The overarching theme of the PLECO Centre of Excellence is the study of the effects of global changes, in the broadest meaning of the term, on plants and vegetations. This long-term goal is being realized by studying the responses of plants and vegetations to the, sometimes manipulated, abiotic environment over a continuum of hierarchical scales, ranging from the individual leaf to the continent. Original experimental research and long-term observations are strengthened by coupling: (i) to existing or newly developed simulation models, and (ii) to the intensive use and statistical meta-analysis of new and existing databases.

The objectives of the research are a better understanding of the functioning, the dynamics and the structure of plants – at the leaf, plant, community and ecosystem levels up to the continental scale – in present and future environments. Specific studies include renewable bio-energy, biosphere-atmosphere interactions, ozone and volatile organic compounds, soil and earth system models, as well as interactions of climatic change and biodiversity.