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Biodiversity dynamics and functional trajectories of ecosystems

1. Presentation and general problematic

The exponential growth of the human population and associated industrialisation and urbanisation have profoundly altered the functioning of ecosystems and led to the sixth mass extinction. Although international initiatives have been undertaken to reconcile human development and expansion with ecosystem health and biodiversity conservation, there is no sign of stopping the current dynamics.
With 95% of the Earth’s land surface now transformed by human activities, understanding the processes linking global change to ecosystem functioning is a key element in considering mitigation. More than a scientific issue, the way in which human populations exploit ecosystems and coexist with biodiversity is at the origin of social, economic and political conflicts. Understanding ecological processes, their origins and consequences, including at long time scales, allows us to understand how global changes have impacted ecosystems at different spatiotemporal scales: current ecosystem dynamics, retrospective studies and trajectory modelling. It also provides important insights into the role of ecosystems and their functioning in global change. The ambition of this theme is to develop tools and concepts to diagnose the ecological state of ecosystems and to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity (genetic, specific and ecosystemic) and associated functional processes with the socio-economic development of human populations, while minimising conflicts and maintaining ecosystem services. As part of a transfer from the fundamental to the operational, this research will feed the actions carried out in restoration and conservation ecology, for the achievement of sustainable development objectives.

Area 3 - Spatio-temporal trajectories of ecosystems in response to global change

The research carried out in this area will aim to identify and quantify the influence of anthropogenic pressures and climate change on the spatio-temporal trajectories of ecosystems, by adopting a systems approach.

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Axis 1: Evolution and dynamics of biodiversity

Cet axe regroupe les travaux consistant à caractériser la biodiversité locale et régionale à différentes échelles de temps et niveaux d’organisation, allant de la diversité génétique des populations jusqu’à la diversité des communautés et des écosystèmes (typologie des habitats).

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Axis 2: Functional role of biodiversity

This line of research will explore these questions via the study of the sources and transfer pathways of matter and energy in food webs and via the study of the functional role of biodiversity in the production and recycling of organic matter and in biogeochemical cycles, particularly that of carbon.

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