BIFoR FACE Research 

We have tried to map projects into different research themes but as the research is related to whole forest ecosystems, there is naturally overlap between the areas.  To see the University of Birmingham staff and students involved in each of the research areas please go to our “Research Team” webpage.

An overview of the emerging results from the research underway at BIFoR FACE, is available to listen to in a podcast interview of Director, Prof Rob Mackenzie by Tonia Clark from Birmingham Tree People.

Research council funded projects underway at BIFoR FACE

The following are examples of research council funded projects underway at BIFoR FACE:

QUINTUS (2018 -2024) - a £3.7m NERC funded large grant project, Quinquennial (half-decadal) carbon and nutrient dynamics in temperate forests: Implications for carbon sequestration in a high carbon dioxide world, led by Prof Rob MacKenzie (University of Birmingham) 

FACE Underground (2020 - 2023) - a standard NERC funded project. This project will use the FACE experiment to determine whether mature temperate forests will be able to access more soil nutrients under elevated carbon dioxide (eCO2), led by Dr Sami Ullah (University of Birmingham) 

Disentangling mechanisms of co-adaption between trees and soil food webs in response to environmental perturbations (2019 - 2022) - a NERC funded project, led by Prof David Johnson (University of Manchester)

Distributed Real Time Soil (DiRTS) Monitoring (2020 - 2022) a NERC funded project led by Dr Sami Ullah (University of Birmingham). 

NI: Network for Monitoring Canopy Temperature of Forests (netCTF) - a 2020 NERC funded project led by Dr Sophie Fauset (University of Plymouth). This project will increase the global network for IR monitoring of forest canopy temperatures (netCTF). As part of that award an instrument will be placed on our 40m flux tower collecting important continuous measurements.

The information to follow regarding measurements at BIFoR FACE is separated into:

  1. Core measurements - these measurements have been taken continuously over a long period and are made in most cases by the Research Technician staff at the FACE Facility
  2. Project specific measurements - these might have been taken just for a shorter undergraduate/postgraduate research project.

If you have an idea for research at the BIFoR FACE facility, we'd really like to hear from you, we've a team of people willing to talk to any future collaborators, please do 'contact us' if you would like an initial conversation or if you have an idea developed already you can complete a short form to start the process.

Aboveground vegetation processes 

Core measurements

  • Green chromatic coordinate (GCC) and red chromatic coordinate (RCC) – Phenocam
  • Phenology and biodiversity observations, including bryophyte, deadwood surveys

  • Tree stem growth – LIDAR surveys (includes tree height), dendrometers (manual and automated)

  • Tissue samples of green leaves taken from the top/middle/bottom of canopy for oak trees and also tissue samples from the other 3 key species of tree (hazel, hawthorn & sycamore) biobanked for chemical analysis 
  • Tissue samples of buds & catkins bio banked for future research 
  • Leaf Area measurements of green leaves sampled from top/middle/bottom of canopy for the four key species of tree (oak, hazel, hawthorn & sycamore) 
  • Leaf litter trap samples - samples are separated into up to 9 different categories including a 'woody material' archive and 'reproductive output' archive
  • Leaf Area Index – both hemispherical and direct method 
  • Each tree is identified and has its own ID number and is mapped. 

Projects specific measurements

  • Leaf temperature
  • Leaf-level gas exchange
  • Tree stem respiration 
  • Canopy spread 
  • Tree stem xylem sap flux 
  • Stem wood characteristics from core and slice samples 
  • Physiological performance in naturally regenerated trees
  • Carbon isotope analysis of tree cores
  • Sulphur measurements from tree discs
  • Poplar seedlings under elevated CO2
  • Wood compositional analysis
  • Dry and wet deposition fluxes
  • Sub-canopy Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) 
  • Imaging of leaves from leaf litter traps for leaf area 
  • Acorn collection and some hazel nuts 

Belowground vegetation, litter and soil processes

Core measurements

  • Fine Root development
  • Soil CO2, H20 Fluxes
  • N mineralization and N2O source partitioning studies.
  • Soil sampling and lab analysis for nutrients (cations, anions), particle size distribution at least three times a year
  • pH, soil type, organic matter content, CEC, bulk density
  • Leaf litter
  • Hyphal growth and turnover 

Project specific measurements 

  • CH4 and N20
  • Leaf litter decomposition
  • Fine root production and chemistry: 
  • Hyphal growth and turnover
  • Root and hyphal control over decomposition rates, microbial functional activity and nutrient availability
  • Production and turnover of extra-radical mycelium of symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi
  • Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM).

Examples of research projects

QUINTUS - Quinquennial (half-decadal) carbon and nutrient dynamics in temperate forests: Implications for carbon sequestration in a high carbon dioxide world

Manchester project with PI Prof D Johnson

Disentangling mechanisms of co-adaption between trees and soil food webs in response to environmental perturbations. A University of Manchester led project - Prof D Johnson

Thumbnail Manon RumeauBiological nitrogen fixation (BNF) and nitrogen mineralization in forest soils under elevated CO2 by Manon Rumeau. Poster 2022

FACE Underground will use the FACE experiment to determine whether mature temperate forests will be able to access more soil nutrients under elevated carbon dioxide (eCO2)

Deciduous Woodlands under eCO2 and Nitrogen Deposition: Biogeochemical tradeoffs and the fate of soil carbon Poster 2022 


Soil Bioavailable Nitrogen at BIFoR FACE, by PhD student Angeliki Kourmouli. Poster 2019

Thumbnail Katy Faulkner

Resistance and resilience of forest soil microbial communities to extreme weather events
in a high CO2 world - University of Warwick, Katy Faulkner Poster 2021

Does wood grown under elevated CO2 decompose at a different pace than wood grown under ambient conditions? - ETH Zurich Prof Tom Crowther  

Thumbnail Nine Douwes Dekker

At the interface of soil and air: What happens under future climate?  - by Nine Douwes-Dekker. Poster 2022 

Clare Ziegler thumbnailGetting to the root of the problem - PhD student Clare Ziegler, Dr Iain Johnston and Dr Rosemary Dyson. Poster 2019.




Animals (especially invertebrates)


Core Measurements 

Camera traps are installed through the woodland - take a look at some images in our "Gallery" 

Project specific measurements

  • Invertebrate sampling including the following trapping:
            Malaise, pitfall, pan, funnel, beating (canopy, field layers), Robinson trap 
  • Image analysis of green leaves and senesced leaves for herbivory
  • Leaf mines 
  • Winter active lepidoptera specific study
  • Saproxylic activity and wood decay

Example Projects 

Liam CrowleyMines bigger than yours - PhD student Liam Crowley. Poster 2021 

liam Crowley talk 2019 thumbnailInvestigating the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on forest arthropods  - PhD student Liam Crowley. Presentation 2019. 

Listen to Dr Scott Hayward's 2021 talk from our Annual Meeting. 


Aradhana Roberts ThumbnailA collaborative project with the University of Lund 

Assessing the functional contribution of saproxylic invertebrates to wood decay and carbon cycling under changing C02 conditions. - University of Leicester led project by Dr Moya Burns, a long term study commenced in 2019. 

Atmospheric processes

   Please also look at our webpage "Flux Tower and Met Masts" for further information.

Core Measurements

  • Wind speed
  • CO2,H2O,CH4, fluxes
  • Solar and net radiation
  • Air temperature and relative humidity profile

Project Specific Measurements 

  • Plant Metabolites
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) concentrations eg nitrous acid (HONO), peroxynitrate (NO4), dinitrogen pentoxide(N20), BBCEAS, NOx and Ozone (O3)
  • Micro-meteorological measurements (using sensors mounted directly on to the central rigger mast): air temperature, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), relative humidity and wind speed and direction 
  • Bioaerosol particles 

Example Projects 

Ed Bannister thumbnailWind flow across a forest edge - PhD student Ed Bannister. Presentation 2020

Finding a needle in a haystack’ – Monitoring pollen with low-cost sensors and machine learning 

R Thomas thumbnail

Eddy Covariance Fluxes and Footprints at BIFoR FACE - a collaborative project with the Met Office and Swansea University. Poster 2019

Volatile Organic Compound Emissions in the FutureTK. thumb

How will forests smell in the future? - University of Lancaster, PhD Student Tom King. Poster 2020

Thumbnail Aileen Baird

Bioaerosols at BIFoR FACE by Aileen Baird. Poster 2021 (see also Aileen's presentation under Microbial Processes tab below). 



FACE arrays core measurements 

  • Throughfall precipitation (ground level)
  • Groundwater levels 
  • Field precipitation (ground level) 

FACE arrays project specific measurements 

  • Tree stem xylem sap flux 
  • Isotopic composition of branches
  • Soil water isotopic composition
  • Soil pore water samples
  • Soil temperature profile 
  • Leaf water potential 
  • Leaf transpiration and water vapour exchange 

Across site project specific measurements 

  • ·         Resarzurin-resorufin(Raz/Rru)
  • ·         Dissolved Oxygen
  • ·         Conductivity Temperature and Depth (CTD) 
  • ·         Stream Stage
  • ·         pH/electrical conductivity/dissolved oxygen/turbidity/temp/chromophoric dissolved organic matter/Tryptophan
  • ·         NO3, NO2, Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD),  Total Organic Carbon (TOC) 
  • ·         Stream pore water samples
  • ·         Stream surface water samples
  • ·         Precipitation
  • ·         Air pressure


Microbial Processes & Biomarkers


Project specific measurements

  • soil fungal metagenomics  
  • macrofungi surveys
  • n-alkanes 

Example projects 

Aileen Baird presentationFungi of the future - PhD student Aileen Baird. Presentation 2020 

Thumbnail AIleen Baird

Bioeaorsoals at BIFoR FACE - PhD student Aileen Baird. Poster 2021 

Thumbnail Bridget Warren

Leaf waxes: tracking past climate and plant metabolism - PhD student Bridget Warren. Poster 2021

Listen to Bridget talk about her research 

Bridget Warren


Thumbnail Sophie Mills

Future climate: Future pollen and spores by Sophie Mills. Poster 2021

Plant health and plant diseases

Visit our Forest Health Research page for further information. 

Some example projects follow:  


Everyone completing research at BIFoR FACE needs to read & agree to the BIFoR FACE Intellectual Property and Data Protocol in advance of starting research.  In summary the maximum scientific exploitation of BIFoR FACE depends on the collaborative utilisation of all data collected at BIFoR FACE for research. The BIFoR FACE science community believe and advocate transparency in science assured through open data after an agreed period of privileged use. All data acquired through BIFoR FACE projects will be deposited in a shared database in good time and with appropriate accompanying metadata after consultation with the BIFoR Data Manager. A scientist sharing data does not relinquish ownership of that data but recognises that all BIFoR FACE data will become open data, with due care taken to record data provenance, in a timely manner in order to ensure transparency, to be compatible with the requirements of funding agencies, and to accelerate scientific advance.

Inside a FACE array - Dr Rick Thomas and Anna Gardner describe some of the experiments

Research here

Add your own research experiment /how to use BIFoR FACE data already gathered  "Research here




Back to the BIFoR FACE home page 

array from flux tower 2above