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URPP Global Change and Biodiversity

Contribution to Scientifica 2013

Biodiversity is the collection of living organisms on the Earth. Protecting biodiversity is not simply an exercise in avoiding extinction. Biodiversity currently provides cost-free services which enable life as we know it on our planet. It is vital to preserve these services. We are well aware that land use change, climate change, invasive species, over-exploitation, and pollution are great threats to biodiversity. What we do not know is how these drivers of global change interact with one another. The key research question we ask is how can we predict the consequences of changes in drivers of global change such that we can predict the consequences for biodiversity and the vital services it provides. In our agriculture experiment, we show the effects of a series of climatic and soil based changes on the productivity and biodiversity of our agricultural fields. We also showcase the Lake Zürich by looking at the cyanobacteria at the base of the lake food web. Visitors will get to see this organism and discuss its vulnerability to climate warming and the consequences for the entire lake ecosystem. Thirdly, we profile new technologies used to study forest ecosystems. To explore this complex ecosystem, visitors can walk through a 3D visualization of the Lägern forest to see the various structures of a forest and how it changes between winter and summer.

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