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 with the expertise in ecology and evolutionary biology, physical geography and environmental chemistry. Research at IBED targets the world around us from the level of molecules and genes to entire ecosystems. We aim to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At the core of IBED lies the integrated approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment using methods typical of the disciplines of ecology, physical geography and environmental chemistry.
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Mission and vision
The mission of IBED is to carry out high quality research in the field of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics to herewith contribute to sustainability, in particular climate change, human induced environmental stressors on ecosystems (contamination, land degradation), food security, and the preservation of biological diversity in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.
The vision of IBED is that we require a systems approach combining ecology, earth sciences and environmental chemistry, and encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from microbes and individual behaviour up to processes at landscape scale.
The research of IBED is currently organized in four research departments. Each research department is led by a chairperson, but is must be emphasized that researchers in the departments are highly independent scientists with their own career opportunities.
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 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 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.
In 2017 the research vessel Dreissena was added to the facilities of IBED. This first university-owned research vessel in the Netherlands was obtained through crowd-funding, is provided with specialized research equipment, and offers many new possibilities for aquatic research.
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