We aim at understanding how terrestrial ecosystems function and interact with the climate. A holistic understanding of an ecosystem can only be achieved by addressing processes on different levels, such as the environmental controls of leaf photosynthesis, species interactions (for example through competition), biomass growth, and the exchange of greenhouse gases with the atmosphere.
Multidisciplinary research of ecosystems
Our research integrates knowledge from various disciplines: plant physiology, ecology, geography, biogeochemistry and physics.
Studies range from the scale of an individual forest plot to all terrestrial ecosystems on earth, the terrestrial biosphere. Terrestrial ecosystems play a very important role in the climate system, for example through taking up about one-fourth of our CO2 emissions, which are the primary cause of global warming. When addressing such global issues, understanding ecosystems becomes a fundamental part of earth system science.
At our department, two areas are given particular emphasis: mathematical modelling of vegetation and ecosystems, and biodiversity.
Ecosystem models that have been developed within the group are used by scientists around the world. Examples of applications are the modelling of changes in forest species and productivity under climate change. Studies also include modelling of the global hydrological cycle and future changes in the amount of greenhouse gases taken up by or released from ecosystems. Model development is tightly linked to field research because one very important part of our work is to test the models against data from laboratory and field experiments, as well as remote sensing.
Biodiversity is not only important on its own right; we are also ultimately depending on a variety of species for a fundamental supply of ecosystem services to society. Thus, understanding the factors governing species diversity is closely linked to research on ecosystem functioning. Our field research on biodiversity is primarly carried out in species-rich grasslands on Öland, an island in the Baltic.