My research interests are in the field of environmental and biological sciences, especially the analysis of structure and stability in complex communities (food webs), and the relationship between biological diversity, ecosystem functioning and environmental quality. Most of my studies have been applied to soil ecosystems. Soils are in particular interesting, as (i) soils contain extremely diverse, complex and dynamic communities, that (ii) govern soil processes such as the decomposition of organic matter, carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling that form major components of the global cycling of materials, energy and nutrients. Key in my approach is the linking of empirical information (mostly from field surveys) to mathematical models. This approach enables to derive ecosystem functioning, e.g. in terms of carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling, from the observed soil food web structures. The analyses show that the relationship between food web structure and soil ecosystem function is mutual in fundamental ways. Soil food webs govern ecosystems processes, while processes shape the structure and stability of the food webs. Along with analysing food webs and ecosystem processes in soils I became interested in the occurrence of ecological ‘tipping points’ and ‘sudden shifts’ in terrestrial ecosystems. These concepts have been developed for aquatic systems, but we found that they also occur during degradation and desertification in arid ecosystems. The occurrence of such shifts seems to be related to soil ecological processes that determine the water and nutrient uptake of the plants. Prevention of such shifts has a great value for securing food productivity in large areas worldwide.
The concepts we proposed to better understand the interrelationship between soil ecosystem processes and the structure and stability of biological communities, i.e. ‘trophic-level dependent interaction strengths’ and ‘weak links in long loops, and ‘local facilitation on small scales versus competition on larger scales’ has been published in high quality scientific journals and are well-received in the international literature.
(complete publication list is included in CV)
Multispecies assemblages, ecosystem development, and environmental change.
Editors: Peter C. de Ruiter, Volkmar Wolters, John C. Moore
Academic Press 2005; 590 pages.
An Analysis of Real and Model Ecosystems
Authors: John C. Moore, Peter C. de Ruiter
Oxford University Press 2012; 350 pages.
Stability and Transition in Real and Model Ecosystems
Editors: John C. Moore, Peter C. de Ruiter, Kevin McCann, Volkmar Wolters
Cambridge University Press 2017; 380 pages.
Three of my former PhD-students have obtained permanent position at universities or research institutions on the basis of the excellent work they did in the context of their PhD research.