Professor Philip Wookey

Professor

Biological and Environmental Sciences Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Professor Philip Wookey

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About me

About me

I am an ecosystems ecologist/biogeochemist, with a main research focus on northern high latitude (and altitude) ecosystems and environmental change. I have worked in the Arctic since 1993, having previously research on air pollution effects on soils and ecosystems. I am passionate about ‘The North’, and attribute my love of cold, snowy and windswept places to my maternal heritage (from Sutherland, in the north of Scotland), going on expedition to North Iceland as an undergrad (back in 1983), reading Jack London novels, and possibly also to the lyrics of a Led Zeppelin song!

More specifically; I graduated in 1984 with a BSc Combined Honours (with Dean's Commendation) in Biology and Geography from the University of Exeter, and completed a PhD in 1988 at Lancaster University and the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology on the effects of air pollutants on forest soils. After a post-doctoral term at Lancaster University, continuing with air pollution research for the EU, my career path took me to the Arctic (in 1991), where I have continued to research ever since. My first academic position, however, was back at my Alma Mater, Exeter, as Lecturer in Ecology (1993-95). Since then I have held appointments at Royal Holloway, University of London (1996-97), the University of Uppsala, Sweden (1997 – 2004), the University of Stirling (2004-09), the University of Sheffield (2012-13), Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh (2013-17), and now back here in Stirling, as Professor of Ecosystem Science.

Community Contribution

Chair (and co-founding member) of the UK Arctic and Antarctic Partnership (UKAAP); https://ukaapartnership.org/

https://ukaapartnership.org/
UK Arctic and Antarctic Partnership (UKAAP) is a community led initiative, aimed at bringing together researchers across a full range of disciplines who are interested in the polar regions.

Former Chair of the International Arctic Science Committee's (IASC) Terrestrial Working Group

https://iasc.info/
The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC; https://iasc.info/) is a non-governmental, international scientific organization. The Founding Articles committed IASC to pursue a mission of encouraging and facilitating cooperation in all aspects of Arctic research, in all countries engaged in Arctic research and in all areas of the Arctic region. Overall, IASC promotes and supports leading-edge multi-disciplinary research in order to foster a greater scientific understanding of the Arctic region and its role in the Earth system. The scientific scope of the Terrestrial Working Group (https://iasc.info/working-groups/terrestrial) includes scientific research on arctic terrestrial and freshwater environments, landscapes and biota, and their responses to, and interactions with, other components of the Earth system. The remit encompasses the dynamics of the Arctic system; past, present and future.

Chair of the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX)

https://www.gvsu.edu/itex/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Tundra_Experiment

Chair of the Science Advisory Group Abisko (SAGA)
Swedish Polar Research Secretariat
https://polar.se/forskning-i-abisko/
Independent Chair of the Science Advisory Group Abisko (SAGA), at the invitation of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat (Polarforsknings Secretariatet) SAGA's mission is to provide a scientific perspective on the ambition of the Abisko Scientific Research Station, Sweden. For example, how the research station can maintain, develop and attract advanced research, and develop proposals for research areas that should be given priority support.

Co-Chair of the IASC (International Arctic Science Committee) Action Group on Carbon Footprint
https://iasc.info/
An Action Group convened by the IASC Executive "to provide recommendations for an IASC carbon policy and ways to reduce IASC’s carbon footprint, considering the direct and indirect impacts of IASC funding and activities."


Research (6)

At core, I am a process ecologist/biogeochemist, but I'm particularly keen to see process studies placed into Earth System context.

I currently lead the Environmental Biogeochemistry Research Group at Stirling. Externally, I have chaired the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) and, until May 2019, the Terrestrial Working Group (TWG) of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). I currently co-Chair IASC's Action Group on Carbon Footprint (AGCF), together with Sophie Haslett at the University of Stockholm.

My process mechanistic work, published for example in Nature, Nature Climate Change, Global Change Biology (GCB) and Ecology Letters, has indicated that the massive C stores in Arctic and boreal soils are more vulnerable to climate warming than previously predicted. Recent NERC-funded work (NE/K000284 and NE/P002722), in particular, has highlighted the importance of rhizosphere processes for the fate of recently assimilated C and the turnover of soil organic carbon. Counterintuitively, more productive ecosystems in high northern latitudes, related to global warming, may lose substantial amounts of soil carbon, both due to the direct effects of warming on soil decomposer organisms, but also due to indirect effects mediated via roots and the rhizosphere, including the activities of symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi.

Specific research highlights have been the publication of three International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) meta-analysis papers (in Ecological Monographs, PNAS and Ecology Letters), each of which is a citation classic. Together with my research team and international co-workers, more recent work on soil processes and global change has been published in Nature, Nature Climate Change, Global Change Biology and New Phytologist. This research hints at some looming and unwelcome ‘surprises’ in the global greenhouse, and challenges the validity of some of the basic logic underpinning key models of the global carbon cycle and climate system.

Projects

Will more productive Arctic ecosystems sequester less soil carbon? A key role for priming in the rhizosphere ("PRIME-TIME")
PI: Professor Philip Wookey
Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council

Permafrost catchments in transition: hydrological controls on carbon cycling and greenhouse gas budgets
PI: Professor Jens-Arne Subke
Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council

SAGES Studentship
PI: Professor Philip Wookey
Funded by: SAGES Administrator

Black Grouse PhD Studentship
PI: Professor Philip Wookey
Funded by: Forest Research, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Scottish Natural Heritage

ABACUS Arctic biosphere-atmosphere coupling across multiple scales
PI: Professor Philip Wookey
Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council

Landscape heterogeneity, soil ecology & environmental change : the Scottish Highlands & the Scandes Mountains as model study systems
PI: Professor Philip Wookey
Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council

Outputs (74)

Outputs

Article

Pascual D, Åkerman J, Becher M, Callaghan TV, Christensen TR, Dorrepaal E, Emanuelsson U, Giesler R, Hammarlund D, Hanna E, Hofgaard A, Jin H, Johansson C, Jonasson C & Wookey P (2021) The missing pieces for better future predictions in subarctic ecosystems: A Torneträsk case study. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, 50 (2), pp. 375-392. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01381-1

Article

Bjorkman AD, Myers-Smith IH, Elmendorf SC, Normand S, Rüger N, Beck PSA, Blach-Overgaard A, Blok D, Cornelissen JC, Forbes BC, Georges D, Goetz SJ, Guay KC, Henry GHR & Wookey P (2018) Plant functional trait change across a warming tundra biome. Nature, 562, pp. 57-62. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0563-7

Article

Dean J, van der Velde Y, Garnett MH, Dinsmore KJ, Baxter R, Lessels JS, Smith P, Street LE, Subke J, Tetzlaff D, Washbourne I, Wookey P & Billett M (2018) Abundant pre-industrial carbon detected in Canadian Arctic headwaters – implications for the permafrost carbon feedback. Environmental Research Letters, 13 (3), Art. No.: 034024. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa1fe

Article

Barrio IC, Linden E, te Beest M, Olofsson J, Rocha A, Soininen EM, Alatalo JM, Andersson T, Asmus A, Boike J, Brathen KA, Bryant JP, Buchwal A, Bueno CG & Wookey P (2017) Background invertebrate herbivory on dwarf birch (Betula glandulosa-nana complex) increases with temperature and precipitation across the tundra biome. Polar Biology, 40 (11), pp. 2265-2278. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-017-2139-7

Article

Street LE, Dean J, Billett M, Baxter R, Dinsmore KJ, Lessels JS, Subke J, Tetzlaff D & Wookey P (2016) Redox dynamics in the active layer of an Arctic headwater catchment; examining the potential for transfer of dissolved methane from soils to stream water. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 121 (11), pp. 2776-2792. https://doi.org/10.1002/2016JG003387

Article

Barrio IC, Bueno CG, Gartzia M, Soininen EM, Christie KS, Speed JDM, Ravolainen VT, Forbes BC, Gauthier G, Horstkotte T, Hoset KS, Hoye TT, Jonsdottir IS, Levesque E, Morsdorf MA, Olofsson J, Wookey P & Hik DS (2016) Biotic interactions mediate patterns of herbivore diversity in the Arctic. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25 (9), pp. 1108-1118. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12470

Conference Proceeding

Karhu K, Auffret M, Dungait J, Fraser F, Hopkins D, Prosser J, Singh B, Subke J, Wookey P, Agren G & Hartley I (2013) Microbial adaptation to temperature increases the vulnerability of carbon stocks in Arctic and Boreal soils to climate change. In: EGU General Assembly 2013. Geophysical Research Abstracts, 15. European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2013, Vienna, Austria, 07.04.2013-12.04.2013. Munich, Germany: European Geosciences Union, pp. EGU2013-2624. http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2013/EGU2013-2624.pdf

Article

Elmendorf SC, Henry GHR, Hollister RD, Bjork RG, Bjorkman AD, Callaghan TV, Collier LS, Cooper EJ, Cornelissen JHC, Day TA, Fosaa AM, Gould WA, Gretarsdottir J, Harte J & Wookey P (2012) Global assessment of experimental climate warming on tundra vegetation: Heterogeneity over space and time. Ecology Letters, 15 (2), pp. 164-175. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01716.x

Article

Post E, Forchhammer MC, Bret-Harte MS, Callaghan TV, Christensen TR, Elberling B, Fox AD, Gilg O, Hik DS, Hoye TT, Ims RA, Jeppesen E, Klein DR, Madsen J, McGuire AD, Rysgaard S, Schindler DE, Stirling I, Tamstorf MP, Tyler NJC, van der Wal R, Wookey P, Schmidt NM & Aastrup P (2009) Ecological Dynamics Across the Arctic Associated with Recent Climate Change. Science, 325 (5946), pp. 1355-1358. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/325/5946/1355; https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1173113

Article

Wookey P, Aerts R, Bardgett RD, Baptist F, Brathen KA, Cornelissen JHC, Gough L, Hartley I, Hopkins D, Lavorel S & Shaver GR (2009) Ecosystem feedbacks and cascade processes: understanding their role in the responses of arctic and alpine ecosystems to environmental change. Global Change Biology, 15 (5), pp. 1153-1172. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01801.x

Article

Walker MD, Wahren CH, Hollister RD, Henry GHR, Ahlquist LE, Alatalo JM, Bret-Harte MS, Calef MP, Callaghan TV, Carroll AB, Epstein HE, Jonsdottir IS, Klein JA, Magnussonm B, Molau U, Oberbauer SF, Rewa SP, Robinson CH, Shaver GR, Suding KN, Thompson CC, Tolvanen A, Totland O, Turner PL, Tweedie CE, Webber PJ & Wookey P (2006) Plant community responses to experimental warming across the tundra biome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103 (5), pp. 1342-1346. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0503198103

Article

Cooper EJ, Smith FM & Wookey P (2001) Increased rainfall ameliorates the negative effect of trampling on the growth of High Arctic forage lichens. Symbiosis, 31 (1-3), pp. 153-171. https://www.scopus.com/record/display.uri?eid=2-s2.0-0034921540&origin=resultslist&sort=plf-f&src=s&st1=Increased+rainfall+ameliorates+the+negative+effect+of+trampling+on+the+growth+of+High+Arctic+forage+lichens+&st2=&sid=a10ec9212f55966a54b5035a20b7bad9&s

Article

Wookey P, Arft AM, Walker MD, Gurevitch J, Alatalo JM, Bret-Harte S, Dale M, Diemer M, Gugerli F, Henry GHR, Jones MH, Hollister RD, Jonsdottir I, Laine K & Levesque E (1999) Responses of Tundra plants to experimental warming: Meta-analysis of the International Tundra Experiment. Ecological Monographs, 69 (4), pp. 491-511. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9615%281999%29069%5B0491%3AROTPTE%5D2.0.CO%3B2

Conference Paper

Wookey P & Robinson CH (1997) Responsiveness and resilience of high Arctic ecosystems to environmental change. Variation and Evolution in Arctic and Alpine Plants - VI International Symposium of International Organisation of Plant Biosystematists (IOPB). Opera Botanica, (132), pp. 215-232. https://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-0030729011&partnerID=40&md5=927cca2e2a54a0378dfe7438a44328cd

Article

Robinson CH, Wookey P, Parsons AN, Potter JA, Callaghan TV, Lee JA, Press MC & Welker JM (1995) Responses of plant litter decomposition and nitrogen mineralisation to simulated environmental change in a high arctic polar semi-desert and a subarctic dwarf shrub heath. Oikos, 74 (3), pp. 503-512. https://doi.org/10.2307/3545996

Teaching

Teaching

I teach across biology, environmental sciences and environmental geography modules, at both undergraduate and taught postgraduate level.