Priority Research Area Leader: Prof. Mark Johnson
Research in this cluster is concerned with two linked areas: 1) the distribution of species, habitats and ecosystems and 2) the materials, products and services (potential and existing) provided by natural resources. Underpinning these areas is research on taxonomy, species distributions, community structure, functional studies on model organisms, habitat classification, monitoring and mapping. Research in these areas is a key supporting component of national and international commitments to conservation, environment and planning. Ecosystem services include processes such as soil and wetland function and fish stocks. Research in the bioresources and biodiversity theme includes applied work on aquaculture and fisheries, conservation and land management. Understanding species distributions, abundances, molecular diversity and functional biology are integral parts of areas such as biodiscovery. Research in this cluster therefore contributes to such cross disciplinary areas, with links to research in the School of Natural Sciences and the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES), amongst other University research foci.
Key infrastructures of the Institute in this theme include the field stations at Carna and Carron. The Carna station continues to be an important facility for aquaculture and large scale aquatic research activities.
Algal and seaweed research are a main focus within this research cluster, with particular strengths in algal biotechnology, cell wall chemistry, cultivation, ecophysiology, taxonomy, and the sustainable utilisation of algal resources. Algal research cuts across a range of themes including the Climate Change and Energy Research Clusters within the Ryan Institute, the Plant & Agricultural Biosciences Research Cluster in the School of Natural Sciences and the Marine Biotechnology Programme at NUI Galway.