MY RESEARCH TOPICS
BELOWGROUND TUNDRA PHENOLOGY
Across the Arctic, the timings of above and belowground growth do not appear to be synchronised. In fact, the below ground growing season has been observed to be around 50% longer than the growing season of the plant material above the surface. Permafrost makes it difficult to observe root growth. I am working to develop new methods to capture belowground summer plant growth in the tundra and comparing to aboveground growth as captured by time lapse photography.
DECOMPOSITION IN A CHANGING TUNDRA
The Arctic tundra is one of the world's biggest carbon stores. While we expect global warming to increase carbon cycling globally, we have little understanding of the landscape-level controls of decomposition in the tundra. I am working to figure out which local controls are influencing carbon cycling in one of the planets most rapidly changing biomes.
SHRUB GROWTH AND MICROCLIMATES
As temperatures increase in the Arctic, we are observing an expansion and northward movement of woody shrub species. However, in order to predict the extent of future Arctic 'greening', we need to have a better understanding of how shrub growth differs in response to microenvironmental variables such as topography, soil characteristics and permafrost depth. I aim to explore differences in plant growth and growing season timings alongside microclimate varaibles in heterogeneous tundra landscapes.
ARCTIC ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Dog-sledding in High Arctic Svalbard is a key tourist attraction, and pony trekking and the keeping of livestock is also in practice in the central areas of the archipelago. Animal husbandry waste disposal practises - particularly those involving the disposal of animal faeces - hugely enrich soils with excess nutrients. I use NDVI (normalised difference vegetation index) analysis to explore the impact of both abandoned and contemporary animal husbandry on Svalbard’s tundra.
TUNDRA SHRUB DENDROECOLOGY
Just like the rings of a tree, many common tundra shrubs contain living archives of their yearly growth - either through barely visible shrub rings or in vertical shoot growth indicators. In my research, I investigate the relationships between these biological indicators and microenvironmental conditions such as soil moisture and surface temperature. I'm also very keen to reconstruct long term ecological change using dendro-ecology methods. Read my dendroecology thesis here.