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​Plant-soil interactions, ecosystem functioning and global change

Published on: 12-Apr-2019

Event Type: Seminar
Event Date: 12 April 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Venue: ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: Prof. Richard Bardgett

About the speaker:

Richard Bardgett is Professor of Ecology at The University of Manchester, United Kingdom. His main research interest is the study of plant-soil interactions and their impact on biogeochemical cycles and plant community dynamics, mostly in the context of global change. In particular, his research seeks to advance our understanding of the mechanisms by which complex soil biological communities influence ecosystem processes, and how plant functional diversity controls the structure and functioning of belowground communities at different temporal and spatial scales. His research also focusses on unravelling the mechanisms by which feedbacks between plant and soil communities regulate biogeochemical responses to climate change. He has written several books on these topics, including The Biology of Soil (2005), Aboveground-Belowground Interactions (with David Wardle) (2010), and Earth Matters: How Soil Underpins Civilization (2016), and is routinely recognized as a Highly Cited Researcher in ecology and environmental sciences. Richard is currently President of the British Ecological Society and Senior Editor of Journal of Ecology, and was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2006, Fellow Royal Society of Biology in 2011, and a member of Academia Europaea in 2015.


About the event:

Human activities are rapidly changing the world’s ecosystems. The most obvious human impact is through the conversion of land for agriculture, but terrestrial ecosystems are also affected by other global change phenomena, including climate change. This has led to a groundswell of research aimed at improving understanding of the impact of global changes on biodiversity and ecosystem function, and on management strategies to mitigate them. Whilst this topic has received much attention, scientists have only recently become aware that understanding the consequences of global change for ecosystem functioning requires consideration of interactions between plant and soil communities. This is because the impact of global changes on the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems is often indirect: they operate via changes aboveground that cascade belowground to the soil biological community, which drives biogeochemical processes and feedbacks to the Earth’s climate system. In this talk, I will highlight some recent developments in this area that illustrate how a combined aboveground–belowground approach can improve understanding of the consequences of global change for the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. In particular, I will discuss recent research showing how plants influence the structure and functioning of complex belowground communities across different spatial scales, and how these interactions are modified by global change, especially climate extremes. Finally, I will consider how an improved understanding of ecological interactions between plants and belowground communities might be harnessed to meet sustainable management goals.

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