Early career research life in HoliSoils

I am Qian Li, now working in the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) in the HoliSoils project. I graduated with a PhD in 2021, then joined Luke as a post-doctoral researcher. My background is on peatland green-house gases (GHG) emissions and carbon (C) cycle under the effect of climate warming. Now in the HoliSoils project, my research focuses on how forest management and natural disturbances affect the GHG emissions and soil processes of peatland forests.

My research in HoliSoils

I mainly work in Ränskälänkorpi, a drained peatland forest located in the Southern Finland. This site has three different forest management practices: clearcutting, selection harvesting, and non-harvested control.

We measure total respiration (CO2 emissions) and other greenhouse gases (CH4 and N2O) exchange by putting a manual chamber on top of soil and linking it with a gas concentration analyzer. Then the concentration change of gas emit/uptake by soil is analyzed by the analyzer linked with the chamber. We do it to discover which forest management practices can help mitigate climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This information can also help policy makers when they consider how to manage forests to achieve the climate targets.

Manual chamber measurement. Photo: Qian Li

To understand the production, consumption and transportation of gases inside soil layers, we also measure the gas concentration in the soil profile by taking gas samples through the silicon tubes buried underground.

We are also interested in knowing about the drivers of soil processes. So, we also take soil samples from surface to 1 meter deep to analyze microbial community structure and soil chemistry.

Uprooting. Photo: Qian Li

In this site, we also study how natural disturbances i.e. storms or windthrows impact soil C and N cycle. In addition to causing breakdown of tree stands, such disturbances can also destroy the upper soil layer by uprooting, or adding woody debris to soil surface, which all impact the soil processes. Especially extreme events are expected to be more frequent due to climate change, so it’s now urgent to know the consequences of such disturbances on ecosystems.

Photo: Qian Li

My feeling to be a member of HoliSoils family

HoliSoils is an EU project in which there are partners from several different European countries as well as from Uruguay and Japan. After joining this project and communicating with them, I have extended my knowledge scale of what kind of research topics they are focusing on and what novel techniques or analysis they are using in their research.

As a researcher who mainly focuses on experiments and field monitoring, I now have a deeper understanding of how models can use our experimental data and help us predict. As my first job after PhD, I am so happy to join Luke and HoliSoils project. This work experience not only brings me the knowledge and skills in science but also extends my network, which could help me to build my future career.