EcolChange seminar: Kati Orru about human and environmental well-being

Seminar of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Dr. Kati Orru is an Associate Professor of Sociology of Sustainability at the University of Tartu. Her research focuses on human-environment interactions.

Title of the talk: Interactions of human and environmental well-being

Time: Thursday, 04 March 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: The presentation gives an overview of the studies carried out by the environmental sociology team and partners. I give some insights to our studies on the human-environment interactions from the perspectives of health, social inclusion and safety. I focus on study results regarding challenges like climate crisis, energy crisis and air pollution from the historical as well as current perspectives.

photo from here

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Join the pan-European citizen science campaign!

Ecologists from the University of Tartu, Estonia invite you to take part in a pan-European citizen science initiative ‘Looking for Cowslips‘. The cowslip campaign was piloted in Estonia for two consecutive springs in 2019 and 2020. It received a warm welcome by the public and led to exciting and surprising research findings recently published in Journal of Ecology. Therefore, we would like to broaden the geographic scope of the study to other European countries where cowslips are part of the local flora.

Our team of Landscape Biodiversity at the University of Tartu uses the cowslip (Primula veris), a characteristic grassland plant, as a model for exploring the effects of grassland loss on plants. We found that a seemingly small botanical detail, i.e. heterostyly, in cowslips may have substantial consequences for the future and well-being of this nice grassland plant. With this project we hope to collect data to improve fundamental research on plant mating systems and to provide understanding of the consequences of grassland loss for biodiversity. The task for citizen-scientists is easy and based on observing cowslip heterostyly. See the figure below illustrating the two flower types of cowslip. To find out more, see also this short animation.

We hope to find partners who could help with spreading the information about the campaign in their home country. Our team will translate the campaign materials and guidelines into local languages, including the web-tool for uploading data as well as adapt the animation into your local languages. We will coordinate the international communication and will give quick feedback about the progress of the campaign. 

We are happy to provide more details about the project. Please let us know about your interest in joining the cowslip team here. You are also very welcome to forward the invitation!

We hope that you can let us know about your tentative interest ASAP, but preferentially before the end of February. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information (info@nurmenukk.ee)!

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EcolChange seminar: Carlos Pérez Carmona about mapping and exploring the functional spectra across the tree of life

Seminar of the Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Dr. Carlos Pérez Carmona is an Associate Professor in the Macroecology workgroup at the University of Tartu. He is combining analytical tools with experimental approaches to study variation in species traits.

Title of the talk: Mapping and exploring the functional spectra across the tree of life

Time: Thursday, 25 February 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: From tiny shrews and duckweeds to gigantic whales and sequoias, the extent of trait variation among organisms on Earth is extraordinary. Despite all this functional diversity, species’ ecological strategies resulting from trait combinations are constrained by physiological limits set by evolutionary history and trade-offs in resource allocation. Aiming to understand what are the main dimensions of functional variation and how species are organized within them, ecologists have recently started mapping the functional spectra of different taxonomic groups. In this seminar I will provide an overview of our most recent research undertakings, where we strive to incorporate fine root traits into the global spectrum of plant form and function, define the functional spectra of vertebrate species at different scales, and understand how they could be affected by future extinctions.

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EcolChange seminar: Junichi Fujinuma about bamboo genet structure dynamics in a tropical rainforest

Seminar of the Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Junichi Fujinuma is a postdoctoral researcher at the Macroecology workgroup of University of Tartu. During his PhD studies, he worked at the University of the Ryukyus, examining population ecology at East Asian tropics.

Title of the talk: Dynamics of the genet structure of two clumping bamboos in tropical rainforest

Time: Thursday, 18 February 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: Tropical bamboos persist in a wide range of light conditions and quickly respond to changes in light availability. However, the mechanisms underpinning this ability remain unknown. In the seminar I will overview life histories of tropical bamboos in East Asia, and then focus on the dynamics of bamboo population at ramet and genet bases. The demographic responses along the gradient of light availability will shed light on how woody grasses maintain their populations in rainforest understories. 

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EcolChange seminar: Marcel van der Heijden about microbiome engineering for a sustainable agriculture

Seminar of the Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Marcel van der Heijden is a professor at the University of Zurich and at the Swiss Centre of excellence for agricultural research Agroscope. In his research Prof. van der Heijden investigates how changes in soil microbial biodiversity influence plants and ecosystem functioning.

Title of the talk: Microbiome engineering for a sustainable agriculture: drivers, functional links & the role of pesticides

Time: Thursday, 11 February 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: There is much interest to enhance the sustainability of agricultural production. Here it is discussed whether microbes can help in this endeavour. I present experimental evidence from model communities which reveal that soil biodiversity and microbiome complexity promote ecosystem functioning and sustainability. Then I present our results from field experiments and discus various options to manage microbial communities and beneficial mycorrhizal fungi in the field. I also discuss the role of pesticides and other factors determining microbial composition and functioning under field conditions. 

photo from here

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New publication – The Taxon Hypothesis Paradigm—On the Unambiguous Detection and Communication of Taxa

Text by Urmas Kõljalg

In this paper we described the taxon hypothesis (TH) paradigm, which covers the construction, identification, and communication of taxa as datasets. Defining taxa as datasets of individuals and their traits will make taxon identification and most importantly communication of taxa precise and reproducible. This will allow datasets with standardized and atomized traits to be used digitally in identification pipelines and communicated through persistent identifiers. Such datasets are particularly useful in the context of formally undescribed or even physically undiscovered species if data such as sequences from samples of environmental DNA (eDNA) are available. Implementing the TH paradigm will to some extent remove the impediment to hastily discover and formally describe all extant species in that the TH paradigm allows discovery and communication of new species and other taxa also in the absence of formal descriptions. The TH datasets can be connected to a taxonomic backbone providing access to the vast information associated with the tree of life. In parallel to the description of the TH paradigm, we demonstrated how it is implemented in the UNITE digital taxon communication system. UNITE TH datasets include rich data on individuals and their rDNA ITS sequences. These datasets are equipped with digital object identifiers (DOI) that serve to fix their identity in our communication. All datasets are also connected to a GBIF taxonomic backbone. Researchers processing their eDNA samples using UNITE datasets will, thus, be able to publish their findings as taxon occurrences in the GBIF data portal. UNITE species hypothesis (species level THs) datasets are increasingly utilized in taxon identification pipelines and even formally undescribed species can be identified and communicated by using UNITE. The TH paradigm seeks to achieve unambiguous, unique, and traceable communication of taxa and their properties at any level of the tree of life. It offers a rapid way to discover and communicate undescribed species in identification pipelines and data portals before they are lost to the sixth mass extinction.

Reference: Kõljalg, U., Nilsson, H. R., Schigel, D., Tedersoo, L., Larsson, K. H., May, T. W., … & Põldmaa, K. (2020). The Taxon Hypothesis Paradigm—On the Unambiguous Detection and Communication of Taxa. Microorganisms, 8(12), 1910. (link to paper)

Pic from here

Abstract:

Here, we describe the taxon hypothesis (TH) paradigm, which covers the construction, identification, and communication of taxa as datasets. Defining taxa as datasets of individuals and their traits will make taxon identification and most importantly communication of taxa precise and reproducible. This will allow datasets with standardized and atomized traits to be used digitally in identification pipelines and communicated through persistent identifiers. Such datasets are particularly useful in the context of formally undescribed or even physically undiscovered species if data such as sequences from samples of environmental DNA (eDNA) are available. Implementing the TH paradigm will to some extent remove the impediment to hastily discover and formally describe all extant species in that the TH paradigm allows discovery and communication of new species and other taxa also in the absence of formal descriptions. The TH datasets can be connected to a taxonomic backbone providing access to the vast information associated with the tree of life. In parallel to the description of the TH paradigm, we demonstrate how it is implemented in the UNITE digital taxon communication system. UNITE TH datasets include rich data on individuals and their rDNA ITS sequences. These datasets are equipped with digital object identifiers (DOI) that serve to fix their identity in our communication. All datasets are also connected to a GBIF taxonomic backbone. Researchers processing their eDNA samples using UNITE datasets will, thus, be able to publish their findings as taxon occurrences in the GBIF data portal. UNITE species hypothesis (species level THs) datasets are increasingly utilized in taxon identification pipelines and even formally undescribed species can be identified and communicated by using UNITE. The TH paradigm seeks to achieve unambiguous, unique, and traceable communication of taxa and their properties at any level of the tree of life. It offers a rapid way to discover and communicate undescribed species in identification pipelines and data portals before they are lost to the sixth mass extinction.

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EcolChange seminar – Tanel Vahter about fungal diversity in cropfields

Seminars of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Tanel Vahter is a PhD student in the Plant Ecology group in our Department, Tartu University. His research focuses on the application of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi for vegetation restoration but also on fungal communities in Estonian fields and grasslands.

Title of the talk: Fungal diversity in Estonian agricultural soils

Time: Thursday, 10. Decmber 2020 at 14.15

Place: Tartu, Lai 40-218 (Vaga auditorium), or virtual link in the MS Teams group (link for seeing the seminar online, without any logging in etc.).

Summary: While large-scale studies of soil fungal diversity have vastly increased our breadth of knowledge about the ecology of soil fungi, there is still little known about the effects of management where “the rubber meets the road”. Agricultural soils represent a real-life living laboratory, where manipulations of the soil ecosystem can highlight processes and factors important for natural systems alike. In this seminar, i will be presenting the results of a recent soil fungal diversity study in Estonian agricultural fields, linking realised diversity patterns with management and environmental subsidy.

The event is virtual. The link to join the team: https://teams.microsoft.com/l/team/19%3ae3b94de81e5743abbacf128f50404a78%40thread.tacv2/conversations?groupId=f24fbdc9-665c-4756-af7c-fbabada99223&tenantId=6d356317-0d04-4abc-b6b6-8c9773885bb0

After the official seminar, you are welcome to stay longer in the video call to chat with colleagues during a virtual cake and coffee/tea. Please bring your own “sweet supplies” though.

Tanel in lab. (pic from Postimees)

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EcolChange seminar – Timo Maran about semiotics in ecology

Seminars of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Prof. Timo Maran is Professor in Ecosemiotics and Environmental Humanities at Tartu University. His research focuses on the connection between ecology and semiotics, for example in multispecies environments (e.g. urban nature) and their effect on nature protection and communication.

Title of the talk: Semiotics in Ecology and Environmental Studies

Time: Thursday, 26. November 2020 at 14.15

Place: Tartu, Lai 40-218 (Vaga auditorium), or virtual link in the MS Teams group (link for seeing the seminar online, without any logging in etc.).

Summary: The fundamental connection between ecology and semiotics is that both fields give to relations a principal ontological position. In this presentation, I will give an overview of different ways how semiotics has been incorporated into ecological studies and what could be future perspectives of such synthesis. Most notably, Italian semiotician and landscape ecologist Almo Farina has developed the method of ecofield analysis that combines Umwelt theory with spatial description of landscapes and allocation of resources. From a semiotic perspective we could also describe interspecies communicative regularities and conventions in ecosystems as ecoacoustic codes or ecological codes. System ecology have further argued about the role of informational layer (Søren N. Nielsen’s semiotype) and feedback cycles in retaining stability and resilience of ecosystems. In environmental studies a number of concepts (e.g. semiotic pollution, dissent) have been applied for critical treatment of human effects of the environment. These developments have led to the formation of ecosemiotics (also semiotic ecology) starting from in 1990ties as an explicit synthesis of ecology and semiotics.

For everyone to stay as healthy as possible, please be reminded that wearing a face mask is mandatory. Please bring your own mask. Most importantly, don’t attend when you feel sick.

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EcolChange seminar – Eveli Otsing about the richness patterns of trees and fungi

Seminars of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Eveli Otsing is a PhD student in our Department in the Ecology of Biological Interactions workgroup. Her research aims to shed more light onto the connections between trees (i.e. their species richness) and fungal community richness. Eveli Otsing will defend her PhD thesis this December.

Title of the talk: Tree species effects on fungal richness and community structure

Time: Thursday, 5. November 2020 at 14.15

Place: Tartu, Lai 40-218 (Vaga auditorium), or virtual link in the MS Teams group (link for seeing the seminar online, without any logging in etc.).

Summary: Tree species are expected to affect fungal communities through direct biotic interactions and litter quality. Plant–fungal interactions play important roles in the ecosystem functioning, but still little is known about the functional importance of tree species diversity on fungal diversity. Richness and community structure of biotrophic fungi are most strongly controlled by tree species identity, but tree species richness and composition may also influence richness and community structure of ectomycorrhizal fungi and plant pathogens in mixed forest stands.

For everyone to stay as healthy as possible, please be reminded that wearing a face mask is mandatory. Please bring your own mask. Most importantly, don’t attend when you feel sick.

Functionality is always formal… (pic from here)
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EcolChange seminar – Giacomo Puglielli about the triangle of abiotic stress tolerance of woody plants

Seminars of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Dr. Giacomo Puglielli is a postdoctoral researcher at the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences in Tartu. His work focuses on stress responses of woody plant species to abiotic factors such as water and light.

Title of the talk: The abiotic stress tolerance space of woody species

Time: Thursday, 29. October 2020 at 14.15

Place: Tartu, Lai 40-218 (Vaga auditorium), or virtual link in the MS Teams group (link for seeing the seminar online, without any logging in etc.).

Summary: Woody plant species’ ability to tolerate multiple abiotic stress factors is thought to be constrained by biological trade-offs among tolerances. However, there is still considerable uncertainty about the relationship between tolerances, and the limits on tolerance combinations. In this presentation, I propose a framework that partly resolves these uncertainties. (Link to the NewPhyt paper about the triangle, and also link to the accompanying blog post.)

For everyone to stay as healthy as possible, please be reminded that wearing a face mask is mandatory. Please bring your own mask. Most importantly, don’t attend when you feel sick.

The world´s first love triangle. And every love triangle is also a stress triangle… (pic from here)
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