Ainoa Pravia

Nationality: Spanish
Partner institution: University of Aberdeen (University of the Highlands & Islands, The James Hutton Institute)
Start and end date of PhD: October 2014 – March 2018
Supervisors: Rebekka Artz, Nick Littlewood, Roxane Andersen, and Kenneth Boyd

PhD title: Evaluating peatland restoration for invertebrate assemblages

Description of research project:
Drainage for agriculture or afforestation is a prevalent land-use change in peatlands, affecting valuable ecosystem services such as biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Peatland restoration is thought to be a cost-effective conservation tool that could play a key role in preserving unique wildlife assemblages and contributing to climate change mitigation. Biodiversity is intrinsically linked to the functional aspects of ecosystems, whereby species functional traits influence both ecosystem functioning and species ability to respond to environmental changes. This means that fluctuations in ecosystem processes could be predicted on the basis of community composition changes. In this study, I have focused on different aspects of the on-going restoration to assess how peatland invertebrates are affected. For that, I have compared a chronosequence of restoration sites to open blanket bogs (target system), and forestry plantation (initial state) at RSPB’s Forsinard Flows NNR (Scotland) to examine the restoration trajectory of two different taxa: carabid beetles and moths. For both taxa I am examining the assemblage trajectory (relative abundance of species), and the functional trait trajectory. I have also sampled sites where two new and untested restoration techniques are being applied to specifically look at what kind of impact microhabitat change has on carabid assemblages.