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Functional redundancy of bacterial communities in the laboratory and in the wild (Redundancy)
Start date: Feb 1, 2013, End date: Jan 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Understanding how species mediate ecosystem processes, such as energy and nutrient fluxes, is among the foremost challenges in ecology. Bacterial communities are pivotal for the functioning of the world’s ecosystems. Although there have been great advances in describing the biodiversity of bacteria, little effort has been directed at understanding how differences in bacterial communities translate into differences in ecosystem functioning. The proposed research will develop a comprehensive framework to determine how bacterial species affect functioning while in complex mixtures of species. Once this baseline is obtained, it is possible to ask detailed questions about the ‘functional ecology’ of bacterial communities. Foremost among these is whether ecological processes (species sorting) are more important than evolutionary processes (adaptation) in establishing species roles in ecosystems. The research has implications for the fundamental understanding how ecological communities operate.

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