iDiv Summer School 2015 - Biodiversity Synthesis

The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) organised its first summer school with the theme “Biodiversity Synthesis” from 23 to 29 August 2015. Please find more information about the theme, programme and teachers below.

For information about the iDiv Summer School 2016, please see here.



Thanks to all participants for the productive and inspiring week!

"Overall a very well organized course with amazing lectures in a very friendly atmosphere. I would highly recommend it to my friends."

"Excellent opportunity for networking due to people in different stages of their career."

"For me all courses were really interesting, important and productive. Some topics were not very close to my primary interests, but it gave me the opportunity to do more."

"Great lectures, interested in students’ questions, hands on part."

"The whole group was awesome! Very diverse backgrounds of participants."


Synthesis of existing information in order to generalize findings or detect new patterns has been important in biological sciences for a long time. An important aspect of biodiversity synthesis is to understand, map and predict the distribution and shifts of mechanisms that drive biodiversity dynamics and consequences in response to such topics as climate change and land use change on a large scale. Biodiversity synthesis also means bridging researchers from different disciplines, with the goal to provide a comprehensive and consistent understanding of the underlying processes and mechanisms of biodiversity dynamics. Broad synthesis can only be reached through transdisciplinary research.

During the summer school, the participants will get the opportunity to learn from and interact with the various biodiversity working groups at iDiv. They will get an understanding on iDiv's approach to integrative biodiversity science, learn to understand why and when synthesis is important, and how the central idea of iDiv, promoting theory-driven synthesis and data-driven theory in biodiversity sciences, is implemented in practice.


The programme of the summer school consists of:

  • Keynote lectures
  • Interactive discussions
  • Field excursions
  • Brainstorming and practical exercises on synthesis themes
  • Presentations by student participants

Check the complete programme (PDF)  and the details of the opening symposium on Monday morning!


Each day, the participants will be introduced to one of iDiv's biodiversity research groups. We will "scale up", starting from research groups working on the molecular level and building up to populations, communities, interactions and ecosystems. The day of ecosystems will take place in the form of a field excursion. 

We start each day with a keynote lecture, followed by interactive discussions and hands-on work and experiments. During the morning programme, each participant will also get the opportunity to present and discuss their project.

Afternoons are reserved for synthesis: the topic will be approached with short lectures, group work and exercises. We will also support each participant in developing a synthesis component to their PhD project. 


The lecturers of this summer school will include mainly senior scientific staff at iDiv; the list is constantly updated.

Date and venue

The summer school will take part at iDiv, which is located at the Bio City campus in Leipzig Alte Messe. Please find more information on the location here. The Alte Messe has good transport connections in the immediate vicinity of the university’s natural science campus and the German National Library. It is surrounded by other cutting-edge research centres in the area of biosciences, including the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI). The Leipzig Botanical Garden is also located at a walking distance from iDiv.


Due to financial support from our partners, the participants are only expected to pay a registration fee of EUR 150.00 per applicant. This covers the costs of teaching and materials, coffee breaks, lunch, field visits and the cultural programme.

Each applicant is expected to cover the costs of their travel, accommodation and evening meals (except when costs are covered as part of the summer school programme).

It is possible to book accommodation at a reduced price at the pentahotel nearby as part of our summer school-package: Accommodation in shared, two-person rooms for EUR 49.50 per person/night (including breakfast and a week ticket for the public transport). Single rooms are available with the same services at a price of EUR 76.00.

Thanks to the financial support provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), we are also able to offer a limited amount of travel grants. These are offered for non-German participants travelling from their institutions abroad. The sum of the grant depends on the country of the participant’s home institution. Funded positions are primarily aimed for applicants who have limited means to fund their participation via other means.

iDiv is a family-friendly workplace, and we offer various support for young families. For the summer school participants, we are able to offer on-site childcare during the daily programme. If you require such service, please let us know when you apply!


Field excursion as part of the course programme will take place on Thursday, 27 August. 

On Sunday, the day of arrival, we will explore Leipzig from its waterways in rubber rafts! We will also organise a field trip for Saturday, which will lead us to the canopies of Hainich National Park. 

There will be plenty of evening programme during the course, including a talk on funding options for those planning a research career in Germany.

However, in general we recommend all participants to prepare with all-weather clothing: sunglasses, hats and sun creams will be needed, but you should also pack rubber boots, raincoats and a good backpack.

The iDiv Summer School 2015 is sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service from funds of the Federal Foreign Office.

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