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Areas of activity of the department
The areas of the development and research activity of the department are as follows:
1) Evolution, phylogeography, taxonomy and population biology.
Isozymes in various agriculturally important plant species and their wild relatives belonging to the grass genera Triticum, Hordeum, Secale, Elymus, Bromus and to the legume genera Phaseolus and Vigna are studied. DNA markers are used to understand diversity and evolution in Orchidaceae and other rare and protected species in Estonia. The department keeps records on higher plant species and renews the data in Estonian Plant Atlas continuously.
2) Plant communities
Dynamics, diversity, and conservation of plant communities, vegetation change in species rich meadows in response of abandonment and restoration, clonal propagation and management of habitats are the key words. Also invasive species are monitored.
The usage of different agricultural crops for bioenergy purposes is studied. Most of the studies are devoted to different ecophysiological mechanisms, that result in high crop yield and to sustainable management options of bioenergy production. We have more than ten years of experience with willow (Salix) Short Rotation Coppice. Recently we started also with field studies of reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and with experiments in semi-natural grasslands in order to find reasonable options to use this herbaceous biomass for bioenergy purposes.
Beside the basic studies the team has been involved also in different applied research projects. The largest of these are:
LIFE Environment project “Estwaste” 2002-2005
· FP 6 project “Wacosys” 2004-2006
FP 6 project “Biopros” 2005-2008
· FP 6 project “Netbiocof” 2005-2007
· EIE project “Adore-it” 2008-2011
· LIFE+ project “Prograss” 2009-2012
EIE project “Bioenergy Farm” 2010-2012