This work aims to test how varying forms of connectivity interact with stressors (pollutants, disease, invasive species) to influence biodiversity and ecosystem function. Because different systems vary in their sensitivity to stressors our studies target three landscapes with different exposures and sensitivities to different stressors; upland, lowland and urban.
A typical upland ecosystem in the Lake District
We will examine a range of responses to connectivity and stressors in our three contrasting landscapes, including:
- system productivity and nutrient cycling,
- gene flow and genetic diversity,
- community composition in relation to dispersal capacity,
- dissemination of disease agents across the landscape,
- the transfer and remobilisation of legacy metal pollutants.
We hypothesise that the interaction between increasing connectivity and the strength and diversity of stressors will result in negative effects on biodiversity and ecosystem function in all landscapes, but that interaction strength and the synergistic or antagonistic effects exerted by multiple stressors will differ among landscapes.
Our results, which will provide the first harmonised datasets on these variables, will be used to characterise and predict how combinations of stressors and variation in connectivity influence biodiversity and ecosystem function in mixed landscapes.
ESHH role within Hydroscape
Our group’s role within the Hydroscape project is to assess how connectivity and stressors effect the abundance and presence of fecal indicator organisms across a variety of landscapes. Zarah Pattison will be conducting this research alongside David Oliver and Richard Quilliam. For more information follow Zarah for updates.