Maria McMahon

Name: Maria McMahon

Project title: Quantitative separation of belowground carbon fluxes

Where based: Bangor University

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Twitter: @MariaMcMahon28


I recently graduated Queens University Belfast with a BSc in Biological sciences. My third year research project focused on investigating the relationship between land management and its effect on local micro arthropod communities. My research project enabled me to gain experience in the field dealing with soil and classifying keystone species in the mesofauna and I became interested in soil science particularly in nutrient cycling and above- and belowground. My PhD reflects this and enables me to further my knowledge of soil science and realise the importance soil on a local to global scale.

Project description:

Project title: Quantitative separation of belowground carbon and nutrients

Carbon fluxes in the soil has become a topic of interest in the scientific community due to studies on global warming and the effect this will have on carbon in the soil. As soil is currently a Carbon sink it has the potential to become a Carbon source which could have major implications on a global scale. The main routes of carbon fluxes in the soil are via root exudation, root turnover and mycorrhizal turnover. Knowledge is limited due to the unknown fate of C, N, P and their polymers once they are delivered into the soil and the lack of sufficient techniques to measure these delivery rates. This project focuses on quantifying soil turnover in a temperate permanent grassland, the effect the soil microbial community have on the rate and utilisation of these fluxes and how synchronous Carbon delivered to the soils are with plant mineralisation of Carbon to Carbon dioxide. It will then compare the new to traditional technical approaches of measuring root and mycorrhizal turnover.