Name: Emily Dowdeswell
Project title: Feedback mechanisms on soil susceptibility to erosion processes in a changing climate.
Where based: Cranfield University
I graduated with a BSc in Geography from the University of Leicester. As an undergraduate I enjoyed the opportunity to work in the stable isotope laboratory and complete fieldwork in the Mojave Desert and Colombian rainforest. I completed a MSc by Research at the University of Bedfordshire. My research project used experimental bacteria-protist microcosms to investigate the effects of temperature and community structure upon species interactions. In order to resolve the bacterial black box in these microcosms I developed a technique using qPCR to enumerate bacterial species.
The aim of this research is to investigate how predicted climate change will impact soil susceptibility to erosion at the aggregate scale. Existing studies of the impacts of climate change on soil degradation seldom consider the mechanistic relationships at the aggregate scale or generate empirical evidence. Soil moisture and temperature are key drivers of aggregate formation and breakdown and strongly influence the biological community. I shall be studying the responses and feedback mechanisms between soil physical, chemical and biological properties, aggregate stability and soil erosion. In order to do so, controlled laboratory experiments will be used to investigate the effects of predicted climate regimes and precipitation events on the biological community, biological adhesion mechanisms and mechanical properties of aggregates.