German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)

Research Projects

The Biodiversity Economics research group aims at improving the scientific basis for sustainabilityin human-nature relationships, studying the sustainable use of renewable natural resources (e.g. marine fisheries, rangelands, forests) and conservation of biodiversity from regional to global. We study how economic incentives shape behavior towards nature, what sustainability –understood as justice in human-nature relationships–means, and how economic policy instruments could contribute tothat end. Our methodical expertise comprises quantitative ecological-economic modeling, dynamic optimization, statistics, economic experiments, conceptual modeling, game theoryand capital theory

LEarning About Cloud modification under risk and uncertainty: Investigation of feasibility, traceability, Incentives and de-centralised governance of limited-area climate engineering (LEAC – II)

Climate engineering (CE) has been proposed as a means of last resort to combat dangerous global change. However, numerous concerns arise when considering a possible implementation, or even a large field experiment. In particular, questions arise with respect to the incentives for a party to conduct a field experiment or deploy CE, the consequences for other parties, and the changing incentives for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (ongoing research in LEAC-I). Yet, CE can be differentiated and scaled in many dimensions, and the transition from a field experiment to the deployment of CE is blurred.

LEAC-II will address the following questions:

1. Feasibility: To which extent is it possible to generate a localized climate response to a localized forcing?

2. Incentives: What is the spatial correlation of economic preferences with respect to climate variables?

3. Economic implications: What are possible welfare implications of limited-area CE when countries implement limited-area CE and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in an uncoordinated way?

4. Traceability: What does it take to detect and attribute a limited-area effect of a CE measure, and to reject the hypothesis that climate events outside the targeted area are affected by the CE measure?

5. Governance: How to regulate limited-area CE most efficiently, given the uncertainties in predictability and traceability?


This project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) for a period of three years.

Scenarios of Marine Biodiversity and Evolution under Exploitation and climate change (SOMBEE)

SOMBEE addresses the role of eco-evolutionary dynamics and their consequences for the sustainable exploitation of fish resources in the future. To this end, we will build and test scenarios of the combined pressure of fishing and climate change on both intra- and inter-specific marine biodiversity, by explicitly modelling the phenotypic plasticity of fish life-history traits, their selection and adaptive evolution, and their genetic drift for multiple interacting species. The objectives are to:

  • develop a cutting edge evolutionary ecosystem model with primary focus on fish;
  • apply it to a set of 6 contrasting ecosystems to better understand the selective pressures exertedby fishing and climate change;
  • project future changes in intra- and inter-specific biodiversity and related fishing production and economic profit under combined climate and fishing scenarios and
  • quantify the synergistic and antagonistic ecological, evolutionary and economic impacts of these drivers.

SOMBEE will advance knowledge on the capacity of fish communities to adapt to global change and our ability to forecast their persistence and the future sustainability of fisheries and food production.


This project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) for a period of three years.

Marine ecological-economic systems in the Western Baltic Sea and beyond: Shifting the baseline to a regime of sustainability (marEEshift)

marEEshift pursues the following overall scientific aims:

1. identify processes that increase or decrease the resilience of marine ecological-economic systems.

2. identify and initiate measures, institutions, and processes that could foster a resilient ecological-economic system of marine resource use in a regime of sustainability. This may require a regime shift from the current state of over-use towards a new resilient regime of sustainability.

To achieve these aims, we will study historical regime shifts in the Western Baltic Sea and beyond. We will explore the combinations of ecological, environmental (incl. climate-related), economic, social, and political drivers that have caused tipping points in the Western Baltic Sea and in cod-fisheries throughout the Northern Atlantic in the past.

In addition to that, we will study the effects of environmental change as well as multi-species interactions and multiple stakeholders on the resilience of the Western Baltic marine ecological-economic system, where commercial and recreational fisheries on cod and herring interact.

Besides analyzing what a regime of sustainability would be in the context of this specific ecological-economic system, we will explore the potential for a shift towards a regime of sustainability for the Western Baltic as a model case.


This project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for a period of three years.

Partners are the University of Hamburg, University of Freiburg, Thünen Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries, and Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.



Social-Ecological Tipping Points of the Northern Humboldt Current Upwelling System, Economic Repercussions and Governance Strategies (Humboldt-Tipping)

The project assesses the risk of decreases in marine ecosystem productivity as a tipping point for the interlinked ecological, economic and social systems of the Northern Humboldt Upwelling System (HUS). The extreme variability in climate-related productivity of this upwelling system impacts local livelihoods and worldwide markets. One focus of the project is the pelagic, offshore system supplying the industrial Peruvian anchoveta fishery and its regional and global repercussions through export to international markets. The second focus are coastal and insular (Galapagos) systems, where artisanal fisheries, aquaculture and ecotourism are key maritime activities for provision of livelihoods. With a consortium of biogeochemists, fisheries ecologists, ocean and ecosystem modellers, economists, social scientists and key stakeholders, both from Germany and Peru, we will work on understanding feedbacks between ecological, social and economic dynamics in the HUS. Based on an array of modelling efforts and tightly linked input from stakeholders, we will explore possible adaptation schemes and derive governance recommendations to reduce the risk of impacts of tipping points on the regional economy and increase the resilience of coastal communities in Peru.


This project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for a period of three years.

Partners are GEOMAR, University of Bremen, University of Hamburg, ZMT Bremen, Pontificia Universidad
Católica del Perú, and IMARPE, Peru.

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