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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Research Group: Landscape Dynamics and Ecology (LDE)

Currently Active: 

Researchers in Landscape Dynamics and Ecology work in geomorphology, ecology and at their interface, with strengths in temporal (Quaternary change) and spatial processes (species to landscapes). Particular strengths are aeolian, fluvial, coastal, glacial and periglacial landscapes, environmental change and palaeoecology. Regional foci are northern regions, the tropics and islands. We are international leaders in environmental sensing and quantitative spatial ecology.

Current research priorities:

The current research priorities are:

  • Fundamental research on geomorphic processes in aeolian, coastal, fluvial and shallow marine, glacial and periglacial environments.
  • Changes in environmental systems in response to climate change, in fluvial, glacial and coastal environments.
  • The effects of extreme events on society, including catchment management, flooding, coastal changes and ecosystem responses.
  • Reconstructing climate change during the Quaternary (Europe, the Americas, Arctic and South Pacific)
  • Understanding the process, timing and forcing of Human migration into the tropical South Pacific
  • What makes Small Islands vulnerable to multiple-hazards?
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in tropical agricultural systems
  • Understanding trade-offs between biodiversity and ecosystem services at multiple spatial scales.
  • Environmental Sensor Networks and Internet of Things (IoT) systems for environmental monitoring in glacial and tropical environments.

Our research often involves the application of novel methodological approaches that integrate high-resolution, field and laboratory data acquisition with numerical and physical modelling. We use multi-proxy environmental data and model past and present environments in order to further our understanding of environmental change and its relationship to human societies at a range of temporal and spatial scales. We have broad expertise in a range of techniques and the use of natural systems such as peat bogs and lakes as archives of terrestrial environmental change. These techniques range from the study of fossil pollen to stable isotopes and aDNA.

Our research spans the globe, with research in the Arctic, Europe, the America, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Antarctica.

Main areas of expertise

Aeolian geomorphology, Agroecosystems Biodiversity, Coastal morphodynamics, Entomology Environmental Sensing, Fluvial sediment dynamics and sediment transport Glaciology  and glacial sedimentology, Human–landscape systems, Quaternary Science,  Tropical forest ecology.

Goals and plans for the future

LDE will investigate fundamental geomorphic processes, investigate the response of natural environments to climate change, as well as its effect on society and adaption and management strategies We will develop the multiproxey investigations to environmental change (including aDNA), investigate past and present ecological dynamics as well as understand biodiversity.

Notable Projects

A Tale of Two Glaciers: Using Web Connected Rtk GPS, Drones And Remote Sensing To Monitor Rapid Glacier Retreat Of Two Contrasting Icelandic Glaciers – National Geographic Explorers

NERC BLUEcoast (NE/N015665/2)

Unnatural dynamics of flood deposits in built environments (Leverhulme Trust; RPG-2018-282)

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function in Tropical Agriculture (BEFTA) Project

Acoustic monitoring of biodiversity and human exploitation in tropical forests

NERC BLUEcoast project

NERC Mekong River project

NERC Sediment structure project

Impacts of channel confinement on risk of geomorphic change during extreme flooding – Defra/EA

Pacific colonisation and climate change – NERC/National Geographic/UoS

Particle arrangement to channel shape PATCHES project NERC

Extending the evidence base for the ecological impacts of agricultural sediments – Defra

SCALEFORES: Scaling Rules for Ecosystem Services (ERC Starting Grant)

Research funding

BBSRC, Defra, Environment Agency, EPSRC, GCRF, IfLS, Leverhulme, National Geographic Explorers, NERC, Wessex Water,

Associated research themes


Mountain Sensing


The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function in Tropical Agriculture (BEFTA) Programme

AudioMoth - An open acoustic device for monitoring biodiversity and the environment

Environmental sensing @ Southampton

Dunwich- The search for Britain's Atlantis

Flow strength and bed resistance

Extending the evidence base on the ecological impact of fine sediment and developing a framework for targeting mitigation of agricultural sediment losses - WQ0128

Water Policy in the UK

The group uses and develops a range of state of the art environmental sensing equipment which is housed in the Environmental Sensing @ Southampton facility (ES@S) including Terrestrial Laser Scanners, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Unmanned Surface Vehicles, dGPS, Ground Penetrating Radar).

We also host a suite of equipment for both field and laboratory based sediment analysis (e.g., XRF, C-N analyzer), microscopy (optical and petrographic microscopes and SEM) and field glaciology (hot water drill, ice augurs etc).

We have specialist labs equipped for a range of palaeoecological analyses, including a clean lab for tephra analysis and an ultra-clean ancient DNA extraction facility. Recent investment has provided a state-of-the-art computer cluster for landscape modelling, SfM analysis, as well as GIS and remote sensing.


Book Chapters





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