At the end of 2022, 14 new research projects were funded by BECC. Most of them are interdisciplinary and collaborations between Lund and Gothenburg. All of them relate to subjects that address our society´s need for knowledge about the dynamics between biodiversity and ecosystem services in a world strongly impacted by climate change and land-use change.
Six postdoctoral projects – from soil resilience to carbon cycling in the Arctic
Six new interdisciplinary postdoc projects will be taking off during the coming months. Here is a short summary of the topics and their relevance to society.
- Carbon cycling in the Arctic
- Carbon fluxes and drought
- Use of functional traits for forecasting effects on biodiversity
- Climate mitigation potential of wetlands
- Extreme weather resilience of agricultural soil
- The role of microclimates for bees, pollination, and crop production during heatwaves
Arctic ecosystems experience faster warming than anywhere else in the world. The aim of this study is to determine how increased intensity and frequency of freeze-thaw cycles affects the carbon cycling in Arctic biological soil crusts. The study will identify parameters related to microbial functional traits, such as pulses of CO2 after thawing.
Relevance to society: The identified parameters will be incorporated into the “CoupModel” and can enhance its ability to predict the ecosystem-level impacts of climate change, which is essential for finding strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Input and output fluxes of carbon (C) in ecosystems on land are governed by how microorganisms in the soil and vegetation respond to weather events and climate. Recent evidence indicates that the short-term C fluxes that are triggered by the alternation of drought and rainfall can dominate the land-atmosphere C exchange. However, these C fluxes are still poorly understood and widely overlooked in the literature. This project aims to fill these gaps.
Relevance to society: This project will bring us closer to understanding and predicting the influence of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems and their C stocks, which in turn can help us improve strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Forecasting the effects of environmental stressors on biodiversity, ecosystem function and ecosystem services is a challenge due to a general poor understanding of the causal relationships. In this project, the researchers will take on this challenge by investigating whether functional traits may improve forecasting of environmental stressors in Swedish forests.
Relevance to society: findings will be shared with relevant stakeholders within forestry and Environmental Protection Agency, focusing on the connections between climate and habitat change. Additionally, the study will assess the effectiveness of using simple biodiversity indices to evaluate the success of forest management.
A climate mitigation and adaptation strategy applicable for Sweden is the rewetting of drained peatlands. Rewetting can aid in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, create a landscape with higher biodiversity, and ascertain resilience to drought/flooding and forest fires. The main aim of this project is to improve the understanding of the impact that this climate adaptation and mitigation strategy has on the activity of soil microbial communities, and in turn their influence on the land atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases.
Relevance to society: Knowledge on soil function and microbial activity is needed in ecosystem modeling, feeding into policy decisions on rewetting for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Extreme weather endangers important soil ecosystem functions. The aim of this study is to investigate how different farm management strategies impact soil resilience to climatic disturbances, especially drought. A collection of farms in Skåne, at different stages of transition from conventional to organic, will be chosen and the soil analysed for organic matter and microbial communities.
Relevance to society: The results will be combined with earlier obtained above-ground parameters including yield and biodiversity at the same set of farms. A deeper understanding of the formation of soil organic matter under different farm management strategies can lead to improved soil management for drought adaptation.
Increased frequencies and magnitudes of heatwaves resultant from climate change are causing severe stress in insect communities. Yet, conservation efforts to mitigate the impact of heatwaves on biodiversity and related ecosystem services are still sparse. In this project, the postdoc will evaluate the potential of modifying microclimates to increase the resilience of bee communities and crop pollination to heatwaves.
Relevance to society: The results can contribute to the development of climate adaptation measures that enable more climate change resilient agriculture, society, and nature, as well as to policies that facilitate their implementation.
Eight research projects – from pollinator conservation to post-fire forest management
In 2022 BECC funded eight new research projects which are now up and running. Below follows short summaries of the projects and how they can have an impact on a societal level.
- Can active land-use management be used to make soil microbial functions resilient to drought?
- More active fungal communities after ditching of peatlands - what are their effect on the mobilization of carbon and iron?
- Plan Bee: interdisciplinary pollinator conservation for changing agricultural landscape
- Synergies and trade-offs between farmland and forest affecting pollinating and wood living insects
- Eco-evolutionary responses in pollinating insects caused by changes in land-use
- Climate proofing conservation of rare pollinators
- Climate Adaptation in the Arctic
- Wildfire in Sweden: Post-fire Forest Management - Societal Perceptions Acceptability and Ecosystem Recovery
This project will study how the twin challenge of land-use and climate change affects microbial functioning, soil fertility, and carbon sequestration. This will be done by determining microbial resistance and resilience to drought, and by assessing the microbial use of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous from soil organic matter to understand the contribution to soil carbon sequestration.
Relevance to society: The insights will improve models that include the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. The goal is to better understand how land-use management affects the ability of ecosystems to withstand drought caused by climate change.
Boreal freshwaters receive, transform, re-mineralize and store large amounts of organic carbon derived from the land. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant increase in the export of organic carbon and iron from terrestrial sources to northern freshwaters, observed as a browning of the water. Deforestation of coniferous forests is one driver of the export due to the buildup of organic soil layers under coniferous forest, which sustain high OC and Fe. Additionally, ditching peat soils to facilitate forestry may also be connected to this trend.
Relevance to society: The aim of the project is to test how mycorrhizal fungi - which become more active in peatland soils after ditching - influence the mobilization of organic carbon (OC) and iron (Fe). The results can provide valuable information on forest management and freshwater management and how they affect one another.
Biodiversity conservation must be ecologically effective and socially sustainable to mitigate environmental change, now and in the future. The project will address this through a lens of bee conservation in agricultural systems, where multiple drivers, such as habitat loss, climate change and pesticide risk, threaten bees and pollination services.
Relevance to society: The study aims to show how an interdisciplinary approach can offer practical solutions to effects of environmental change, and an increased involvement in biodiversity conservation.
Pollinators such as bumblebees forage on pollen and nectar from flowering forbs, shrubs, and trees, and are important pollinators of both crops and wild plants. Whereas they mainly utilize open landscapes, flowering trees in forests also provide important resources for them. This study will focus on movement of insects and flow of pollen they carry across both forest and farmland landscapes.
Relevance to society: Current siloed policies for agriculture and forestry may fail to preserve organisms such as bumblebees that depend on mosaic landscapes, but the extent of cross-habitat resource use is underexplored. This study will help fill these gaps and provide policy-relevant information for biodiversity conversation in agriculture and forestry.
Changes in land-use poses threats to insects in agro-ecosystems, leading to negative impacts on pollination services. However, it is challenging to mitigate these threats due to limited knowledge about how insects respond to land-use changes. In this study, a team of researchers will model eco-evolutionary responses of insect-mediated pollination services, policy, and management – with a focus on how plant-pollinator communities respond to changes in agricultural land-use.
Relevance to society: The insights on ecosystem vulnerability will be valuable to management and policy strategies that aim at maintaining important pollination services.
Conservation of species in fragmented habitats requires adequate local habitat size and quality, and favorable conditions at the landscape scale. Standing in the way of this is the complexity of multiple interacting public and private actors which directly and indirectly change the conditions for target species’ persistence or extinction. Therefore, this study applies a participatory socio-ecological systems (SES) modelling approach to assess the complex linkages between climate, land-use and conservation outcomes, replicated across landscapes.
Relevance to society: By combining key findings from this study with previous and ongoing conservation efforts for rare wild bees in southern Sweden, the goal is to obtain valuable insights that can be applied to similar initiatives globally and contribute to the restoration of declining biodiversity.
The Arctic is witnessing the highest increases in temperature on Earth, raising alarm about the loss of species that are important for biodiversity and society. This project aims to understand the genetic basis of adaptation in Arctic species and the role of the latitudinal variation in climate (e.g. temperature, photoperiod) in determining how species respond to climate change.
Relevance to society: The results can be used by stakeholders to identify which populations are conservation priorities for the preservation of the Arctic tundra and its ecosystem services.
Climate warming is predicted to increase the frequency of extreme fire seasons. Empirical knowledge is scarce regarding societal perceptions of post-fire forest management, and how these management strategies impact plant regeneration and carbon budgets. Hence, post-fire management strategies still require scientific evaluation to support Swedish climate targets, the EU Forest Strategy 2030, and the Paris Agreement.
Relevance to society: This project examines the aftermath of Sweden’s 2018 extreme wildfire, by linking monitoring and evaluation of forest ecosystem recovery with an analysis of societal perceptions. Based on findings, the project will deliver evidence-based advice for forest fire governance.
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