The biological entities of interest to ECOSYS are microorganisms, meso- (e.g. springtails, enchytraeids) and macroinvertebrates (e.g. earthworms, insects), in interaction with plants. Several disciplinary fields have been mobilized (ecology of populations and communities, interaction ecology, functional ecology, ecotoxicology) with links to the environmental chemistry and physics. The concept of "functional trait" is widely adopted in plant ecology, under development for research in invertebrate ecology and emerging for microorganism ecology. The functional trait approach allows scale transfer from individuals to communities and studying the involvement of each levels in the realization of ecological functions.
The objectives of this axis were as follows:
- Structure the ECOSYS network of scientist working on soil biology
- Encourage the adoption of functional ecology approaches as unifying tools for ECOSYS
- Lead research on invertebrate trait based ecology at European scale
- Establish rules governing assembly in populations and communities based on analysis of the functional responses of organisms to the environment (disturbances, technical actions or constraints).
- Identify functions/processes resulting from or influenced by biodiversity with the aim of conducting an assessment of biodiversity services (and their stability).
The key achievements were as follows:
➢ The conception, realization and animation of an internal School of Functional Ecology, with the invitation of 5 scientists outside the unit to organize half-days of animation (seminars, exchanges, putting our work in perspective). The objective was to encourage the appropriation of the concepts of this discipline.
➢ The development of a handbook, of a thesaurus and of an open, online database on invertebrate functional traits
➢ Introduction of the consideration of genetic diversity within cultivated plant species, including broader consideration of the range of effects, with two original achievements: (1) studying the effect of the functional diversity of earthworms on root functions and plant architecture and productivity and (2) consideration of multi-specific plant communities and the functional role of this constructed biodiversity.
This axis was managed by Mickaël Hedde and carried by the Ecotox team for terrestrial biodiversity, resulting in 37 articles, representing 32% of the team’s publications. Four articles were co-signed by at least two teams of the unit. The number of inter-team co-signatures in this case is the lowest among the axes, indicating the emerging transversal character.