Research & Results

III. Functional and Evolutionary Ecology Group

Head: Dr. Paweł Kapusta

Scientific Staff: Dr. Michał Adamski, Dr. Marta Hornyák, Dr. Paweł Kapusta, Professor Zbigniew Miszalski, Dr. Jolanta Piątek, Dr. Łukasz Piechnik, Barbara Seget, Dr. Magdalena Solarska, Dr. Małgorzata Stanek, Professor Anna Stefanowicz, Dr. Grażyna Szarek-Łukaszewska, Dr. Błażej Ślązak, Professor Magdalena Żywiec

Technical Staff: Dr. Urszula Korzeniak, Łukasz Wilk

Research profile

The group is engaged in research that seeks to explain relationships between organisms and their environment, and evolutionary factors and effects of these relationships. We are interested in ecological phenomena occurring at different levels of organization, from the molecular level, through individual, population and ecosystem levels, to phenomena observed on the scale of the whole biosphere. Our study objects are microscopic cyanophytes, algae and soil microorganisms, as well as mosses, vascular plants (herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees), which occur in both natural and degraded ecosystems. We are looking for answers to questions about mechanisms that govern the functioning of ecosystems and the components they are built of. What is the effect of interactions between plants and animals on the life of plants? Which factors determine the spatial and temporal patterns of reproduction in plants? How natural disturbances affect the dynamics of forest ecosystems? Which factors shape soil microbial communities? Which mechanisms are triggered in plants to protect them against pathogens? How do plants respond to air and soil pollution? How do invasive plants modify the functioning of native ecosystems? How does climate change affect the increment of wood tissue in trees and how this change is reflected in the global pattern of productivity of tree stands? What is the effect of mass blooms of cyanophytes on aquatic ecosystems? This diversity of research topics, undertaken by our group, is reflected by a wide spectrum of methods we use. They include, among others, molecular and genetic analyses, bioinformatics, quantitative and qualitative analysis of plant tissues, and of soil and water, dendrochronology and geoinformatics.

Research teams and topics

Team III.1

Leader: Professor Magdalena Żywiec

Research topic: Ecology of arboreous plants (Ł. Piechnik, B. Seget, G. Szarek-Łukaszewska, M. Żywiec)

Team III.2

Leader: Professor Anna Stefanowicz

Research topic: Ecosystem functioning in the context of global environmental changes with special reference to soil system

  • Plant-soil interactions in forest and non-forest communities with special reference to invasive plants (M. Stanek, A. Stefanowicz)
  • Functioning of living organisms in the conditions of air and soil pollution and their value as indicators (P. Kapusta)

Team III.3

Leader: Dr. Michał Adamski

Research topic: Changes in the species composition of microorganisms in cyanophyte blooms and characteristics of secondary metabolites synthesized by them (M. Adamski, J. Piątek, M. Solarska)

Team III.4

Leader: Dr. Błażej Ślązak

Research topic: Chemical ecology and pharmacognosy (M. Hornyák, Z. Miszalski, B. Ślązak)