Dr Keith Kirby
Long-term vegetation changes in woodland In the early 1970s a former member of the Department – Colyear Dawkins established long-term vegetation plots across Wytham Woods and The Warburg Reserve in Oxfordshire. These have been resurveyed several times since and work in currently underway to analyse these data in terms of differences in woodland composition and history, and in relation to management versus environmental drivers.
Other related work looks at vegetation development in plantations that were originally surveyed in the 1980s. From these studies it may be possible to project some of the effects of future disturbances including that from the impact of ash dieback. Grazing in woodland systems, from wood-pastures to rewilding. Large herbivores are part of both natural and cultural woodland systems in Britain.
There has been a great increase in traditional wood-pasture systems for their high biodiversity value, but also because of suggestions that they may function as analogues of pre-Neolithic natural landscapes in Europe. This has led to large herbivores being a major element of some rewilding proposals. I am interested in exploring just how influential the role of the herbivores was (and is) in shaping tree-ed landscapes.