Dr Sam Bonnett

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  • Qualifications:BSc (HONS); MSc; PhD; FHEA
  • Position:Senior lecturer in Environmental Science
  • Department:Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences (HAS)
  • Telephone:+4411732 87157
  • Email:Sam.Bonnett@uwe.ac.uk

About me

I am a Senior lecturer in Environmental Science in the Department of Applied Sciences at UWE. I am a process ecologist with an interest in plant-soil interactions and soil microbial functions in natural and anthropogenic ecosystems. 

My research is aimed at improving our mechanistic understanding of ecological and biogeochemical processes so we can manage ecosystems to enhance the provision of ecosystem services in the face of human impacts and climate change in the Anthropocene Era.

Area of expertise

I have over 10 years of postdoctoral research experience with a specific interest in plant-soil interactions and microbial functions in urban, agricultural, forest and wetland ecosystems. In particular, biotic and abiotic controls of extracellular enzyme kinetics and relationships with microbial functional diversity, plant productivity, carbon storage, greenhouse gas production and other ecosystem services. ​

Urban ecosystems

I am interested in how plant-soil interactions in urban ecosystems such as grassland and woodland affect microbial decomposition of soil organic matter, and how our understanding of ecosystem functions and microbial mechanisms can help us enhance soil formation, biodiversity and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (see Birt and Bonnett, 2018 https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1XAEH48oXbh5or​). We are currently investigating whether rhizodeposition of sugars, organic acids and amino acids affects the decomposition of soil organic carbon via extracellular and intracellular mechanisms. 

Solar PV farms

We are interested in whether microclimatic conditions (i.e. shading, moisture and temperature) under solar PV panels may enhance biodiversity and carbon sequestration under certain plant community management regimes. We believe there maybe potential win-win solutions for multiple stakeholders such as enhanced biodiversity, improved soil quality, and carbon storage that would provide additional functional benefits for solar PV farmers beyond energy conversion.

Enzyme inhibition in peatland ecosystems

Recent research of ours published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports (Bonnett et al 2017) showed that hydrological legacy alters the type of enzyme inhibition in a peatland chronosequence. Climate change has the potential to enhance carbon loss from these carbon-rich systems due to drought and so we are examining how hydrological change affects the structure and functioning of microbial communities that are responsible for the production of extracellular enzymes and the abiotic and biotic factors that alter the type of enzyme inhibition (competitive, non-competitive and uncompetitive models). These extracellular enzymes ultimately affect the stability and loss of dissolve organic carbon and greenhouse gas production in these carbon-rich systems and understanding these microbial mechanisms is imperative to avoid a positive feedback to global warming.


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