Genomic and Applied Microbiology

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BEFmate - new joint project (Mar 2014)

Biodiversity - Ecosystem Functioning across marine and terrestrial ecosystems (BEFmate) is a joint project by the Universities of Oldenburg and Göttingen. It addresses biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships across marine and terrestrial ecosystems employing meta-analyses, syntheses, ecological modeling and empirical experiments.
The current rate of change in biodiversity is orders of magnitudes higher than in the fossil record reflecting human domination and alteration of the Earth’s ecosystems. The aim of reducing the rate of global biodiversity loss as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has not been achieved, due in large part to the major pressures on biodiversity still increasing. Consequently, research on biodiversity-ecosystem function (BEF) relationships has become a major facet of ecology in just two decades and, more recently, of evolutionary biology as well.

Kick-Off meeting of BEFmate scientists in March 2014

Over the last decade BEF experiments have unraveled positive, negative or idiosyncratic patterns for different communities and species groups. While these approaches provided detailed predictions how changes in species richness may affect the functioning of specific ecosystems, a more general understanding of BEF relationships and why they differ across communities and ecosystems remained elusive. This illustrates an urgent need to synthesize BEF research with ecological theory that generalizes patterns and processes. Over the last decades, substantial theoretical progress was achieved in the understanding of the stoichiometric, allometric (i.e., body size), food-web and spatial structure of species communities. These independent bodies of theory provide an unprecedented mechanistic understanding how species differ according to these general traits, but systematic synthesizes with BEF models and experiments is still lacking.

BEFmate addresses these challenges by formulating five major goals:

Goal 1: Understanding biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships across marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Goal 2: Assessing the functional consequences of biodiversity change across the tree of life and across the entire range of biological organization from genes to ecosystems.

Goal 3: Merging ecological and evolutionary aspects of functional biodiversity research

Goal 4: Synthesizing BEF research with ecological theory on elemental stoichiometry, species' allometry, and food-web structure.

Goal 5: Unraveling how neutral and dispersal processes affect BEF relationships in space and time

BEFmate homepage