< Back to previous page


Plant and Ecosystems (PLECO) - Ecology in a time of change

Research Group

Main organisation:Department of Biology
Lifecycle:1 Oct 2003  →  Today
Organisation profile:The research group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology (PLECO) has an extensive and long-standing experience with the study of a wide range of subdisciplines in the domain of ecology, in particular the ecology of plants and vegetations. The continuum of different spatial scales is being bridged, ranging from the individual plant, over populations and plant communities (vegetations) to entire landscapes and regions. The present research (and teaching) fits primarily in the ecophysiology, eco-physics, canopy micro-meteorology, ecosystem physiology, plant sociology and landscape ecology. As much as possible experimental research is being coupled to exisiting or newly developed simulation models. The following research topics are of primary interest to the group:- Assessment of the carbon cycle at different organizational levels of the individual plant, vegetation and ecosystem. The expertise of the PLECO-group includes a.o. carbon exchange measurements of the vegetation and the soil, as well as the development of suitable systems for the exposure to global climatic changes (open top chambers, closed enclosure units, sunlit growth chambers).- Impact studies of increased CO2 concentrations, enhanced temperature and tropospheric ozone concentrations (global climatic changes) on individual plants, vegetations and ecosystems.- Biodiversity: functional aspects of and changes in biodiversity, manipulation of diversity in synthesized grassland ecosystems for the study of diversity-function relationships and for studies with regard to the impact of biological invasion, modelling, ecosystem resistance and resilience.- Structure of plants and vegetations, and their impact on radiative transfer, and study of structures at the landscape level (quantification of habitat fragmentation); application of landscape indices to tropical deforestation.- Ecological modelling: carbon and nitrogen cycle, radiation interception by plant canopies, biodiversity and productivity, local extinction of species, prediction of production, growth and wood quality of forests and trees, impact of elevated CO2 and/or ozone on plants.- Ecology, energy and carbon balance of mixed, temperate forests.- Ecology and physiology of poplar within the framework of short rotation coppice cultures for bio-energy production (ecophysiology, genomics, clonal variability).In terms of biomes, the group aims to study a wide variety of different biome types (present research activities in tundra, deserts, temperate grasslands, temperate and tropical forests, but also in agricultural crops and plantations).
Disciplines:Ecology, Plant biology, Environmental science and management, Other environmental sciences, Agricultural animal production, Agricultural plant production, Agriculture, land and farm management, Other agriculture, forestry, fisheries and allied sciences