UK Research on The Eutrophication and Acidification of Terrestrial Ecosystems


The Terrestrial Umbrella comprises leading experts in ecology, biology, chemistry, modelling and environmental statistics, drawn from the foremost UK Universities and Research Institutes.  The current researchers are:

Mike Ashmore

Mike Ashmore is a Professor and chair in Environment at the University of York. His research work is divided between the Department and the Stockholm Environment Institute at York (SEIY). Mike Ashmore's research is focussed on the exposure and impacts of air pollutants. He has thirty years of experience of research on the impacts of pollution on vegetation, including work on agricultural crops, trees, grasslands, heathlands and insect pests. His research is strongly focussed on the development of effective management of air pollution, primarily by improving the basis for evaluation of the ecological and health benefits of measures to control emissions to the atmosphere.


Andrea Britton

Andrea Britton is a plant ecologist in the Ecology Group at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. Her work focuses on the impacts of pollution and environmental change in Scottish upland and alpine habitats. Projects include a long term experimental study of the impacts of nitrogen pollution, management and climate change on alpine heathland which has been running at the Culardoch site since 1999. This study examines both plant community and soil (biological and chemical) responses to long term nutrient additions with a special emphasis on understanding the linkages between above and below ground processes. Other studies include large scale surveys of long-term plant community change based on archive datasets collected during the 1940s-70s, with a view to quantifying the relative impacts of pollution and other drivers on community composition in a range of habitats. Andrea also has a special interest in the ecology and responses to pollution of lower plants, especially lichens.

Simon Caporn

Simon Caporn is a Reader in Environmental Ecology at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research is primarily on the impacts of atmospheric pollution on plants and their ecology, with a particular emphasis on nitrogen pollutants. Current research studies the impacts of atmospheric nitrogen pollution on plants and soils of lowland and upland heathland based on long-term field experiments in north Wales and Cheshire . As part of this research, his group is examining interactions between nitrogen deposition and management practices. Other current research examines the impact of traffic pollutants on the health of roadside and urban vegetation.  A PhD student, Nick Ray, has been studying the effects of nitrogen treatments, since 1996 and a recent management cut, on lowland heath vegetation dynamics and associated soil processes using a range of techniques including soil solution & microbial PLFA and DNA analysis. Nick is following the continuing competitive battle between heather, wavy-hair grass and moss as we test the theory that heath turns to grass in response to nitrogen enrichment.

Chris Curtis

Chris Curtis is a Senior Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Research Centre / ENSIS Ltd, University College London. He is the co-ordinator and Principal Investigator of DETR/DEFRA Freshwaters Umbrella research projects since 1998 on acidification and recovery in UK freshwaters, impacts of nitrogen deposition, linked chemical-biological modelling and critical loads (part of UK scientific contribution to the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution).

Owen Davies

Owen Davies is Research Manager of ADAS Pwllpeiran. His principal areas of interest are in ruminant production and grassland management both for intensive lowland and extensive upland systems, particularly in examining the physical, financial and environmental consequences of grazing management.  Owen was responsible for the recently completed Defra Moorland Management project (BD1228) which included examination of cattle and sheep moorland grazing scenarios on livestock performance, economics, vegetation, invertebrates and birds

Nancy Dise

Nancy Dise is a Professor and Chair of Environmental Science within the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at Manchester Metropolitan University. Professor Dise’s research broadly encompasses the biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecosystems. Within this area she has focussed on the cycling of nitrogen and sulfur in forests, wetlands, and grasslands, the production and emission of the greenhouse gases methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide from wetlands, the impacts of atmospheric pollution on terrestrial biodiversity, and the regional modelling of catchment water chemistry.

Bridget Emmett

Bridget Emmett is Head of site at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Bangor. She has interests in the impacts of nitrogen deposition and climate change in semi-natural ecosystems. She is coordinator of UKREATE and is also responsible for identifying controls on soil nitrogen transformations in upland soils and working with colleagues at CEH Bangor developing the biogeochemical models to predict future changes in soil and soil water chemistry and the implications for species change.

Rachael Helliwell

Dr Rachel Helliwell is a senior research scientist in the Catchment Management Group at the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen.  She has worked as a biogeochemical modeller for the past 10 years focusing on the effects of atmospheric deposition, land management and climate change on acidification and nutrient cycling in upland ecosystems. More recently her work has focused on the interactive affects of nitrogen additions, burning and grazing on the nutrient cycling in soil and soil water in montane ecosystems.  In addition she is developing an up-scaling methodology to determine stream carbon and nitrogen concentrations from plot scale measurements of nutrients in soil, soil water, and vegetation and through analysis of hydrological pathways.

Alison Hester

Prof. Alison Hester has over 20 years' international research, primarily on forest/ upland ecology and grazing management (>90 publications and contract reports). She has a particular interest in plant:herbivore interactions and vegetation impacts, biodiversity, conservation and range management issues. Recent research includes: climate, pollution and other drivers of long-term UK vegetation change; dynamics of montane scrub communities; above-below ground interactions during birch and pine forest succession; conservation management of Andean temperate rainforest.

Laurence Jones

Laurence Jones works primarily on atmospheric nitrogen impacts on coastal habitats including sand dunes, and on Ecosystem Services. Research focuses on effects of N on vegetation, nitrate leaching, long-term impacts on soils and rates of successional change, and on the interactions between nitrogen and land-use management including grazing and the impacts of local ammonia point sources. Recent work looks at how nitrogen might alter the goods and benefits we receive from Ecosystem Services, and uses the Ecosystems Services Approach to value the impacts of air pollution on the natural environment.

Ian Leith

Ian Leith is based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Edinburgh. He is in charge of Open-Top Chamber facility at CEH Edinburgh. He has research interests in field studies of wet deposition scavenging processes/precipitation chemistry, NH3 deposition (flux measurements) and effects/stress responses of semi-natural vegetation (ericoids, graminoids, mosses and lichens) to atmospheric nitrogen in controlled environments and the field.

Lindsay Maskell

Lindsay Maskell is a Vegetation Scientist based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Lancaster. She is part of the team working on Countryside Survey and works with long term large-scale datasets looking at changes in vegetation dynamics. She has been looking at the impacts of Nitrogen deposition on plant community diversity, species composition and plant traits using the Countryside Survey data and other datasets to investigate such changes. She has a particular interest in invasive species (native and non-native), plant community interactions and relationship to anthropogenic disturbance.

Gareth Phoenix

Gareth Phoenix is an Research Council UK academic fellow at the University of Sheffield.  His main research interests include the impacts on nitrogen deposition on plant nutrient acquisition, nutrient cycling and biodiversity in grasslands and climate change impacts on Arctic ecosystems, their plant ecology and biogeochemical cycling.

Sally Power

Sally Power is a Senior Lecturer in Pollution Ecology, at Imperial College London's Silwood Park Campus. Her current research activities focus on the effects of nitrogen deposition on heathland ecosystems. This work centres on a long term field manipulation study evaluating plant and microbial responses to elevated nitrogen inputs, and associated effects on nutrient cycling. Of particular interest is the role of phosphorus availability, and habitat management, in modifying heathland response to nitrogen, and the potential for ecosystem recovery following a reduction in nitrogen inputs. Related research areas include effects of vehicle emissions on urban ecology and interactions between ozone and nitrogen pollution

Brian Reynolds

Brian Reynolds specialises in the study of the processes controlling element transfers and fluxes within semi-natural and plantation forest ecosystems. This has developed expertise across a number of related fields including measurement of atmospheric deposition, soil and surface water chemistry, hydrology and modelling. Current research focuses on the development and implementation of critical loads methodology to soils and freshwater and catchment based studies of the effects of acid deposition and land use change on soil and stream water chemistry. Prof Reynolds has been a contributing author to more than 100 refereed publications in addition to contributions to book chapters, conference proceedings and contract reports.

Ed Rowe

Ed Rowe is an ecological modeller based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Bangor. His work focuses on the development of models for predicting impacts of nitrogen and acid pollution on soils and plant assemblages in UK ecosystems. Model development is a design process, and tools such as graphical modelling software and model integration frameworks can help make the model design more transparent. Another key research area is the collation and generation of survey and experimental information relating soil, vegetation and floristic responses to pollution, such as the introduction of new mineralisable nitrogen measurement in Countryside Survey 2007.

Lucy Sheppard

Lucy Sheppard (BSc. PhD, botanist/soil scientist), is based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Edinburgh. Her research interests and expertise have evolved around stress responses in trees and more recently moorland species including ericoids, indigenous grasses, mosses and lichens subject to atmospheric pollutants (S, acidity and N) in controlled environments and the field.  She is in charge of the GANE facility at Whim bog built to treat a moorland bog with ammonia, ammonium and nitrate. She is secretary to CAPER.

Simon Smart

Simon's research focusses on quantifying and undertsanding patterns and processes of large-scale ecosystem change. His  focus is primarily on terrestrial plant species. Using large scale analytical survey data, theory and modellling he aims to identify the causes of change in plant species composition and other ecosystem attributes in space and over time in response to natural factors and human drivers. This understanding helps construct appropriate indicators as well as modelling future changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services.  The research is always a team effort. We aim to produce high quality policy relervant science outputs to help better manage and value our natural capital and to further basic ecological knowledge.

Alwyn Sowerby

Alwyn is environmental scientist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) in Bangor. Her work focuses on the impact of climate change on upland ecosystems. She manages the day to day operations of two experimental facilities ( which simulate climate change scenarios as well as the potential impacts of pollution reduction.

Ed Tipping

Ed's main subjects of study are to do with the functional properties of natural organic matter, particularly proton and metal binding in soils and waters, and its consequences for element mobility (e.g. in acidification), bioavailability, and the mobility of dissolved organic matter.  This led to the coupling of research into chemistry and carbon turnover, and thence to a wider interest in the dynamics of organic matter in soils and waters, and the use of radiocarbon.  He is applying knowledge about soil carbon turnover to quantify and model nitrogen dynamics, and thereby predict nutrient N availability and nitrate leaching.

Elena Vanguelova

Elena Vanguelova is a biogeochemist and the leader of the Soil Sustainability Research Programme within Forest Research, Forestry Commission. Her ongoing research investigates the effect of climate change driven forest management practices and their impacts on soil quality and second rotation tree nutrition. She uses Long-term Forest Monitoring networks (EU Level I, Level II) to support her research on the effects of air pollution and climate change on the sustainability of forest soils, their carbon and nitrogen cycling. Current field-based experimental research investigates the effects of nitrogen deposition on the biochemical cycling in different forest soils and forest ecosystems. Other current research examines the links between soil functions/processes and microbiological diversity and function, involved in the carbon and nitrogen cycling in forest soils. Elena is also the leader of the BioSoil soil survey for the UK, which is a part of much wider EU BioSoil project- carrying out soil description, sampling, chemical and physical analysis under woodland on more than 5000 sites across Europe and 170 sites in the UK.



Page published: 27/08/2010