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Environmental Biology

Organisational unit: Research Group

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Natural and Anthropogenic environmental changes impact on biological systems at all levels from molecular processes within individuals through to large scale alterations in the global ecosystem.  Our research covers all these scales; deals with plants, animals and micro-organisms; and examines the ecology of terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems. It involves work both on fundamental ecological principles, and on applied and management questions.  Our activities focus in two broad areas:

  • Ecological effects of climate change, land use change, pollution and overexploitation and resulting impacts on the ecosystem services that the biosphere provides. This includes large scale ecosystem effects and biodiversity loss in the Amazon, east and central Asia, the Mediterranean and the UK; community level effects using traditional monitoring, biological records and molecular methods; species level effects on a range of vertebrates, invertebrates, phytoplankton and crops; and evolutionary responses to environmental change in animals, plants and pathogens.
  • Biological perspectives on the earth’s biogeochemistry, including cycling of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur; the molecular biology of key biochemical processes and the population and community dynamics of the microorganisms responsible. Particular areas of interest are marine primary production and carbon cycling; methane oxidation; production of DMS, isoprene and other trace gases and the use of molecular tools to understand the functioning of microbial communities. This work is often collaborative with environmental chemists and oceanographers in COAS [cross link to COAS page],


More detail on our work is on our individual staff pages.  Research in ecology and evolutionary biology also takes place in the School of Biological Sciences. The Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (CEEC) coordinates these research and teaching activities within UEA and our collaborations with the John Innes Centre and The Genome Analysis Centre form part of the Earth and Life Systems Alliance (ELSA). We also collaborate with a number of external research organisations, including the British Trust for Ornithology, the RSPB, CEFAS and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.


We take on a number of research students every year and contribute to the teaching of the MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation. We welcome enquiries from potential PhD applicants and visitors – please contact staff working in your field of interest to discuss opportunities. 


Members of faculty contribute to editing several scientific journals, including: Plant Species Biology, PloS Biology, Biotropica, Nature and Society, Primates, Natureza & Sociedade, Ecology and Society, and Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.

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