The UK Climate Resilience Programme ran from 2019 to 2023

Understanding the microbial communities of resilient peatlands (Webinar)

UK Climate Resilience Programme Webinar Series 2021

Date: 1 December, 12 – 1pm (BST)

Speaker: Martin Evans (University of Manchester), Tim Thom (Yorkshire Peatland Partnership)

Chair: Kate Lonsdale

See links to a video of the webinar and presentation slides below


This webinar will report on the outputs from the NERC Climate Resilience project ‘Towards a microbial process-based understanding of the resilience of UK peatland systems’. Peatland carbon sequestration is driven by ‘a delicate imbalance between primary production and decomposition’. Most peatland work has understood the controls on this balance in terms of physical boundary conditions such as water table or climatic drivers but underpinning these processes are responses of the microbial system which controls decomposition and supports productivity. Key findings include(i) the importance of ericaeous mycorrhizas versus saprotrophic fungal competition as a control on peatland carbon sequestration, (ii) the importance of the re-establishment and resilience of methanotroph communities in mitigating CH4 flux, (iii) the potential of microbial trait-based approaches in modelling C-cycling in peatlands. Understanding the microbial communities of resilient peatlands also offers the potential that rapid assessment of microbiota may be a way of assessing the progress and success of peatland restoration projects.

Presenter Biography

Martin Evans is Professor of Geomorphology at the University of Manchester. He works on peatland erosion and restoration and the links between these processes and peatland ecosystems services with a particular focus on carbon cycling and natural flood management. He was PI for a NERC climate resilience grant on which aimed to bring together peatland scientists, microbiologists and modellers to explore the role of microbial processes in supporting the role of peatlands in climate resilience.

Tim Thom established and now manages the Yorkshire Peat Partnership which is carrying out restoration work across all of Yorkshire’s upland peatlands. Tim is also a founder member of the Great North Bog coalition which is working to scale up the speed and amount of peatland restoration taking place across the north of England. The Yorkshire Peat Partnership strives to be an evidence-led organisation and is part of a number of research-focused groups to help develop that evidence. Tim works closely with the University of Manchester as an Honorary Senior Research Fellow.

View the video and presentation slides for the webinar: