Understanding and enhancing soil ecosystem services and resilience in UK grass and croplands

This project will investigate how soil organisms act to sustain soils and soil functions and how these interactions are affected by
climate change and the way we manage our land. 

Dr. Robert Griffiths
NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Co-PIs & Co-Is

Dr. Jeanette Whitaker, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Professor Richard Pywell, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Dr. Niall McNamara, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Professor Nick Ostle, Lancaster University
Dr. Thomas Bell, Imperial College London
Professor Penny Hirsch, Rothamsted Research
Mr. Ian Clark, Rothamsted Research
Professor Peter Smith, University of Aberdeen

Aims & Objectives

This project will investigate how soil organisms act to sustain soils and soil functions and how these interactions are affected by
climate change and the way we manage our land. The project will:

  • Examine the effects of land use change on soil
    biodiversity, soil properties and soil services in different soil systems around the UK.
  • Take soils and subject them to climate change and
    examine prediction of changes to soil services based on changes to biodiversity.
  • Examine specific ways in which biodiversity regulates soil and its services.
  • Examine how soil nutrient inputs affect the soil biota in cycling carbon.


Rob Griffiths is a molecular ecologist, with a key interest in understanding the ecology of soil microorganisms. His current major line of interest is in determining how land use impacts all facets of soil biota and their functional resilience to further environmental change, in a wide variety of different soil ecosystems.  You can find out more about Robert here.

Dr. Robert Griffiths

NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology


Kate Buckeridge

Ecosystem Ecologist

Kate is an ecosystem ecologist who investigates how climate change, seasonality and disturbance alter plant and microbial communities and biogeochemical processes.  Specifically she has experience working in soil macronutrient cycling, greenhouse gas flux and microbial community and functional analysis.  She is familiar with a range of molecular, isotopic, chemical, bioinformatic and statistical analyses to explore large-scale experimental manipulations in the field and mechanistic investigations in the lab.

For more information about Kate please click here.

Kelly Mason


Kelly has been a biogeochemist in the Plant-Soil Interactions group at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster since 2012. She specialises in trace gas analysis (CO2, CH4, N2O), isotope labelling, and soil processing and analysis.  Her past experience includes working with a variety of ecosystems including UK peat lands and grasslands and Swedish sub-arctic heath land and boreal forests.

For more information on Kelly please click here.

Matthias Kuhnert

Environmental & biogeochemical Modeler

Matthias is an environmental and biogeochemical modeler whose research focuses on impact of extreme events on ecosystems, climate change impacts on biodiversity of microorganisms in soil, GHG emissions of croplands, forest and grasslands, impact of water repellent soil conditions on hydrology and soil erosion and the impact of scaling on cropland modelling. The models SVAT-CN, DailyDayCent and ECOSSE are used to address these tasks on different spatial scales ranging from the test site to the continental scale. He is familiar with the programming languages C/C++, FORTRAN, R and MATLAB.

For more information on Matthias, here.

Aimeric Blaud

Soil microbial Ecologist

Aimeric is a soil microbial ecologist, whose research focuses on the spatial and temporal distributions, roles and functions of microorganisms in biogeochemical cycles, as well as the environmental drivers that regulate them and their responses to anthropogenic activity and global change. He has experience in field and lab experiment working on bacteria, archaea and fungi, as well as functional guilds involved in the nitrogen cycle. He is familiar with a range of molecular methods (e.g. Q-PCR, fingerprinting methods, high throughput sequencing), soil properties and multivariate statistical analysis (R and PRIMER software).

For more information about Aimeric please click here.

Jodey Peyton


Jodey is an experienced ecologist whose research focuses on landscape ecology and conservation. Specifically she has experience working with multiple private and public sector partnerships as well public engagement through citizen science projects.  She is familiar with a wide range of field techniques including botanical and invertebrate survey and identification, survey analysis and habitat mapping.

For more information about Jodey please click here.

Jeremy Puissant

Soil microbial ecologist

Jeremy is a soil microbial ecologist interested in the link between community structure and biogeochemical processes and their response to global change.  His previous research focused on the effect of a seasonal climate change manipulation simulating warming and drier climate on the drivers of soil organic carbon dynamics in subalpine mountain grassland.  Jeremy is familiar with a range of ecological techniques including multivariate and modelling statistics, soil organic carbon sequestration mechanisms, soil DNA analysis, soil extracellular enzyme activities, IR spectroscopy and excitation-emission matrix fluorescence.

For more information about Jeremy please click here.