Environmental Stress & Functional Ecology - ESFE

Environmental Stress & Functional Ecology - ESFE

Plant Community Ecology and Ecological Restoration

We strive to understand the key drivers that control the spatial and successional dynamics of different plant communities, ranging from natural forests to agroforestry systems, and Mediterranean shrublands to sand dunes systems. We evaluate the ecosystem’s structural and functional vulnerabilities to environmental perturbations, to contribute to developing adaptive management and conservation strategies.

A particular focus of this sub-group is ecological restoration to improve the environmental quality of degraded areas. To effectively rehabilitate ecosystems require knowledge of which drivers originally shaped ecological communities, and which are currently promoting degradation. With further expertise in invasive plant ecology, the overall aim in this sub-group is to achieve sustainable, resilient and inter-connected ecosystems that provide goods and services to humans and wildlife alike.

With this focus on restoration ecology, we work in close collaboration with managers and companies to apply current research theories, models and concepts, especially in quarries and sand dune ecosystems. For example, we have already built a significant understanding of restoration processes based on long-term studies of a Mediterranean limestone quarry in Portugal. These data proved invaluable to advance both sustainable practices and academia, and we will continue to foster long-term monitoring relationships with industry.