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Helaina Black

Staff picture: Helaina Black
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
Honorary Associate
helaina.black@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

 

Helaina’s research in soil ecology and soil science spans over 28 years with extensive practical experience in agricultural and semi-natural ecosystems of UK and Africa. Her research projects typically involve multi- to trans-disciplinary approaches and engage stakeholders from farmers, regulators, policy-makers to Governments at local to international levels. Since 2011, Helaina has won >£2.5M in research funding from RCUK, Natural England, SEPA, SNH, EU and Scottish Government. Through a career based in a number of large research organisations and more recently as a Company Director and Trustee of a charity, she has a wealth of experience in coordinating and leading scientific and organisational teams.  Examples include: the soils component of Countryside Survey 2000 (MASQ: 1997-2002); Scottish Government RERAD Programme WP3.3. the Function and Value of Soils (2006-2011) and currently the NERC/Dfid funded ESPA ALTER consortium (2014-2016) which is investigating links between soils and ecosystem services in Ethiopia and Uganda. Helaina currently holds a position on the UN FAO supported Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils; she is a past President of the British Society of Soil Science and a member of the British Ecological Society. Helaina is a visiting lecturer at Lancaster University and takes an active role in teaching soil science to post-graduates through the NERC Summer Schools (2015 is “Dirt Science:An introduction to soil systems”) and the NERC Joint NERC-BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Soil Science (STARS).

Current research interests

My current research centres on improving our ability to measure, monitor, manage and predict the contribution of soils to social, economic and environmental benefits. This embraces the significance of soil biodiversity in ecosystems; the multi-functionality of soils; opportunities to improve soil functions and implications of drivers of change on soils e.g. climate, pollution, people and policy. Under the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme, she is working with colleagues on developing “good ecological status of soils”. This includes a comprehensive PLFA analyses for soil microbial community structure in the National Soil Inventory for Scotland and investigating the relative sensitivity of soil quality indicators to pollution in partnership with SEPA. Other projects include:

  • NERC / Dfid ALTER (Alternative Carbon Investments in Ecosystems for Poverty Alleviation) is a 3 year international research initiative with partners from UK, Ethiopia and Uganda. ALTER aims to demonstrate how improved knowledge about soil degradation can be used to address poverty issues.
  • Establishing the soils baseline for the Natural England Long Term Monitoring Network (including chemical, physical and biological characteristics).
  • With colleagues from SNH and SEPA, Helaina is involved in the implementation of the Soil Monitoring Action Plan as part of Scottish Government’s Environmental Monitoring Strategy.
  • Assessing soil change in the SCIAF coordinated Kulima Programme in Zambia, Malawi and Burundi which is funded by Scottish Government Aid and SCIAF. This includes a novel multi-aspect assessment of soils in over 1000 households using sustainable agricultural management practices
  • SCOPE Rapid Assessment Project on the Multiple Benefits of Soil Carbon with publication of a new SCOPE CABI book in late 2014
  • UK Soil Observatory portal funded by NERC and BIS
  • Scotland’s soils website for The Scottish Government

Bibliography

  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J. (2011) Threats to Scotland's Soils - BSSS Meeting report., The Auger, May 2011.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J. (2011) Exploring potential contributions of soil microbes to Martian terraforming through soil simulation., CAREX Conference on Life in Extreme Environments, Dublin, October 2011.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Albanito, F.; Jones, M.B.; Black, H.I.J. (2011) Development and testing of a process-based soil model (MOSES) for ecosystem services., Ecological Modelling, 222, 3795-3810.

  • Chamberlain, P.M.; Bull, I.D.; Black, H.I.J.; Ineson, P.; Evershed, R.P. (2006) The effect of diet on isotopic turnover in Collembola examined using the stable carbon isotopic compositions of lipids., Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38, 1146-1157.
  • Chamberlain, P.M.; Bull, I.D.; Black, H.I.J.; Ineson, P.; Evershed, R.P. (2006) Collembolan trophic preferences determined using fatty acid distributions and compound-specific stable carbon isotope values., Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38, 1275-1281.
  • Chamberlain, P.M.; McNamara, N.P.; Chaplow, J.; Stott, A.W.; Black, H.I.J. (2006) Translocation of surface litter carbon into soil by Collembola., Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38, 2655-2664.
  • Kirby, K.J.; Smart, S.M.; Black, H.I.J.; Bunce, R.G.H.; Corney, P.M.; Smithers, R.J. (2005) Long-term ecological change in British woodlands (1971-2001): a re-survey and analysis of change based on the 103 sites in the Nature Conservancy "Bunce 1971" woodland survey., English Nature Research Report, No. 653, 139pp.
  • Heath, J., Ayres, E., Possell, M., Bardgett, R.D., Black, H.I.J., Grant, H., Ineson, P., and Kerstiens, G. (2005) Rising atmospheric CO2 reduces sequestration of root-derived soil carbon., Science, 309, 1711-1713.
  • Black, H.I.J.; Garnett, J.S.; Ainsworth, G.; Coward, P.A.; Creamer, R.; Ellwood, S.; Horne, J.; Hornung, M.; Kennedy, V.H.; Osborn, D.; Parekh, N.R.; Parrington, J.; Poskitt, J.M.; Potter, E.; Reeves, N.; Rowland, A.P.; Self, P.; Turner, S.; Watkins, J.; Woods, C.; Wright, J. (2001) MASQ: Monitoring and assessing soil quality in Great Britain. Countryside Survey Module 6: Soils and pollution., Environment Agency, R&D Technical Report P5-053/01/TR, 201pp.
  • Weeks, J.M. (ed.); Hopkins, S.P.; Wright, J.F.; Black, H.I.J.; Eversham, B.C.; Roy, D.; Svendsen, C. (1997) A demonstration of the feasibility of SOILPACS., Institute of Terrestrial Ecology Draft Report to Environment Agency, HMIP/CPR2/41/1/247, 180pp.

  • Nziguheba, G.; Vargas, R.; Bationo, A.; Black, H.I.J.; Buschiazzo, D.; de Brogniez, D.; Joosten, H.; Melillo, J.; Richter, D.; Termansen, M. (2014) Soil carbon: a critical natural resource - wide-scale goals, urgent actions., In: Banwart, S.A., Noellemeyer, E. & Milne, E. (eds.). Soil Carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits. SCOPE Series, CABI Publishing, 71, 10-25.
  • Banwart, S.A.; Black, H.I.J.; Cai, Z.C.; Gicheru, P.T.; Joosten, H.; Victoria, R.L.; Milne, E.; Noellemeyer, E.; Pascual, U. (2014) The global challenge for soil carbon., In: Banwart, S.A., Noellemeyer, E. & Milne, E. (eds.). Soil Carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits. SCOPE Series, CABI Publishing, 71, 1-9.
  • Lilly, A.; Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J. (2014) Assessing carbon in Scottish soils using traditional and novel analytical approaches., In: Arrouays, D., McKenzie, N., Hempel, J., Richer de Forges, A.C. & McBratney, A. (eds.). GlobalSoilMap: Basis of the global spatial soil information system. Proceedings of the 1st GlobalSoilMap Conference, Orleans, France, 7-9 October 2013. CRC Press/Balkema, Leiden, pp287-290.
  • Smith, P.; Ashmore, M.; Black, H.I.J.; Burgess, P.; Evans, C.; Hails, R.; Potts, S.; Quine, T.; Thomson, A.; Biesmeijer, K.; Breeze, T.; Broadmeadow, M.; Ferrier, R.C.; Freer, J.; Hansom, J.; Haygarth, P.; Hesketh, H.; Hicks, K.; Johnson, A.; Kay, D.; Kunin, W.; Lilly, A.; May, L.; Memmott, J.; Orr, H.; Pickup, R.; Purse, B.; Squire, G. (2011) Regulating services., In: UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Understanding Nature's Value to Society. Technical Report. Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC, Chapter 14, pp535-596.

  • Smith, J.; Phimister, E.; Hallett, P.; Nayak, D.; Vanni, M.; Albanito, F.; Byg, A.; Novo, P.; Rivington, M.; Black, H.I.J.; Fischer, A.; Yakob, G.; Boke, S.; Habte, M.; Tefera, T.; Moges, A.; Dinato, M.; Lemma, T.; Muluneh, A. (2018) Building Resilience in Ethiopia’s Awassa region to Drought (BREAD)., Report submitted to NERC / DFIF EL Nino Programme, 85pp.
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Beesley, L.; Donald, C.; Green, G.; Hewison, R.L.; Owen, I.J.; Newman, G.; Sturgeon, F.; White, D.; Williams, E.; Black, H.I.J. (2016) Applying soil indicators at biomonitoring sites., Scottish Environment Protection Agency Commissioned Report No. TT1508, 51pp.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J.; Squire, G.; McLeod, K.; Hastings, E.; Troldborg, M.; Aalders, I.H.; Towers, W.; Lilly, A.; Brown, I.; Coull, M.C.; Castellazzi, M.; Matthews, K.B.; Baggaley, N.J. (2016) A review of ecosystem service mapping within Scottish Government RESAS-funded research., Report for Scottish Government.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J.; Squire, G.; McLeod, K.; Hastings, E.; Troldborg, M.; Aalders, I.; Towers, W.; Lilly, A.; Poggio, L.; Gimona, A.; Brown, I.; Castellazzi, M.; Matthews, K.B.; Baggaley, N.J. (2014) A review of ecosystem service mapping within Scottish Government RESAS funded research., Report for Scottish Government.
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Beesley, L.; Briggs, R.; Cuthbert, A.; Dawson, J.J.C.; Helliwell, R.C.; Hewison, R.L.; Kerr, C.; Leith, I.D.; Owen, I.J.; Potts, J.M.; Newman, G.; Smith, D.; Shephard, L.J.; Sturgeon, F.; Taylor, A.F.S.; White, D.; Williams, A.; Williams, E.; Black, H.I.J. (2013) Testing soil quality indicators., Report to SEPA.
  • McVittie, A.; Norton, L.; Martin-Ortega, J.; Glenk, K.; Aitkenhead, M.; Aalders, I.H.; Hough, R.L.; Smart, S.; Edwards, F.; Kenyon, W.; Black, H.I.J.; Dunbar, M.; Maskell, L. (2012) Valuing the impacts of ecosystem service interactions for policy effectiveness., Valuing Nature Network. Final Project Report.
  • Waylen, K.A.; Eastwood, A.; Banks, E.; Black, H.I.J.; Brown, I.; Brooker, R.; Coull, M.C.; Irvine, R.J.; Kyle, C.; Macleod, K.; McVittie, A. (2012) Integrated frameworks to support the ecosystem approach., EAWG3 Workshop Report.
  • Black, H.I.J.; Ritz, K.; Harris, J.A.; Cameron, C.; Campbell, C.D.; Chamberlain, P.M.; Creamer, R.; Pawlett, M.; Wood, S. (2011) Scoping biological indicators of soil quality, Phase II., Defra Final Contract Report SP0534.
  • Robinson, D.A.; Allton, K.; Bhogal, A.; Black, H.I.J.; Costigan, P.; Ellis, M.; Emmett, B.A.; Frogbrook, Z.; Gardner, M.; Giles, J.; Glendining, M.; Hallett, S.; Higgins, A.; Hill, C.; Hill, N.; Jones, A.; Jordan, C.; Kingdon, A.; Kirk, G.; Lawley, R.; Skate, J.; Rees, G.; Vanguelova, E.; Towers, W. (2011) Informa Tec Soils., Report to Defra for the InformaTec-Soils Meeting, June 2011.
  • Hart, K.; Baldock, D.; Tucker, G.; Allen, B.; Calatrava, J.; Black, H.I.J.; Newman, S.; Baulcomb, C.; McCracken, D. (2011) Costing the environmental needs relating to rural land management., Final report to EU DG Environment.
  • Ritz, K.; Harris, H.; Pawlett, M.; Cameron, C.; Black, H.I.J. (2011) Climate change impacts on soil biota - development of a resistance and resilience assay., Final Report to Defra CTE0825.
  • Brown, I.; Ridder, B.; Alumbaugh, P.; Barnett, C.; Brooks, A.; Duffy, L.; Webbon, C.; Nash, E.; Townend, I.; Black, H.I.J.; Hough, R.L. (2011) Climate change risk assessment for the biodiversity and ecosystem services sector., Final Report to Defra - UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.
  • Brown, I.; Black, H.I.J. (2011) UK climate change risk assessment: Biodiversity and ecosystem services. Tier 1 sector report., Report to Defra
  • Brown, I.; Ridder, B.; Alumbaugh, P.; Barnett, C.; Brooks, A.; Duffy, L.; Webbon, C.; Nash, E.; Townend, I.; Black, H.I.A.; Hough, R.L. (2011) UK climate change risk assessment: Biodiversity and ecosystem services. Tier 2 sector report., Report to Defra. Deliverable 1.7, EU FP7 REFRESH Project.
  • Erber, C.; Bruneau, P.; Black, H.I.J. (2010) State of Scotland's soils - soil biodiversity chapter., SEPA.
  • Smith, P.; Ashmore, M.; Black, H.I.J.; Burgess, P.; Evans, C.; Hails, R.; Potts, S.; Quine, T.; Thomson, A. (2010) National Ecosystem Assessment, Chapter 14 regulating services., Defra.
  • Merrington, G.; Barraclough, D.; Bhogal, A.; Black, H.; Smith, P.; Worrall, F. (2010) Defra project SP0567: Assembling UK-wide data on soil carbon (and greenhouse gas fluxes) in the context of land management. Final contract report SID5., Final contract report SID5 to Defra.
  • Glenk, K.; McVittie, A.; Towers, W.; Watson, C.; Black, H.I.J. (2010) Socio-economic data on Scottish soils - collection and development., Report to SEPA.
  • Black, H.I.J.; Britton, A.J.; Helliwell, R.C.; Langan, S.J.; Taylor, A.F.S.; Booth P.D. (2009) To establish soil indicators to assess the impact of atmospheric deposition on environmentally senstive areas., Consultancy Service, SEPA.
  • Brown, I.; Towers, W.; Rivington, M.; Black, H.I.J.; Booth, P.; Barrie, D. (2008) The implications of climate change on Land Capability for Agriculture., Report to the Scottish Government.
  • Black, H.I.J.; Booth, P.; Bellamy, P.; Elston, D.A.; Frogbrook, Z.L.; Hudson, G.; Lark, M.; Potts, J.M.; Reynolds, B.; Lilly, A. (2008) Design and operation of a UK Soil Monitoring Network., Environment Agency, Science Report - 060072/SR.
  • Towers, W.; Black, HJ.I.J.; Campbell, C.D.; Hough, R.L. (2007) EU Soil Framework Directive: Macaulay Institute response., Scottish Government Soil Policy Unit.
  • Emmett, B.; Black, H.I.J.; Bradley, R.I.; Elston, D.A.; Reynolds, B.; Creamer, R.; Frogbrook, Z.L.; Hudson, G.; Jordan, C.; Lilly, A.; Moffat, A.; Potts, J.; Vanguelova, E. (2007) National Soil Monitoring Network: Review and assessment study. Final report., SNIFFER, Project LQ09.
  • Mayr, T.; Black, H.I.J.; Towers, W.; Palmer, R.; Cooke, H.; Freeman, M.; Hornung, M.; Wood, C.; Wright, S.; Lilly, A.; DeGroote, J.; Jones, M. (2006) Novel methods for spatial prediction of soil functions within landscapes (SP0531)., Report to Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Scottish Executive Environmental and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD).

Scientific posters/conferences


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.