Soil carbon in managed grasslands- biodiversity effects on persistence versus short-term gains?

Supervisor:  Dr Kelly Redeker

Co-supervisors:  Dr Raj Whitlock (Liverpool) & Paul Muto (Natural England)

Project description:

Establishing short-term diverse grasslands in arable and pasture ecosystems is established as a potential mechanism for sustainable development and maintenance of UK soil health.  While some of the benefits of this enhanced biodiversity are immediately apparent, including increased pollinator services, many long-term impacts on soil function and resilience are unclear (including traits linked to soil carbon; i.e., water retention, soil nutrient retention, and soil structure).  This research project will explore UK grasslands, managed under a range of Environmental Stewardship options with an eye towards understanding their impacts on soil health and function, invertebrate and microbial biodiversity, and climate.

Outcomes from this research will inform future land management practices and help establish the most effective means by which these practices can be utilized to accomplish future management and conservation goals.

The student who participates in this research will have the opportunity to engage in cutting edge research across several disciplines, including genomics, bioinformatics and biogeochemistry.  

This is a NERC ACCE iCASE studentship in partnership with Natural England, who have access to the sites on which the project work will be based. Natural England has initiated Environmental Stewardship options which support introduction of greater biodiversity into arable rotations. These options have been supported by NE since 2013, with a broad survey completed in 2015. Fields that have adopted these schemes will be surveyed again by Natural England in 2017/2018, providing a large resource matrix of UK grassland locations, time since establishment and biodiversity.

The student will have the opportunity to develop hypotheses and experiments that build upon previous work, and to develop public engagement skills based on the Trust’s work.

Funding:  This is a NERC ACCE industrial CASE studentship fully funded for 4 years and covers: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£14,533 for 2017-2017), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.

The studentship is available to UK, EU and international students. 

To discuss your suitability for this project please email:

Please read the 'How to apply' tab before submitting your application.


Interview date: Tuesday 27 June 2017