Applied Ecology - biological invasions, biodiversity, and biological control
My group is applying ecological theory to address environmental problems in a variety of fields such as invasion biology, agroecology, biological control and nature conservation. We use a wide array of systems and methods to answer these questions.
Which is the worst invasive alien species?
The number of alien species is increasing exponentially worldwide and there are many more species than can be managed. In Europe alone, more than 14000 alien species are known, but not all of them cause problems to the environment or human well-being. The seemingly simple and straightforward question “which are the worst invaders?” is difficult to answer because the impacts of alien species can be manifold and vary depending on context. Thus, currently it is difficult to compare impacts caused by species as different as snails, insects, mammals and plants. However, such comparisons are urgently needed by scientists and policy makers.
In an international collaboration, we recently developed methods that allow classifying alien species according to the magnitude of their environmental and socio-economic impacts (S/EICAT). EICAT has recently been endorsed by the IUCN as international standard. The final aim is to create a global database of alien species’ impacts that will allow us to better understand and forecast harmful alien species.
Can we improve wine quality with biodiversity?
Wine growing aims at maximising wine quality, not quantity. Therefore vineyards do not require massive resource inputs and provide ideal growing systems to combine high levels of biodiversity with agriculture. It is known that biodiversity improves ecosystem functions, but practical applications are rare.
In the European project PromESSinG we investigate how we can use biodiversity-friendly agricultural management techniques to improve grape quality. We study the effects of herbicide and fungicide (copper sulphate) applications on soil biodiversity (plants, micro-, meso- and macrofauna), ecosystem functions (soil respiration, decomposition) and services (grape quality). This information can be used by wine growers to adapt management to improve the quality of their wines.