effects of Climatic extremes On eCOsystem Stability (COCOS)

COCOS is a 2-year Marie-Curie project (2022-2024) awarded to Dr. Manuele Bazzichetto, and hosted at our Faculty of Environmental Sciences at CZU, with Petr Keil as the hosting scientist. More details are at the COCOS website.

Summary of the project

Ecosystems provide many key services essential for our wellbeing. These services depend on the temporal stability of plant communities. In turn, stability depends on resistance, which is the capacity of plant communities to withstand exogenous perturbations, and on recovery from their impact. Extreme climatic events disrupt the stability of ecosystems, with unpredictable consequences on ecosystem services. As the intensity and frequency of climatic extremes is expected to rise, understanding how ecosystems respond to extremes is an extremely urgent task.

Previous studies exploring the stability-climatic extremes relationship suffer from different limitations: i) lack of in-situ data on vegetation stability to conduct worldwide analyses; ii) scarce focus on the joint influence of taxonomic and functional diversity in affecting stability mechanisms under extreme climate. Moreover, few investigated if extremes cause critical transitions of ecosystem functions. This has prevented understanding of how different ecosystems react to climatic extremes.

This project aims at addressing these limitations and improving our fragmented knowledge on the relationship between extremes and stability. Combining cutting-edge analytical tools with extensive, and novel, global databases of time-series of in-situ vegetation and climatic extremes data, the project will analyse the relationship between stability and climatic anomalies, and how it varies in different ecosystems. Results will provide worldwide predictions of ecosystem-specific resistance and recovery to climatic extremes, and new approaches for anticipating critical transitions of ecosystem functions. These outputs will be essential for i) guiding future policies aimed at reducing the impact of extremes on society; ii) mitigating economic loss due to extremes in crucial sectors such as agriculture and food production; iii) providing new methods for investigating how climatic extremes affect ecosystem services.

Manuele Bazzichetto