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Enhancing ecosystem functioning to improve sustainability of subsistence farming in Papua New Guinea

Project Description

Project Rationale:
Increasing agricultural production in high biodiversity tropical areas, alongside a growing population, and climate change, is an increasing challenge in many countries with tropical climates. Such pressures are particularly relevant to Papua New Guinea (PNG), which has the third largest area of tropical forest worldwide, and where eighty-five percent of the population depends almost entirely on small-scale, subsistence agriculture. This agricultural approach is not sustainable as plots are only cultivated for 2-3 years before being left fallow to recover soil fertility, and the increasing need for more agricultural plots encroaches on the natural forest. There is a drastic need to provide interventions that will deliver potential solutions to increase crop productivity and resilience, at the same time as conserving the natural forest. The student will join an active research group, and will develop ideas to build on existing agro-ecological research by Morris and collaborators. The student will quantify above- and below-ground ecosystem functioning across the agricultural landscape, and investigate how beneficial ecosystem services can be enhanced to improve productivity and the sustainability of subsistence farming. This project will enable the student to accomplish original fundamental science in a tropical ecosystem, alongside tackling a challenge common to many tropical regions of the world.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


Morris, R.J. (2010) Anthropogenic impacts on tropical forest biodiversity: a network structure and ecosystem functioning perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 365, 3709-3718.
Wubs, E.R.J. et al. (2016) Soil inoculation steers restoration of terrestrial ecosystems. Nature Plants, 2, 16107.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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