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Long-Term Impacts of Peatland Restoration on Hydrological Function

Project Description

Many UK blanket peatlands were drained during the second half of the 20th century using open cut ditches. However, these are now being blocked as part of peatland restoration initiatives. In other areas, where drained sites were subsequently planted, these plantations have now been removed to restore the former peatlands. Several sites exist where the restoration activities took place >15 years ago through to the present day. Data recently collected suggests that some hydrological functions might be fast to recover while others might be quite slow. There are no comparative studies that have investigated differences in the hydrological processes at restoration sites where the restoration is of different ages (15 years to present) to see if they can identify temporal patterns or whether there are persistent legacies of the previous land uses. Such legacies, for example, can include persistent patterning of formerly drained peatlands due to compaction and/or subsidence of peat along the lines of the drainage. This patterning is observed in both the physical structure of sites as well as the vegetation community structure of the colonising plant community. This can affect the longer term rewetting and drying responses of the restored peatland, thereby impacting on the resilience of the system to challenging climatic conditions, such as extended drought phases as experienced during the summer of 2018.

Aims and Objectives
The PhD studentship will examine the long-term effects of peatland restoration on hydrological functioning of peatlands. It seeks to establish the role of legacy features from former management and whether certain interventions included in a restoration scheme result in better long-term outcomes for peatland hydrological functioning in terms of enhancing resilience.

Funding Notes

The studentship is funded under the James Hutton Institute/University Joint PhD programme, in this case with the University of Leeds for a 4 year study period. Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent).Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in Jan/Feb 2019. A more detailed plan of the studentship is available to candidates upon application. Funding is available for European/UK student applications, but Worldwide applicants who possess suitable self-funding are also invited to apply.

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