Ash Dieback

Research Group

The Plant Ecology research group (Department of Plant Sciences), led by Lindsay Turnbull and Andy Hector. This group has a broad focus dealing with all aspects of plant ecology in temperate and tropical ecosystems.

Introduction

I am a first year PhD student funded by the Sylva Foundation and Linacre College, Oxford, working under the supervision of Andy Hector, Nick Brown and Gabriel Hemery. My research is looking into the ecological impacts of ash dieback in the UK.

I graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences from Oxford University before completing an MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation at the University of East Anglia. I worked previously as an assistant reserve warden for the National Trust at Wicken Fen NNR in Cambridgeshire, and have also carried out a research project in Malaysian Borneo investigating the effects of rainforest logging on the parasite loads of Bornean birds for my MSc.

Current Research

Ash Dieback, caused by the fungal agent Chalara fraxinea, is an emergent lethal disease of ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) which is threatening ash survival in many parts of Europe and which has now spread across the UK. My project is looking into the resilience of UK ecosystems in the face of severe loss of ash, with regard to associated biodiversity and ecosystem services such as carbon storage and landscape connectivity. I will also be investigating the potential for other tree species to compensate for loss of ash in woodlands.

A major part of this research involves an experiment within Wytham Woods to mimic ash death due to dieback in a controlled experimental setting. This will be used to investigate changes to the woodland ground flora and regeneration of other tree species, as well as growth rates of admixed mature trees, and will inform a larger study modelling UK-wide impacts of ash dieback. The experimental setup will also allow interactions of these effects with deer population density to be investigated. 

I hope that this research will help to inform and improve policies aiming to preserve ash-associated biodiversity and ecosystem services, thus lessening the impact of ash dieback.

Current Papers

Links

http://www.plantecol.org/

Contact Details

louise.hill@plants.ox.ac.uk