Focus: Organismic Interactions

The variability in the development of organisms and the flexibility in the interactions of systems comprising multiple organisms are prerequisites for all adaptations to a habitat’s ever-changing conditions. The initial goal of our research is the systematic and quantitative characterization of robustness at the organismic level in a multiscale approach from molecules to ecosystems.

It is essential to determine the fundamental truth of a system. What is its normal state? How much does it fluctuate? When does a system lose its resilience? What happens then? The mean of these values, their variance and their distribution provide the basis for the examination of stressor effects (e.g., changes in temperature, salinity, and moisture levels): How does a “new normal” change as a function of stressor activity? How must ecosystems be adjusted to preserve a system close to its original state?

Animals, plants, fungi, and other microorganisms have always interacted and will continue to interact in diverse manners. However, they are influenced by abiotic factors and the complex impact of humanity in the developing Anthropocene. Our assumption is that science has the tools and methods to perform detailed quantitative studies that provide numbers for normal as well as extreme conditions.

Our long-term goal is to describe seemingly different interactions with the same tools and comparable ontologies and to combine them in a larger network that not only describes complex biological systems but reaches out to and interfaces with economic and political systems.