Many people perceive Biodiversity, the variety of life in all its forms, as enrichment and would agree that it has a value by itself. Does biodiversity have, on top of that, an effect on the functions and services of an ecosystem, as productivity and stability or nutrient, carbon and water cycling? This question is addressed by scientists within a European research project FunDivEUROPE on the functional significance of biodiversity in European forests.
Biodiversity research of the last 15 years could demonstrate that multiple functions and services of an ecosystem are influenced by the number of species within this system. Most of these findings are based on research within grassland systems. For about five years it is evident that science has to make the next big step and address those ecosystems that control a good portion of the carbon, nutrient and water balances of the earth – the forests. FunDivEUROPE will tackle the challenge.
Within this project that started in October 2010 – the international year of biodiversity – the University of Freiburg and its partners, 24 institutions from 15 countries, work on quantifying the influence of biodiversity on this ecosystem functions and services and to deliver timely, relevant and understandable information to policymakers and stakeholders about forest biodiversity and ecosystem services. To achieve this, scientists combine field data sampled on all European experimental sites on tree diversity and on a newly created network within established forests, with the analysis of forest inventory data.