At CREAF we study the relationships between the chemical and elemental compositions of species, communities, and soil with basic ecosystem function characteristics (flows of matter and energy, nutrient cycles, and growth strategies) and structure (diversity, characteristics of the trophic network, among others).  We also use metabolomic analyses to study how the functioning of organisms or environment (e.g. soil) change under changing environmental conditions.  Later, this information can be related with observed changes at different levels: changes in growth, mortality, herbivory, elemental composition and stoichiometric proportions, among others.

Ecotoxicological studies help us understand the relevance of different contaminants for trophic networks in order to evaluate impacts along spatial and temporal gradients. Finally, with metagenomic studies, we study the evolutionary responses of organisms and populations to environmental changes in the short, medium, and long term. This allows the addition of a temporal dimension to our studies, making them more innovative.

The main lines of work and experience of CREAF in this field include:

  • Chemical ecology: We study the chemical mechanisms controlling the responses of microorganisms, flora, and fauna to changes in climate, nitrogen deposition, and increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. 
  • Metabolomics and metagenomics: We measure the impact of climatic changes on the global function of organisms by introducing the omics techniques to ecological studies in the field. We conduct metabolomic studies with determination by 1HNMR, HPLc-MS/MS, and 31P NMR, and we use metagenomics to study plant species’ adaptation and genetic and epigenetic changes in response to climate change. 
  • Elemental composition: We study alterations to elemental compositions and stoichiometric ratios in relation to environmental change.
  • Biogeochemical cycles: We study alterations of biogeochemical cycles caused by drought and warming, species invasions, and nitrogen deposition.  
  • Biogeochemical niche: We carry out studies probing the biogeochemical niche hypothesis.
  • Human ecology: We study the elemental and molecular composition of the environment (food, air, water) to understand how these relate to human ecology, including human health and morphometry. 
  • Ecotoxicology: We study the relevance of key contaminants for trophic networks. 
  • Biogeochemical cycles: We study alterations of biogeochemical cycles caused by drought and warming, species invasions, and nitrogen deposition. 
  • Chemical status of ecosystems: We study how meteorological variability and extreme events affect the chemical status of ecosystems.  
  • Data mining: We coordinate large data bases which compile the impacts of different global change factors on the chemical composition of the plant-soil system.

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