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Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning has emerged as a central issue in the environmental sciences during the past 20 years. The growth of the human population and economy over the last century is generating major environmental impacts with global consequences. Biodiversity loss is one of the most significant manifestations of current global environmental changes. An important scientific question with major practical implications is whether biodiversity loss might impair ecosystem functioning, and thereby the services ecosystems provide to human societies. Interest in the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning has spurred the emergence of an entire new research field at the interface between community ecology and ecosystem ecology, to which we have contributed actively.

Our research in this area is primarily theoretical, but it is often tightly connected to empirical and experimental work on a wide range of ecosystems, both terrestrial and aquatic. Recent and current research contributions include the following :
Disentangling the mechanisms that explain the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning, with applications in grassland, forest and marine ecosystems.
Clarifying and predicting the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem stability, with applications in grassland ecosystems.
Developing the theory of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in complex ecosystems with multiple trophic and non-trophic interactions.
Developing the theory of ecological stoichiometry for ecosystems with multiple trophic levels or ecosystem compartments, with applications to bacteria and plant–herbivore interactions.
Building ecological and evolutionary food-web models that connect aggregate ecosystem properties and individual traits such as body size, with applications to savanna ecosystems.
Expanding metacommunity and metaecosystem theory to include local facilitation and multiple trophic levels or ecosystem compartments in spatially extended ecosystems.
Quantifying the effects of parasites on metaecosystem functioning and food-web structure in freshwater ecosystems.
Unravelling the ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of intraspecific behavioural variation in freshwater metaecosystems.
Predicting the effects of climate change on the maintenance of diversity in mutualistic and exploitative communities.
Researchers involved in these projects : Michel Loreau, Claire de Mazancourt, Simon Blanchet, Géraldine Loot, Tomas Revilla (postdoc).