PhD studentship, tropical peatlands - Lancaster, UK

A PhD studentship to study the role of lateral and tree transport in methane cycling in tropical peatlands is available at Lancaster University, UK.


Full or part-time funded PhD project open to UK and European students only.

UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£15,009 2019/20 [tax free]) for four years, funded by the Royal Society.

The supervisor is Dr S Pangala.


Tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia have sequestered carbon over thousands of years and are an important global carbon stock. In natural peat swamp forests, high water levels, warm temperature and availability of carbon make them a perfect environment for methane producing microorganisms to thrive and produce increased quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas known to contribute significantly to the global climate.

Despite these ideal methane producing conditions, methane measurements from peat surfaces in tropical peatlands indicate that these ecosystems only release a fraction of methane compared to peatlands in other regions. Acidic conditions in peat and increased microbial methane oxidation by tree roots or within the peat surface have been suggested as possible theories to explain the low methane emissions from this region.

In this project you will look at an alternative methane transport theory that may help explain the low methane emissions from the tropical peat surfaces. The project proposes that the observed low methane fluxes from the peat surface are the result of most methane being released via alternative pathways, namely 1) lateral transport into water courses and 2) tree transport to the atmosphere. Both these methane transport pathways have not been fully measured from any of the tropical peatland, which may have led to the earlier lower methane estimates.


Apply by 31 January here: