Lendület Seed Ecology Research Group
Head of the research group:
Due to the increasing human pressure on Earth, there is an urgent need for maximising the resilience of ecosystems in order to sustain or restore their biodiversity and the ecosystem functions and services they provide. In vegetation dynamics and ecosystem functioning seeds play a crucial role by allowing persistence, recruitment and mobility in populations and facilitating meta-population dynamics. These ecological functions of seeds are in the focus of both ecology and conservation science. Linking these two approaches, the Momentum project aims at developing a conceptual framework on seed-based ecosystem engineering in order to maximise the diversity and resilience of communities. We use grasslands as model system, as they are diverse and dynamic habitats where recruitment by seed is a major driver of vegetation dynamics. Grasslands cover 40% of the global land surface, which allows upscaling the findings validated in our research program. In a series of observational and experimental studies at multiple spatial scales we will push forward the knowledge on the role of seed bank, seed dispersal and seedling establishment in community assembly, and their utilization in restoration ecology and diversity conservation. The results will give new dimensions to seed-based conservation and restoration science by developing new tools, such as activating deeply buried seeds, designing seed mixtures that maximise resilience or using animal perturbations as establishment gaps.