EVOLUTION, THE DRIVING FORCE OF LIFE: Evolutionary processes have driven the diversity of life over different time scales: from a few
generations to billions of years. However, while evolution produces biodiversity, that very same biodiversity also provides the basic material on which evolution works and continues to work.
BIODIVERSITY INVENTORY: Under this Research Theme, the Institute’s teams study a number of inherent features of organisms’ phenotypes – the way in which we see their genotypes manifest themselves.
ECOSYSTEMS DYNAMICS: In this Research Theme, the Institute aims to study this interaction in past and present settings. Understanding these processes allows more targeted research on ecosystem health and the provision of ecosystem goods and services.
PAST INTERACTIONS BETWEEN HUMANS AND NATURE: The relationships between humans and their environment have changed dramatically from the early periods of human settlement on Earth to the present day. Over the last millennia,
humankind gradually started to increase its own influence on nature, first by controlling animal and plant populations and later by domesticating several species. Many observers
now speak of human-dominated ecosystems and argue that we have entered a new planetary era, labelled as the “Anthropocene”.
BLUE GROWTH AND MARINE MANAGEMENT: Seas and particularly oceans represent a vast potential for innovation and economic growth,
but are greatly understudied. Examples of these challenges include recent renewable energy initiatives such as wind farms and the potential exploitation of deep-sea mineral resources. For that, an adequate scientific knowledge base embedded in legal and regulatory guidance
BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL RESOURCES POLICY SUPPORT: One of the RBINS’ main functions is to support policy development and implementation.
It supplies credible expert advice to policy makers and communicates relevant outcomes of scientific research and monitoring activities.
SUSTAINABLE USE OF GEO-RESOURCES: Our need for natural resources continues to grow − in the case of minerals, right across the bulk of the periodic table. Future technological developments rely on a safe supply chain to exploit these resources. To fulfil the basic needs of current and future generations, our
natural resources need to be both safeguarded and used in a sustainable way.
PREDICTIONS AND FORECASTING: Many hazards threaten nature and society. Epidemics, coastal and river flooding,
earthquakes, tsunami and storm surges can cause major loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, at great cost to society. Understanding the causes, risks and effects is critical, since this allows the most appropriate management, contingency and mitigation strategies to be developed.
BIOLOGICAL MIGRATIONS AND INVASIONS: Biological migration, or dispersal, is a widespread phenomenon in the natural world. Climatic and anthropogenic effects can facilitate invasions of alien species. Furthermore,
invasive species can act as vectors of parasites and disease pathogens. The RBINS investigates natural bird migrations, but also causes and effects of invasive alien species as well as vectors of potential zoonotic infections.
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