Professor Iain Hartley
Professor of Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK
Iain Hartley's research focuses on the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to global change. He has worked in a wide range of ecosystems, from Arctic tundra to tropical rainforests. In particular, his research interests include: 1) determining the effects of permafrost thaw on greenhouse gas emissions from high-latitude ecosystems; 2) investigating the extent to which tropical forest productivity is limited by nutrient availability versus atmospheric CO2 concentrations; 3) quantifying the effects of global warming on soil and ecosystem carbon storage. Iain's research has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and he sits on the scientific steering committte of the AmazonFACE project, which will be the first experiment to expose a mature rainforest canopy to elevated CO2. He also currently serves on the NERC Radiocarbon Facility steering committee.
Broad research specialisms:
Carbon cycle feedbacks to global change, impacts of warming on soil carbon dynamics, links between carbon and nutrient cycling, permafrost carbon dynamics, elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, methane fluxes, managing the terrestrial carbon cycle.
BSc Environmental Biology (University of St Andrews),
MRes Ecology and Environmental Biology (University of York),
PhD “The response of soil respiration to temperature” (University of York)
Research group links
The main focus of my research is on improving understanding of how the terrestrial biosphere will respond to global change, and what the implications will be for future rates of climate change.
I am primarily an experimental ecologist, using manipulations to quantify ecosystem responses to key drivers, but also make use of natural gradients and natural disturbances to test hypotheses related to global change. My research combines controlled laboratory experiments with field measurements in ecosystems as diverse as Arctic tundra and Amazon rainforest. I make extensive use of stable and radiocarbon isotopes to compliment measurements of fluxes (CO2, CH4) and stores of carbon in different ecosystems. My work is highly collaborative with ongoing projects involving hydrologists, plant physiologists, microbiologists, remote sensors, and soil scientists, as well as ecosystem and Earth system modellers.
Current projects include: 1) investigating how soil microbial community responses may modify the effects of temperature on decomposition rates in soils; 2) determining the role of plant biodiversity and fire disturbance in controlling the rates, and implications, of permafrost thaw in contrasting ecosystems in northern Canada; 3) quantifying the role of nutrient availability in controlling the productivity of Amazon forests; 4) investigating the potential effects of atmospheric CO2 concentration on C uptake in rainforests.
Specific research areas:
1. Effects of temperature on decomposition rates in soils
2. Elevated CO2 effects on plant productivity and ecosystem C storage
3. Plant-soil interactions and nutrient-cycle influences on carbon-cycle feedbacks
4. Permafrost carbon dynamics
5. Methane fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems
6. Soil microbial community responses to global change
7. The use of radiocarbon in carbon cycle research
- NERC Standard Grant: NE/S010122/1, “Can the formation of new soil organic matter offset decomposition losses from thawed permafrost soils”. Total value: £640,000 (~£540,000 to Exeter, Hartley as project PI). June 2019-May 2023.This proposal will grow plant in contrasting permafrost soils in a 13C-labelled atmosphere to trace new carbon inputs into different soil organic matter pools.
- NERC Standard Grant: NE/R001928/1, “Can tropical Montane forest Acclimate to high temperature? (Montane-Acclim)”. Total value: £641,000 (~£600,000 to Exeter, PI Lina Mercado, Hartley CoI). Oct 2017-Sept 2022. This proposal will use an altitudinal gradient to determine the extent to which photosynthesis in tropical trees can acclimate to climate warming.
- NERC Standard Grant: NE/N010086/1, “Phosphorus Limitation And ecosystem responses to Carbon dioxide Enrichment (PLACE)”. Total value: £635,000 (£316,000 to Exeter, Hartley as project PI). Feb 2017-Dec 2020.This is the first combined free-air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE) and nutrient manipulation experiment in phosphorus-limited grasslands.
- NERC Standard Grant: NE/P002722/1, “Will more productive Arctic ecosystems sequester less soil carbon? A key role for priming in the rhizosphere ('PRIMETIME')". Total value: £635,000 (£11,000 to Exeter, Led by Philip Wookey at University of Stirling. Hartley as Exeter PI). September 2016-August 2019.This project will determine whether colonisation of ericaceous Arctic heaths by ectomycorrhizal trees and shrubs will destabilise soil carbon stocks.
- NERC Directed Newton call: NE/N007603/1, “SPECTRE: Soil processes and ecological services of the karst critical zone of southwest China”. Total value: £900,000 (£468,000 to Exeter, PI Tim Quine, Hartley CoI). January 2016-Dec 2018.This project investigates whether karst agricultural systems in China can be managed to maximise ecosystem service delivery and poverty alleviation.
- NERC Standard Grant: NE/L007223/1, 'The Amazon Fertilisation Experiment (AFEX)'. Total value: £925,000 (£624,000 to Exeter, Hartley as project PI). October 2014-March 2020.This is first experiment to expose mature Amazon rainforest to long-term, large-scale manipulations of soil nitrogen, phosphorus and cation availability.
- NERC Strategic Environmental Capital Call, 'Picarro G2201-i Dual Carbon Isotope Analyzer'. Total value: £129,000 (Hartley ad lead academic). June 2014.This equipment bid has been essential for securing subsequent funding.
- NERC Arctic Research Programme: NE/K000179/1, 'CYCLOPS: Carbon Cycling Linkages of Permafrost Systems'. Total value: £900,000 (£285,376 to Exeter, Led by Mathew Williams at University of Edinburgh. Hartley as Exeter PI). August 2012-July 2015.This project determined how vegetation communities control thermal regimes in permafrost soils and the potential for CO2 and CH4 release following thaw.
- Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC): 'Determining the role of permafrost thaw in controlling rates of methane release from terrestrial high-latitude ecosystems'. Two awards linked to CYCLOPS. (£164,849 to Exeter, Hartley as PI). May 2013-March 2015.This project determined, for the first time, the source of methane being released from thawing permafrost peatlands.
- NERC Standard Grant: NE/H022333/1, 'Thermal acclimation of soil microbial respiration: consequences for global warming-induced carbon losses?'. Total value £453,000 (£269,634 to Exeter. Hartley as project PI). October 2010-December 2013.This project demonstrated that microbial community responses to temperature changes enhance the potential for carbon release under global warming.
- 2016 NERC
Phosphorus Limitation And ecosystem responses to Carbon dioxide Enrichment (PLACE)
- 2015 NERC
SPECTRA: Soil Processes and Ecological Services in the Karst Critical Zone of Southwest China
- 2014 NERC
The Amazon Fertilisation Experiment (AFEX)
- 2014 InterAmerican Development Bank
Amazon FACE experiment
- 2013 DECC
Determining the role of permafrost thaw in controlling rates of methane release from terrestrial high-latitude ecosystems
- 2012 NERC
CYCLOPS: Carbon Cycling Linkages of Permafrost Systems: NERC Arctic Research Programme award
- 2010 NERC
Thermal acclimation of soil microbial respiration: consequences for global-warming-induced carbon losses?
Publications by category
Publications by year
Iain_Hartley Details from cache as at 2019-05-22 06:09:50
External Engagement and Impact
Member of the NERC Radiocarbon Facility Steering Committee
Member of the Scientific Steering Committee for AmazonFACE
Office Hours: Term 3
Week 1: Monday 9:00 to 10:00; Monday 14:00 to 15:00
Week 2: Tuesday 11:00 to 12:00; Tuesday 14:00 to 15:00
Week 3: Wednesday 9:00 to 10:00; Wednesday 11:00 to 12:00
Week 4: No office hours, please email me
Week 5: Tuesday 12:00 to 13:00; Tuesday 16:00 to 17:00
Week 6: Tuesday 13:00 to 14:00; Tuesday 16:00 to 17:00
Week 7: Tuesday 9:30 to 10:30; Tuesday 16:00 to 17:00
Information not currently available
Supervision / Group
- Kelly Andersen
- Naomi Gatis
- Sophie Green
- Anka Asandei
- Mark Cooper
- Cristian Estop Aragones University of Alberta
- Naomi Gatis
- Kristiina Karhu University of Helsinki