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Global Ecosystem Functioning and Interactions with Global Change.

Ecosystems sustain society by providing natural resources and socio-economic services. Understanding their functioning is thus vital for accurate projections of, among others, global climate and food production and prerequisite to drawing up policies for sustainable management of the planet. This proposal therefore aims at creating the scientific breakthroughs needed to make major advances in understanding of several critical processes that determine the functioning of ecosystems and their interactions with ongoing changes in climate and in resource availabilities. The overarching, long-term goal is to understand ecosystem functioning sufficiently well so that we can, in collaboration with modelling groups, confidently project how ecosystem functioning and services will change in the near and distant future.To pursue this goal, the following four research lines will be prioritized when allocating the Methusalem funding:1. Obtaining a quantitative understanding of plant carbon allocation to growth, energy production (respiration), and nutrient acquisition (fine roots, root exudation, root symbionts).2. Improving insight in, and measurements of, biomass production.3. Better understanding soil carbon dynamics and sequestration. 4. Understanding spatial and temporal variation in carbon and greenhouse gas balances at ecosystem to regional scale and attribution to drivers.In each of these research lines, we aim to understand the mechanisms underlying the global and local spatial variation as well as those underlying the long-term trends and short-term temporal patterns. Focus is on how Global Changes (climate change including extreme events, increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, nitrogen deposition, etc.) are affecting ecosystem processes and functioning. Many projects will be conducted with the research group of the Methusalem Chair at the University of Hasselt as prioritized partners.
Date:1 Jun 2016 →  Today
Disciplines:Ecology, Environmental science and management, Other environmental sciences