The Thriving Nature project will join ecology, evolutionary biology, biological data sciences and molecular plant sciences together to create four platforms. Each platform builds on new approaches needed for fundamental integrative research to succeed.
  1. Eco-Evo Networks – linking populations and communities with individual variation through ecology and evolution
  2. Gene Networks – linking genes and genomes within individuals with populations to move towards the community level
  3. Bio-Data Science – developing new methods for data management and analysis. See: BioData Analytics Unit.
  4. Translation for Applications – closing the major gap currently limiting the translation of new knowledge into agricultural, environmental and societal wellbeing

These four platforms will be the cornerstones supporting research towards answering six major research questions:

  • Why do some species show resilience while others must adapt? Understanding the mechanisms causing and regulating these different strategies will critically aid resource management in the future changing environment.

  • Are there conserved mechanisms common to species that show resilience? Identifying common conserved mechanisms linked to resilience, ranging from genes to behaviour, will improve the prediction of resilience in non-model species. 

  • How do dynamic networks feed back across biological levels to facilitate resilience? While we now know that genomes operate as networks to shape individuals and that populations and communities affect their own environments and those of others, we lack an understanding of how these two networks operate and affect each other.

  • How can we better exploit data to understand biological processes? Building on our expertise in bioinformatics and statistical ecology, we will generate novel theory and tools to better understand communities, processes and dynamic interactions.

  • How can we translate knowledge of biological networks into systems of economic relevance? The main aim is to enhance plant resilience to environmental challenges and to develop foundational and translational plant research in order to increase the productivity and quality of food and energy crops. 

  • Can we use biological networks to generate species with improved characteristics that can withstand future environmental changes? Our understanding of eco-evo and gene networks, resilience and environmental feedback will be tested in translational research.