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Dr Andrew Tanentzap

Dr Andrew Tanentzap

Head of Ecosystems and Global Change Group

Departments and Institutes

Plant Sciences:

Research Interests

My group studies how disturbances alter the functioning and biodiversity of the world's ecosystems in order to generate solutions for mitigating the impacts of global change.  We focus on plants and their interactions with microbes, animals, and biogeochemical processes in terrestrial and freshwater systems.  Our aim is to generate solutions for complex social, economic and environmental challenges, such as food security and the provision of ecosystem services, by developing predictive models to inform policy and management interventions.  Currently, our work is: (i) identifying terrestrial controls over the functioning of aquatic ecosystems; and (ii) testing how evolutionary history influences the responses of ecosystems to disturbances.  We are also engaged in other projects at the interface of conservation science and ecology, particularly in the agri-environment.

Current projects include:

Terrestrial-aquatic linkages

Boreal regions hold upwards of 60% of the planet’s useable freshwater, but anthropogenic activities are dramatically altering these landscapes.  Increasingly, local watersheds are seen as critical controls of aquatic ecosystems, spurred by the discovery that pathways of energy mobilization through lake food webs rely on the quantity and quality of organic matter originating from terrestrial vegetation.  But a pressing question is how will the delivery of key ecosystem services provided by aquatic ecosystems, such as clean drinking water and productive fish populations, change as nutrient exports from terrestrial catchments are altered by anthropogenic activities. 

We are using gradients in forest cover and large field experiments to test whether disturbances that remove terrestrial plant biomass will reduce the quantity and quality of organic matter inputs into freshwater, and thereby dampen the productivity of aquatic food webs.  We believe that microbes are the gate keepers to higher energy mobilization in these systems and so are focusing on their interactions with phytoplankton for macronutrients.  We are also using state-of-the-art fluorescent spectroscopy techniques to quantify the quality of organic matter emanating from different plant communities and relating this to the downstream consequences for ecosystem functioning. 

You can learn more about our work in the video below:


  • landscape ecology
  • biodiversity
  • modelling
  • disturbance
  • conservation
  • ecosystems

Key Publications

A full list of publications is available here.

Tanentzap AJ, Lloyd AM. 2017. Fencing in nature? Predator exclusion restores habitat for native fauna and leads biodiversity to spill over into the wider landscape. Biological Conservation 214:119-126. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.08.001

Tanentzap AJ. 2017. The costs of saving nature: Does it make "cents"? PLoS Biology 15:e2003292. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2003292

Tanentzap AJ, Walker S, Stephens RTT. 2017. Better practices for reporting on conservation. Conservation Letters 10:146--152. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12229

Tanentzap AJ, Lamb A, Walker S, Farmer A. 2015. Resolving conflicts between agriculture and the natural environment. PLoS Biology 13:e1002242. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002242

Tanentzap AJ, Szkokan-Emilson, ES, Kielstra B, Arts MT, Yan, ND, Gunn, JM. 2014. Forests fuel fish growth in freshwater deltas. Nature Communications 5:4077. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5077

Tanentzap AJ, Zou J, Coomes DA. 2013. Getting the biggest birch for the bang: restoring and expanding upland birchwoods in the Scottish Highlands by managing red deer. Ecology and Evolution 3:1890-1901. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.548

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