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Viking Bursary 2017

2017 Viking bursary



Carrie Hedges - The Potential Extent of Montane Scrub in Northern England


Carrie Hedges on Bowscale Fell



Termed montane scrub due to its dwarfed appearance, mountain specialist trees that grow in the British alpine zone are considered ‘the rarest and most threatened’ woodland habitat in the UK. The natural alpine treeline has almost entirely disappeared from Britain owing to historic intensive grazing pressure. This is a neglected topic, yet an important area of research because montane habitats are likely to be impacted heavily by climate change, and play a role in flood mitigation management.

Population and site data will be collected across northern England, an area which captures the lowest latitudinal range for many Arctic-Alpine plant species. This will be coupled with secondary data from Scotland to identify the current state of the montane scrub habitat and populations, identify species niche preferences, and realise the full potential extent of montane scrub populations in England and their role in the natural British treeline.

This will enhance our understanding of species living at the very edge of their natural range, the dynamics of the treeline ecotone habitat in the UK, and help to better understand the potential effect of predicted climate change on mountain flora.