Our work in this area underpins habitat restoration and the conservation and management of endangered species and habitats.
Dr Paul Ramsay has several ongoing projects in South America on the ecology of fire-prone grasslands (páramo and puna) in the Andes. This work includes identification and development of biological indicators of changes in fire regimes (Zomer & Ramsay 2018), and the fire ecology of iconic Puya giant rosette plant (with Dr Paola García Meneses, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and Mery Suni, Universidad Nacional Mayor San Marcos, Lima). Another focus of Paul’s research are the ‘Polylepis’ forests of Peru. The world’s highest forests are nonetheless threatened by exploitation, and land use and climate change and Paul’s current focus (working with the Huascarán National Park and Constantino Aucca, Ecoan) is the rapid assessment of their conservation status and recruitment dynamics of young trees (Peng et al 2015).
The University of Plymouth has an international reputation for the study of coastal processes and defence. Working closely with Dr Louise Firth of the Marine Conservation Research Group, Dr Anthony Knights and Dr Mick Hanley have a keen interest in understanding how hard-defences (e.g. concrete walls) can be modified to provide habitat for inter-tidal species and provision of ecosystem services. In addition, Mick Hanley’s research also focusses on the effects of storm surge flooding on supra-tidal coastal ecosystems (Hanley et al 2020), and how we can integrate natural vegetation like salt marsh and sand dunes into dynamic, cost-effective coastal defence (Masselink et al 2017).
High altitude systems
Peng Y, Lachmuth S, Gallegos SC, Kessler M, Ramsay PM, et al (2015) Pleistocene climatic oscillations rather than recent human disturbance influence genetic diversity in one of the world’s highest treeline species. American Journal of Botany 102: 1676–1684.
Zomer MA & Ramsay PM (2018) Espeletia giant rosette plants are reliable biological indicators of time since fire in Andean grasslands. Plant Ecology 219: 79–88.
Hanley ME, Sanders SKD, Stanton H-M, Billington RA, Boden R (2020) A pinch of salt: Response of coastal grassland plants to simulated seawater inundation treatments. Annals of Botany doi 10.1093/aob/mcz042
Masselink G, Hanley ME, Halwyn AC, Blake W, Kingston K, Newton T, Williams M (2017) Evaluation of salt marsh restoration by means of self-regulating tidal gate – Avon estuary, south Devon, UK. Ecological Engineering 106: 174-190.