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Transitions from natural to domesticated environments and novel communities

The current human dominance and the concomitant anthropogenically induced global environmental change cause rapid transitions from natural to novel ecosystems. These ecologically novel systems consist of non-indigenous and non-coevolved species and are particularly frequent on islands, in anthropogenically transformed agricultural landscapes, and in urban areas. Novel ecosystems are subject to novel stressors and characterized by non-analogous biotic assemblages.

Our aim is to understand the processes leading to the rapid transition from natural to novel communities and ecosystems, i.e. the direction, speed and persistence of change with increasing levels of domestication and novelty of communities. Using an experimental and process-based modelling approach as well as spatio-temporal empirical observations in the work packages described below, we will establish replicated gradients of native to novel ecosystems using the City- and AgroScapeLabs, where we

  • assess native and non-native biodiversity patterns from species to genotype level,
  • assess the presence and change of specific functional traits
  • measure the effects of novel communities and ecosystems on native biodiversity patterns, and
  • compare phenotypic and physiological traits of selected target taxa from collections spanning the last 100–150 years, but also
  • measure effects on ecosystem services.

Read about our other BIBS research topics