The scientists at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) perform basic and strategic ecological research on individual organisms, populations, ecological communities and ecosystems.
Together they study animal -, plant – and microbial ecology in terrestrial and freshwater environments. The multidisciplinary collaboration within this diverse group of ecologists has created unique opportunities to develop the broad, comprehensive approaches needed to solve complex ecological problems.
Ecology is all about the interactions between organisms, and also between life and its inanimate environment. How is a tiny insect able to find its food plant kilometres away? How can so many species coexist, even in the smallest drop of water? What causes a bird species to adapt to a changing environment? And what causes it not to adapt? What wealth of microbial diversity lies hidden in the soil, and what are its functions? The NIOO researchers are not merely looking for answers, but are primarily trying to discern the general patterns and rules within this wide range of interactions. It is these patterns and rules and the study of them that form the essence of ecology.
In these times of massive population growth and increasing economic welfare, ecological knowledge is of great importance to society. Our world is now undergoing dramatic changes, yet we are far from fully understanding its ecological complexity. In order to be able to assess global changes such as the accelerating degradation of the biosphere, the loss of species and of biodiversity, the invasion of exotic species in existing ecosystems, and global warming, we need to have far greater scientific insight.
Though the world’s ecosystems are also the source of countless invaluable goods and services, such as fresh water for us to drink, their contribution is largely unnoticed and unappreciated. Yet ecological knowledge is important for food production, for understanding and avoiding environmental problems, for conserving and restoring nature, and for risk analysis. Understanding the biosphere is therefore crucial to the future. For this to become a fundamental principle for an inhabitable planet, we must have a sound foundation of knowledge on the structure and functioning of the Earth’s major ecosystems. NIOO-KNAW’s scientists are at the forefront of this global pursuit of ecological knowledge.
via Netherlands Institute of Ecology