Emerging Ecosystems

We benefit from intact, functioning ecosystems that provide us with an array of free services: food, medicine, pollination, building materials, clean air and water, flood defence, carbon sequestration, recreational and aesthetic values. If one or more of these services disappear, then we all have to pay the price. In spite of an international convention on the conservation of biodiversity to ensure the provision of these services, so far we have not been very successful in halting the decline in biodiversity.

Therefore, research is being conducted on how climate change, land-use change, invasive species, and pollutants will have an impact on species assemblages and indispensible ecological functions and the consequences thereof. We aim to quantify and elucidate drivers, in order to understand their relative significance on the composition and dynamics of ecosystems. Building on data from experiments and observations, the focus lies on the analysis of functional reactions, while considering different temporal and spatial scales. We are developing scenarios, indicators, methods and instruments, so that our emerging ecosystems can be optimally developed while ensuring that their ecosystem functions and services remain intact in the long-run.