental lab-based approaches • use this data to parameterise species-specific models of responses to climate change, soils, and land-use impacts • construct individual-based models incorporating information on climate, soils, and soil biota to explore the consequences for future forest regeneration and persistence in a wide range of abiotic and biotic conditions This project will use field, lab, and mathematical approaches to construct models of forest responses to future climate change and land-use pressures. Field studies will use the methods of Dr. Pickles’ Royal Society research on “The diversity and identity of plant-fungal interactions in British woodlands: ectomycorrhizal symbioses of native British trees”. Opportunities for overseas travel and 3 months of fieldwork experience in British Columbia, Canada, using field sites established by Dr. Pickles and collaborators at UBC may also be available. Small-scale manipulative experiments to explore belowground functional ecology (e.g. enzyme production, nutrient uptake) will take place in Prof. Tibbett’s labs and the controlled environment facilities at the University of Reading. Development of mathematical models with Prof. Richard Sibly will use programming in R and NetLogo, and an ability to work in both mathematical and biological frameworks will be a big advantage. When applying for this position please provide evidence of the following: • interest in the aims of the QMEE CDT • research experience/potential • academic training (degree class obtained or expected in BSc/MSc; at least two academic references) References Pickles et al. 2012. Fungal Ecology 5:73-84 Pickles et al. 2015. New Phytologist 207:858-871 Pickles & Simard. 2017. Chapter 12 in Mycorrhizal Mediation of Soil.
Brian Pickles
Mark Tibbett
Richard Sibly, Reading,
Development of mathematical theory, Computing, Quantitative data analysis, Ecological observations / data collection
Richard Sibly
• Quantitative data collection from forest ecosystems • Quantifying functional traits of plant-fungal symbioses in controlled lab experiments using GLMs • Use of data for model construction and validation • Development of Individual Based Models for plant dispersal and responses to climate, soil, and biotic interactions • Evaluation of IBMs using Approximate Bayesian Computation
There is currently no functioning individual based model for plant-fungal symbioses. This project will unite field, lab, and mathematical ecology to gain new insights into the biotic and abiotic processes driving plant dispersal, colonisation, and success.
Plant responses to climate change, soils, symbioses, and land-use practices, will be addressed through: • Use/development of statistical and computational tools • Development of theory, and integration of theory into models • Mathematical modelling of ecological systems • Quantitative population ecology • Integration of data from the wider environmental sciences into ecological models
Applications of this research include conservation and habitat management, ecological landscaping, urban and rural planning, development of climate change mitigation strategies, and re-wilding initiatives.
The information and approaches developed here will be of direct relevance to groups such as local and national government, conservation NGOs and charities, park managers, DEFRA, Forest Research, and the Royal Horticultural Society.
This project combines theoretical and field ecology (Pickles), ecophysiological expertise (Tibbett), and mathematical modelling (Sibly), to explore the growth, survival, and functional responses of trees to changes in climate, soil, land-use and biotic interactions, especially mycorrhizal symbioses.
Climate and climate change, Community ecology, Ecosystem-scale processes and land use
An existing familiarity with R and/or NetLogo will be advantageous, but training to an advanced level will be developed during the project. Additional training will be provided in: • Field and lab techniques for collecting quantitative data on plant-fungal symbioses • Use of GLMs and LMMs • Multivariate community analysis • Construction and evaluation of Individual Based Models
University of Reading
2017-10-01 19:01:00