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.

To find a particular PI's email or look up other PI details, use the menu at the top of this page (PIs tab).

Distribution modelling and the management and conservation of European ectomycorrhizal communities
In this project, the student will develop cutting-edge distributional models of dominant ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal species across Europe and establish vital practice and policy recommendations for the monitoring, management and conservation of these ecologically critical organisms. ECM fungi play a key role in tree nutrient uptake, C and N cycling, and below-ground food webs and processes, yet there is a widely acknowledged gap in our understanding of their distributions and responses to environmental change. Given the known sensitivity of ECM fungi to temperature and nitrogen pollution and the likely profound functional consequences at the ecosystem level of changes to fungal distributions, it is therefore urgent to establish the potential responses of dominant fungi to major components of global change. We will first develop distribution models using an existing recent European distribution dataset built using DNA identification of plant-associated fungi, developed through NERC grants to the supervisors. The dataset also includes morphological analysis of fungal samples and long-term environmental data from intensive in-situ monitoring of our sample sites from the International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests (ICP Forests,, CASE partner 1). The dataset and models are a major advance over existing fungal distribution models both in the spatial scale and intensity of sampling and in the use of below-ground active hyphal tissue to identify species rather than the limited observation of fruiting bodies. We will adopt a range of species distribution modelling techniques, including single species and recently developed joint distribution models to account for host-plant specificity and other forms of biotic interaction. These models will be used to explore the composition and possible resilience of ECM communities. We will model the role of a wide range of possible drivers of fungal distributions, including historical patterns and current levels of climatic variables and rates of chemical deposition. We will then use these models to predict how future climatic patterns and changes in deposition are likely to alter spatial patterns of fungal-plant associations. In the UK, our modelling will be informed by datasets managed at the CEH, including the National Biodiversity Network, the 2015 Land Cover Map and the UK Climate, Hydrology and Ecology research Support System. In collaboration with both the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC, (CASE partner 2), and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, we will develop a strategy for converting our research findings into appropriate and achievable practice and policy recommendations for the monitoring, management and conservation of ectomycorrhizal communities. Example policy relevant outputs could include fine-scale maps of the functional diversity of ectomycorrhizal communities and predictions of loss in functional diversity under different climatic and land management scenarios.
Martin Bidartondo
Gary Powney
David Orme, Imperial College London; Gary Powney, CEH; Walter Seidling, Thunen Institute of Forest Ecosystems; Paul Woodcock, Joint Nature Conservation Committee; Carolina Tovar, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Laura Martinez-Suz, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Sietse van der Linde, Forest Research
Computing, Quantitative data analysis, Ecological observations / data collection
David Orme
The project requires the management and analysis of spatial data and familiarity with statistical modelling frameworks, including generalised linear models, hierarchical models, machine learning models and Bayesian modelling techniques. In addition, bioinformatic skills will be needed to incorporate ongoing field data collection. Good programming skills in R and Python are essential.
We pair a unique new data on Europe-wide fungal distributions with long-term monitoring of a very broad range of potential environmental drivers of community composition. The models will be the first to employ sampling methods that provide an unbiased assessment of taxonomic and functional diversity and are unparalleled in their spatial extent and resolution.
Ecological theory on community assembly, functional diversity and resilience will be fundamental to assessing the impacts of projected changes in distribution on the ecosystem services supported by ectomycorrhizal fungi. We will also need to extend species distribution modelling to incorporate changing host distributions into the fundamental niche of fungal species.
We will generate fundamental data that is taken for granted with animals and plants. The project aims to directly inform spatial conservation planning, evaluating soil health, reporting under international biodiversity agreements, and the development and evaluation of policy and management recommendations through national and international CASE partners.
The JNCC will ensure relevance of the project to each of the UK statutory conservation agencies. The ICP Forest program is strongly linked to similar European agencies and runs continuous monitoring across a large number of forest sites, providing a route not only to policy-makers across Europe but also an existing monitoring network through which to implement recommendations.
This research includes the following disciplines, supported by project partner expertise: fundamental biodiversity research (Imperial College, CEH, RBG Kew), environmental monitoring and modelling of the forest community, hydrology, soil and biogeochemistry across our sample sites (ICP Forests, Forest Research, CEH), and the monitoring and management of natural capital (JNCC, Forest Research).
Climate and climate change, Community ecology, Ecosystem-scale processes and land use
Programming in R and Python
Imperial College London, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Wallingford
2019-05-20 16:30:16