Our new international project “The missing link: unraveling the role of genetic variation of beneficial arthropods in agroecosystems” is led by Trine Bilde from Aarhus University in collaboration with Philip Francis Thomsen from Aarhus University, Greta Bocedi from University of Aberdeen and Marjo Saastamoinen from University of Helsinki. It receives in total an 8 million Euro research grant from The Novo Nordisk Foundation as part of their ‘Challenge Programme 2020 – Life Science Research (Biodiversity & productivity of managed ecosystems)’. 

The project will investigate the population genetic consequences of the dramatic declines observed in insect diversity and abundance, and the potential consequences for their ability to perform ecosystem services such as pollination and natural pest control. Insects are vital components of most terrestrial ecosystems. We are currently experiencing large population declines in insects due to anthropogenic causes, such as intensified land use, habitat loss and fragmentation, but we know very little about the implications for genetic diversity. Loss of genetic diversity can amplify population extinction and reduce the diversity and crucial ecosystem services and functions that insects perform. We will thus investigate the link between population size, genetic diversity, and the ability of insects to perform their natural important ecological roles.

This grant will allow us to establish an integrative research environment across universities and research groups, that link data sets and research fields in an active and integrative hub, the Centre for Ecological Genetics, that will bring together researchers at all levels and stake holders with interest in wide aspects of biodiversity research in natural and agricultural systems.

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