Environmental scientists at Lancaster will take part in a £13M research programme launched this week in London.
The Natural Environment Research Council's Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) programme, launched June 22, is a five year research programme which aims to improve our understanding of how biodiversity regulates UK ecosystems and delivers economically valuable services.
Lancaster University will work on two of the four BESS consortium projects.
Professor Richard Bardgett of the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) has been awarded £550,000 to examine ecosystem services in lowland landscapes. This project, which is based at Salisbury Plain, is led by Professor James Bullock of NERC's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) at Wallingford , and includes collaborators at CEH Wallingford, Queen Mary University, Cranfield University, RSPB, Rothamsted.
Dr Nick Chappell, Professor Keith Beven, Professor John Quinton, Dr Ben Surridge and Dr Wlodek Tych (all LEC) have been awarded £659,000 for a three year study looking at the interaction between aquatic biodiversity and the flows of water, carbon and nutrients within upland rivers.
The project - Diversity in Upland Rivers for Ecosystem Service Sustainability (DURESS) - is led by Cardiff University and includes researchers from Lancaster University, NERC's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Bangor, Queen Mary University of London, Aberystwyth University and the British Trust for Ornithology.
Organisations seeking to improve river quality in upland Wales are core partners within the project, and include Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water), Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru (Public Heath Wales), Environment Agency Wales, and Llywodraeth Cymru (Welsh Government).
Lancaster is responsible for the hydrological and water quality instrumentation, and the subsequent monitoring and interpretation of data from five upland micro-basins near Llyn Brianne reservoir, mid-Wales. This work is central to the aim of the project -quantifying the resilience of aquatic biodiversity to environmental change and the benefits of maintaining aquatic biodiversity to the UK economy.
Dr Nick Chappell said: "Biodiversity within upland rivers plays a key role in maintaining the quality of rivers and reservoirs for the supply of drinking water. As a consequence, this has a direct financial impact on the £11 billion annual turnover of the UK water industry. The newly formed DURESS team seeks to provide the science necessary to quantify the economic benefits of river biodiversity in delivering clean water resources for beneficiaries ranging from water companies to government regulators and individual UK citizens."