Welcome to OxLEL
Research in the Oxford Long-term Ecology Laboratory (OxLEL) focuses on biodiversity responses to environmental change and the dynamic processes of species and their interactions with their environment over a range of timescales. Current and recently completed research projects include studies in Africa (Congo basin, Kruger, the Upper Zambezi Valley, Botswana), Borneo, Canaries, Galapagos, Hungary, India (Western Ghats), Ireland, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway Poland, Romania, and UK
We use a variety of techniques to reconstruct long-term ecosystem dynamics including historical records, fossil pollen and plant macrofossils, diatoms, chironomids, phytoliths, dung spores, micro & macrofossil charcoal analysis, stable isotopes (δ13C, δ15N, δ18O), and sediment geochemistry. This enables determination of ecological and evolutionary processes occurring on timescales ranging from >50 years to millions of years.
Research topics covered fall broadly into four categories: (i) reconstruction of biodiversity baselines and targets; (ii) examination of ecosystem resilience, variability and thresholds; (iii) understanding drivers and rates of change to ecosystem services and (iv) biodiversity beyond reserves. Many of these research projects are based in protected areas and linked in with conservation organisations. We have also recently been developing web-based tools to incorporate ecological and evolutionary processes into conservation planning and for the assessment of ecologically valuable regions beyond reserves.