I am PhD candidate at the Plant Ecology & Nature Conservation group (PEN) and under supervision of Dr. Juul Limpens, Dr. Monique Heijmans, Dr. David Kleijn and Dr. Matthijs Schouten (emeritus). I am currently researching the effect of climate change on vegetation dynamics in Irish peatlands.
Context: peatlands store proportionally large amounts of carbon (C) in their soils, and through this climate regulating function provide an important ecosystem services to humans. Nevertheless, climate change and land-use changes (e.g. drainage and nitrogen deposition) are expected to change vegetation patterns in these ecosystems, potentially threatening the important C storage functions peatlands provide by altering C sequestration rates and increasing fire risk. In my research, we aim at understanding decadal changes in peatland vegetation in Irish peatlands using a combination of historical (1978-1982) and newly retrieved vegetation information. This is important, because although evidence for the strong negative effect of climate change on the functioning of peatlands as C sinks is growing, much of the research done is experimental, and long-term assessments are lacking. The increased understanding of decadal vegetation dynamics in peatlands retrieved from this project can thus potentially be used to better manage peatlands in the face of climate change and associated disturbances, so that their important ecosystem services like C storage can be conserved.
Picture: image of typical peatland vegetation in Ireland, highlighting the classical hummock/hollow vegetation patterns. Source: EOS Position Systems (https://eos-gnss.com/irish-surveyor-monitors-europes-last-remaining-peatlands).