Tom Parker

PhD Research Student (NERC quota)

MRes Ecology and Environmental Management, University of York (2011)
BSc (Hons) Biology, University of Sheffield (2010)

Supervisors: Prof. Phil Wookey (University of Sheffield), Dr Jens-Arne Subke (University of Stirling)

Start Date: 1st October 2011

Research Interests

I am interested in the rapidly changing face of the arctic and subarctic. As northern biomes warm, trees and shrubs are expanding up mountains and northwards. I am investigating what this means for the large stocks of carbon in northern tundra heaths and to what extent they will release carbon as a result of vegetation change.

Research Project

Plant- soil interactions in a greening Arctic

My project focuses on the ecological mechanisms by which the expansion shrubs and trees in the forest- heath ecotone results in net loss of carbon from the ecosystem and into the atmosphere. I work in Swedish Lapland at Abisko Scientific Research Station where the sharp transitions between forest and heath represent a perfect study system to compare different plant-soil interactions. Using experimental manipulation and space for time methods along vegetation transitions, I am testing three broad key hypotheses:

  1. Ectomycorrhizal association in forests enhances decomposition and ‘burns’ old soil organic matter
  2. Snow accumulation in forests insulates soil microbes from air temperatures which can create an increase the winter respiration of soil carbon
  3. Birch litter decomposes quickly and stimulates the decomposition of other litter types.


Parker TC (2013) Plant-soil interactions in a greening Arctic: Implications of shrub expansion. Stirling Biological and Environmental Sciences Postgraduate Symposium: 1st prize. 
Parker TC (2012) Plant-soil interactions in a greening Arctic: Implications of shrub expansion. Invited Speaker: UK polar Network Polar Symposium, University of Bangor.

Workshops and training:

SIBAE Training School on Stable Isotopes and Sampling Issues.  Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon (2011)

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