Biodiversity: patterns, processes, predictions and conservation

Basic Info

Description

The basic research program of the Jovan Hadži institute of Biology ZRC SAZU will continue to include biodiversity research, which will be placed globally, and will comprise taxonomic, phylogenetic, genetic, functional, spatial, interaction and landscape diversity in different time frames. We now name our program ”Biodiversity: patterns, processes, predictions and conservation”, which better captures our efforts for a modern and integrative approach to the problems that are crucial for a sustainable development of mankind. We will investigate i) patterns of genetic, species and ecosystem diversity of floras and faunas, both in Slovenia and globally. This research will take place at different biological levels: from genetic analyses, taxonomy, identification and comparisons of biodiversity patterns, phenology, structure and dynamics of populations, organism communities and ecosystems, to identification of the changes in biodiversity along mosaics, as well as environmental and temporal gradients. We will investigate ii) the processes that generate biodiversity, from evolutionary mechanisms in selected organisms, where we intend to explore the relative strength and importance of natural and sexual selection in speciation, the research of the evolution of phenotypic traits and their adaptiveness, ecological characteristics of organisms and populations, the role of dispersion in speciation, to the development of plant communities and vegetation, and their distribution in the landscape. Our studies will form iii) predictions of biodiversity, both temporal and spatial; we will investigate future changes in biodiversity in relation to anthropogenic changes, for example habitat loss, climate change and the influence of invasive species. Through our research, we will contribute to iv) conservation of biodiversity and its processes, using DNA cryo-banks at the genetic level, by deep-freezing tissues and organisms as well as monitoring selected species and populations at the species level, and by providing guidelines for the conservation of ecosystems. To achieve our research goals, we will use cohesive and integrative approaches that include components of interdisciplinarity. Our research will include both excellent basic science as well as its application for pressing global problems. As objects in our studies, we will primarily use higher plants and target invertebrates, e.g. butterflies and spiders, but will also include other organisms in target ecosystems. Our broadest products will embrace entire ecosystems: we intend to provide guidelines for a permanent and sustainable preservation of their genetic, taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity, the diversity of their known (or yet undiscovered) biological interactions and their functional and spatial diversity.