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ONEPlanet DTP: Interventions to reduce the impact of climate change and other environmental stresses on oak health (OP20317)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Oak trees are a hugely valuable component of the UK’s treescape, providing a wealth of ecosystem services in addition to their cultural importance. Despite this, there is little understanding of the distribution, demography or genetic characteristics of the UK’s population of oaks. This project will use large scale data sets and modelling to identify areas of the country where oaks are either particularly vulnerable or doing relatively well, in response to current and future predictions of environmental conditions and stresses. This information will inform a set of recommendations to enhance the health of UK oaks, protecting the benefits they provide.

We anticipate the project meeting it’s overarching objectives by:
1) Characterising the oak population using existing sources (NFI, Forest Condition Surveys, Countryside Survey, Ancient Tree Inventory, trees outside of woods data etc.) with the possibility of developing and introducing new mapping and surveying techniques.
2) An analysis of the main drivers affecting the health of trees in different contexts/situations. This could include data on environmental factors including climate change predictions, management, situation, pest or disease presence etc.
3) Identify key issues affecting oak health, together with recommendations for further research and/or implementation of practical management action. In characterising the oak population, the student has the opportunity to investigate the link between pressures on oak trees and the predicted level of carbon capture in the future.

From this analysis, interventions could be suggested to alleviate pressures which are shown to have negative impacts on oak health. This could be facilitated by the development of models to predict oak populations and carbon sequestration under alternate future greenhouse gas emission and climate scenarios. The genetics of oak trees in different situations could also be investigated. This project would involve working closely with the Defra’s Tree Health Policy team and stakeholders and researchers within the Action Oak Partnership, to ensure opportunities for impact and dissemination of findings are fully realised. It was developed through the Action Oak Partnership, and is addressing key evidence gaps identified through the Partnership’s Knowledge Review, supported by additional funding from HSBC.

Funding Notes

The project is suitable for a student with a background in ecology, biology, GIS or geography / environmental science and strong interest in UK trees and woodland. Experience of GIS or statistical / spatial modelling is desirable.

This project is part of the ONE Planet DTP. Find out more here: View Website

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