German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)


Our research aims at understanding the patterns and processes of global biodiversity change, with the goal of informing environmental policy and management of ecosystems.

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Tropical Andes Observatory (TAO)

From Data to Decision: Collecting, Mobilizing, and Harmonizing Tropical Andes Observatory Data for Improved Conservation Planning


Effective and timely conservation and sustainable development policy relies upon high-quality biodiversity information, yet the capacity to generate, integrate and deliver this information in user-friendly formats is a challenge in biodiversity hotspots such as the Tropical Andes. Existing efforts suffer from taxonomic, spatial and temporal biases, inadequate integration, and often remain within the academic context, limiting access and relevance to policy makers.

Recent advances in biodiversity informatics, communication tools and observation network design, combined with in-situ and remotely sensed information, offer an opportunity to improve efficiency and impact of biodiversity observatories in the region. The challenge is to harness these advances through the establishment of a network of harmonized, efficient national observatories, that can not only improve change detection capacity, but also inform effective conservation and policy.

By developing a sustained, user-driven, locally operated, harmonized and scalable regional biodiversity observation network in the Tropical Andes, connecting data to decisions, we will achieve the following results:

  • Early warning and surveillance systems employing state-of-the-art predictive models that can inform prevention, detection and mitigation of threats (e.g. invasive species, emerging zoonosis) to human well- being and local and regional economies
  • Sustained regional biodiversity observation capacity, built on existing data and efforts, combined with advanced data management and analytics systems from global partners, to improve discoverability, access and utility of information
  • A Biodiversity Indicators Dashboard for the Tropical Andes allowing continual visualization of biodiversity indicators to support nations’ ability to achieve and track domestic and international conservation targets and sustainable development goals.

This project will prioritize the identification of spatial, temporal and thematic gaps that can advance information that meets user needs. TAO will develop and integrate national biodiversity observing systems by grouping specific steps into five work packages: (1) Engagement; (2) Assessment; (3) Design; (4) Implementation; & (5) Capacity building and knowledge exchange.

Participants: Henrique Pereira, Laetitia Navarro, Miguel Fernandez, Jose Valdez

Duration: June-2019 to April-2022

Funding: The TAO project has received funding from ERANet program under grant agreement ERANet17/BDS-0249



Unraveling biodiversity change with time series-data

Unraveling biodiversity change with time series-data

While we witness a staggering decline in biodiversity at the global scale due to human activities, this does not necessarily translate to species loss at local scales. But then in what way is local diversity changing so that it scales up to a global “sixth mass extinction”? Here, we analyze time-series data on plant community composition from different biomes and explore species trajectories over time. We ask: 1) Are there any common features of species that go lost/ are gained, making biodiversity change predictable? 2) How do losses and gains of species at local scales change biodiversity at continental to global scales? And 3) do biodiversity patterns differ between biomes, and if yes, why?

Contact: Ingmar Staude

What is the socioeconomic value of landscape management

I am working on project 11 of the TerraNova ITN project ( “What is the socioeconomic value of landscape management”.  The main aim of this project is to develop a framework to compare the socio-economic costs and benefits provided by ecosystems before and after rewilding, which will then be applied to selected TerraNova field sites. 

Currently I am studying conservation and, more specifically, rewilding funding, with the goal of highlighting successful  funding avenues for rewilding projects. Of particular interesting are novel funding mechanisms that can generate both ecological and economic returns over time.

Contact: Rowan Dunn-Capper

What drives diel activity patterns of a large mammal community in a remote landscape?

As biodiversity is declining at a rate unprecedented in human history, assessing and monitoring population demographics like size, density or distribution is integral to conserving and managing wildlife populations and deciding when and where to focus protection efforts for threatened species. Yet, knowing the status of a population alone is not sufficient to protect it. It is essential to also study the underlying impacts driving population dynamics. During the last 10 years, researchers started recognizing that animal behavior as well is an important component of conservation biology. Behavioral studies can increase our understanding of species’ habitat requirements, reproductive behavior and dispersal or migration. Diel activity patterns – the distribution of animal activity throughout the daily cycle – are a key feature of animal behaviour providing important implications for a wide range of ecological processes. The diel activity can be altered by local environmental cues such as predation risk, resource availability, dominant competitors and human pressure. There are still considerable knowledge gaps on which factors influence activity patterns and their potential repercussions to species interactions.

Obtaining accurate density estimates and identifying factors that influence the diel activity of different mammal species is the focus of a master thesis at our group in iDiv. It presents a multi-species camera trap survey evaluating the recently developed camera trap distance sampling methodology for density estimation and assessing activity patterns for different ungulate and carnivore species in the Peneda-Gerês National Park in Northern Portugal. The aim is to evaluate the influence of biotic factors, such as density of predator or competitor species, and abiotic factors, such as habitat structure and lunar phase on diel activity, as well as potential synergy effects between them.

Contact: Annika Zuleger

The aesthetical value of birds – assessing a sociocultural ecosystem service

Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are an important, yet often underrepresented aspect of ecosystem service assessments. Aesthetic appreciation of nature is a popular example for CES, but very context-dependent and therefore hard to assess on higher than local scales. What is “aesthetic”, and how can you measure it? Taking birds as a model group, this is the focus of a doctoral thesis at our group in iDiv, in collaboration with the Central Repository for Natural Science Collections at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

Based on an analysis of the data coverage of a Germany-wide citizen science project, we will assess which traits of birds lead to a higher probability of record submission and can thus be regarded as crucial for birds’ attractiveness to people.  This will include the application of sound- and image-processing tools to describe coloration and song characteristics of birds, and the analyses will also include data on body size, morphometric traits and behavior. With the help of global distribution data, we will examine if there are global gradients and hotspots regarding the manifestation of the mentioned traits, to see for instance where there are potentials for expanding ecotourism activities. Bird species differ in the amount of attention they get in the public, in conservation and throughout science. Another aim of this study is to explore whether this imbalance can also be explained with species-specific traits.

This project is funded by the German Environmental Foundation with a PhD scholarship for a period of three years.

Contact: Max Hofmann

Defining a framework for Rewilding European landscapes in the Anthropocene

The term rewilding has gained a lot of attention in the past years, recently it has been proposed as a tool for restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity conservation. Despite the potential for rewilding to address biodiversity loss, this concept has been criticised by its lack of accountability of the rewilding measures and the its low ability to predict and mitigate negative outcomes. This can be attributed to the low understanding of the role that humans play on the success of the implementation of rewilding projects. In fact, most of the present studies have focused on implementing these projects without including key stakeholders.  Adding to this, there is little knowledge on how societal perceptions on nature and wilderness dictate future outcomes of rewilding. Therefore, there is in high need for more research that addresses and studies to envision possible feedbacks between nature and society.

Scenarios are powerful tools to envision how nature might respond to different pathways of future human development and policy choices. Scenarios for rewilding can be used to evaluate and asses the effect of society on nature but also to evaluate the role that nature plays on the socio-economic development. Said that, in my project I will focus on developing multiscale scenarios for rewilding European landscapes. In order to develop these scenarios, it is necessary to first elaborate participatory scenarios with multiple stakeholders based on current challenges to meet the different societal and climate demands.  Second, it is necessary to develop biodiversity and ecosystem services models in order to asses all possible implications of the different scenarios for rewilding in the lifestyles of the communities. Finally, together with the stakeholders evaluate and identify the possible rising tensions between rewilding and the maintenance of cultural landscapes.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 813904. This output reflects the views only of the author(s), and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

PDF Download: Terranova White Paper 2020

Contact: Laura C. Quintero U
Project coordinator: Sjoerd Kluiving
Project Manager: Ruud van Ooijen (

Promoting and shaping the EU restoration agenda through mobilisation of rewilding principles

Promoting and shaping the EU restoration agenda, including TEN-G,  through mobilisation of rewilding principles  to create a coherent Ecological Network in Europe

1 January 2017 – 31 December 2019

Habitat loss is a major barrier to biodiversity conservation in the EU and to achieving the goals of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Water Framework Directive. Restoring and maintaining large and interconnected areas of high quality habitat such as wetlands and floodplains is therefore of utmost importance for the conservation of nature in Europe in the years to come.

Implementing both the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive, and achieving a good ecological status of waters under the Water Framework Directive, will require large-scale ecological restoration in the EU. However, progress so far has been disappointing: none of the 28 EU Member States has presented an adequate plan to restore 15% of their degraded ecosystems, in spite of their commitment under the EU Biodiversity Strategy to develop such plans.

This initiative aims to strengthen the EU ecological restoration agenda. The project is being implemented by a coalition of five organisations, covering scientific, practical and policy expertise: iDiv - German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Rewilding Europe, WWF European Policy Office, BirdLife Europe and European Environmental Bureau.

We seek to find opportunities for rewilding European landscapes in alignment with European policies on green infrastructure, ecosystem services and restoration targets. The ultimate goal of the project is that by 2019, specific actions are taken by the EU Commission to create a coherent Ecological Network in Europe and incorporate rewilding principles in large-scale conservation policy. 

We envision ‘rewilding’ as a multifaceted concept with three broad dimensions that interact with each other: 1) restoring and giving space to natural processes, 2) reconnecting wild(er) nature with the modern economy, and 3) responding to and shaping of cosmopolitan perceptions of nature conservation among the European society.

The role of iDiv will be to conduct research on how rewilding principles can help to restore biodiversity at a European level, as well as develop a case for a strong trans European Green Infrastructure Initiative (TEN-G) to achieve the 15% Restoration target of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the Water Framework Directive good ecological status objectives. Panels composed by multidisciplinary teams of scientists, practitioners and policy officers from across Europe will work together to pursue this research.

This project receives funding from WWF Netherlands.

Contact: Dr. Néstor Fernandez

Boosting Ecological Restoration for a Wilder Europe
Néstor Fernández, Aurora Torres, Florian Wolf, Laura Quintero and Henrique M. Pereira
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
1. Aufl. 2020
Format: 21,0 x 29,7 cm
Umfang: 17 S.
ISBN 978-3-9817938-5-7

Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation through Scenarios and Models of IPBES Assessments and Science-Policy Interface

Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation through Scenarios and Models of IPBES Assessments and Science-Policy Interface

As a follow on of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and modelling after the report mechanisms of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), IPBES (Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) envisages to generate science based knowledge foundation to better support policy for biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and human well-being. IPBES is a science policy interface that provides governments and stakeholders with policy relevant and scientifically credible assessments on the status and trends of biodiversity, ecosystems, and its contributions to people. IPBES produces global, regional and thematic assessments, provides methodological guides and tools to support policy decisions, and promotes coordinated research on nature and its benefits to societies around the globe.

For research to impact biodiversity conservation, scientific knowledge needs to be translated and transferred to where society make decisions for the future of nature. Scenarios can be powerful tools for envisioning how nature might respond to different pathways of human and societal development. To date, most scenarios for global environmental assessments have explored impacts of society on nature, such as biodiversity loss, but have largely undermined the role of nature and related policies in socioeconomic development.

Over the next few years, IPBES will vision and develop a new set of scenarios that will impact biodiversity conservation across scales and sectors around the globe. The new IPBES scenarios and modelling framework will shift traditional ways of forecasting impacts of society on nature to more integrative, nature-centred visions and pathways for the future of nature that are relevant for conservation policies and practice. It will integrate the socio-ecological feedback loops across divers, biodiversity, ecosystems, ecosystem services, and human well-being, incorporating multiple systems of knowledge.

Together with a wide range of stakeholders and scientific communities around the globe, the IPBES Expert Group on Scenarios and Models will build on and address gaps between existing scenarios (plausible futures for nature on local, regional, national and global scale) and desired scenarios (desired futures for nature and nature’s contributions to people) for biodiversity and ecosystem services. These desired plausible scenarios would include trends and projections of changes in demography, development, land use, global trade, economic growth, technological advancement, and human livelihoods, to name a few. They will explore alternative policies and management practices, supported by improved use of scenarios and models, to better support decision-making in nature conservation and sustainable development.

Short term activities (2017-2018)

Using the classic modelling approaches, IPBES will mobilize wider scientific communities to engage in forecasting the outlook of nature and nature’s contributions to people for the IPBES Global Assessment. The modelling communities will run existing global level models to assess the impact of IPCC’s Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) scenarios on biodiversity and ecosystem services, using harmonized land use and climate datasets. The modelled outputs will serve as an input to the ongoing IPBES Global Assessment, and potentially provide the basis for the long-term scenarios and modelling in future IPBES assessments.

Long term activities (2016-2021)

IPBES will mobilize scientific communities to align their activities in support of the IPBES scenario development and to orchestrate a long-term research agenda. The activities for developing a new generation of IPBES scenarios include visioning of the positive outlook of nature through stakeholder engagement, identifying pathways building on existing innovative good practices with potential challenges and opportunities for regime shifts, bridging scientific communities and stakeholder groups through continuous dialogue with results communication, translating visions into scenarios with quantitative and qualitative modelling and integration of multiple knowledge systems, examining policy and management relevance in supporting the use of scenarios in decisions for conservation and development.

With increased awareness of nature’s role in sustainable future, such as in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we are at an opportune era in history where the value of biodiversity can be better acknowledged through the global governance of human and societal development. This next generation of scenarios will explore alternative visions to reach intertwined global targets, including potential synergies and trade-offs between nature conservation and other development goals. Ultimately, these scenarios will support the future assessments of IPBES with modelled results on trends, status and projections of interactive impacts of nature and society.

More information:

Reference reading: Rosa, IMD, Pereira, HM, Ferrier, S, Alkemade, R., etc. 2017. Multiscale scenarios for nature futures. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, 1416–1419. doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0273-9

Contact: HyeJin Kim


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