*** The project ended on the 31/05/2013. The homepage is not updated any more.***

University of Göttingen

The Cluster of Excellence “Functional Biodiversity Research” at the University of Göttingen was established as a research cluster by January 1, 2008, through funds of the State of Lower Saxony (Ministry of Science and Culture).

Man has dramatically increased plant and animal extinction rates on earth. Since processes such as productivity, water purification, pollination and natural pest control are influenced by biodiversity, genetic erosion may threaten ecosystem functioning and can impair ecosystem services used by man. A group of scientists from functional, taxonomic and applied biodiversity research from three faculties of the University of Göttingen with expertise in plant and animal ecology, agroecology, biogeochemistry, and environmental economy has formed an interdisciplinary platform to conduct collaborative research on functional biodiversity research in Central Europe and in the Tropics, and to attract and promote excellent junior scientists in the field.
The scientific concept includes new innovative diversity manipulation experiments in grasslands and in the soil, and investigates the functional role of intraspecific genetic diversity in populations of woody plants. The goal is to answer four key questions which relate to the core of the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning debate: (1) Are the numerous existing species needed in order to maintain the expected ecosystem functions? (2) In case not all species are needed, which are redundant without loosing ecosystem functions? (3) Which diversity of genetic resources must be maintained in order to survive in a changing world? (4) Which proportion of the ecosystem services can be used by mankind without affecting the sustainability and the biodiversity of the system? Modelling will play an important role in the research activities.
In the context of the research cluster, a new professorship of “Ecosystem Modelling” “(W2) has been established, a Postdoc position and a Junior Research Group were filled and four collaborative research initiatives in the field of functional biodiversity research with about 30 PhD positions are being conducted. The research activities are linked to an attractive environment of newly created and existing PhD, MSc and BSc studies programs in “Biodiversity and Ecology”, “Ecosystem Management” and Forestry and Agricultural Sciences. The Cluster of Excellence is linked to several large collaborative research projects in the field of biodiversity research and ecology in Göttingen including SFB 552 (Stability of Rainforest Margins in Indonesia), Graduiertenkolleg (Research Training Group) 1086 (Functional Role of Biodiversity in Forests), DFG Research Group 816 (Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of a Megadiverse Mountain Ecosystem in South Ecuador) and others.