School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences

Theresa Meacham; PhD Student

I am a fourth year PhD student at Edinburgh University, supervised by Mathew Williams (Edinburgh University), John Grace (Edinburgh University), Andreas Heinemeyer (York University) and Phil Ineson (York University). My research focuses on quantifying and understanding processes that control root dynamics and soil carbon fluxes across spatial and temporal scales. I am particularly interested in characterising the uncertainty of field measurements, spatial ecology, carbon allocation and coupling above and belowground ecological processes.

I am interested in environmental policy and will be working at the Scottish Parliamentary Information Centre from September 2012 for three months, where I will be producing a briefing note for MSPs. In 2011 and 2009 I worked as a Science leader on expeditions to the Peruvian Amazon for the British Schools Exploring Society, an organisation that aims to advance the education of young people through challenging scientific expeditions in remote environments.

During my PhD I have been focussing on the following areas:

1. The spatial and seasonal variability of soil respiration and its drivers in a deciduous forest.
I measured soil respiration and its associated drivers (biotic factors, physical factors and substrate availability) using a spatial sampling design throughout 2010 at Alice Holt Research Forest. Geostatistics, multiple linear regressions, principal component analyses and stem proximity analyses were used to investigate what the controls of soil respiration were and whether these controls changed throughout the season.

2. The error and uncertainty of root growth measurements in temperate forests.
I installed rhizotrons and ingrowth cores at an oak and pine forest between 2009 - 2010. Root growth along the rhizotron screens were recorded using digital cameras and novel software (ORIDIS) developed here at Edinburgh. I investigated the phenology of root growth in these two forests and used monte carlo statistics to characterise the uncertainty around the measurements made.

3. Quantifying belowground carbon allocation in an oak stand, alongside associated uncertainties.
I am determining the amount of carbon allocation to woody and belowground components (roots, mycorrhizae and microbes). For this I am using the DALEC (data assimilation linked ecosystem carbon) model and observations from rhizotrons and automated partitioned soil respiration measurements.

This PhD is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council through the National Centre for Earth Observation.

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