Name: Fiona Seaton
Project title: How do we account for soil biodiversity and change to assess soil condition for the delivery of ecosystem services?
Where based: CEH Bangor,Bangor University
I have just finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge. I studied Natural Sciences, specialising in Plant Sciences in the final year with a focus on ecology. While plants have been my focus so far, I have always been interested in soils and the interactions between rock, climate and vegetation. I spent summer 2015 looking at better ways to represent plants and the soil food web in the Madingley Model, a general ecosystem model created in a joint effort by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Microsoft (http://www.madingleymodel.org/).
This project shall be working on data gathered under the Glastir Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (GMEP www.gmep.wales). Glastir is the framework under which the Welsh government financially support farmers and other land owners for environmentally friendly practices. GMEP assesses the impact of these interventions, through gathering field data and modelling experiments. I shall be studying the links between soil physical properties and aboveground diversity, with particular focus on ecosystem functions. The debate around ecosystem services is also of relevance, with questions remaining on how soils fit into a service framework and how to promote the value of ecosystems in a policy context. Research performed by multiple charitable organisations has shown that the framing of environmental issues in monetary terms, as practised by multiple governments and organisations, can be detrimental in the long run to environmental causes (http://valuesandframes.org/). This raises interesting questions about the ways in which scientists communicate their findings.