Partner Institution: University of Aberdeen
Start and end of PhD project: September 2015 – September 2019
Supervisors: Professor Pete Smith and Professor Terence P Dawson
PhD title: Impact of land use change on biodiversity, food security and ecosystem services
Link to research group at University of Aberdeen
Description of research project:
One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is to meet society’s growing food needs whilst reducing the environmental impact of agriculture and one of the ways in which to meet future demands is by agricultural expansion. My research area involves using future global projections of cropland expansion for the model IMAGE 3.0 under various socio-economic scenarios including continuation of current trends. The impacts of this land use change on biodiversity have been examined including biodiversity hotspots as defined by Conservation International as well as AZE sites, containing endangered and critically endangered species as identified by the IUCN Red List. By highlighting areas particularly at risk, policy can be developed to protect important habitats and prevent future biodiversity loss.
The impacts on other ecosystem services will also be quantified which involves using the Harmonized World Soil Database to examine impacts of land use change on soil carbon. High resolution datasets on global forests will be used as well to determine how cropland expansion effects carbon storage in above ground biomass.
Furthermore, the global FEED-ME model informed by FAO statistics and nutritional demand will examine the various socio-economic scenarios to show how changes in agricultural land area, climate and population effect food security and the proportion of undernourished per country.