Sofia J. van Moorsel

Community Ecologist

My doctoral research in the group of Professor Bernhard Schmid at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) focused on the positive relationship between plant biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in a grassland biodiversity experiment (The Jena Experiment). I am especially interested in the mechanisms that might strengthen this relationship. I investigated how community evolution in plant communities can increase ecosystem functioning (i.e. community productivity) and ecosystem stability in response to a natural flooding event. In common garden experiments, I assessed whether selection in response to community diversity can alter community performance and plant functional traits in newly assembled test assemblages. In addition, I explored the role of below-ground community composition on plant biomass production and how co-evolution between soil organisms (e.g. AMF) and their associated plants alters ecosystem functioning.

PhD Thesis
Community Evolution increases Ecosystem Functioning and Stability (pdf)

The following poster is about one of the projects of my PhD thesis (presented at the Global Change and Biodiversity Conference in Monte Verita, Switzerland). In this project, we’re investigating if epigenetic or genetic mechanisms are driving rapid evolution in grasslands.
Poster: Evidence for Rapid Evolution in Grasslands (pdf)