Professor Richard Brazier and Dr Karen Anderson working in collaboration with South West Water on a pioneering project have won CIWEM’s Living Wetlands Award.

Photo by Dr Karen Anderson

Dr Karen Anderson

Dr Karen Anderson has led a team of researchers that have developed a new technique for monitoring the condition of peatlands.

Landscape and ecosystem dynamics

Upland landscape restoration

Researchers in the Landscape and Ecosystems Dynamics (Brazier, Anderson, Hartley) are leading research into how degraded upland areas in the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks and Culm grasslands of Devon and Cornwall can be restored for a range of ecosystem service benefits. Much of the research provides an evidence base to South West Water as part of their Upstream Thinking programme (http://www.upstreamthinking.org/), which seeks to manage landscapes to maximise multiple benefits and in the long-term, reduce the costs of drinking watrer in the region. This high-impact research builds on expertise within the group in ecohydrology, geomorphology and landscape restoration science (Brazier), and fine-scale remote sensing of peatlands (Anderson). The work has attracted long-term funding (2010-2020) from a range of sources including: NERC, the Technology Strategy Board, South West Water and the HEIF Open Innovation Fund. The research is focused on spatial assessment of ecological, hydrological and pedological processes in degraded peatlands, and as such has a strong interdisciplinary focus. Real-time hydrology and carbon flux monitoring (Brazier, Hartley) is taking place on a series of test catchments in these areas. Remote sensing data and analyses are integral to the work (Anderson). The funding has supported major methodological advances, such as determining the optimal spatial pattern in dipwells for hydrological monitoring, integrating LiDAR and thermal imaging for peatland hydrological modelling, and the first UAV deployment (in conjunction with QuestUAV) on Exmoor for fine-scale aerial photography of the catchments (which won the ‘Pennon Environmental Award’ for innovation in monitoring (http://www.exmoormires.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=8701&pdacontent=0). Soil and nutrient dynamics research, also funded by South West Water, has re-assessed contributions of intensively-managed culm grasslands to erosion and water quality, resulting in new funding from DEFRA to develop a national soil erosion monitoring capability.

News stories:

News story (2012) ‘Aerial survey reveals Exmoor's rare peatlands as never seen before

South West Water (2012) Exmoor mires ‘upstream thinking report’ 2011-2012.

Recent funding:

01/08/2010 – 01/12/2013
Natural Environment Research Council/TSB and South West Water Knowledge Transfer Partnership (£200,000 to Brazier as PI and Anderson as CO-I) Understanding the impact of moorland restoration on water quality

01/10/2010 – 31/03/2015
South West Water (£120,000) Equipment budget for Mires restoration sites in Exmoor National Park

01/10/2010 – 31/03/2015
South West Water (£45,000) Laboratory budget for Mires restoration sites in Exmoor National Park

01/06/2011 – 30/05/2013
Wessex Water (£18,580 to Brazier as PI) Understanding the impacts of moorland restoration on the water quality of Nutscale Reservoir

12/06/2011 – 31/03/2015
South West Water (£151,000 to Brazier as PI) Extended monitoring of water quality responses to moorland restoration in Exmoor National Park

01/01/2012 – 31/03/2015
South West Water (£145,000 to Brazier as PI) Understanding the impact of moorland restoration in Dartmoor National Park on water quantity, quality and biodiversity

20/01/2012 – 01/03/2-15
Higher Education Innovation Fund  (HEIF), Devon Wildlife Trust and the EA (£101,000 to Brazier as PI, Anderson and Hartley as CO-I’s). Providing an evidence base for the restoration of Culm grasslands to understand impacts on water resources of southwest England under changing climates

01/10/2012 – 31/03/2016
Natural Environment Research Council (£70,000 to Brazier as PI, Anderson as CO-I) Impacts of fluvial land degradation on the spatial dynamics of soil organic carbon

01/10/2012 – 31/03/2013
Natural Environment Research Council (£12,000 to Brazier as PI) Catchment Management Knowledge Transfer to the Water Industry

01/01/2013 – 31/12/2015
Technology Strategy Board  (£107, 368 to Anderson as PI, Brazier as CO-I)  Developing a new integrated unmanned aerial vehicle platform "Quest Earth Water" for assessing hidden blue water supplies

Key publications:

  1. Glendell, M., Granger, S.J.,  Bol, R. and Brazier, R.E. (in press) Quantifying the spatial variability of soil physical and chemical properties in relation to     mitigation of diffuse water pollution. Geoderma, 41, doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2013.10.008
  2. Glendell, M., Extence, C., Chadd, R. and Brazier, R.E. (in press) Testing the pressure specific invertebrate index PSI as a tool for determining ecologically relevant water quality sedimentation targets. Freshwater Biology doi:10.1111/fwb.12269
  3. Anderson, K. and Gaston, K. (2013) Unmanned aerial vehicles will revolutionize spatial ecology. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, 11, 138-146
  4. Grand-Clement, E., Anderson, K., Smith, D., Luscombe, D., Gatis, N., Ross, M., and Brazier, R.E. (2013). Evaluating ecosystem goods and services after restoration of marginal upland peatlands in South-West England. Journal of Applied Ecology 50, 324-334.
  5. Anderson, K. and Cowley, A. (2012)  Final report to South West Water on LiDAR analysis. 75pp (internal consultancy report)
  6. Grand-Clement, E.,  Anderson, K. , Luscombe, D. , Gatis, N., Brazier, R.E. (2012) The Dartmoor Mires Project: how can we prove whether or not peatland restoration is successful? In: Dartmoor Matters, Quarterly Journal of the Dartmoor Preservation Association. Winter 2012, No. 180. 
  7. Anderson, K., Bennie, J.J., Milton, E.J., Hughes, P.D., Lindsay, R. and Meade, R. (2010) Combining LiDAR and IKONOS data for eco-hydrological classification of an ombrotrophic peatland. Journal of Environmental Quality 39, 260-273
  8. Anderson, K., Bennie, J.J., and Wetherelt, A. (2010) Laser scanning of vegetation pattern along a hydrological gradient in a peatland ecosystem. Landscape Ecology 25, 477-491