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Manchester Environmental Research Institute

Corn in a field

Healthy and biodiverse ecosystems

Biodiversity is critical for regulating numerous ecosystem functions and services, and can play key roles in nature-based and biotechnological solutions to tackle environmental challenges.

We need to better understand how human activity changes biodiversity across the kingdoms of life, the mechanisms by which biodiversity regulates ecosystem processes and the most effective ways of harnessing biodiversity to promote ecosystem services and generate win-win outcomes alongside other challenges.

A key focus is understanding multiple ecosystem services and functions, that includes net-zero, carbon capture, clean water, remediation, and trade-offs with disservices.

Our key areas

How life both on and in earth functions

This priority focuses on underpinning mechanisms by which genotypes and species regulate the multitude of processes that maintain healthy ecosystems, at the individual level at scales from gene to whole-organisms. The theme cuts across all domains of life, including microorganisms, plants and animals found in diverse environments including subsurface, soil, biosphere, and hydrosphere, and draws on key expertise in MIB and FBMH.

Understanding linkages between biological diversity and ecosystem multifunctionality

This priority focuses on gaining a predictive understanding of how populations and communities affect multiple functions and services provided by ecosystems (ecosystem multifunctionality). It seeks to determine the nature of relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality and the underpinning mechanisms that determine these relationships.

Using biodiversity to restore and conserve healthy ecosystems

This priority explores how biodiversity (genotypes, species, functional groups) can be managed and manipulated in ecosystems to maximise net benefits and reduce unintended consequences. Key target systems include agri-ecosystems (crops and grazed grasslands), peatlands, and woodlands and forests.