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Climate science and ecosystem conservation

supporting environment
Undergraduate student volunteers at Barro Colorado Island, Panama, at the base of a buttressed ‘cotton tree’ Ceiba pentandra.
Agricultural and natural systems are greatly affected by many factors including anthropogenic climate change, nitrogen deposition and the spread of pests, pathogens and competitors. We are exploring how the carbon and nutrient cycles of tropical forests are affected by global change and whether biologically diverse systems are more resistant and resilient to change. Relevant to the impact of disease we are developing mathematical models of plant-pathogen and plant-plant interactions to predict how diseases spread and ecological communities respond to global change. Systematic research underpins much of this work.

Human population growth and resource consumption are placing enormous pressures on natural ecosystems. We are developing approaches for monitoring the impacts of land-use change, fragmentation and invasion by non- native species on carbon stocks and biodiversity. Our approaches are being used by Government Departments for conservation planning, and by land managers interested in habitat restoration. We are enthusiastic partners in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.