Dr Elizabeth Jeffers

Research Interests

How does global and local environmental change affect plant populations, communities and ecosystem functioning?  This is a key question for ecology and conservation. Palaeoecological data allow us to extend our ecological “observations” from decades to millennia and beyond in order to answer questions about the drivers and consequences of complex ecosystem dynamics.  The long-term ecological data preserved in the fossil record provides an essential temporal perspective on how ecosystems change in response to both slow and fast drivers. 

I use a variety of statistical modelling approaches to test hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying long-term ecosystem dynamics from palaeoecological data.  Current work is focused on answering the following research questions: What are the consequences of large herbivore extinctions for ecosystem processes? Is nitrogen availability to plants increasing or decreasing over the last few hundred years? How might the provision of important ecosystem services change over time given global and local environmental changes? 

Additional Information

I convene the third-year optional course entitled Ecology of Terrestrial Ecosystems and am the Course Director for the NERC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research. I am also an Editor for the journal Ecology Letters.

Selected Publications

Jeffers, E.S., M.B. Bonsall, C.A. Froyd, S.J. Brooks and K.J. Willis (In Press) The relative importance of biotic and abiotic processes for structuring plant communities through time. Journal of Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12365.

Jeffers, E.S., S. Nogue and K.J. Willis (2015) The role of palaeoecological records in assessing ecosystem services. Quaternary Science Reviews 112: 17-32.

McLauchlan, K.K., J.J. Williams, J.M. Craine and E.S. Jeffers. (2013) Global nitrogen cycling changed during the Holocene as terrestrial ecosystems accumulated carbon. Nature 495:352-355.

Jeffers, E.S., M.B. Bonsall, J. Watson and K.J. Willis (2012) Climate change impacts on ecosystem functioning: evidence from an Empetrum heathland. New Phytologist 193 (1): 150-164.

Willis, K.J., E.S. Jeffers, C. Tovar, P. Long, N. Caithness, et al. (2012)Determining the ecological footprint of industrial development on landscapes beyond protected areas. Biological Conservation 147(1): 3-12.

Jeffers, E.S., M.B. Bonsall, S.J. Brooks and K.J. Willis (2011) Abrupt environmental changes drive shifts in plant-plant interaction outcomes. Journal of Ecology, 99(4), 1063-1070.

Jeffers, E.S., M.B. Bonsall and K.J. Willis (2011) Stability in ecosystem functioning across a climatic threshold and contrasting forest regimes. PLoS ONE, 6(1), e16134.



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