Contact Dr Nick Girkin

Areas of expertise

  • Plants and microbes
  • Soil
  • Soil Resources
  • Sustainable Land Systems


I am an ecologist interested in the interactions between plants and soils, and the consequences of global environmental change.

My work focuses on the regulation of greenhouse gas production and emissions, and the opportunities for mitigating fluxes and improving carbon sequestration and soil health in natural and managed ecosystems, and the impacts of land use and climate changes on these processes. This is important in helping countries and industry in meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets, and improving the long-term sustainability of natural and managed ecosystems.

My work ranges from studies of large scale-ecosystem processes, to measurements of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide fluxes on the ground and in the lab, and integrating these measurements with standard and novel techniques to understand pathways and processes. This includes using stable isotopes and novel organic matter characterisations (e.g. Rock-Eval pyrolysis and FTIR).

After studying biology at the University of Durham, I completed my Master's in Ecology and Environmental Management at the University of York, and my PhD at the University of Nottingham. I conducted my post-doctoral research at Teagasc, working on the mitigation of agricultural nitrous oxide emissions. Following this, I was a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, measuring greenhouse gas fluxes from the Central African peatland complex. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Member of the British Ecological Society.

Research opportunity

Currently, there are no fully-funded postdoc or PhD studentships available. Self-funded researchers are welcome, and I am happy to support candidates in pursuing funding applications. Please get in touch to discuss further.

Current activities

Plant regulation of carbon and nitrogen cycling
I am interested in understanding how plants regulate carbon and nitrogen cycling, particularly emissions of greenhouse gases. This includes the role of plants as a greenhouse gas transport pathway from the soil to the atmosphere, and the role of roots and root inputs of carbon and oxygen in regulating greenhouse gas production. I am particularly interested in how plants may be used to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil carbon sequestration. Work in this area has previously been funded by NERC and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Greenhouse gas fluxes from the Central African peatland complex
I am working on improving our understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of greenhouse gas production across the Cuvette Centrale, including understanding the processes by which peat organic chemistry, nutrient availability and dominant vegetation types regulate fluxes.

Climate and land use change
I am currently assessing the temperature sensitivity of greenhouse gas production from a range of soil types, including from natural and converted peatland, forest and savannah ecosystems, to better understand the response of greenhouse gas production rates to current and future environmental change. This work is funded by NERC and the Royal Geographical Society.



Royal Geographical Society

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute


Articles In Journals