Nick Girkin

Nick Girkin
Cranfield University · Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute

BSc, MRes, PhD

About

29
Publications
6,101
Reads
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366
Citations
Introduction
My research focuses on the mechanisms of greenhouse gas regulation (particularly controls on methane and nitrous oxide fluxes) across a range of eocystems including tropical and temperate forests, peatlands, grasslands, and in agriculture.
Additional affiliations
February 2020 - present
University of Nottingham
Position
  • Researcher
February 2020 - present
Cranfield University
Position
  • Lecturer
November 2018 - February 2020
University of Nottingham
Position
  • Research Associate
Description
  • CongoPeat: Past, Present and Future of the Peatlands of the Central Congo Basin
Education
September 2014 - March 2018
University of Nottingham
Field of study
  • Environmental Science
September 2013 - July 2014
The University of York
Field of study
  • Ecology and Environmental Management
October 2010 - July 2013
Durham University
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (29)
Article
Full-text available
The world’s largest tropical peatland complex is found in the central Congo Basin. However, there is a lack of in situ measurements to understand the peatland’s distribution and the amount of carbon stored in it. So far, peat in this region has been sampled only in largely rain-fed interfluvial basins in the north of the Republic of the Congo. Here...
Preprint
The Central Congo Basin is home to the largest peat swamp in the tropics. Two major vegetation types overlay the peat: hardwood trees, and palms (mostly the trunkless Raphia laurentii variety), with each dominant in different locations. The cause of the location of these differently composed swamp areas is not understood. We investigated their dist...
Article
Full-text available
The influence of soil phosphorous (P) content on the N-cycling communities and subsequent effects on N 2 O emissions remains unclear. Two laboratory incubation experiments were conducted on soils collected from a long-term (est. 1995) P-addition field trial sampled in summer 2018 and winter 2019. Incubations were treated with a typical field amendm...
Article
Full-text available
The expansion of oil palm plantations is one of the greatest threats to carbon-rich tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia. More than half of the oil palm plantations on tropical peatlands of Peninsular Malaysia are smallholder-based, which typically follow varied cropping systems, such as intercropping. In this case study, we compare the immediate b...
Article
The status of tropical peatlands, one of Earth’s most efficient natural carbon stores, is of increasing international concern as they experience rising threat from deforestation and drainage. Peatlands form over thousands of years, where waterlogged conditions result in accumulation of organic matter. Vast areas of Southeast Asian peatlands have be...
Article
Full-text available
Tea (Camellia sinensis L.) is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. It is mostly grown in the tropics with a heavy dependence on mineral nitrogen (N) fertilisers to maintain high yields while minimising the areas under cultivation. However, N is often applied in excess of crop requirements, resulting in substantial adverse environmental i...
Article
The Cuvette Centrale is the largest tropical peatland complex in the world, covering approximately 145,000 km2 across the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It stores ca. 30.6 Pg C, the equivalent of three years of global carbon dioxide emis- sions and is now the first trans-natio- nal Ramsar site. Despite its size and importan...
Chapter
Soil nitrogen transformations underpin plant growth and are fundamental to healthy ecosystem functioning. Excess nitrogen applications, particularly in the form of high fertilizer inputs, adversely affect soil health and cause substantial nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions, contributing to climate change and atmospheric pollution. Understanding ni...
Preprint
Full-text available
Climate change is adversely affecting coffee production, impacting both yields and quality. Coffee production is dominated by the cultivation of Arabica and Robusta coffee, species that represent 99% of production, but both species will be affected by climate change. Sustainable management practices that can enhance the resilience of production are...
Article
Full-text available
The expansion of oil palm monocultures into globally important Southeast Asian tropical peatlands has caused severe environmental damage. Despite much of the current focus of environmental impacts being directed at industrial scale plantations, over half of oil palm land-use cover in Southeast Asia is from smallholder plantations. We differentiated...
Article
Full-text available
A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-00991-1.
Article
Contrasting tillage strategies not only affect the stability and formation of soil aggregates but also modify the concentration and thermostability of soil organic matter associated with soil aggregates. Understanding the thermostability and carbon retention ability of aggregates under different tillage systems is essential to ascertain potential t...
Article
Full-text available
The carbon balance of peatlands is predicted to shift from a sink to a source this century. However, peatland ecosystems are still omitted from the main Earth system models that are used for future climate change projections, and they are not considered in integrated assessment models that are used in impact and mitigation studies. By using evidenc...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia are important ecosystems that play a crucial role in global biogeochemical cycles, with a potential for strong climate feedback loops. The degradation of tropical peatlands due to the expansion of oil palm plantations and their impact on biodiversity and the carbon balance is a global concern. The majority of co...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical peatlands are a globally important source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Vegetation is critical in regulating fluxes, providing a conduit for emissions and regular carbon inputs. However, plant roots also release oxygen, which might mitigate methane efflux through oxidation prior to emission from the peat surface. Here we show, using...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical peatlands are an important carbon store and source of greenhouse gases, but the microbial component, particularly community structure, remains poorly understood. While microbial communities vary between tropical peatland land uses, and with biogeochemical gradients, it is unclear if their structure varies at smaller spatial scales as has b...
Article
This research investigated the effect of long-term phosphorus (P) addition relative to carbon (C) availability on nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from an ungrazed grassland soil via two incubation experiments. No significant effect of soil P on N2O was found under C-limited conditions, while under added-C, cumulative N2O was significantly higher from...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical peatlands are a significant carbon store and contribute to global carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions. Tropical peatlands are threatened by both land use and climate change, including the alteration of regional precipitation patterns, and the 3–4 °C predicted warming by 2100. Plant communities in tropical peatlands can regulat...
Article
Urine is a critical nitrogen (N) input in temperate grazed grasslands and can drive substantial nitrous oxide (N 2 O) production in soils. However, it remains unclear how differences in the N input rate affect N 2 O fluxes and vary between different grassland soils. The effect of increasing urine N application on ammonium (NH 4⁺ ), nitrite (NO 2⁻ )...
Article
Accurate assessment of tropical peatland carbon dynamics is important to (a) determine the size of the active carbon pool, (b) estimate the scale of transfers of peat-derived greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere resulting from land use change, and (c) support carbon emissions reduction policies. To date, information on the quality of tropical...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical peatland ecosystems are a significant component of the global carbon cycle and feature a range of distinct vegetation types, but the extent of links between contrasting plant species, peat biogeochemistry and greenhouse gas fluxes remains unclear. Here we assessed how vegetation affects small scale variation of tropical peatland carbon dyn...
Article
Tropical forested peatlands are a major carbon store and are a significant source of global carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. While the role of environmental variables, including temperature and water table depth have been relatively well studied, uncertainty remains in the extent to which plant roots regulate...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical peatlands are a significant carbon store and source of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) to the atmosphere. Plants can contribute to these gas emissions through the release of root exudates, including sugars and organic acids amongst other biomolecules, but the roles of concentration and composition of exudates in regulating emissions...
Article
Tropical peatlands hold large amounts of carbon but the influence of litter inputs and variation in peat properties with depth on carbon storage are poorly understood. Here we present a stratigraphy of peatland carbon stocks and accumulation through the peat profile in a tropical ombrotrophic wetland and assess shifts in vegetation inputs and organ...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical peatlands release significant quantities of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, yet the relative contributions of heterotrophic and autotrophic respiration to net CO2 fluxes remains sparsely quantified. We used a combination of in situ trenching and vegetation removal in ex situ pots to quantify root-derived CO2 under two plant functional...
Article
Full-text available
Root exudates represent a large and labile carbon input in tropical peatlands, but their contribution to carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) production remains poorly understood. Changes in species composition and productivity of peatland plant communities in response to global change could alter both inputs of exudates and associated greenhouse...

Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Improving the sustainability of perennial plantation crop production through a suite of plant, soil, and water, including regenerative agricultural techniques. We ultimately aim to develop toolkits to support delivery, working in partnership with businesses, NGOs, and farmers.
Project
1. To assess the role of roots and root inputs of carbon and oxygen in regulating greenhouse gas fluxes in tropical peatlands. 2. To assess how roots regulate organic matter decomposition. 3. To assess how these processes vary between contrasting vegetation types.