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. You can find more detailed information about the different projects by clicking the + symbol. Please contact the contact persons if you need any further information.

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

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

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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