Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab

Long-Term Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship Technologies

March 3, 2017

Plant Sciences welcomes OxLEL

Members of OxLEL in Plant Sciences

The Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab. has successfully relocated to the Department of Plant Sciences after the closure of the Tinbergen building on Friday 10th February. We would like to thank Professor Liam Dolan, Dr. Roni McGowan along with all of the staff in Plant Sciences (particularly Rob, Tom, Sandy and Sam) for their warm embrace and welcome into the department. All of our work is now continuing as before. We are now located in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB, UK in rooms S204-6. Our contact details otherwise remain unchanged: Phone: 00441865 281 878 Fax: ... Continue reading

November 10, 2016

New tool for assessing ecological risk launched at the Oxford Martin School

A new tool for assessing ecological risk, developed by a team of Oxford researchers, was launched at the Oxford Martin School on October 7th 2016. LEFT, which stands for Local Ecological Footprinting Tool, was created by a team of University of Oxford researchers – in fields from biology to computer sciences - under the direction of Professor Kathy Willis, the first Director of the Oxford Martin School’s Biodiversity Institute. It was developed as an accessible online tool for parties undertaking biodiversity risk assessments. LEFT works remotely, anywhere in the world, by accessing globally available databases and algorithms. The user enters a ... Continue reading

September 28, 2016

Ecosystem Services conference Antwerp

Dr Peter Long attended the LIFE and Ecosystem Services Conference 2016 'Helping Nature to Help Us' in Antwerp, Belgium, 19th-23rd September. Peter gave a presentation on NaturEtrade as part of the session S10 'LIFE programme supporting societal benefits by restoring and improving ecosystem services - best practice'. His was one of fifteen talks in this session designed to share experiences of improving the mapping, monitoring, assessment and valuation of ecosystem services. The meeting generated a lot of discussion and will serve as a preparatory session for the LIFE platform meeting on Ecosystem Services scheduled for Spring 2017.

September 21, 2016

Launch of the latest phase of the Local Ecological Footprinting Tool (LEFT) – 7th October 2016 – 5.00 – 6.30pm – Oxford Martin School

  We are delighted to announce the launch of the Local Ecological Footprinting Tool (LEFT) - the latest development phase of our web-based decision support tool for assessing risk in environmental management - https://www.left.ox.ac.uk/ (see brief details below) – previous iterations of which have already delivered critical benefits in business applications and academic research over the last four years. Many of you have already used the Tool during its pre-launch free access period. You are warmly invited to the launch and reception. There will be an opportunity of seeing how the tool works, discussing the science behind it, and hearing how some of our ... Continue reading

July 19, 2016

Global Pollen Project reaches 1,000 species

The Global Pollen Project - a tool for pollen identification created and developed by members of the Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab (Andrew Martin and William Harvey) - now has over 1,000 plant species, in 534 genera and 142 families. The project aims to provide a global reference library for pollen grain identification and study, by enabling the easy digitisation of existing collections in institutions anywhere in the world. It also provides a platform for crowdsourcing identifications for unknown pollen grains. These are then incorporated into the master reference collection. The master reference collection is rapidly expanding, featuring: ... Continue reading

April 25, 2016

NaturEtrade Spring workshop

Another successful workshop for the EU/University of Oxford-funded LIFE+ project NaturEtrade was held on April 22nd at the Sylva Foundation in Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire. Around 30 people attended from a range of organizations with an interest in natural capital, assessing ecosystem services and monitoring environmental change. The workshop covered the motivation for developing resource stewardship tools that combine ease of use with robust behind-the-scenes science to provide land managers with affordable, reliable ways of assessing the natural capital of their land. People at the workshop had the opportunity of trying out the NaturEtrade platform after walking ... Continue reading

February 18, 2016

Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability

In a new Nature letter published on17 February 2016 authors Alistair Seddon, Marc Macias-Fauria, Peter R. Long, David Benz & Kathy J. Willis, from the Universities of Bergen and Oxford, report a novel approach that provides empirical baseline measurements on a key component of ecosystem resilience, namely the relative response of vegetation in comparison to environmental perturbations over time, as well as the climatic drivers of change across landscapes globally.The study found ecologically sensitive regions with amplified responses to climate variability in the Arctic tundra, parts of the boreal ... Continue reading

February 10, 2016

Genes to beans: polyploidy on a plate. Michael Faraday 2015 Prize lecture

Kathy Wills will deliver the 2015 Michael Faraday prize lecture at the Royal Society, London on Feb 11th at 6.30. Kathy's overview of the talk (from the RGS website): "From the food on our plates to the greens in our garden, many plants share one extraordinary characteristic – they contain two, three or even ten copies of their entire genetic code in each of their cells. This so called ‘polyploidy’ crams cells full of DNA and not only gives us weird and wonderful looking plants, but almost all of the plants we eat, every day. Far from just providing us with ... Continue reading

December 22, 2015

A brave new world for woodland managers

The Oxford Long-term Ecology lab collaborated on the report published on December 18th, which demonstrates that private land owners hold the balance of power in meeting the challenges of environmental change to the UK’s forests and woodlands. Woodland managers will need courage to take informed risks and make bold decisions to ensure our woodlands can thrive in the future. Nine out of ten woodland managers have experienced environmental change in recent years, yet less than half believe the UK’s forests will be affected in future. Woodlands cover 13% of the UK’s land area and almost three quarters (2,283,000 ha)1 are in ... Continue reading

December 21, 2015

OxLEL in British Society of Soil Science Annual Meeting

Hsiao-Hang Tao presented her DPhil project on sustainable soil management of oil palm ecosystem, at the Annual meeting of British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) in London on November 26. Hsiao won the Best Student Presentation Award. The meeting is to mark the end of the 2015 International Year of Soils, and to discuss advancing scientific research, education and policies on soil sustainability. The 2015 International Year of Soils aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. For example, Nature has launched a special collection on Soil and its sustainability to ... Continue reading

December 17, 2015

OXLEL gets festive at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting

Three members of the Oxford Long-term Ecology Lab presented papers at the British Ecological Society's annual meeting which was held 13 – 16 December in Edinburgh.   Featured here are Peter Long, who presented on NaturEtrade and Solohery Rasamison, a PhD student from Madagascar currently visiting OXLEL, who spoke about his research on species distribution models.   Other presentations were given by Hery Andrianandrasana who spoke about his DPhil research evaluating the effectiveness of conservation action on conservation in Madagascar and Gill Petrokofsky who discussed Evidence Based Forestry and the value of collaboration in evidence evaluation.

December 4, 2015

OxLEL in the ESP conference in South Africa

Carla Romeu-Dalmau and Alex Gasparatos organized a special session on Bioenergy and Ecosystem Services in the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) conference in South Africa last November. In the session, several ESPA (Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation) projects working on bioenergy in Africa presented their work on charcoal, sugarcane and Jatropha. Alex and Carla presented their work on 'operationalizing the ES approach for biofuel landscapes' and on 'Impacts of land use change due to biofuel crops on climate regulation services in Sub-Saharan Africa'. More information on their project can be found: https://oxlel.zoo.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/unravelling-biofuel-impacts-on-ecosystem-services-human-wellbeing-and-poverty-alleviation-in-sub-saharan-africa/.

November 10, 2015

Kathy Willis interview on BBC’s The Life Scientific

The wide-ranging interview with Presenter Jim Al-Khalili  on BBC Radio 4 The Life Scientific covers Kathy's academic career in biodiversity focussing on plants and their environments from the New Forest to the Galapagos Islands and all points between: "I'm determined to prove botany is not the 'Cinderella of science". She discusses the necessity of knowing the deep history of a landscape before taking policy decisions for its management, and the importance of developing land-use decision-making tools, such as the Local Ecological Footprint Tool (LEFT), to conserve land that is outside protected areas. The interview also covers ... Continue reading

August 12, 2015

Remote assessment of locally important ecological features across landscapes: how representative of reality?

A recently published paper in Ecological Applications describes the local ecological footprinting tool (LEFT), which uses globally available databases, modelling, and algorithms to remotely assess locally important ecological features across landscapes based on five criteria: biodiversity (beta-diversity), vulnerability (threatened species), fragmentation, connectivity, and resilience. This approach can be applied to terrestrial landscapes at a 300-m resolution within a given target area. Input is minimal (latitude and longitude) and output is a computer-generated report and series of maps that both individually and synthetically depict the relative value of each ecological criteria. A key question for any such tool, however, is how ... Continue reading

July 21, 2015

Kathy Willis wins 2015 Michael Faraday Prize

Professor Kathy Willis has been awarded the 2015 prize for her excellent work in science communication. The Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture is awarded annually to the scientist or engineer whose expertise in communicating scientific ideas to a UK audience in lay terms is exemplary.The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Public Engagement Committee. Past winners have included Brian Cox,  David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins. Kathy is only the 4th woman to win the prize, which was first awarded in 1986.

December 3, 2014

Studying the impact of Jatropha plantations in Mozambique

In November, LTEL researchers were in Mozambique to study the impact of Jatropha plantations in Sofala region. The study focuses on the socio-economic and environmental impacts of one of the last Jatropha projects that is still in place in southern Africa. For more information on this project please visit: https://oxlel.zoo.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/unravelling-biofuel-impacts-on-ecosystem-services-human-wellbeing-and-poverty-alleviation-in-sub-saharan-africa/    

November 27, 2014

Herizo Andrianandrasana has been awarded the 2014 Tusk Award for Emerging Leaders in Conservation

Herizo Andrianandrasana, DPhil student in the Oxford Long-Term Ecology & Resource Stewardship Group, led by Professor Kathy Willis, has won the 2014 Tusk Award for emerging leaders in conservation – an award sponsored by Land Rover. The award was presented to Herizo on 25th November by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, Patron of Tusk. Herizo's work involves integrating local people into conservation management and monitoring in Madagascar, his own country. Community-based conservation is seen as a sustainable solution to halting environmental degradation in Madagascar, which is one of the poorest countries in the ... Continue reading

November 26, 2014

Call for Grey Literature

The Long-term Ecology and Resource Stewardship lab in the University of Oxford and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Evidence Based Forestry initiative are collaborating on a systematic review map that aims to summarize the state of available methodologies for assessing ecosystem services on farms. Please get in touch with any publications or suggestions. The call can also be found as a pdf file: Call for grey literature - Ecosystem ... Continue reading

November 20, 2014

Video release of climate change adaptation planning process in Ghana

In April this year, Jessica Thorn of the LTEL co-facilitated a climate adaptation planning process in Ghana. The program of Multi-level Integrated Adaptation Governance (MIAG) Planning was jointly undertaken by Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Systemic Integrated Adaptation (SIA) Program in partnership with Ghana’s Council for Scientific Industrial Research. It was aimed at overcoming disconnects in the flow of knowledge, experience and resources across levels from household, district, region to national, in Ghana’s climate adaptation regime. This process involved an intensive sequence of bilateral meetings and multi-lateral focus groups within decision-making levels in the lead up to a ... Continue reading

October 1, 2014

Climate change: learning from the past to safeguard the future

Under the umbrella of the Oxford Long-Term Ecology & Resource Stewardship Lab Dr Marc Macias Fauria has worked on the Ecochange project within the Horizon 2020 research framework. The project focused on how changes in climatic conditions affect ecosystems and how we can protect biodiversity from these. The following news article has been published on the work. Climate change: learning from the past to safeguard the future How much can we really predict about the impact of climate change on groups of animals, plants, and natural habitats? The EU-funded Ecochange project turned to fossil records ... Continue reading

August 5, 2014

News from the field :  Tropical ecologists convene in the Wet Tropics

Situated in the picturesque Wet Tropics, with ancient forests dating back over 180 million years and world-renowned reefs, over 600 international researchers and practitioners convened at the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology Conservation in the third week of July 2014 in Cairns, Northern Queensland Australia to engage in rich discussions about the Future of tropical ecology and conservation. Jessica Thorn, DPhil student in the Long-term ecology lab, was among the presenters on a panel on Post-Conversion Conservation. The conversation started with a bang, with a strong statement ... Continue reading

August 5, 2014

Shout-out for field assistants in Ethiopia & everywhere!

Mostly none of the large research projects you have ever heard about would have been possible without an essential component of the field program: hard working field assistants. These are the people that go through the thick of it. They are the people that make it happen. So this is a shout out to all of them.

July 21, 2014

OxLEL at ATBC 2014

Work of the Oxford Long-term Ecology & Resource Stewardship group will be presented at the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation in Cairns, Australia.

July 17, 2014

Kathy Willis presents BBC Radio 4 programme

Professor Kathy Willis, Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Resource Stewardship and Associate Director of the Biodiversity Institute, will explore the history of botany in a major new series starting 21 July on BBC Radio 4

July 4, 2014

Environment & Development in Latin America

Meredith Root-Bernstein writes about a stimulating interdisciplinary exchange focused on student  research in Latin America. On June 6, 2014, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Environment and Development in Latin America graduate research seminar held at the Oxford Department of International Development. It was a nice opportunity for MPhil and DPhil students and postdocs to share their research and reflect on its shared contexts. The range of topics and methodologies was impressively broad, from ethnography to network analysis, from a focus on workers’ wages in the ethanol sector to predictors of tropical forest regeneration. One theme that came ... Continue reading

May 30, 2014

Jatropha and sugarcane used for biofuel production in Malawi

Jatropha and sugarcane are being grown in Malawi to be used as biofuels. Alex Gasparatos and Carla Romeu-Dalmau from LTEL, along with other partners of this ESPA project, are now in Malawi learning about these projects, with the final aim to unravel biofuel impacts on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation. For more information about this project visit: https://oxlel.zoo.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/unravelling-biofuel-impacts-on-ecosystem-services-human-wellbeing-and-poverty-alleviation-in-sub-saharan-africa/  

May 20, 2014

Studying sugarcane production in Swaziland

Some researchers of LTEL are these days in Swaziland, studying the socio-economic and ecological impact of sugarcane on small holder farmers. Yesterday, the researchers saw how a field of sugarcane was burnt to facilitate harvest. This project is funded by ESPA. For more information visit: https://oxlel.zoo.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/unravelling-biofuel-impacts-on-ecosystem-services-human-wellbeing-and-poverty-alleviation-in-sub-saharan-africa/  

May 13, 2014

Action research via a Multi-Level Integrated Adaptation Governance Workshop, Ghana

In April, Jessica Thorn and the Systemic Integrated Adaptation (SIA) returned for the fourth field trip to Northern Ghana. The main aim of the trip was to facilitate a workshop on climate change adaptation planning with small holder farmers and decision makers from across the country. In addition, she conducted a control study for her research in the relationship between well-being and ecosystem services.... Continue reading

August 17, 2013

Elizabeth Jeffers speaking at Intecol 2013 on plant nitrogen uptake during the Holocene

Lizzy Jeffers will be giving a talk in the Ecosystem Ecology and Dynamics session at Intecol this week in London.  Her talk, "Changes in plant demand for nitrogen with increasing atmospheric CO2: Evidence from the fossil record", will be at 12:30 on Monday 19th August in Capital Suite 7 of the Excel Centre.

November 21, 2012

Palaeo50: The Pressing Questions in Palaeoecology

Palaeo50: A horizon scanning workshop to identify the top 50 questions in the palaeoecological community is less than 1 month away. Visit the website page for more information.

March 21, 2012

Postglacial rise in CO2 and terrestrial C storage associated with declining N availability

A global synthesis of stable isotope values of nitrogen (δ15N) in lake sediments has produced a 15,000 year long record of global changes in nitrogen cycling.  The work was conducted by Elizabeth S. Jeffers (James Martin Research Fellow in the Biodiversity Institute Oxford) with Kendra K. McLauchlan (Kansas State University), Joseph C. Craine (Kansas State University) and Joseph J. Williams (Aberystwyth University) and published in 21 March 2013 edition of Nature. The results show that sediment δ15N values (a proxy for N availability in ecosystems) declined globally from 15,000 to 8,000 cal. yrs. BP, concurrent with rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and terrestrial ... Continue reading

January 3, 2012

Darren Jeffers presented a talk at the Quaternary Research Association Annual Meeting

Darren presented a talk entitled, "Palaeo-rainfall dynamics and vegetation response during the last interglacial in the southern Bekaa Valley, Lebanon: Implications for the current warm period" in the "Using past interglacials as analogues for the current warm stage" session at the QRA Annual Meeting in the New Forest, UK.