Prof Andrew Thomas

BSc Physical Geography (Swansea) PhD (Swansea)

Prof Andrew Thomas


Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

Contact Details


Andrew is a graduate of Swansea University, where he obtained a Geography degree and Ph.D. His doctoral research looked at the impact of fire on soil erosion, slope hydrology and nutrient losses in the eucalyptus and pine forests of central Portugal. He has held lectureship positions at Reading (1997), Salford (1998) and Manchester Metropolitan (2002) Universities where he was made Reader in Physical Geography in 2011. He was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's Peter Fleming award in 2008 and a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship in 2010. He joined the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth in October 2012.


Module Coordinator


External Group Affiliation * Climate Change Consortium for Wales (Aberystwyth director, from January 2013)

Research Interests

Drylands, soil carbon, soil CO2 efflux, biological soil crusts

Andrew's expertise is in dryland environments, particularly in the Kalahari of southern Africa. He is interested in predicting the effects of climatic and land use change on soils and the carbon cycle. Funding from NERC (CEH/L/027/2007?) and The Leverhulme Trust (RF/4/RFG/2009/0263) allowed him to establish how grazing intensity, rainfall and temperature affect land-atmosphere fluxes of CO2 across the Kalahari. Much of his work has focused on biological soil crusts and their influence over soil erodibility, moisture and nutrient content in drylands. Recently this has taken him to the Makgadikgadi salt pans in northern Botswana, where he has investigated biological and chemical uptake of carbon in hyper-saline and alkaline soils. His current research is quantifying spatial differences in soil respiration and microbial activity in the Kalahari, and determining the relative roles of fungi and bacteria in carbon cycles (The Leverhulme Trust, F/00 426/H). The links between soils, ecosystem services and rural livelihoods in rural southern African environments are a key aspect of his work (NERC NE/I003320/1).

Research Groups


Thomas, AD, Elliott, DR, Hardcastle, D, Strong, CL, Bullard, J, Webster, R & Lan, S 2022, 'Soil biocrusts affect metabolic response to hydration on dunes in west Queensland, Australia', Geoderma, vol. 405, 115464.
Thomas, A, Tooth, S, Lan, S, Holt, T, Saunders, I & Tarren, H 2022, 'Soil properties across a hydrological gradient in saladas from northeast Spain: What are the implications for soil carbon stocks, CO2 efflux and microbial communities in a warming world?', Wetlands Ecology and Management.,
Gaitán, JJ, Maestre, FT, Bran, DE, Buono, GG, Dougill, AJ, Martinez, GG, Ferrante, D, Guuroh, RT, Lindstaeter, A, Massara, V, Thomas, AD & Oliva, GE 2019, 'Biotic and Abiotic Drivers of Topsoil Organic Carbon Concentration in Drylands Have Similar Effects at Regional and Global Scales', Ecosystems, vol. 22, no. 7, pp. 1445-1456.
Lan, S, Thomas, A, Tooth, S, Wu, L & Hu, C 2019, 'Small-Scale Spatial Heterogeneity of Photosynthetic Fluorescence Associated with Biological Soil Crust Succession in the Tengger Desert, China', Microbial Ecology, vol. 78, pp. 936-948.
Elliott, DR, Thomas, A, Strong, C & Bullard, JE 2019, 'Surface Stability in Drylands is Influenced by Dispersal Strategy of Soil Bacteria', Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, vol. 124, no. 11, pp. 3403-3418.
More publications on the Research Portal