Microorganisms play key roles in many ecosystems and contribute to crucial processes such as nutrient cycling, chemicals’ degradation, biofuel production, or greenhouse gas emission and consumption.
Therefore, we use ecological models to analyse the structure, dynamics and stability of microbial ecosystems, their functioning and the provision of ecosystem services. Microcosms are also efficient tools for testing ecological theories and model predictions under well-controlled conditions at small spatial and temporal scales, to the benefit for both ecology and microbiology.
Integration of theory, modelling and experiments enables us to study population and community dynamics
under different environmental conditions and to assess resulting ecosystem functioning. This is done in close cooperation with the
Department of Environmental Microbiology.
In our spatially implicit or explicit modelling approaches, we combine concepts of microbial kinetics,
organismic ecology (dispersal, consumer-resource dynamics, energy budgets), abiotic drivers
(spatial heterogeneities, disturbances, environmental change and stress) and biodiversity research (species
coexistence and interactions). In particular, we focus on the interplay of abiotic and biotic processes, the relation between
structural and functional characteristics of ecosystems including their functional resilience, and appropriate management
interventions to stabilize and enhance ecosystem functioning and services.