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Dr Matthew Saunders

Dr Matthew Saunders
Department of Botany,
School of Natural Sciences,
Trinity College Dublin,
Dublin2, Ireland  
Tel: +353 1 8964870


My research interests lie in the area of environmental physiology, with particular emphasis on how plants respond to changes in their physical, chemical and biological environments and how this information can be used to assess the resilience and adaptive capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to global environmental change. I am particularly interested in the influence of plant species diversity, developmental stage, climatic variability and land management on biogeochemical cycling within terrestrial ecosystems. I utilise an integrated experimental and model-based approach to assess the physiological and environmental processes that regulate plant productivity, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas dynamics, plant-water relations and energy budgets at the leaf, whole plant and ecosystem scale. My recent work has focussed on the impacts of land use change, habitat restoration and extreme climatic events on carbon, water and nutrient dynamics in natural and agricultural ecosystems in both temperate and tropical climates.

Current Research

My current research focuses on the provision of key ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, climate change mitigation and hydrological regulation from pristine, degraded and restored peatland sites across Ireland and the UK. I am also interested in the sustainable management of tropical wetlands, and in particular Cyperus papyrus L. wetlands, which represent some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth. I also collaborate with the UCD Earth Institute, Plant Ecophysiology and Forestry research groups to measure the exchange of trace gases between the biosphere and atmosphere at various long-term experimental forest research plots.


I contribute to the following modules:

Sophister (3rd and 4th Year)

BO3109 JS Seminars, Tutorials and Workshops; BO3108 Autumn Field Trip; BO3121 Spring Field Trip; BO4108 Plant Environment Interactions (Coordinator); BO4106 SS Seminars, Tutorials and Workshops; BO4100 Research Projects.

Selected Publications

Book Chapters:

S. Loiselle., A. Cozar., A.van Dam., F.Kansiime., P.Kelderman., M.Saunders., S.Simonit. (2006) 'Tools for Wetland Ecosystem Resource Management in East Africa: Focus on the Lake Victoria Papyrus wetlands' In: Verhoeven, J., Beltman, B., Bobbink, R., Whigham, D (eds). Wetlands and Natural Resource Management. Berlin: Springer. 190, 97-121.

Peer reviewed journals:

Benanti, G., Saunders, M., Tobin, B., Hawkins. M., Osborne, B. (2014). Contrasting impacts of afforestation on nitrous oxide and methane emissions. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 198-199, 82-93.

Saunders, M.,
Tobin, B., Sweeney, C., Gioria, M., Benanti, G., Cacciotti, E., Osborne, B. (2014). Impacts of exceptional and extreme inter-annual climatic events on the net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange of a Sitka spruce forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 184, 147-157.

Saunders M,
Kansiime, F, Jones, MB. (2014). Reviewing the carbon cycle dynamics and carbon sequestration potential of Cyperus papyrus L. wetlands in tropical Africa. Wetlands Ecology and Management. 22, 143-155.

Artz, RRE., Chapman, SJ., Saunders, M., Evans, CD., Matthews, RB. (2013). Comment on “Soil CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes from an afforested lowland raised peat bog in Scotland: implications for drainage and restoration” by Yamulki et al. (2013). Biogeosciences. 10, 7623-7630. DOI:10.5194/bg-10-7623-2013.

Abdalla, M., Saunders, M., Hastings, A., Williams, M., Smith, P., Osborne, B., Jones, M. (2013). Simulating the impacts of land use in Northwest Europe on Net Ecosystem Exchange (NEE): The role of arable ecosystems, grasslands and forest plantations in climate change mitigation. Science of the Total Environment. 465, 325-336.

Peichl, M., Sonnentag, O., Wohlfahrt, G., Baldocchi, D., Flanagan, L., Kiely, G., Galvagno, M., Gianelle, D., Marcolla, B., Pio, C., Migliavacca, M., Jones, M., Saunders, M. (2013). Convergence of potential net ecosystem production among contrasting C3 grasslands. Ecology Letters. 16, 502-512.

Stoy, PC.,  Mauder, M.,  Foken, T., Marcolla, B., Boegh, E., Ibrom, A., Arain, MA., Arneth, A., Aurela, M., Bernhofer, C., Cescatti, A., Dellwik, E., Duce, P., Gianelle, D., van Gorsel, E., Kiely, G., Knohl, A.,  Margolis, H., McCaughey, J., Merbold, L., Montagnani, L., Papale, D., Reichstein, M., Saunders, M., Serrano-Ortiz, P., Sottocornola, M., Spano, D., Vaccari, F., Varlagin, A. (2013). A data-driven analysis of energy balance closure across FLUXNET research sites: The role of landscape scale heterogeneity. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 171-172, 137-152.

Nicolau, M., Saunders, M., O’Neill, M., Osborne, B., Brabazon, A. (2012). Evolving interpolation models of net ecosystem CO2 exchange using grammatical evolution. Genetic Programming (Lecture Notes in Computer Science).7244, 134-145.

Saunders, M
., Tobin, B., Black, K., Nieuwenhuis, M., Osborne, B. (2012). Thinning effects on the net ecosystem carbon exchange of a Sitka spruce forest are temperature-dependent. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 157, 1-10.

Saunders, M
., Kansiime, F., Jones, MB. (2012). Agricultural encroachment: implications for carbon sequestration in tropical African wetlands. Global Change Biology. 18, 1312-1321.

Olajuyigbe, S, Tobin, B, Saunders, M, Nieuwenhuis, M. (2012). Forest thinning and soil respiration in a Sitka spruce forest in Ireland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 157, 86-95.


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Last updated 10 July 2015