Professor Gareth Phoenix

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

Professor of Plant and Global Change Ecology

BIOSC staff profile Gareth Phoenix
g.phoenix@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 0082

Full contact details

Professor Gareth Phoenix
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
C203
Alfred Denny Building
Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TN
Profile
  • NERC Advisory Network member (2019 onwards)
  • UK Arctic and Antarctic Partnership steering committee member (2017 onwards)
  • NERC Training Advisory Board (TAB) member (2016-2019)
  • Associate Editor - Functional Ecology (2005–2011)
  • Member of Council - British Ecological Society (2005–2009)
  • University Representative - British Ecological Society (2004–2009)
  • Steering Committee member, CAPER (Committee on Air Pollution Effects Research) (2006-2019)
  • NERC peer review college (2008-2012)
  • Editorial Advisory Board - Global Change Biology (2007 onwards)
Research interests

My research focuses on the interactions between plants and the environment, particularly in the Arctic, northern boreal and upland ecosystems.

I study the impacts of climate change (warming, extreme events, snow regime change, precipitation), UV-B radiation and pollution on ecosystem structure and function.

I'm interested in the impacts on biodiversity, on cycling of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, and the consequences for feedback to climate (ecosystem carbon balance). I also aim to understand how responses observed at the vegetation/ecosystem level are driven by individual plant, root and leaf responses.

Other interests include more applied fields such as understanding nutrient acquisition for sustainable agriculture.

Publications

Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles

All publications

Journal articles

Chapters

Conference proceedings papers

  • Phoenix GK & Press MC (2005) Effects of climate change on parasitic plants: The root hemiparasitic Orobanchaceae. FOLIA GEOBOTANICA, Vol. 40(2-3) (pp 205-216) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Phoenix GK & Lee JA (2004) Predicting impacts of Arctic climate change: Past lessons and future challenges. ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH, Vol. 19(1) (pp 65-74) RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Dr Holly Croft (independent collaborator)
MSCA Independent Research Fellow. RESOLVE: ‘Remote sensing of photosynthetic traits for high latitude plant productivity modelling’ (Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions funded)

Dr Ben Keane
Post-doctoral Research Associate. PLACE: Phosphorus limitation and ecosystem responses to carbon dioxide enrichment. NERC funded, with Profs Iain Hartley (University of Exeter) and Jonathan Leake (University of Sheffield)

PhD Students

Chris Taylor
Grassland carbon and climate change: will soil nutrients limit carbon uptake in a high CO2 future? (NERC funded PhD through ACCE, jointly supervised with Dr Jess Davies, University of Lancaster).

Murk Memon
Understanding the Role of Climate in Arctic Browning: consequences of climate change and extreme climatic events (Grantham Centre funded PhD, jointly supervised with Drs Julie Jones (lead) and Rob Bryant, University of Sheffield, and Gareth Marshal (British Antarctic Survey)

Jasmine Wakefield
Arctic carbon under threat from climate extremes: how do extreme climatic events affect soil carbon and microbial communities? (NERC funded PhD through ACCE, jointly supervised with Dr Thorunn Helgason, University of York and Dr Jarle Bjerke, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research).

Abdulssalam Khafsha
Extreme event impacts on ecosystem: environmental controls on productivity and survival of boreal and sub-arctic plants
(Saudi Cultural Bureau funded, jointly supervised with Dr Holly Croft).

Kassandra Reuss-Schmidt 
Understanding the impact of climate change on greenhouse gas emissions in the Arctic (NERC funded PhD through ACCE, jointly supervised with Drs Donatella Zona, Garry Hayman, CEH, and Peter Levy, CEH).

Past Members

Dr Rachael Treharne (2014-2018)
Climate change and pollution as drivers of Arctic browning (NERC funded PhD through ACCE, jointly supervised with Drs Jarle Bjerke and Hans Tømmervik, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, and Dr Lisa Emberson, University of York)

Dr Scott Davidson (2013-2017)
Climate change and greenhouse gas emission in Arctic tundra: the role of vegetation change on CO2 and CH4 fluxes (NERC funded PhD studentship, jointly supervised with Donatella Zona).

Dr Ingrid Robertson (2013-2017)
Mobilisation and use of natural soil phosphorus by crops: towards sustainable crop production (SHINE CDT funded PhD studentship, jointly supervised with Jeremy Craven, and Duncan Cameron).

Dr James Fisher (2013-2015)
CYCLOPS: Carbon Cycle Linkages in Permafrost Systems (Post-doctoral research associate, NERC Arctic thematic funded).

Dr Steffi Tille (2011-2015)
Engineering and functional mycorrhizosphere for agro-ecosystems (University funded PhD, jointly supervised with Duncan Cameron and Jonathan Leake).

Dr Thomas Young (2011-2014)
Green roof technologies for sustainable urban energy and water management (E-futures and Boningale Ltd funded PhD, jointly supervised with Duncan Cameron and Jeff Sorrill).

Dr Sonal Choudhary (2009-2013)
Impacts of acute nitrogen deposition events on Arctic tundra (NSINK Marie Curie Fellow - staff PhD candidate. Jointly supervised with Malcolm Press, University of Birmingham)

Dr Aimeric Blaud (2008-2012)
Impacts of acute nitrogen deposition events on Arctic soil microbial communities (NSINK Marie Curie Fellow - staff PhD candidate. Jointly supervised with Mark Osborn).

Dr Steven Lees (2008-2012)
Impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in grasslands (Defra funded PhD. Jointly supervised with Jonathan Leake).

Dr David A Johnson (2010-2012)
P partitioning among plants in P limited ecosystems (technician, NERC funded).

Dr Eva Koller (2007-2011)
Carbon dynamics in an Arctic catchment: plant scale dynamics (MULTIARC Marie Curie Fellow - staff candidate. Jointly supervised with Malcolm Press).

Dr Nils Ohlanders (2008-2011)
Carbon dynamics in an Arctic catchment: hydrology (MULTIARC Marie Curie Fellow - stadd PhD candidate. Jointly supervised with Andrew Hodson, Dept. Geography).

Dr Catherine Preece (2007-2011)
Impacts of extreme winter warming and icing events on sub-Arctic heathland (NERC PhD studentship, jointly supervised with Terry Callaghan).

Dr Stef Bokhorst (2007-2010)
Impacts of extreme winter warming events in the Arctic (Post-doctoral research associate. Leverhulme Trust funded).

Dr Victoria Sloan (2007-2010)
The role of plant roots in Arctic carbon dynamics (NERC PhD studentship).

Dr Ben Fletcher (2006-2009)
Arctic Bisphere-Atmosphere Coupling at Multiple Scales (NERC Post-doctoral research associate. See www.abacus-ipy.org).

Dr Mike Pilkington (2005-2008)
Impacts of root hemiparasitic plants: regulation of community structure and function (NERC Post-doctoral research associate).

Dr Jill Edmondson (2007-2008)
N pollution impacts on plant P acquisition, and impacts of hemiparasitic plants on nutrient cycling (technician, NERC funded).

Dr Maria Arroniz-Crespo (2005-2007)
Impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on bryophytes in grassland ecosystems (Post-doctoral research associate, Spanish Ministry funded)

Teaching activities

Professor Gareth Phoenix is APS liaison for the Environmental Science degree, ad-hoc member of the Teaching Committee and co-ordinates APS118 tutorials for Environmental Science students.

At level 1, I teach APS124 (Ecosystems and Environmental Change). My main research interests are the impacts of global change on ecosystems, and this course gives me a chance to teach this fascinating area to new students. I cover a diversity of topics, from how past climates have influenced the development of ecosystems in the UK, to the threats of contemporary climate change. The latter includes findings from some of our own work undertaken here in APS. The APS118 and APS222 tutorials are also an excellent opportunity to develop discussion and debate on these topics as well as helping students develop generic skills in writing, critical analysis, experimental design and oral communication.

My own research includes work on Peak District ecosystems, and at level 2, we use this area to study the interaction between ecosystems and the environment in APS246 (Plant Habitats and Distributions). Here we use a combination of lectures, laboratory classes and field visits. These ideas are expanded further in APS273 (Population and Community Ecology 2) where I teach how plant diversity and the composition of species influence how an ecosystem functions (for instance, the ecosystem’s capacity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, cycle nutrients or trap pollutants).

My key area of research – Arctic ecosystems and environmental change – informs my teaching at level 3. Here, in addition to lecturing on plant adaptations to arctic environments in APS325 (Life in Extreme Environments), I teach on the Arctic Ecosystems field course (APS343) to Abisko in northern Sweden. The research station we use is also the home to many of my field experiments and so in addition to teaching more generally about Arctic ecosystems, this course offers students the opportunity to learn about, and work on, on-going Arctic research experiments.

The topics of global change, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are also covered in research projects and dissertations at level 3 (APS330 and 331) and at level 4 (APS402 & 406), where my students address questions concerning the impacts of pollution and climate change (e.g. drought, warming) on plant diversity and ecosystem functioning.

Professional activities
  • NERC Training Advisory Board (TAB) member (2016-present)
  • Editorial Advisory Board - Global Change Biology (2007-present)
  • Associate Editor - Functional Ecology (2005–2011)
  • Member of Council - British Ecological Society (2005–2009)
  • University Representative - British Ecological Society (2004–2009)
  • Steering Committee member, CAPER (Committee on Air Pollution Effects Research) (2006-present)
  • NERC peer review college (2008-present)