Project proposal details

Please look carefully through the proposal details below. If you are interested in the project then contact the supervisor, explaining why you are interested and any background which makes you a good fit for the project.

If this is an external project, the lead supervisor may have suggested someone at Imperial College or the NHM who could act as an internal supervisor and you should also contact them. If the project is external and no internal has been proposed then you must find an internal supervisor before starting the project.

Please pay close attention to any extra notes on requirements (such as being able to drive or to speak particular languages) or the application process. There may be specific limitations on the project availability: if there are then they will be clearly shown further down the page.

Project title
Pathways of soil organic matter decay in temperate conifer and broadleaved forests
Contact name
Bonnie Waring
Project based at
Silwood Park (Imperial)
Project description
The differences in structure and function between conifer vs. broadleaved forests have large implications for their ability to sequester carbon, support biodiversity, and respond to environmental change. The impact of these tree functional groups on belowground processes is less well understood. In some cases, conifers are found to promote soil carbon sequestration relative to broadleaves, whereas at other sites the opposite trend is found. Identifying the drivers of this variation is critical in order to guide decisions around afforestation/reforestation for the purpose of carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. To help clarify this major uncertainty, this project will examine the impact of conifer and broadleaved trees on soil biogeochemistry through the lens of microbial extracellular enzymes. Microorganisms produce specific enzymes to break down different forms of organic matter; the relative activities of these enzymes can therefore reveal which compounds are being decomposed in the soil. The student will undertake two analyses:

1) A quantitative literature review focusing on differences in soil extracellular activities in temperate conifer and broadleaved forests
2) A laboratory study in which enzyme activities will be measured in soils collected from conifer and hardwood stands spanning broad environmental gradients across northern Europe

Date uploaded

Project proposal limitations

The project proposer has indicated that there are some limitations to the availability of this project. It may only be available at certain times of year or suit a specific project length. It may also need skills taught to students on a particular course or courses.

Research project proposals are usually part of an active research programme. If supervisors have stated limitations to a proposal, then they are unlikely to have any flexibility. If you are very interested in the topic but have problems with the stated limitations, the supervisor may still be happy to talk to you about other options around the proposal, but you should not expect that any alternative arrangements can be made.

Available date limitations
Spring (April-May)