Fundamental knowledge of the interactions and dynamic processes shaping ecosystems is essential for understanding and predicting how our natural environment will change in the future. The research priority Global Ecology therefore focuses on the functioning of ecosystems and in particular on how they change due to natural processes or human impact.
Global ecology is the study of the Earth as an inter-reliant, dynamic ecosystem in itself, including its responses to perturbations and changes from both natural and human origin. By definition, global ecology focuses on the Earth at a planetary scale, but at the same time it recognizes that the Earth’s ecosystem has many layers and levels of organization.
Its main cynosure is the spatial scale as global dynamics of the involved Earth components which arise from the interaction between continent-wide, regional and ultimately local ecosystems. Research centres on the dynamics of ecosystem Earth which are shaped by the interaction between its abiotic, biotic and human socio-economic components. Both the biotic and human components are characterised by uniquely different levels of organisation as ultimately the individual organism is the entity that responds to its environment and interacts with other individuals of its own or other species.