Group description/Main objectives
Ecosystem structure and function are controlled by a variety of biotic and abiotic factors that act alone and in combination. Almost all definitions of ecosystems refer in some manner to communities of organisms interacting with each other and with biogeochemical factors that collectively represent the environment. The totality of interactions includes species-species interactions (competition, predation) species-abiotic factor interaction (resource limitations and responses, physiological stress) and non-additive relations. The group aims at studying the roles of several factors in controlling ecosystem function, in order to characterize these complex interactions. As a group we aim to underpin key interactions that regulate ecosystem processes, to link structure and function, and develop methods to analyze the complex whole system. Our research covers several aspects of the biotic and abiotic interactions mainly in soil and we are mainly focused on plant-soil interactions mutualisms in the rhizosphere; physiology of plant nutrition and productivity; biologically-mediated nitrogen and carbon dynamics. The greatest strength of the group lies in its integrated multi-level ecosystem approach, involving a mechanistic approach of the interactions between carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen dynamics at several levels of organization, from microbial networks to gas exchanges between soil and atmosphere.