Understanding how climate change impact our ecosystems
Plants take up CO2 for photosynthesis, but also lose water at the same time. Stomata are the connection between the water cycle and vegetation: Water leaves soil and enters the plant through the roots and then goes into the air through these little holes, which the plants also use to take up CO2.. Looking at them helps researchers understand how vegetation adapts to changes in the climate.
At the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the ecohydrologist Stan Schymanski and his team study various aspects of how plants interact with their surroundings – for example by looking at the stomata.
"My research is about how plants actually use this tool to adapt to the environment. When we think about climate change, we usually think about global warming. By fossil fuel burning, we increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Plants rely on carbon dioxide in order to grow, so they react directly to this carbon dioxide, before the climate warms." - Stan Schymanski, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology
Stan and his team investigate how climate change and environmental change in general may effect vegetation and water resources. In practice, this involves looking at how leaves interact with the atmosphere, how the roots interact with the soil, and how the plant transports water. Based on this, a mathematical model is created.
“It’s an abstract, mathematical, representation of an ecological system. It can for example cover an individual plant, a population, or an ecological community. We develop models to gain a better understanding of the real system and to make predictions based on theoretical understanding,” Stan explains.
“There is still so much to be learned about plants, and the ever smaller devices being built are giving us the opportunity to look at things on increasingly small scales. I think at some point it will be very beneficial to be able to learn from nature at those scales. I am interested in producing something to test or improve our understanding of nature."
Dr Stan Schymanski’s research is made possible by a 2 MEUR grant from the FNR, through the FNR’s ATTRACT programme, which gives promising young scientist support to set up their own research group in Luxembourg.
Discover more about the research of Stan Schymanski’s lab in the video below, or read our interview with Stan on fnr.lu.