Ecosystems are comprised of a large number of feedbacks between their many component organisms and the abiotic environment. How can we understand such complexity and how do we make such systems more resilient to the many and various human impacts?
Ecosystems on our planet are not only home for diverse life forms and powerhouse of climate regulations, but also source of critical societal needs, for food, materials, medicine, energy, arts, culture and entertainment. Our interdisciplinary work applies rapidly advancing ecological understandings to a range of natural and human modified landscapes, from tropical rainforests to the UK agricultural landscapes, to enable better actions that optimise landscape multifunctionality, balancing nature conservation and societal demands.
Antibiotics and other antimicrobials are often derived from soil microorganisms. The indiscriminate release of those chemicals in the environments can affect the functioning and health of ecosystems and human health. We are studying the potential effects on ecosystems and in turn, human health This is a global problem, and we are taking a global approach working with colleagues in South America and China.
Pest insects are one of the greatest threats to food production, causing over 20% of the world’s total crop damage each year, with new and emerging pests causing distinct problems across the planet. The extensive use of chemical pesticides causes environmental pollution, risks to human health, non-target effects on natural enemies and development of pesticide resistance. Biological control programmes, where natural enemies or microbial baits are harnessed to control insect pests, offer a viable alternative. In collaboration with the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and colleagues in the UK and Australia we investigate the role of microbes and diseases in the control of major global crop pests.
Plants are constantly exposed to a range of fungi and bacteria, both above- and belowground. These interactions can range from beneficial to pathogenic. We are investigating the patterns and processes determining plant-microbial associations and the role these interactions play in achieving sustainable ecosystems, including agricultural systems.
We all need to eat, but the intensive high-input agricultural methods developed over the last 80 years have taken their toll on the environment. A myriad microscopic bacterial, fungal and invertebrate communities underpin agricultural productivity and understanding these communities better may hold the key to developing more sustainable production methods. Part of the research group work with an array of other academics and agricultural sector researchers to describe the unseen biodiversity in agricultural systems and to understand the effects of various agricultural practises on these.
Dr Lan Qie – Conservation, carbon accounting, tropical forests, land use, ecosystem management, climate change, environmental technology
Dr Sheena Cotter – Eco-immunology, nutritional ecology, host-parasite interactions, insect ecology
Dr Jenny Dunn – Host-parasite interactions and parasite transmission in wildlife
Professor Mat Goddard – Population and community ecology
Dr Graziella Iossa – Behavioural and evolutionary ecology, antimicrobial resistance in the environment, ecosystems and human health
Professor Libby John – Plant ecology, plant-animal interactions, root-soil interactions, biodiversity
Dr Carl Soulsbury – Behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology
Dr Iain Stott – Computational ecology
Dr Sandra Varga – Plant and soil ecology
Prof Dave Wilkinson – Ecology, evolution, archaeology and Earth System Science
Mr Matias Fernandez – PhD (Goddard), “High throughput sequencing to measure changes in soil biology in response to long-term management practices.”
Mr Thomas Heaven – PhD (Goddard), “Novel ways of managing tree crop fungal diseases: Using precision diagnostic technologies to tailor disease management strategies”
Mr Peter Higgins – PhD (Goddard), “The population genomics of Saccharomyces yeasts”
Mr Rory Jones – PhD (Goddard), “The use of highly attractive yeast strains for controlling Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing drosophila)”.