School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Simon Peacock

Lecturer in Environmental Science

Background

Qualifications

PhD. Plant and Soil Science (1995) - Aberdeen University  

MSc. Environmental and Ecological Sciences (1990) - Lancaster University 

BSc. (Hons) Geography and Geology (1989) - CNNA (North London Polytechnic)


Previous Positions 

Environmental Science Teaching Fellow, Newcastle University

Plant Biology Teaching Fellow, Newcastle University. 

Senior Research Associate (DEFRA-funded 2006-2011), Environmental and Molecular Plant Physiology Group, School of Biology, Newcastle University.

Research Associate (DEFRA-funded 2000-2006), School of Biology, Newcastle University.  


Roles and Responsibilities

Degree Programme Director - BSc (Hons) Environmental Science : BSc (Hons) Earth Science


Memberships 

CAPER (Commitee for Air Pollution Effects Research) 

 

 

Research

 

 Effects of Tropospheric Ozone Pollution on Semi-Natural Plant Communities

 My research is centred on how ozone pollution can influence the diversity and community structure of plants of conservation importance both individually and within a community.

Ozone  is a highly reactive allotrope of oxygen.  (Stratospheric ozone is a life-saver: the ozone layer screens out the sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays. At ground-level in the troposphere, it is a troublesome and harmful pollutant.

Ozone is not emitted directly. It is a secondary pollutant formed by a series of chemical reactions, driven by sunlight, from other gases such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons predominantly generated by vehicular and industrial emissions.

 In humans ozone irritates eyes, nose and throat and high levels can aggravate symptoms associated with asthma. In plants, ozone pollution stunts the growth of both cultivated and wild species, with some more affected than others. As a consequence, it causes reduction in crop yields and loss of species diversity in wild plant populations. Losses in crop production associated with ozone amount to £4-5 billion across Europe.

 Background concentrations of ozone are increasing. The Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have stated that the safety limit set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of 50 parts per billion for the protection of health ‘will continue to be exceeded for the foreseeable future’.

 Potentially damaging concentrations of ozone usually occur during spring and summer, in periods of dry sunny weather with stagnant air. This allows pollutant concentrations to build-up. High levels are not restricted to cities, but are transported long distances to rural and pristine areas. At the sites of formation near urban areas, levels are highest around mid-afternoon and low during the night. However, in rural areas and particularly at high locations, levels can remain high at night, and throughout the year, resulting in a greater average exposure.

 Traditional management regimes for upland meadows involve spring grazing by sheep or cattle, late hay cut in July or August, followed by aftermath grazing and application of farmyard manure. These factors, along with the soil and climatic conditions produce distinctive floristically-rich meadows. However, most of these traditionally species-rich meadows have been altered through the use of chemical fertiliser and early cutting for silage, and as a consequence, have become dominated by Rye-grass (Lolium perenne) with a low number of wild flower species and other grasses present. Protection of the remaining meadows, and the restoration of others is a high DEFRA priority in the Pennine Dales Environmentally Sensitive Area. One management regime adopted to encourage species diversity in these meadows is the introduction of Hay-rattle (Rhinanthus minor), a parasitic plant which feeds off and weakens the dominant grasses, opening up the meadow for invasion by more traditional species.

 Traditional hay meadows have been altered through the use of chemical fertiliser and early cutting for silage, and as a consequence, have become dominated by Rye-grass (Lolium perenne) with a low number of wild flower species and other grasses present. Protection of the remaining meadows, and the restoration of others is a high DEFRA priority in the Pennine Dales Environmentally Sensitive Area. One management regime adopted to encourage species diversity in these meadows is the introduction of Hay-rattle (Rhinanthus minor), a parasitic plant which feeds off and weakens the dominant grasses, opening up the meadow for invasion by more traditional species.

 Peacock, S., Antony-Babu, S., and Barnes, J.D. (2011). Impacts of a present and future ozone pollution climate on the biodiversity and productivity of a species-rich mesotrophic  grassland of conservation value. Atmospheric Environment (submitted)


Wedlich, K., Rintoul, N., Peacock, S., Cape, J.N., Coyle, M., Toet, S., Barnes, J.D., Ashmore, M. (2011). Effects of ozone on species composition in an upland grassland Oecologia(accepted – OEC 2010-0935).


Toet, S., Ineson, P., Peacock, S., Ashmore, M. (2011). Elevated ozone reduces methane emissions from peatland mesocosms. Global Change Biology 17: 288-296.

Bardgett, R.D., Smith, R.S., Shiel, R.S., Peacock, S., Simkin, J.M., Quirk, H. & Hobbs, P.J. (2006). Parasitic plants indirectly regulate below-ground properties in grassland ecosystems. Nature 439: 969-972.


Smith, R.S., Shiel, R.S., Bardgett, R.D., Millward, D.W., Corkhill, P., Rolph, G., Hobbs, P.J. and Peacock, S. (2003). Soil microbial community, fertility, vegetation and diversity as targets in the restoration management of a meadow grassland. Journal of Applied Ecology 40: 51-64.


Peacock, S. and Rimmer, D.L. (2000). The suitability of an iron oxide-rich gypsum by-product as a soil amendment.  Journal of Environmental Quality  29: 1969-1975.

Peacock, S., Evans, E.J., Monaghan, J.D. and Rimmer, D.L. (1996). S Uptake and yield responses of crops grown on an S-deficient soil amended with industrial co-product gypsum. In: Recycling of Plant Nutrients from Industrial Processes. E. Schnug and I. Szabolcs (Eds.), CIEC-FAL, Braunschweig, Germany. pp.237- 242.

Anderson, H.A., Peacock, S., Berg, A. and Ferrier, R.C. (1995). Interactions between anthropogenic sulphate and marine salts in the Bs horizons of acidic soils in Scotland. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 85: 1083-1088.

Peacock, S. and Anderson, H.A. (1995). Sulphate dynamics - A laboratory manipulation study. In: Ecosystem Manipulation Experiments. A. Jenkins, R. C. Ferrier and C. Kirby (Eds.), Commission of the European Communities, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 150-152.

Peacock, S. and Anderson, H.A. (1993). Sulphate dynamics in the alpine soils of a Scottish catchment at risk from acidification. In: Acid Rain and Its Impact: The Critical Loads Debate. R.W. Battarbee (Ed.), ENSIS Publishing, London, U.K. pp.156-158.

Publications in preparation

Peacock, S., Wani, S.B. and Barnes, J.D. Impacts of future ozone climate on the response of six United Kingdom native spring bulb species (Liliaceae). To be submitted to Atmospheric Environment

Teaching

ACE1046 - Plants Environment Agriculture - Module Leader

ACE2074 - Soils in Terrestrial Ecosystems - Module Leader

ACE3907 - Environmental Science Research Project - Module Leader 

BIO2018 - Pollution of Air Water and Soil - Module Leader


ACE1008 - Environment & Land Resources - Contributor

ACE1040 - Academic & Professional Skills I - Contributor

ACE1041 - Agri-Food Systems - Contributor

ACE2061 - Environmental Management Skills - Contributor

ACE2066 - Academic & Professional Skills II - Contributor

ACE8016 - Environment & Habitat Field Assessment - Contributor

ACE8041 - Ecosystem Management  - Contributor

ACE8042 - Biodiversity and Conservation: Policy and Practice - Contributor

BIO2032 - Residential Field Course - Contributor

BIO8072 - Dynamics of Coupled Human & Natural Systems - Contributor

NES8002 - Research Dissertation Project - Contributor

NES8007 - Academic & Professional Skills for MSc - Contributor


 

 

Publications