Universiteit Leiden

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Research programme

Environmental Biology

This research programme aims to increase the scientific understanding of how current and emerging anthropogenic threats affect biodiversity and ecosystem services to facilitate strategic management of natural resources. To this end, we address urgent challenges in relation to the mechanisms involved and their interlinkages across scales.

Peter van Bodegom

We live in the Anthropocene, the age where humans constitute the dominant driver of changes to the Earth Systeme. That is why it is of prime importance to understand the interactions between biodiversity and mankind. At the Conservation Biology department we aim to achieve such understanding through mechanistic quantitative research at the multiple scales at which this interaction is expressed.

At the species level, we study the processes through which anthropogenic stressors affect individuals and populations, e.g. by studying uptake routes of nano particles, toxicity mechanisms of pesticides or adaptive responses to climate change.

Human impacts translate into community and ecosystem responses, which are studied by field experiments and process-based ecosystem modeling in combination with community and traits analyses.  

In combination, the impacts of multiple anthropogenic stressors on biodiversity can be obtained to understand and predict human impacts on regional and global biodiversity patterns, now and in the near future.

While nature is negatively affected by various activities, mankind simultaneously depends on many services provided by ecosystems. From an increased fundamental understanding on the links between individuals and ecosystem functions, we can better determine and predict how ecosystem services relate to biodiversity.

By quantifying this interplay between man and nature, we aim to raise appreciation for our natural resources and to conserve biodiversity.

This vision is integrally translated into our education. This to make students aware of the challenges involved and of the links between environmental research and society. Moreover, in our various research projects we tackle one or more of these challenges. In combination, a better comprehension of the critical role of biodiversity is obtained. 

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