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The risk of soil contaminants on above- and below-ground urban ecosystems

Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: 2741900
Funded under: NERC

The risk of soil contaminants on above- and below-ground urban ecosystems

Description

This interdisciplinary project seeks to understand the risks posed by soil contamination by anthropogenic activities above- and below-ground in urban ecosystems. This is crucial as soils in urban ecosystems experience high levels of contamination from heavy industry, transport and human management (e.g. pesticides and herbicides at unregulated rates) and the impact of these on the structure and function of urban soil ecosystems are unknown. Our supervisory team is uniquely placed to deliver this project with expertise in urban ecosystems, plant-soil-microbe interactions and the impact of pesticides in the environment on wildlife. Currently, nothing is known about how heavy metal and chemical contaminants impact soil microbial and fungal community structure and function in urban ecosystems, and how this impacts on the associated wildlife in above- and below-ground ecosystems. This project will provide key insights into these processes producing a new framework for assessment of environmental risk of soil contaminants. The student appointed to this project will develop a range of skills in soil, plant and microbial sciences, including analytical chemistry, metabolomics, isotope tracing and metagenomics. In addition, the student will undertake fieldwork and develop associated skills in citizen science, working with local authorities and the general public.

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