Impacts of Sphagnum reintroduction in restored peatlands - MPhil/PhD Geography Ref: 3104

About the award


Dr Angela Gallego-Sala
Morag Angus, SWW
Prof Richard Brazier, UoE.

The shallow peatlands of Exmoor have been modified by human intervention since their inception over 5000 years ago. Agricultural drainage, peat cutting and burning have altered the hydrology causing erosion, vegetation change and loss of ecosystem services. As part of the Exmoor Mires Partnership, restoration aiming to reinstate the typical high water tables of these mires has been undertaken since 1998.

Existing monitoring in Exmoor indicates that restoration methods have not yet achieved the desired return to active blanket mires and the dominance of Molinia caerulea persists after hydrological restoration. In order to address this, the Exmoor Mires Partnership intends to trial the reintroduction of Sphagnum, as a complementary process to aid habitat restoration. The proposed PhD project aims to investigate which is the most effective approach to Sphagnum reintroduction and to determine whether restoration of vegetation diversity will have a long-term impact on the carbon budget.

The PhD will text the following:

Hypothesis 1. Sphagnum re-growth can be accelerated through reintroduction techniques.

Hypothesis 2. Sphagnum reintroduction changes the dominant plant type from vascular plants to mosses and in turn, this increases plant diversity at the site.

Hypothesis 3. Methane emissions and DOC release decrease during the reintroduction process decrease as the dominant plant type changes from vascular plants to Sphagnum and other mosses.

Hypothesis 4: Overall, Sphagnum reintroduction shifts the carbon balance of the site to become closer to that in mires in natural condition.

The project will have a strong practical element working with restoration contractors to trial new techniques and will contribute to the practical knowledge on vegetation restoration processes and techniques. The project outcomes will inform the design and management of restoration projects across the UK and provide evidence supporting the emerging market of paid ecosystem services, whereby landowners may be remunerated for restoring their peat resource.


Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in and appropriate subject, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS (and no less than 6.0 in any section), see

How to apply

The following documents are requested:
• CV
• Letter of application.
• If you are not a national of an English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English
The closing date for applications is midnight on 5 July 2018. Interviews will be held on the UoE Streatham Campus on late July 2018,  date TBC.

If you have any general enquiries please email or phone +44 (0)1392 725150/723706/723310. Project-specific queries should be directed to Dr Angela Gallego-Sala (


Application deadline:5th July 2018
Number of awards:1
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Support Office +44 (0)1392 722730/5150