The first task of National Research Programme 'Sustainability of agro, forest and water ecosystems' – study the effects of climate change and other environmental stress factors on agro-, forest and water ecosystems, their productivity and biological diversity. Two measures have been envisaged with respect to the first task under the Programme:
Measure 1 – identify patterns of the development, productivity, competitiveness and the formation of the biological diversity of agro-, forest and water ecosystems in view of the changing climate, as well as the mechanisms and the consequences of the interrelationship between cultural plants and their competitors, symbionts, and pests.
The research intended under the Programme will study the all-around impact of climate change and other factors, such as the increasing concentration of CO2 and rising temperatures, the increased frequency of droughts, heat and cold waves, seasonal changes, the increasing concentration of underground ozone, the increasing intensity of UV radiation or euthrophication on the productivity of ecosystems and their biological diversity.
The tasks to be accomplished under the Programme include studies of the different environmental factors on the structure and populations of agro-, forest and water ecosystems, and on the conditions of individuals and their habitats. An output of the studies will be a set of recommendations regarding the preservation of rare species and their populations in view of the intensifying exploitation of ecosystems.
The activities under the Programme will seek to obtain new knowledge about long-term development patterns, the relationship between communities of different species (mutualistic, competitive, parasitic, etc.) within ecosystems perceived as a set of closely interactive sets of different species. Another area of research will involve studies in the trophic relationship between ecosystems, changes in the competitive relationship between populations and communities, an assessment of the trends of parasite and pest outbreaks in view of the changing climate, and studies on the impact of biological diversity on the functioning and sustainability of agro-, forest and water ecosystems. These studies will involve simulations of carbon flows and forecasting of changes in the accumulations in the agro- and forest ecosystems exploited at different intensities, studies in the carbon absorption and accumulation capacity of forest stands of different ages, species composition, structure and productivity, and the dependence of the process on the different external factors; recommendations will be made regarding the measures designed to optimise the carbon cycle on the ecosystem and landscape levels.
Furthermore, the activities under the Programme will involve complex studies in tree increment, and the dependence of its seasonal development and the determining physiological processes on the changes in climate and the environment, eventually producing the forecasts of changes in the productivity, condition and species diversity of indigenous stands.
Measure 2 – study the potential of plants and other organisms to adapt to changing climatic, environmental and technological factors.
The activities under this measure of the Programme will include studies of long-term changes in the productivity, structure and biological diversity of agro-, forest and water ecosystems, and an assessment of the adaptability of such ecosystems to the changing climate and other environmental conditions. The measure will involve studies of the way in which the preservation and the restoration of biological diversity affects the adaptability of the systems to climate change and the resulting extreme natural phenomena. An object of the studies under the measure will be the impact of species of plants and other organisms, and their genetic diversity, on the sustainability of communities and their populations, as well as their adaptability. Researchers will study the response of different types of plants and species to the impact of the different climate and environmental factors, the mechanisms determining their adaptability, the activity of phitohormones, enzymatic and non-enzymatic anti-oxidants and stress proteins, gene expression and the overall anti-oxidant system. Other research objects will be possible changes in the competitiveness of plants and other organisms and their impact on biological diversity, and the peculiarities of the pheromone communication of insects harmful to plants under the climate change conditions and studies of the adaptability of agricultural plants and segetal flora to the changing climatic and environmental conditions with a view to assessing modifications in their competitiveness.
Activities under the measure will include studies of the effect on the adaptability of plants of agro-technical and forestry measures and technologies. The Programme will launch long-term studies of agro-, forest and water ecosystems to the ever intensifying exploitation. The measures implemented under the Programme will identify patterns for the formation of the biological diversity of naturally growing forests in derelict lands and evaluate the sustainability of those new ecosystems and their adaptability to the changing conditions, as well as their impact on the landscape.