Dr Gary Egan

Postdoctoral Research Associate


Ecosystem Stewardship


Spatial Analysis and Data Science


Functioning of, and biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients in soils; effects of nutrient stoichiometry on soil functioning; understanding soil aggregate formation and turnover and how this relates to the efflux of CO2 and long-term soil organic carbon (SOC) pools; measuring the efflux of greenhouse gases in response to management and environmental change; quantifying soil microbial gene copy numbers (e.g. archaea, bacteria, fungi) and relating this to soil functioning

My research interests are to identify strategies that can sustain and/or improve the capacity of natural systems to deliver a range of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration and the inhibition of ammonia oxidation, in a time of global environmental change.

I am particularly interested in factors that influence: (i) the efflux of greenhouse gases from the ecosystem and soil surface and (ii) the soil structure / turnover, this is because of a need to reduce soil loss and my belief that physical protection of contained organic matter (and not chemical protection) may be key to reduce the efflux of greenhouse gases from managed soils at the landscape scale.

This is contrary to the view that more ‘energy-conservative’ ecosystems (i.e. higher C:N ratios), result in slower decomposition rates and higher levels of soil C accumulation. These systems are dominated by fungi.

Systems with fast turnover of soil organic carbon (SOC) will be dominated by archaea and bacteria. These systems may improve soil carbon sequestration by improving soil physical structure due to increasing inputs of microbial origin (MOM). These have glue like properties (e.g polyvalent cations, polysaccharides and glomalin) and cause soil particles and organic matter (OM) to stick together. These structures can physically protect contained SOC from saprophytes so that it builds up over time.

  • Ph.D. Understanding the functioning of managed grassland ecosystems in relation to carbon and nutrient cycling and multiple soil biogeochemical properties, Ulster University (2017)
  • MS.c. Food Security & Sustainable Agriculture, Exeter University (2012); included 6 months at the Grassland Research Farm Platform: Rothamsted Research
  • MS.c. Environmental Technology (Water Management Option), Imperial College (2000)
  • B.Sc. (Hons) Environmental Biology, Bath Spa University (1999)

Egan, G., Crawley, M.J. & Fornara, D.A. (2018)

Effects of long-term grassland management on the carbon and nitrogen pools of different aggregate fractions.

Science of The Total Environment 613–614: 810-819.

Egan, G., Zhou, X., Wang, D. et al. (2018)

Long-term effects of grazing, liming and nutrient fertilization on the nitrifying community of grassland soils.

Soil Biology and Biochemistry 118: 97-102.

Egan, G., McKenzie, P., Crawley, M. & Fornara, D.A. (2019)

Effects of grassland management on plant nitrogen use efficiency (NUE): evidence from a long-term experiment.

Basic and Applied Ecology 41: 33-43

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Gary Egan


Gary Egan