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Title: On the design of productive ecosystems
Author: Mehrabi, Zia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6352 6683
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Humans critically depend on the adequate design of productive ecosystems. With every design comes trade-offs. Agriculture is a clear case in point. We currently produce more than enough food for everyone on the planet but at a severe environmental cost. The degradation of our environment in turn threatens the long-term security of crop production. This negative feedback cycle suggests there is something wrong with the way our current human engineered ecosystems are designed. One striking feature of current industrial designs is that they are incredibly simple: monocultures, founded on reductionist ideas of how ecosystems operate. This thesis explores the challenges and opportunities we face with adding complexity back into the design of ecosystems. The world's first database on interspecific plant-soil feedback experiments is created and used to test theory on temporally lagged plant competition and facilitation. New concepts on the selection of competitive strength across trophic levels and its contrasting effects on population versus community level productivity are elucidated. The need to consider local management of diversified ecosystems in the context of global drivers of ecosystem change is validated.
Supervisor: Willis, Kathy Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council ; Royal Geographic Society
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available