The aim of CASCADE is to obtain a better understanding of sudden ecosystem shifts that may lead to major losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to define measures that can be used to prevent such shifts. The focus of CASCADE is explicitly on drylands as being one of the most fragile and threatened ecosystems in Europe. CASCADE will investigate the historical evolution of dryland ecosystems in six Mediterranean study sites, and improve understanding of the biogeochemical mechanisms underlying sudden and catastrophic shifts through a combination of experimentation and modeling. Experiments in laboratory and field will be used to assess the biogeochemical processes that are thought to underlie regime shifts in drylands, to study the interplay between competition and facilitation, and to assess the effects of biotic and abiotic processes on vegetation structure and composition. Field surveys will identify changes in ecosystem structure and functions that indicate approaching or crossing of tipping points, link these findings to experimental results, and assess potentials for restoration. Models will be developed to describe regime shifts in the studied drylands in terms of changes in vegetation composition, abundance and spatial patterning. Based on both experimentation and modelling, CASCADE will develop management schemes for sustainable resource use and conservation of ecosystem services. By combining physical with socio-economic modeling, measures will be defined that work from an ecological as well as a socio-economic perspective. The results of CASCADE will be made accessible to natural resource and biodiversity managers, policy makers, and other audiences, using a variety of dissemination methods such as reports, booklets, newsletters, meetings, videos, and TV. All project results and recommendations will be stored and made accessible to the public by developing a web-based harmonized CASCADE information system (CASCADIS).
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeCP-IP - Large-scale integrating project
84029 Sicignano Degli Alburni