Changes in soil nitrogen cycling with succession and degradation in water-limited ecosystems

About the project or challenge area

Nitrogen (N) is the most significant limiting nutrient of primary production in water-limited ecosystems. As the cycling of N is mediated almost entirely by microbiological processes, its availability is sensitive to the climate and land use-driven environmental changes which have been occurring in water-limited regions over the past century. Yet an understanding of how soil N responds to environmental changes between trajectories of succession and degradation in water-limited ecosystems is incomplete. Using state-of-the art stable isotope probing techniques, this project will examine how soil microbial N activity is modulated by processes associated with primary succession in an emerging High-Arctic glacier forefield and degradation in a shrub-encroached semi-arid grassland.

Why choose this opportunity?

You will receive training in state-of-the art stable isotope techniques and soil nutrient analyses.

About you

You will have an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in a topic aligned with this research project. Experience in soil chemical analysis would be beneficial, but training will be provided.

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Master's by Research Admissions Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Masters by Research Statement Template (Office document, 68kB).

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project's supervisors. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.


Your supervisor for this project will be Dr Katerina Michaelides, Dr of Hydrology in the School of Geographical Sciences. You can contact her at +44 (0) 117 954 6857 or email .


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Dr Thomas Turpin-Jelfs in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. You can contact him at


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Dr Fotis Sgouridis in the School of Geographical Sciences. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 928 8078 or .

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Water theme is a vibrant community of researchers who are transforming the evidence base for water-based decision making in a changing and deeply uncertain world. Find out more about the Water research theme.

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