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Dr Jessica Royles

Post Doctoral Research Associate
Dr Jessica Royles
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3EA
Office Phone: 01223 330218



2012-present: Post-doctoral research associate: "Terrestrial Holocene climate variability on the Antarctic Peninsula".

2008-2012: PhD, Physiological Ecology group, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge. "Environmental isotopic records preserved in Antarctic peat moss banks".

2005-2006: MSc, Biology (Integrative Bioscience), University of Oxford.

2002-2005: BA (Hons), Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge.


NERC grant NE/H014896/1 (AFI_11_05)

Research Interests

Project aim:

The overall aim of the project is to establish whether the recent observed rate and pattern of climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula is outside the range of natural climate variability for the late Holocene. See project website for more information and our blog:

Project overview:

royles 2We are developing palaeoclimate records from cores of peat from moss banks, which occur throughout the western areas of the Antarctic Peninsula. We will derive multi-proxy palaeoclimate records based on stable isotopes, testate amoebae, moss growth and degree of decay from the deepest moss banks on the Antarctic Peninsula. Target locations are distributed across the observed gradient in rates of late 20th century temperature change in order to reconstruct spatial patterns of change as well as temporal variability. Modern moss samples from the region, precipitation data, instrumental climate data and cellulose isotope records will help us understand cellulose isotope-climate relationships for the region. Testate amoebae assemblages in both modern and fossil samples will also be analysed to develop independent records of hydrological change. Moss morphology will provide supplementary data on past temperatures, and we will also test whether plant growth rates and phenology have responded to recent climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula. We aim to reconstruct climate variability for the past c. 5000 years from the stable isotope, peat humification, testate amoebae and moss morphology records and then compare and integrate the records with existing and new ice core, lake sediment and marine records to improve understanding of regional climate change and its relationship with global climate variability and external drivers.

royles 3Project members:

Dr Matt Amesbury (Department of Geography, University of Exeter)

Professor Peter Convey (British Antarctic Survey)

Professor Dan Charman (Department of Geography, University of Exeter)

Professor Howard Griffiths (Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge)

Professor Dominic Hodgson (British Antarctic Survey)


Supervisions: Part 1A Physiology of Organisms (Animal, plant and microbial physiology)

                    Part 1B Plant and Microbial Sciences (Water, nutrients and temperature module)

                    Part II  Plant Sciences - research projects

Key Publications

Royles, J. and H. Griffiths (2014). Invited Review: Climate change impacts in polar-regions: lessons from Antarctic moss bank archives. Global Change Biology: DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12774

Royles, J., A. B. Horwath and H. Griffiths (2014). Interpreting bryophyte stable carbon isotope composition: Plants as temporal and spatial climate recorders. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. DOI: 10.1002/2013GC005169

Royles, J., M. J. Amesbury, P. Convey, H. Griffiths, D. A. Hodgson, M. J. Leng and D. J. Charman (2013). Plants and soil microbes respond to recent warming on the Antarctic Peninsula. Current Biology 23: 1-5.

Royles J., Ogée J., Wingate L., Hodgson D.A., Convey P. & Griffiths H. (2013) Temporal separation between CO2 assimilation and growth? Experimental and theoretical evidence from the desiccation tolerant moss Syntrichia ruralis. New Phytologist, 197, 1152-1160.

Royles J., Sime L.C., Hodgson D.A., Convey P. & Griffiths H. (2013) Differing source water inputs, moderated by evaporative enrichment, determine the contrasting δ18OCELLULOSE signals in maritime Antarctic moss peat banks. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, 118 (1), 184-194

Royles J., Ogée J., Wingate L., Hodgson D.A., Convey P. & Griffiths H. (2012) Carbon isotope evidence for recent climate-related enhancement of CO2 assimilation and peat accumulation rates in Antarctica. Global Change Biology, 18, 3112-3124.

Roberts S.J., Hodgson D.A., Shelley S., Royles J., Griffiths H.J., Deen T.J. & Thorne M.A.S. (2010) Establishing lichenometric ages for nineteenth- and twentieth-century glacier fluctuations on South Georgia (South Atlantic). Geografiska Annaler A, 92, 125-139.

Other Publications

Amesbury, M. J. and Royles, J. (2013) Unlocking the secrets of Antarctic moss banks. Planet Earth Summer: 24-25