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Deterministic processes, community organisation and ecosystem function

Objective

The impact of global change on biodiversity loss has major implications for ecosystem functioning and human well-being. Ecosystem functions such as decomposition of plant litter are emergent properties of the plant litter faunal community. Research into the relationship between the attributes of a community (e.g. diversity) and the emergent functions of that community (e.g. decomposition), otherwise known as the diversity-function relationship, has predominately used manipulative or reductionist experiments to identify mechanisms that drive function. In order to manage natural resources for ecosystem service delivery however, we need to understand the diversity-function relationship in natural ecosystems. This project will use community phylogenetic structure to explore deterministic processes driving plant-litter arthropod community organization, and examine the influence of community organisation on plant-litter decomposition and nutrient flux using stable isotopes to characterize resource use. Both will be achieved using a unique and highly resolved natural experimental system on Little Barrier island, New Zealand.

The project Dr Griffiths proposes will benefit from training she will receive in (a) bioinformatics and phylogenetics, (b) stable isotope approaches to quantifying cryptic food webs, and (c) plant nutrient composition. The value of these multiple disciplines will be advanced through integration into an ecosystem functioning framework using Dr Griffiths’s established expertise. This mutually beneficial project will promote long-term collaborations. The training will add considerable value to the future research areas Dr Griffiths intends to address; enhancing ecosystem functioning and services in managed and natural ecosystems. The European Research Area will benefit from the quality of the collaborations, research and dissemination activities proposed, and through Dr Griffiths’s long-term research addressing issues of European and global importance.

Call for proposal

FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IOF
See other projects for this call

Coordinator

THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Address
The Queen's Drive Northcote House
EX4 4QJ Exeter
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 352 392,10
Administrative Contact
Samantha Irish (Ms.)