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Can biodiversity provide insurance against the potentially harmful effects of climate change? And do decreases in biodiversity eliminate this insurance? To tackle these burning questions, the Ecology and Biodiversity research group at Utrecht University have established a large experiment to examine the interaction between biodiversity and climate change: The Utrecht University Biodiversity and Climate Variability Experiment, or UU BioCliVE. In the project, researchers from Utrecht University collaborate with the Botanic Gardens, students, and outside contractors. The experiment was launched yesterday with a mini-symposium and an opening by Gerrit van Meer, Dean of the Faculty of Science.
The long-term experiment uses 352 containers, each with 1000 liters of soil, to precisely construct grassland ecosystems that represent a gradient of biodiversity. Professor George Kowalchuk, head of the Ecology and Biodiversity group, explains: "By using such large constructed ecosystems, we can precisely manipulate our grassland communities, while achieving a realistic scale that allows for real-life ecosystem interactions. At the same time, we can impose future climate conditions that for instance change precipitations patterns, which for the Netherlands means drier summers and wetter winters, where...
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