Ecosystem services

Ecosystems provide various ecosystem services, such as:

  • Nutrient cycling;
  • Sustaining food and fuel production;
  • Storing carbon;
  • Purifying and storing water;
  • Conservation of species and genetic diversity and recreation. 

Research focus

The way ecosystems response to global change not only affects the future provision of essential ecosystem services but also feedbacks on the global climate and water cycle.  Research on ecosystems focuses among others on the effects of environmental change on biodiversity, ecosystem function and services and the role of ecosystems in the climate system and water cycle. Both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are included. Key is understanding the fundamental mechanisms regulating biodiversity and how do these translate to ecosystem functioning. 

Research questions

  • How do plants react to changing flood frequency under climate change?

  • How do plants and soils adapt or respond to changes in CO2, climate and nutrients?

  • What will be the effect of further land use change on biodiversity?

  • Can we use survival strategies of natural plants to develop flood and drought resistant crops?

  • How does pattern formation in ecosystems occur and what can it tell us about ecosystem stability?

Without plants, not a single human or animal would be able to survive

Professor Corné Pieterse