The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. IBED was founded in 2000 by merging research groups from biology, environmental chemistry and earth sciences.
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The mission of IBED is to increase our understanding of the diversity and dynamics of ecosystems from the level of molecules and genes to entire ecosystems. Our aim is to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. The focus in IBED lies on the study of two interlinked aspects:
- How do organisms interact with one another and with their abiotic environment, and
- What are the dynamics that emerge from these interactions, both in space and in time.
The research of IBED is currently organized in nine research groups, clustered around three research themes. Each research group is led by a chairperson, but is must be emphasized that researchers in the groups are highly independent scientists with their own career opportunities. The themes and research groups are:
Theme I: Biodiversity and Evolution
- Experimental Plant Systematics – Chair Prof. Peter van Tienderen
- Evolutionary Biology – Chair Prof. Steph Menken
Theme II: Geo-ecology
- Earth Surface Science – Chair Prof. Karsten Kalbitz
- Paleo-ecology & Landscape Ecology – Chair Prof. Henry Hooghiemstra
- Computational Geo-Ecology – Chair Prof. Willem Bouten
Theme III: Community Dynamics
- Population Biology – Chair Prof. Maurice Sabelis
- Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology – Chair Prof. Wim Admiraal
- Aquatic Microbiology – Chair Prof. Jef Huisman
- Theoretical Ecology – Chair Prof. André de Roos
IBED’s strength lies in integrated studies of biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment using methods typical of the disciplines of biology, chemistry and physical geography. Such integrated research also forms the core of the Faculty of Science Research Cluster Global Ecology led by IBED and with contribution from all of IBED’s research groups. The aim is to study local processes that affect global changes, as well as to study how environmental change affect the diversity and functioning of local communities.
In addition, IBED participates in the Faculty of Science Research Cluster Green Life Sciences, focusing of the importance of functional biodiversity (for food production, pest control, pollinator services) as well and the University Priority Programme Systems Biology, both in close cooperation with the Swammerdam Institute for Life Science (SILS).
The institute was peer-reviewed in 2011 as part of the national evaluation of biology research in the Netherlands, by an international peer-review committee (Alexander Zehnder, chair, and with David Tilman and Roger Butlin as peers with the highest affinity to IBED’s research). The peers evaluation was highly positive.
‘The Committee concluded that IBED maintained an excellent record of high quality research over the review period. The staff of IBED includes a significant number of genuinely world-leading scientists. Excellent strategies are in place to maintain this quality in future, including closer collaboration with SILS, thereby combining strengths, a transparent and equitable funding model and clear embedding within University and National priority areas’,
‘The research infrastructure now available in the new building is truly world-class and should enable the Institute to continue to attract funding. Good strategies are in place to promote the search grants and particularly for new funding sources’.
Moreover, two research clusters (population biology & theoretical ecology and aquatic microbiology) received the highest possible rankings on quality, productivity, relevance and viability. In the report ‘New Biology’ of a working group installed by the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the University of Amsterdam was identified as one of the main concentrations for ecological and evolutionary research in the Netherlands.
Indeed, IBED’s research is supported by truly excellent research facilities, that were created when the Faculty of Science moved to their new building at Science Park Amsterdam in 2010. The new facilities include:
- Greenhouse and other growth facilities (climate chambers and cabinets, plant growth chambers), with legal permits for experimentation, including working with genetic transformation.
- Standard molecular genetic labs for analyses of genetic variation and gene expression.
- Analytical chemistry labs to study the partitioning, transport and transformation of substances in the environment (AAS, ICP-OES, GC/MS, LC/MS/MS, GC/IRMS).
- A new, dedicated soil erosion laboratory, as well as experimental facilities for aquatic research, AQUATRON and BENTHATRON for phytoplankton cultures and sediment incubation, respectively.
- Extensive modelling facilities, including a dedicated GIS studio for spatial analyses and access to high-performance computing facilities at SARA.
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