Ecohydrology of grasslands

9 October 2013, 4.00 PM - 9 October 2013, 4.00 PM

Peel Lecture Theatre, Geographical Sciences, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS
Richard Brazier, professor of Earth Surface Processes at University of Exeter, will be presenting Ecohydrology of grasslands.

Richard's research interests are in geomorphology and hydrology with an emphasis on soil erosion, sediment and nutrient mobilisation and delivery, water quality and landform evolution from hillslope to landscape scales. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding earth surface processes which involves field observations and characterisation, laboratory analysis, numerical modelling, use of GIS and remotely sensed data. Recently, he has developed the field of landscape restoration science, which brings together knowledge and approaches from a range of disciplines to understand whether we can engineer stable, beneficial landscapes to support multiple benefits to society and the environment.

The seminar will be chaired by Jim Freer.

Ecohydrology of grasslands

Globally, grasslands cover a large proportion of the terrestrial land mass, storing significant amounts of soil organic carbon and providing biomass which supports the livelihood of more than one billion people.  These important ecosystems are often under pressure, both due to anthropogenic activity and also 'natural'  processes which can lead to irreversible damage including soil and nutrient loss, flash flooding, land degradation and vegetation change.  Understanding the complex interactions that control the structure and function of grassland ecosystems is therefore the subject of this talk.  Research undertaken over the last decade, in four different grasslands will be presented. These landscapes; semi-arid grasslands of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts, intensively-managed grasslands of south west UK, Culm (unimproved) grasslands of Cornwall and Devon and the Purple Moor Grasslands of the south west moorlands are used to draw comparisons between the way in which 'pristine' landscapes respond to rainfall-runoff processes and contrasted with the behaviour of heavily degraded landscapes, which may help us to understand the future trajectory of grasslands and alter the ways in which we manage these ecosystems.  Finally, preliminary results of a landscape-scale restoration project will be discussed to highlight the multiple environmental benefits that can be derived from landscape restoration and to open a discussion on the potential for the widespread practice of landscape restoration and the science that supports it.

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