Welcome to Prof. Richard Bardgett

Prof. Richard Bardgett, an ecologist from The University of Manchester, UK, is visiting the Institute of Ecology as an LFUI Guest Professor, hosted by Michael Bahn. Richard’s research focuses on understanding the role of interactions between plant and soil communities in regulating the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems, and their response to global change.
(Credit: R. Bardgett)

In particular, he seeks to develop a mechanistic and conceptual understanding of how plants influence soil biodiversity and ecosystem processes, and how soil biodiversity in turn modifies nutrient cycling and plant community dynamics across different temporal and spatial scales.

Richard’s research visit mainly is aimed at exploring how both land use and climate change influence soil microbial communities, their functioning and biogeochemical cycles in alpine grasslands. This work builds on an ongoing collaboration with scientists at Innsbruck, supported Alpine Research Station, Obergurgl, which is testing in situ how soil microbial communities and biogeochemical cycles respond to shrub encroachment and snow cover changes. The research is based on snow and vegetation manipulation experiments set up across three areas in the Austrian Tirol, namely Vent, Solden and Obergurgl. The visit provides an opportunity to carry out analysis and interpretation of existing data, but also to develop novel perspectives for future collaborative research aimed at advancing understanding of the impacts of climate and land use change in mountain grasslands.

Richard’s research interests are broad and inter-disciplinary, and currently include projects exploring the mechanisms that underpin the resistance and resilience of soil microbial communities to climate extremes, especially drought, and the use of ecological knowledge on plant-soil interactions to restore degraded grasslands, including work on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau and in Kenya. Until recently, he also served as President of the British Ecological Society and is a long serving Senior Editor of the Journal of Ecology. He has also written several books, including “Aboveground-Belowground Interactions (2010) and “Earth Matters: How Soil Underpins Civilization” (2016), both published by Oxford University Press, and he hopes to find time while in Innsbruck to make some progress on the 2nd Edition of his first book “The Biology Soil: A Community and Ecosystem Approach”, which was first published in 2005. He will be contributing to the Doctoral Program ‚Alpine Biology and Global Change‘ and looks forward to meeting and interacting with staff and students in Innsbruck.


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