Oasis in a desert? The importance of ecological refugia for long-term peatland resilience

Peatlands are globally-important habitats, archives of palaeoenvironmental information and carbon stores. However, human activities including drainage, burning, peat harvesting and pollution are having devastating impacts on peatlands (1). Enormous sums of money are being invested in the restoration of peatlands internationally to transform degraded sites back into healthy habitats and carbon sinks. It has been found that some peatlands can recover and resume their ecosystem services over centennial-millennial timescales without human intervention (2), although the mechanisms of ‘self-recovery’ in peatlands are very poorly understood.

The aim of this project is to build a long-term collaboration between a multi-disciplinary group of early career and experienced scientists, to investigate how ecological refugia are maintained in heavily damaged peatlands, and to what extent they determine long-term resilience of peatland ecosystems.

Lead Academic at Lead University

Graeme T. Swindles, School of Geography, University of Leeds 

Lead Academics at other Universities

Richard Payne Department of Environment and Geography, University of York

Gunnar Mallon Department of Geography, University of Sheffield 

Other Staff Associated with this Project

Andy Baird School of Geography, University of Leeds 

Cat Moody School of Geography, University of Leeds 

Sylvia Toet Department of Environment and Geography ,University of  York

Kelly Redeker Department of Biology, University of York 

Bob Johnston Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield 

Ed Rhodes Department of Geography, University of Sheffield 

Other Partners

Friends of Ilkley Moor : Tracy Gray

Bradford Metropolitan District Council : Richard Perham

Professor Mariusz Galka, Department of Biogeography and Palaeoecology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland.