Professor Marrs, who has been the Bulley Professor of Applied Plant Biology for the last 27 years and currently teaches Ecology and Environmental Science, said: "I am honoured and delighted to receive this award as it allows me to continue my experimental research on land management into retirement. The award will allow the continuation of long-term experiments on bracken control. Initially set up in 1993, these experiments in the Peak District (which can be seen from space) are now monitoring the speed of bracken recovery after the control measures have been stopped. The award will provide funds for continued maintenance of these experiments, their annual monitoring and analysis of results. It also supports very long-term experiments of Rewilding across a series of vegetation types where the effects of management removal will be compared to 'business-as-usual' management."
The work will be undertaken at the Environmental Change Network's site at Moor House National Nature Reserve in the north Pennines, where Professor Marrs has been researching for almost 40 years. The experiments are unique in that some were set up in the mid-1950s through to 1967, but have had continued monitoring until 2016.
The award, which is for two years and starts January 2019, provides assistance of the analysis of these complex, long-term datasets and the presentation of the results at a series of conferences including local ones to inform land-managers, national ones to inform policy-makers and ecological consultants and international ones to publicise the underlying science at the global scale.
The Leverhulme application was made possible with a great deal of preparatory research over the last ten years funded by the Heather Trust. All of the experiments within the projects are long-term intervention experiments and are included in the Ecological Continuity Trust's national inventory of important experiments.