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Earth’s rich biosphere makes our planet a wonderful place to live, and humanity’s very survival depends on it. Mastering ecological stewardship to overcome the current global environmental crisis is therefore of utmost importance. A critical challenge is that we are facing unprecedented, poorly understood biosphere conditions, with CO2 levels and temperatures exceeding historical baselines and global mixing of species from far-flung regions.

A key outcome is the widespread emergence of novel ecosystems. Novel ecosystems are natural and semi-natural ecosystems that due to human influence have species composition or ecological functioning without recent historical precedent. Key drivers are climate change, globalization, and extirpation of large-sized organisms, resulting in ecosystems deviating from anything seen for millions of years. The spread of novel ecosystems is likely to profoundly affect biosphere functioning, but how is poorly understood due to fragmented research, ecological complexity, and inadequate baselines.

Overcoming this crucial knowledge gap, Center for Ecological Dynamics in a Novel Biosphere (ECONOVO) will produce groundbreaking insights into how novel ecosystems impact global biodiversity and biosphere functioning with an integrative interdisciplinary approach that addresses past, present, and future novel ecosystems dynamics and consequences. Our over-arching hypothesis is that the inevitable global rise of novel ecosystems can be directed towards overall positive effects on biodiversity and biosphere climate resilience.