The department of Ecological Science has four main research lines:
- Climate change and ecosystem functioning
- Plant-soil-microbe interactions
- Species interactions and evolutionary adaptation
- Stress ecology and ecological genomics
These research lines entail the following specific research objectives:
- answering fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions regarding the relationship between biodiversity and the structure of ecological communities, paying special attention to evolutionary adaptation to environmental change;
- answering fundamental questions regarding the ecological effects of stress factors in the environment and the mechanisms by which organisms respond and adapt to these factors;
- answering fundamental ecological questions on how global change factors affect biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and making projections of future ecosystem behavior based on the results obtained today and from the past both by experimentation and modeling;
- applying the results of our fundamental research to areas where society needs sound and robust answers to environmental problems (e.g. environmental pollution, increasing climatic fluctuations and extremes, increasing fire risk, salinization, sustainable agriculture, genetically modified organisms, sea level rise and coastal defense, spatial planning).
From molecular ecology to ecosystem research
We address these objectives using the full array of scales: from molecular ecology to ecosystem research. We do that with a combination of field studies, experimental studies in common gardens and greenhouses and in controlled climate rooms, and through modeling studies. This mixture of approaches assures a good balance between understanding of the mechanisms involved and relevance for the ‘real world’. The expertise of the staff is complementary and allows the full spectrum of questions in modern ecological and evolutionary science to be addressed.