RESEARCH ACTIVITY 7: BIODIVERSITY DYNAMICS AND CLIMATE
Involved project leaders:
One key challenge in current biodiversity research is understanding and projecting the impact of climate change on ecological communities and their ecosystem functions. RA “Biodiversity Dynamics and Climate” addresses the influence of climate on the abundance and geographic ranges of species, ecological communities and ecosystem functions over ecological timescales (100 to 103 years) in the terrestrial, freshwater and marine realm. Ecosystem functions that we investigate include feedbacks from the biosphere on climate dynamics. Furthermore, we address relationships between ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services, including human health.
A particular strength of RA 7 is the investigation of the impact of climate change in the terrestrial, freshwater as well as the marine realm, covering plants and animals as well as entire ecosystems. A further strength is the consideration of a particularly broad range of ecosystem functions, including functions regulating ecological communities (e.g., seed dispersal), those representing material fluxes in ecosystems (e.g., biomass production), and ecosystem functions with a close link to ecosystem services (e.g., human health). A third strength is the close collaboration between scientists employing empirical approaches, statisticians and modelers. This allows the use of empirical data to calibrate and validate models and, at the same time, to utilize models to make predictions that can then be tested empirically.
We work closely with RA 6 Evolution and Climate when investigating the impact of historical climate change on present-day species and communities, and vice versa. With RA 8 Adaptation and Climate, we share an interest in the impact of climate change on biotic interactions and ecological communities, as well as modeling techniques, but here we focus on responses at the species to ecosystem level (in contrast to the genetic level), using observational data and long-term time series. We further collaborate with RA 9 Ecosystem Services and Climate, especially when investigating ecosystem functions that provide ecosystem services.
The research profile and strategy of RA 7 is based on former expertise at Senckenberg and was modified and greatly expanded in 2010 through the addition of three professorships. The RA profits profoundly from standing collaborations with Goethe University Frankfurt, including the Department of Biological Sciences, the Department of Geosciences and the Frankfurt Center for scientific computing LOEWE-CSC (http://csc.uni-frankfurt.de/). We also collaborate with a number of non-University partners, in particular ISOE - Institute for Social-Ecological Research, and the German Weather Service (Deutscher Wetterdienst, DWD).
In RA 7 Biodiversity Dynamics and Climate, we address the following key questions:
2. How does the dispersal ability of species influence geographic ranges and ecological communities?
3. How does climate change impact ecosystem functions and potentially associated ecosystem services?
4. How can we model the impact of climate change on biodiversity, ecosystems and their functions?