Matthew Saunders

Assistant Professor in Plant Science, Trinity College Dublin

My research interests lie in the area of environmental physiology, with particular emphasis on how plants respond to changes in their physical, chemical and biological environments and how this information can be used to assess the resilience and adaptive capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to global environmental change. I am particularly interested in the influence of plant species diversity, developmental stage, climatic variability and land management on biogeochemical cycling within terrestrial ecosystems. I utilise an integrated experimental and model-based approach to assess the physiological and environmental processes that regulate plant productivity, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas dynamics, plant-water relations and energy budgets at the leaf, whole plant and ecosystem scale. My recent work has focussed on the impacts of land use change, habitat restoration and extreme climatic events on carbon, water and nutrient dynamics in natural and agricultural ecosystems in both temperate and tropical climates.

Current Research
My current research focuses on the provision of key ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, climate change mitigation and hydrological regulation from pristine, degraded and restored peatland sites across Ireland and the UK. I am also interested in the sustainable management of tropical wetlands, and in particular Cyperus papyrus L. wetlands, which represent some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth. I also collaborate with the UCD Earth Institute, Plant Ecophysiology and Forestry research groups to measure the exchange of trace gases between the biosphere and atmosphere at various long-term experimental forest research plots.

I contribute to the following modules:

Sophister (3rd and 4th Year)

BO3109 JS Seminars, Tutorials and Workshops; BO3108 Autumn Field Trip; BO3121 Spring Field Trip; BO4108 Plant Environment Interactions (Coordinator); BO4106 SS Seminars, Tutorials and Workshops; BO4100 Research Projects.


  • –present
    Post-Doc Department of Botany, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin