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The Department of Systems Ecology and Sustainability (DESS)


The Department of Systems Ecology and Sustainability (DESS) assures the approach of strategically and specific research directions, addressing the ecological complexity.

Corresponding to the research directions, the activities will be organized in 5 modules, each of them assuring the specific investigations:

Module of Biogeochemical cycles investigation

Module of Biogeochemical cycles investigation is dedicated to the analysis of chemical composition of biotic and abiotic ecological systems’ components, investigation of ecological processes (ex: organic matter decomposition, denitrification, CO2 storage through photosynthesis, chemical communication), as well as investigation of storage, transformation and transport of different chemicals in the environment (including those with toxic potential) at the level of ecological complexes. The laboratories that are part of this module are:

  • Preliminary samples preparing laboratory – assures the preliminary processing of soil and biological (biological tissues) samples for future analysis;
  • Laboratory for pedological analyses (sedimentology, extraction) – is indispensable for the geomorphlogical characterization of ecosystems’ physical-chemical/abiotic component;
  • Laboratory for physical-chemical analysis – for quantitative determination of the main organic and inorganic compounds which are present in different compartments of ecological systems and quantification of some ecological processes rates (mineralization);
  • Elemental analysis laboratory – for characterization of the biogeochemical cycles for nutrients (N, P, C)  and heavy metals; is the development of an existing laboratory, having an unique equipment at national level utilized for isotopic ratio determinations, which are essential in the investigation of important ecological processes (photosynthesis, matter decomposition, chemical communication);
  • Laboratory for chromatography – is a new created laboratory- for determination of different organic compounds levels in the environmental compartments (pesticides, hydrocarbons, halogenated compounds) and quantification of some ecological processes rates (denitrification, mineralization); the laboratory has the last-generation equipments (high performance liquid chromatograph LC/MS) which ensures the identification and detection of chemicals traces, the investigation and response of biological systems to different drivers’ actions.

Module of Biological Diversity

Module of Biological diversity includes the laboratories dedicated to ecological and species diversity investigation, including the dynamics and functions of different tropho-dynamic modules. The investigation of species diversity supposes:

  • Identification of present species in samples from representative ecosystems
  • Determination of biocoenosis’ structural parameters (biomass or/and number of individuals in sample unit, age-structure, sex ratio of dominant populations)
  • Determination of functional parameters for dominant populations as: production (primary production, secondary production), energy consumption, energy transfer between different trophic levels

All these activities will take place in the following laboratories:

  • Biological samples sorting laboratory
  • Microscopy laboratory
  • Functional exploration/ecological processes investigation laboratory (ex: characterization of energy fluxes)

The module has direct connexion with the laboratories of MID department for genetic diversity analysis: genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics.

Module of GIS

The representation of ecological diversity components (from population level to local and regional complex of ecosystems) needs the development of Geographical Information System (GIS), already existent in this moment in the research centre in systems ecology, eco-diversity and sustainability. This development of the existent system will allow, on one hand, the modernization of hardware infrastructure but also will assure new software components. The module will assure the GIS utilization both for spatial representation of ecological complexes’ characteristics and the storage and use of databases generated in different research programs. In this way it will be assured the possibility of applying mathematical models at local and regional scale (activity that will take place at the level of Bioinformatics and Modelling Department-BIMD). These activities will take place in the following laboratories:

  • Laboratory for maps, aerophotograms and satellite images analysis
  • Digitization laboratory
  • Data integration laboratory (new created laboratory)

Module of Field Monitoring

  1. Module of Field monitoring is a new created module and represents one of the most important components of the ecological research. A series of determinations takes place in situ and needs specific, different and very expensive equipments. In the conditions in which one of the systems ecology research core’s objectives is the identification and description of structural organization of the Romanian socio-ecological complexes, the endowment with field equipments (including sampling and real-time monitoring stations) is a priority, as it was very poorly represented until the present time. The platform’s spatial distribution, via the existence of the two regional research stations in Braila and Sinaia represents the strong point for the national long term socio-economic research network characterization and for its integration in the European and international structures (LTSER, ILTER, Life Watch). These are localized in two of the long term socio-ecological research areas of the national network (Bucegi-Piatra Craiului area and Braila Islands) and they are equipped with high- performance monitoring instruments and primary, immediate analysis of field samples. The monitoring data transmission takes place in real time, to the monitoring data storage laboratory of the regional stations, and then to the data analysis laboratory/Environmental Impact Assessment Module. Finally, these datasets will become part of a database used for math modeling of ecological systems.

The Field monitoring module’s laboratories are:

  • Data recording and transmission
  • Monitoring data storage

Module of Environmental Impact Assessment

1.  Module of Environmental impact assessment is a new one, having a very important role for assisting the decision makers. It is the interface that assures the transfer of scientific knowledge to the decision makers and supposes the development of an ample informational system that integrates datasets and knowledge from adequate research programs. It enables also the connection with the economical environment, and offers services like impact assessment studies for beneficiaries from this field (enterprises, governmental institutions, agricultural associations, etc). The Environmental impact assessment requires the analysis at the level of the three major components: natural impact, social impact, economic impact. Because of this, the module contains:

  • Natural capital components’ data analysis laboratory, which constitutes the support matrix/ basis of the socio-ecological systems
  • Socio-economic analysis laboratory, in which the analysis of the socio-economic systems metabolism and their social capital are analyzed
  • Data integration and environmental impact assessment laboratory

 

At the level of Department of Systems Ecology and Sustainability (DSES) specific research activities for ecosystem level are carried on. Data and knowledge integration from molecular level of biological level (MID) and renewable resources and biotechnologies (DBRE) takes place in this department. Direct connexion exists also between DSES and Bioinformatics and Modelling Department (BIMD), assuring, in this way, the needed informational system for assisting the decision makers.

 
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