Research Area “Biodiversity and Society”

This research area studies the relationship between biodiversity and society, bringing together natural and social scientists. iDiv researchers aim at a systemic understanding of how society affects and benefits from biodiversity and to develop science to support target setting for policy and societal change toward a better future.

Research questions

How does society benefit from biodiversity?

iDiv researchers study a range of biodiversity values and benefits, including instrumental values (natural capital, insurance and option values), relational values, especially in terms of public health, as well as existence and intrinsic values.
Values change with the distribution and abundance of biodiversity (Change), depend on the functioning of ecosystems (Functions), and health benefits are underpinned by molecular mechanisms (Molecular).

How does society drive biodiversity change?

Current decision making is dominated by private values, ignoring effects on biodiversity distant in space and time. iDiv researchers study how drivers act locally and remotely, particularly direct exploitation and land use, in order to improve management and accountability in a globalised society.
Understanding direct and remote drivers is key for attributing biodiversity change (Change), while community-level dynamics are needed to understand the consequences of direct exploitation (Complexity).

How to develop integrative targets for positive biodiversity futures?

Scenario and modelling work supports normative target setting at local to global levels of policy making. Conceiving positive biodiversity futures requires integration of multiple types of biodiversity values and integrated modelling of biodiversity, ecosystem services and social-ecological dynamics.
Modelling the social-ecological dynamics across scales requires integration of knowledge from all research areas (especially from Complexity).

How to govern biodiversity-friendly change?

Restoring and maintaining the multiple biodiversity values requires new governance approaches that change economic incentives, utilise participatory citizen science and implement novel conservation measures towards a positive biodiversity future.
Novel conservation approaches such as rewilding integrate knowledge from the dynamics of communities (Complexity), consider genetic consequences of measures (Molecular), and emphasise ecosystem function (Functions), while citizen science is an important component of monitoring (Change).

Key publications

Kleemann, J., Schröter, M., …, Marques, A., …, Guerra, C. A., and Bonn, A. (2020). Quantifying interregional flows of multiple ecosystem services – A case study for Germany. Global Environmental Change 61, DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102051

Methorst, J., …, Hansjürgens, B., Bonn, A. and Böhning-Gaese, K. (2020b). The importance of species diversity for human well-being in Europe. Ecological Economics, 106917. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106917

View media release: Does biodiversity evoke happiness?

Meya, J. N. (2020). Environmental Inequality and Economic Valuation. Environmental and Resource Economics 76, DOI: 10.1007/s10640-020-00423-2

Pe’er, G., Bonn, A., Bruelheide, H., …, Eisenhauer, N., …, Hansjürgens, B., …, Perino, A., … and Lakner, S. (2020). Action Needed for the EU Common Agricultural Policy to Address Sustainability Challenges. People and Nature 2, DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10080.

Quintero‐Uribe, L. C., Navarro, L. M., Pereira, H. M., & Fernández, N. (2022). Participatory scenarios for restoring European landscapes show a plurality of nature values. Ecography. doi: 10.1111/ecog.06292

Leaders of the research area

Aletta Bonn (UFZ, iDiv, Univ. of Jena)

Christine Fürst (MLU, iDiv)

Henrique M. Pereira (iDiv, MLU)

Martin Quaas (iDiv, UL)

Josef Settele (UFZ, MLU, iDiv)

Contributing iDiv members

  • Helge Bruelheide (MLU, iDiv),
  • Miguel Fernandez (iDiv, MLU)
  • Néstor Fernández (iDiv, MLU)
  • Karin Frank (UFZ, iDiv),
  • Bernd Hansjürgens (UFZ, iDiv),
  • Martin Lindner (MLU, iDiv),
  • Carsten Meyer (iDiv, UL),
  • Guy Pe’er (iDiv, UFZ),
  • Christian Wirth (UL, MPI BGC, iDiv)
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