SENSE Research Cluster V: Ecosystem dynamics and adaptive capacity
In the past few decades much research has gone into the responses of individual species to large-scale environmental changes such as global warming and related climate features (e.g. droughts, flooding), land use (including urbanization) and nitrogen deposition. There are now four main challenges ahead in order to improve our predictive power of the consequences of these environmental changes for ecosystem functions and services: (1) identifying and quantifying general response patterns of (functional or taxonomic) groups of organisms with their different functional traits; (2) incorporate contributions of species interactions as drivers of community composition and diversity; (3) quantify how changes in 1 and 2 feed back to vegetation and soil functions and services and atmospheric composition; (4) incorporate knowledge from 1-3 into large-scale dynamic vegetation, soil and climate models, with particular reference to the understanding of ecosystem ‘tipping points’ (thresholds).
While this research field is characterized by a high scientific complexity, on the one hand, it continues to have a high societal relevance at the same time. Participants in this SENSE Research Cluster strive for scientific excellence, combined with clear societal communication.
Featuring subjects, mechanisms and methods that are being developed and applied in this SENSE Research Cluster are, for example:
- Analysis of interactions between land use patterns and biodiversity on different scales
- Developing biodiversity labels to evaluate current and future land use
- Developing integrated assessment tools to analyze pollution events
- Developing and analyzing eco-engineering principles for riparian development
- Using the functional trait concept and experimental screening of multiple species in order to detect and quantify common patterns in the response of species to environmental changes
- The consequences of shifts in species composition for ecosystem functions and services (e.g. carbon storage, soil fertility, hydrological regulation, food supply, recreational value; resilience)
- Modelling of (1) ecosystem consequences of extreme environmental disturbances; (2) the conditions for and consequences of tipping points of leading to regime shifts in ecosystem function and services; (3) incorporating functional trait information into dynamic global vegetation models that can be linked to climate models
We welcome experts in this field to participate in this research cluster to exchange knowledge and stimulate new innovative developments (if you are not a member of the SENSE Research School but involved with this subject, then you are still welcome to enroll and participate in this research cluster).
To read more about the SENSE research clusters in general, click HERE.