All news https://www.idiv.de/ en All news https://www.idiv.de/typo3conf/ext/tt_news/ext_icon.gif https://www.idiv.de/ 18 16 TYPO3 - get.content.right http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Mon, 10 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200 Land-use change disrupts wild plant pollination https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1782.html Highly specialised plants particularly at risk. Highly specialised plants particularly at risk.

Leipzig/Halle. Human changes to the environment have been linked to widespread pollinator declines. New research published in Nature Communications shows that intensive land use will further decrease pollination and reproductive success of wild plants, especially of those plants that are highly specialised in their pollination. An international team of scientists led by researches from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) performed a global data analysis that provided conclusive evidence of the links of human land use and pollination of plants.

Plants provide resources including food and shelter to all other living organisms on earth. Most plants need pollinators to reproduce, which is why mounting research showing widespread pollinator declines is concerning. Despite concerns we are facing a pollination crisis, we do not know which types of plants will be most affected by pollinator declines and under which conditions declines in plant reproductive success are to be expected. 

Changes in land-use are the leading threat to plants and pollinators. However, different groups of pollinators may have different responses to changes in land-use. For example, some farming practises may increase honeybee abundance on the one hand but reduce the abundance of other pollinators such as wild bees and butterflies on the other hand. Dr Joanne Bennett, who led the research as a postdoctoral researcher at iDiv and MLU and is now working at the University of Canberra, said: “Plants and their pollinators have evolved relationships over millions of years . Humans are now changing these relationships in just a few years.”

A global data set on land use and pollen limitation

To link land use to pollen limitation, an international team of researchers set out to compile a global dataset that quantified the degree to which pollen limits plant reproductive success. For this, they analysed thousands of published pollen supplementation experiments – experiments that estimate the magnitude of pollen limitation by comparing the number of seeds produced by naturally pollinated flowers with flowers receiving hand supplemented pollen. Joanne Bennett said: “If naturally pollinated plants produce less fruits or seeds than plants of that have received additional pollen by hand then the reproduction of that plant population is limited – this is called pollen limitation. In this way, pollen limitation experiments provide an unparalled opportunity to link plant reproductive function to the health of pollination services.”

It was almost 20 years ago when Prof Dr Tiffany Knight, Alexander von Humboldt professor at MLU and head of the Spatial Interaction Ecology research group at iDiv and UFZ, started to compile the first data sets. Supported by iDiv’s synthesis centre sDiv, Knight and Bennett took the project to a new level by forming a group of 16 experts from all over the world to expand the dataset and generate new ideas. The researchers started with 1,000 experiments on 306 plant species from Europe and North America. To date, it includes data from over 2,000 experiments and more than 1,200 plants and has a more global distribution. Tiffany Knight said: “One of the most rewarding components of this research has been the collaboration with the international team, and the inclusion of studies published in languages other than English.”

Specialists and plants in intensely used landscape highly pollen limited

Ultimately, this data allowed for a global meta-analysis, which showed that wild plants in intensely used landscapes, such as urban areas, are highly pollen limited. The researchers found that plants that are specialized in their pollination are particularly at risk of pollen limitation, but this varies across the different land-use types and is based on which pollinator taxa they are specialized on. For example, plants specialised on bees were less pollen limited in agriculturally managed lands than those specialized on other pollinator types. This could be because domesticated honey bees support the pollination of wild plants in these lands.  

The results show conclusively that intensive land use is linked to lower plant reproductive success due to lower pollination success. This suggests that future land-use change will decrease the pollination and reproductive success of plants, and can cause plant communities to become more dominated by species that are generalized in their pollination. 


This study was supported by sDiv (working group: sPlat). iDiv's synthesis center sDiv organizes working group meetings where 10 to 20 national, international scientists and iDiv researchers work together on scientific issues.

 

Original publication
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation and alumni in bold)
Joanne M. Bennett, Janette A. Steets, Jean H. Burns, Laura A. Burkle, Jana C. Vamosi, Marina Wolowski, Gerardo Arceo-Gómez, Martin Burd, Walter Durka, Allan G. Ellis, Leandro Freitas, Junmin Li, James G. Rodger, Valentin Ştefan, Jing Xia, Tiffany M. Knight, Tia-Lynn Ashman (2020). Land use and pollinator dependency drives global patterns of pollen limitation in the Anthropocene. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17751-y


Related links
The Pollination Time Bomb - blog post by Joanne Bennett

 

Contact:

Prof. Tiffany Knight
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733158
Email: tiffany.knight@idiv.de

 

Dr Joanne Bennett
University of Canberra
Email: Joanne.Bennett@canberra.edu.au

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Media Release UFZ News sDiv MLU News TOP NEWS iDiv Research Spatial Interaction Ecology Mon, 10 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Chemicals inhibit decomposition processes – by damaging biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1774.html Diversity of soil organisms has key role in the carbon cycle. Diversity of soil organisms has key role in the carbon cycle.

Leipzig, Namur. Declines in the diversity and abundance of decomposers explain reductions in plant decay rates under the influence of chemical stressors, but not added nutrients. These are the new insights of a study published in the open access journal eLife. The global meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University (UL) and the University of Namur in Belgium highlights the main anthropogenic effects on the biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems, and thus helps predicting the fate of different ecosystems around the world.

Plant litter decomposition is a major ecosystem function, linking plant biomass to carbon stocks in the soil and atmosphere, and releasing nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus that influence soil biodiversity. Global change factors such as chemical stressors and nutrient additions can change the decomposition ability of soil species and thereby the plant decay rates. Previous experiments conducted in simplified conditions have shown that biodiversity loss has detrimental effects on ecosystem processes. However, how these results apply to real-world scenarios of change in biodiversity remains unclear.
Therefore, the three researchers at iDiv, UL and the University of Namur in Belgium set out to discover if the responses of plant litter decomposition to chemical stressors and added nutrients could be explained by changes in decomposer diversity across ecosystems.

69 studies analysed the effects of chemicals and added nutrients on decomposers

“Industrial and agricultural activities can have detrimental effects on decomposer organisms,” says first author Dr Léa Beaumelle, a postdoctoral researcher, who carried out the study at iDiv and UL but now works at the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food & Environment (INRAE). “They release chemical stressors such as metals and pesticides, as well as nutrients, into soil and water. These substances modify decomposer communities by affecting their diversity, abundance and metabolism,” says Beaumelle.

The team analysed the results of 69 independent studies that reported 660 observations of the effects of chemical stressors like pesticides or heavy metals or nutrient enrichment on animal and microbial decomposers and on plant litter decomposition. The researchers found that chemical stressors caused declines in the diversity and abundance of decomposers, which explained the reductions in plant decay rates. While this applied to chemical stressors in general, detrimental effects by nutrient only occurred at high levels of inputs. This suggests that when human activities decrease decomposer biodiversity, it can lead to significant effects on ecosystem functions, particularly so if inputs are high.

“Our findings could inform the design of suitable strategies to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning,” concludes senior author Prof Nico Eisenhauer, Head of Experimental Interaction Ecology at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University. “But they also show that these strategies must take different human activities into account to improve the biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems.”
Sebastian Tilch

 

Original publication:
(scientists with iDiv affiliation and iDiv alumni bold)

Beaumelle, L., De Laender, F., Eisenhauer, N. (2020) Biodiversity mediates the effects of stressors but not nutrients on litter decomposition. eLife, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.55659

 

Contact:

Dr Léa Beaumelle
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food & Environment (INRAE)
Phone: +33 676 02 50 19
Email: lea.beaumelle@inrae.fr
Web: https://www6.bordeaux-aquitaine.inrae.fr/sante-agroecologie-vignoble/Personnel/Chercheurs-postdoctorants/Lea-Beaumelle

 

Prof Dr Nico Eisenhauer
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +49 341 97 33167
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Media Release Experimental Interaction Ecology TOP NEWS Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Butterfly diversity in Leipzig https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1777.html Citizen Science Project "VielFalterGarten" offers workshops in Leipzig Citizen Science Project "VielFalterGarten" offers workshops in Leipzig

 

The full text is only available in German.

]]>
Media Release TOP NEWS UFZ News iDiv Mon, 03 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Identifying the blind spots of soil biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1780.html Only few studies investigate soil biodiversity in tropical and subtropical regions. Only few studies investigate soil biodiversity in tropical and subtropical regions.

Leipzig/Halle. Soils harbour a substantial part of the world’s biodiversity, yet data on the patterns and processes taking place below ground does not represent all relevant ecosystems and taxa. For example, tropical and subtropical regions largely remain a blind spot when it comes to soil biodiversity. This is one of the results of a new study published in Nature Communications and led by scientists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and Leipzig University.

Soils contribute to many crucial ecosystem functions and services including climate regulation, nutrient cycling, and food production. To support their conservation, it is essential to know which macroecological patterns are related to the functioning of soil organisms – only then can we understand the effects of global change drivers. Such analyses need to represent the diversity of environmental conditions that can be found worldwide. Despite the mounting number of soil ecology studies, major gaps still exist in our understanding of soil biodiversity. 

To identify these environmental gaps, an international team of researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), Leipzig University (UL), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU) and other research institutions performed an analysis of soil macroecological studies and over 17,000 sampling sites across the globe. “This effort involved researchers from all continents and we found not only large gaps in important spatial, environmental, and taxonomic representation, but also an almost complete absence of temporally explicit data,” said lead author Dr Carlos Guerra, researcher at iDiv and MLU. Given the many legal and logistic limitations related to soil macroecology, researchers often prefer to expand their number of sites rather than seeing what is happening over time. “This prevents scientists from properly assessing the effects of climate change on soil organisms and functions, but also stakeholders from taking appropriate management actions to preserve and maintain important ecosystem services, such as food and water security, for which soils are the main provider.”

Lack of data for most diverse places on Earth

In contrast to other ecosystems like aboveground terrestrial, one major issue with respect to soil biodiversity is that the data does not represent all ecosystems. Gaps exist, for example, for most tropical systems: soil biodiversity and function data is scarce or even non-existent in tropical and subtropical regions, which are among the most megadiverse places on Earth. The researcher found that temperate biomes (especially broadleaved mixed forests and Mediterranean) contain more sampling sites than tundra, flooded grasslands and savannas, mangroves, and most of the tropical biomes. “This likely reflects differences in funding availability and research focus and infrastructures across countries,” said Carlos Guerra.

At the same time, for many of the best-represented regions across the globe, there is rarely a complete picture of the hidden life below the surface. Instead, records are often dominated by one or two taxa such as bacteria and fungi. “We all heavily depend on the biodiversity under our feet – it is time to better understand this underexplored part of biodiversity,” said Professor Nico Eisenhauer, head of the Experimental Interaction Ecology research group at iDiv and UL.

Understanding what is happening – and why

In a changing world where land-use intensity, desertification, and rapid climate change are forecast to increase, it is important to understand if and to what extent biodiversity changes are happening in the soil. This is particularly relevant to assess the links between changes in biodiversity and ecosystem function: for example, whether changes in biodiversity occur because of changes in function, coupled with them, or despite them. 

The researchers highlight the need for action to facilitate a global soil monitoring system that overcomes the current limitations. “This study is a milestone revealing the status quo and informing future soil biodiversity monitoring,” said Nico Eisenhauer. “Now, the next steps require two complementary pathways: making data available and standardized for further research and globally standardized sampling. Something that we are already working to put in place,” said Carlos Guerra Ultimately, this could help track the fulfilment of global or national biodiversity targets, and support policy and decision-making. 

This research was supported by the DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (FZT-118).

 

Original publication
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation and alumni in bold)

Carlos A. Guerra, Anna Heintz-Buschart, Johannes Sikorski, Antonis Chatzinotas, Nathaly Guerrero-Ramírez, Simone Cesarz, Léa Beaumelle, Matthias C. Rillig, Fernando T. Maestre, Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, François Buscot, Jörg Overmann, Guillaume Patoine, Helen R. P. Phillips, Marten Winter, Tesfaye Wubet, Kirsten Küsel, Richard D. Bardgett, Erin K. Cameron, Don Cowan, Tine Grebenc, César Marín, Alberto Orgiazzi, Brajesh K. Singh, Diana H. Wall, Nico Eisenhauer (2020). Blind spots in global soil biodiversity and ecosystem function research. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17688-2

 

Contact:

Dr. Carlos António Guerra
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733174
Email: carlos.guerra@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/474.html

 

Prof Dr Nico Eisenhauer
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +49 341 97 33167
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/media

 

]]>
MLU News Experimental Interaction Ecology iDiv Media Release Research TOP NEWS Mon, 03 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Smaller habitats worse than expected for biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1771.html New international research breaks ground for the next generation of biodiversity forcasts. New international research breaks ground for the next generation of biodiversity forcasts.

Leipzig/Halle. Biodiversity’s ongoing global decline has prompted policies to protect and restore habitats to minimize animal and plant extinctions. However, biodiversity forecasts used to inform these policies are usually based on assumptions of a simple theoretical model describing how the number of species changes with the amount of habitat. A new study published in the journal Nature shows that the application of this theoretical model underestimates how many species go locally extinct when habitats are lost. Scientists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) used data from 123 studies from across the world to set the path for the next generation of biodiversity forecasts in the face of habitat loss and restoration.

One of the most fundamental theories in biodiversity science describes how the number of species increases as the area of habitat increases; conversely, as habitat is destroyed, species are lost. This theory allows ecologists to predict how many species will go extinct as humans destroy natural habitats, and how many species will be protected when habitats are protected. There is a potential flaw, however, in how the theory is applied to biodiversity forecasts. 

‘Ecosystem decay’ refers to the case when some species are more likely to go extinct when habitat is lost than predicted by theory. Pioneering conservation biologist, Thomas Lovejoy, coined the term to describe results from studies in small forest islands left behind after clearcutting in the Brazilian Amazon. High levels of sunlight encroached into the normally dark forest understory, harming plants adapted to lowlight conditions. Larger animals, like monkeys and big cats, left or went locally extinct. 

A global analysis 

Using rigorous statistical tools and a database of 123 studies of habitat islands from across the world, Prof Dr Jonathan Chase, head of the Biodiversity Synthesis research group at iDiv and professor at MLU, and colleagues provide conclusive evidence that ecosystem decay is pervasive and point to a way to develop more realistic biodiversity forecasting models. Specifically, the scientists found fewer individuals, fewer species, and less even communities in samples taken from a small habitat compared to samples of the same size and effort taken from a larger habitat. 

Jonathan Chase said: “Mathematical models that are used for biodiversity forecasts typically ignore the effects of ecosystem decay. This is because we have not, until now, had systematic evidence for just how strong its effects are across ecosystems and species groups.” He added: “This means that most forecasts underestimate how much biodiversity is being lost as habitats are lost.” 

The scientists spent years compiling data from published habitat loss studies from across the world. These included data from tropical forest islands left within agricultural matrices of oil palm, coffee, chocolate and banana trees. From islands in lakes that were created during the construction of dams for hydroelectricity. And from nature reserves isolated within expanding agriculture and urbanization across the world. They included data from studies on plants and a wide variety of animals, including birds, bats, frogs and insects. In many cases, the data Chase and colleagues needed weren’t available in the published paper. “We often went back to the authors of the studies. Many of them went above and beyond, digging up old field notebooks and cracking long-expired versions of software and hardware to get us what we needed for our analyses,” said Chase.

Variation in the patterns

While the overall effect of ecosystem decay was clear, the scientists found some interesting variation in their dataset. “The quality of the land between the habitat islands, which we call the matrix, influenced just how strong the effect of ecosystem decay was,” said Dr Felix May, formerly from iDiv and now a senior scientist at Freie Universität Berlin. May added: “When the matrix was very distinct from the habitat islands, like in landscapes with intense agriculture or urbanization, ecosystem decay in the habitat islands was quite intense. However, when the matrix was less hostile, like in bird- and bee-friendly agriculture, we found fewer extinctions in the habitat islands.” 

Another co-author, Prof Dr Tiffany Knight, from MLU, UFZ and iDiv, added: “One surprise was that we found weaker ecosystem decay in studies from Europe, where habitat loss often occurred many hundreds of years ago, compared to studies from other places where losses occurred more recently.” Knight continued: “We expected the opposite, because ecosystem decay is thought to emerge slowly as species go extinct. But what we found is that different species replaced those that were lost.”

A way forward

The results of this new study could be seen as dire because it concludes that many biodiversity loss forecasts are too optimistic. But the authors prefer to see the brighter side. “What we have found is that it is possible to make more realistic projections for how biodiversity will be lost as habitats are lost,” Chase said. He added: “This will allow us to make more informed policies regarding habitat protection and provides added incentives for restoring habitats to restore the biodiversity within.”


This research was supported by the DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (FZT-118).

 

Original publication
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation and alumni in bold)
Jonathan M. Chase, Shane A. Blowes, Tiffany M. Knight, Katharina Gerstner and Felix May (2020). Ecosystem decay exacerbates biodiversity loss with habitat loss. Nature, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2531-2

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Jonathan Chase
Head of research group Biodiversity Synthesis
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Email: jonathan.chase@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/35.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
iDiv Research MLU News Biodiversity Synthesis UFZ News Spatial Interaction Ecology Media Release TOP NEWS Wed, 29 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Shrinking dwarves https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1772.html As a result of climate change, soil animals are getting smaller, and their numbers are falling due... As a result of climate change, soil animals are getting smaller, and their numbers are falling due to intensive land use

Based on a press release by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) 

Nowadays, life in the soil must contend with several problems at once. The biomass of small animals that decompose plants in the soil and thus maintain its fertility is declining both as a result of climate change and over-intensive cultivation. To their surprise, however, scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Leipzig University have discovered that this effect occurs in two different ways: while the changing climate reduces the body size of the organisms, cultivation reduces their frequency. Even by farming organically, it is not possible to counteract all negative consequences of climate change, the researchers warn in the trade journal eLife.

Largely unnoticed and in secret, an army of tiny service providers works below our feet. Countless small insects, arachnids and other soil dwellers are indefatigably busy decomposing dead plants and other organic material, and recycling the nutrients they contain. However, experts have long feared that these organisms, which are so important for soil fertility and the functioning of ecosystems, are increasingly coming under stress. 

On the one hand, they are confronted with the consequences of climate change, which challenges them with high temperatures and unusual precipitation conditions with more frequent droughts. On the other hand, they also suffer from over-intensive land use. If, for example, a meadow is turned into a field, soil animals find fewer niches and food sources there. Intensive ploughing, mowing or grazing, as well as the use of pesticides and large amounts of fertilizer also have a negative effect. But what happens when soil life is faced with both challenges at the same time? “Until now, we knew almost nothing about this,” says Dr Martin Schädler from the UFZ, who is member of iDiv.

But he and his colleagues at the UFZ and iDiv have very good opportunities to pursue such complex questions. The ecologist coordinates the “Global Change Experimental Facility” (GCEF) in Bad Lauchstädt near Halle. There, researchers can simulate the climate of the future on arable and grassland plots used with varying degrees of intensity. In large steel constructions reminiscent of greenhouses without a roof or walls, they recreate a scenario that could be typical for the region between 2070 and 2100: it is about 0.6 degrees warmer than today, in spring and autumn there is ten percent more precipitation and summers are about 20 percent drier. A team led by Martin Schädler and well as doctoral student Rui Yin (UFZ) with participation of Prof Nico Eisenhauer and Julia Siebert from iDiv and Leipzig University has now investigated how these conditions affect mites and springtails. Both groups have many decomposers in their ranks, which play an important role in the nutrient cycles in the soil.

The results show that these soil animals are likely to dwindle even further due to climate change. “It is likely that not only smaller species will prevail, but also smaller individuals within the same species,” says Schädler. In any case, the examined specimens on the areas with higher temperatures and changed precipitation were on average about ten percent smaller than on the comparable areas with today’s climate. Biologists have so far been familiar with such connections between body size and climate primarily in larger animals. For example, bear species in warm regions of the Earth are significantly smaller than the polar bear found in the Arctic. This is due to the fact that a small body has a comparatively large surface area over which it can release heat - which is an advantage in the tropics, but easily leads to cooling in polar regions. In poikilothermal animals such as insects, high temperatures also stimulate metabolism and developmental speed.

This creates new generations faster, but they remain smaller,” explains Martin Schädler. If the mites and springtails from the plots with an altered climate are weighed, the total weight is therefore lower in comparison with those from the unaffected areas. But this is not good news. After all, these animals’ decomposition performance also depends on this biomass. Less total weight therefore also means that nutrient recycling is slowed down. According to the experiment, over-intensive land use can also trigger a very similar effect. This is because the biomass in the soil also decreases as a result. “Interestingly, however, there is another process behind this,” says Martin Schädler, summarising the most important result of the study. “Unlike the climate, use does not reduce the size of the animals, but their density.” For example, around 47 percent fewer mites and springtails lived on GCEF plots cultivated conventionally compared with plots extensively used as meadows. 

“The fascinating and sobering thing about it is that the effects of climate and use hardly influence each other,” says the ecologist. Until now, many experts had hoped that eco-friendly agriculture could offer some kind of insurance against the negative consequences of climate change. After all, organic farming generally leads to a more diverse community in fields and grassland. However, it is thought that this makes such ecosystems less susceptible to climatic disturbances than conventionally used areas.

Yet when it comes to maintaining the performance of soil animals, this strategy does not seem to work: changes in temperature and precipitation reduce their biomass regardless of cultivation. “So not everything that threatens to break down as a result of warming can be saved by environmentally friendly land use,” says Schädler in summary. In order to mitigate the consequences of climate change, it is therefore necessary to tackle greenhouse gases directly - and as quickly as possible. “We can’t assume that we’ll come up with anything else.”

 

Original publication: 
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation bold)

Rui Yin, Julia Siebert, Nico Eisenhauer, Martin Schädler (2020). Climate change and intensive land use reduce soil animal biomass via dissimilar pathways. eLife, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.54749

 

Contact:

Dr habil Martin Schaedler
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 345 55 85 307
Email: martin.schaedler@ufz.de
Web: https://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=38623

 

Prof Dr Nico Eisenhauer
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +49 341 97 33167
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/media

 

]]>
iDiv Members Experimental Interaction Ecology TOP NEWS UFZ News Tue, 28 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Clear strategies needed to reduce bushmeat hunting https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1764.html Disease prevention and protection of species require differentiated strategies. Disease prevention and protection of species require differentiated strategies.

Leipzig. Extensive wildlife trade not only threatens species worldwide but can also lead to the transmission of zoonotic diseases. It encompasses hundreds of species with significant differences in their conservation status and associated disease risk. However, current strategies to mitigate the wildlife trade often neglect these differences. An international research team led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) shed new light on the motivations why people hunt, trade or consume different species. The research has been published in the journal People and Nature and shows that more differentiated solutions are needed to prevent uncontrolled disease emergence and species decline.

Covid-19 and the associated global economic, health and societal distortions have shed light on the alarming threat of infectious diseases emerging at an increasing rate. Around 60 percent of emergent infectious diseases are zoonotic, originating in animals; among the most prominent are SARS, MERS, Ebola, HIV and Covid-19. More than two-thirds of those originate in wild species. Many voices have called for higher restrictions or even a blanket ban on the wildlife trade. This demand is also fuelled by the devastating effects of unsustainable hunting that threatens hundreds of species.

However, millions of people, especially in the Global South, depend on wild meat (“bushmeat”) for their livelihoods. Hunting and consuming wild meat is a vital part of their culture. Therefore, current strategies often aim at trade regulations, rather than the enforcement of strict bans. Even though species vary in their conservation value and their associated risk of transmitting zoonotic diseases, little is known about the reasons why people choose a certain species. "In order to make wildlife trade more sustainable, to prevent uncontrolled disease emergence and species decline, it is essential to know and understand these reasons, and I was surprised how little information existed on these”, explains lead author Mona Bachmann, doctoral researcher at iDiv and MPI-EVA.

An international research team led by Mona Bachmann and Hjalmar Kühl from MPI-EVA and iDiv, studied a wildlife trading network in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa. Since the wildlife trade is mostly illegal, people often hesitate to share information. With the help of local, trustable informants, often hunters or bushmeat traders themselves, the researchers were able to break the ice. Around 350 hunters, 200 bushmeat traders and 1,000 bushmeat consumers provided detailed insights into the wildlife trade and contributed to one of the most comprehensive data sets for a wildlife trading network to date.

Different species, different risks

In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, bushmeat trade encompasses over 500 species – from rats to elephants. Around 80 percent of the bushmeat biomass harvested in this region consists of fast-reproducing generalists like rodents, small-bodied duikers or antelopes. These species resist high levels of hunting and are a crucial component of livelihoods throughout rural areas. Replacing them with alternative animal proteins could substantially increase the exploitation of fish stocks or lead to habitat degradation to provide grazing land. Species that produce fewer offspring, like many primates, are threatened by even low levels of hunting. Since they are comparatively rare, they usually represent only a small percentage of a hunters' catch. Additionally, different risks of zoonotic disease transmission are associated with those species. In general, proximity with humans – either in the phylogenetic sense, like many primates, or in the spatial sense, like rodents in areas highly populated by humans – can increase the risk of transmitting diseases. 

Most strategies aim at reducing wild meat in general, irrespective how common a species is or how likely it will transmit diseases. However, people might use species for different purposes. If mitigation strategies neglect this fact, rare species of greater conservation relevance that contribute little to the total bushmeat biomass, like many primates or disease-prone-species, would likely be overlooked.

Why people use bushmeat and how to tackle their motivations

According to the study, preferences for bushmeat differed widely between hunters, bushmeat traders and consumers, and so does their motivation. People hunt for monetary, nutritional, educational and cultural reasons. Primates, for example, were mostly targeted by commercial hunters for profit and consumed as a luxury meat, while rodents were hunted and consumed when alternative proteins like fish or domestic meat were lacking. Interestingly, hunters and consumers who were aware of the negative ecological consequences of unsustainable bushmeat hunting targeted or consumed primates less. In contrast, bushmeat traders did not change their behaviour. 

Broadly applied mitigation approaches are often development-based, educational or cultural. The results show that these interventions may address taxa like rodents, duikers or primates differently. Also, different responses by the individual user groups of hunters, traders or consumers are to be expected.

"Up to 60 percent of the consumed meat was from rodents and only seven percent from primates," says Bachmann. "If we considered bushmeat as one generic good, we would have probably identified a lack of protein as the main reason for its use and had thus recommended development-related projects. However, primates were consumed irrespective of the availability of proteins, and economic development could even increase economic resources to purchase the desired luxury product. Hence, to protect primates, development-related strategies need to be complemented by educational strategies."

The researchers, therefore, urge policy makers to prioritize planning processes: Clear goals, like conservation, development or disease prevention, have to be set. Assessments need to identify the behaviour causing problems, the user group and its motivations first. Knowledge and tools from disciplines such as psychology or marketing may optimize campaigns.

"Scientists and practitioners in conservation often rush to find quick solutions because every delay comes at high cost," says Bachmann. "In West and Central Africa, this often leads to one-size-fits-all solutions. However, our results suggest that many conservation strategies may be tailored to fit the wrong targets. Poor planning not only hampers the effectiveness of strategies but can also cause harm and waste the already scarce resources available for biodiversity protection.” Hjalmar Kühl adds: “If we really want to solve the problem of the overexploitation of wildlife and reduce the threats associated with it, for species conservation and human well-being, we need to tackle it at its roots. We cannot continue ignoring this problem, but we need to invest resources and develop strategies that really help to create a more sustainable human-wildlife co-existence.”


Original publication

(Scientists with iDiv affiliation in bold)
Mona Bachmann, Martin Reinhardt Nielsen, Heather Cohen, Dagmar Haase, Joseph A. K. Kouassi, Roger Mundry, Hjalmar S. Kuehl (2020). Saving rodents, losing primates - why we need tailored bushmeat management strategies. People and Nature. DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10119

 

Contact:

Mona Bachmann
Great Ape Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPIEVA)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Phone: +493413550 240
Email: mona_bachmann@eva.mpg.de

 

Dr Hjalmar Kühl
Head of the Research Group
'Sustainability and Complexity in Ape Habitat'
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA)
Phone: +49 341 3550236
Email: kuehl@eva.mpg.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/kuehl_hjalmar.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Research iDiv TOP NEWS Media Release Sustainability and Complexity in Ape Habitat Fri, 17 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Exhibition in Leipzig puts a spotlight on pollination networks https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1767.html New exhibition at the Botanical Garden of Leipzig University now open to the public. New exhibition at the Botanical Garden of Leipzig University now open to the public.

Leipzig. A new exhibition at the Botanical Garden of Leipzig University gives new and unexpected insights into the world of plants and their pollinators. The collaborative project of young researchers and artists from Leipzig shows that there is much more to it than the story of flowers and bees.

Summer time is the season when gardens and balconies are in full bloom. But what would strawberries, tomatoes and others be without bees, bumblebees and many more insects to pollinate them? This is the topic of a new exhibition at Leipzig University’s Botanical Garden, open to the public from 18 July to 4 October 2020.

The exhibition was planned and organised by researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). “We wanted the start of this exhibition to be in Leipzig, because this is where we live and do most of our research. We felt that this was a good way to give something back to the city,” explained Prof Dr Tiffany Knight, head of the Spatial Interaction Ecology group at iDiv, MLU and UFZ. “We are planning to show the exhibition in other places where we are doing our research as well: Romania and Finland, for example. This would be a great way to inform people there about what we are doing.”

The exhibition not only introduces common pollinating insects such as bees and bumblebees, but also other, less well-known pollinators. The hummingbird is probably the most prominent example of pollinating bird species. The focus of the exhibition is on the complex relationship of insects and plants that live in our gardens: how do these relationships evolve and what is their role in ecology? What are the effects of climate change and land use on the complex networks of pollinators and plants? “Every species – pollinator or plant – is like a thread and the relationship of those species is like a knot. Together, the threads and knots form a wonderful and stable carpet,” said Dr Demetra Rakosy, researcher at iDiv and UFZ and one of the main organisers of the exhibition. “Climate change and land-use change are like moths that feed on the carpet.” 

Examples of local initiatives and practical tips for how we can help protect our native flora and fauna round off the exhibition. Of course, these and many more aspects are not only displayed on posters. Photos, videos and art go hand in hand to show all the different facets of plants and pollinators. 

The exhibition is hosted by the Botanical Garden of Leipzig University. “Our strategy for the future emphasises the transfer of knowledge to the public. We don’t consider the Botanical Garden a large research tool, but also a place of exchange, a kind of living museum,” said Prof Dr Christian Wirth, director of the Botanical Garden. The rector of Leipzig University, Prof Dr Beate Schücking, was also pleased with the successful collaboration. "Your case, Prof Knight, is a very nice example: the international character and collaboration in the consortium – across the borders of the different states – are the strength of iDiv.”

 

Exhibition “Blüten(be)sucher: Beziehungsgeschichten aus der Natur”
(Flower seekers: the intertwined story of pollinators and plants)

Opening dates: 18 July to 4 October 2020 during regular opening hours of the Botanical Garden
Place: Botanischer Garten Leipzig, Linnéstraße 1, 04103 Leipzig


Related links

Exhibition website
www.idiv.de/events/bluetenbesucher

Botanischer Garten der Universität Leipzig
https://www.bota.uni-leipzig.de

 

Contact:

Prof. Tiffany Knight
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733158
Email: tiffany.knight@idiv.de

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Media Release TOP NEWS Spatial Interaction Ecology iDiv Fri, 17 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
How many invasive species can our ecosystems tolerate? https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1762.html Alien species dramatically contribute to future biodiversity loss Alien species dramatically contribute to future biodiversity loss

Based on a press release by the University of Vienna

Even an increase in invasive alien species by 20 to 30 percent will lead to a dramatic global loss of biodiversity in the future. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by an international team of researchers led by the University of Vienna with contributions from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). The current increase is mainly driven by the global transport of goods, climate change and the extent of economic growth. The study was published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Human activities intentionally and unintentionally introduce more and more species to new regions of the world - for example, via commodity transport or tourism. Some of these alien species have negative consequences for biodiversity and humans well-being, for example by displacing native species or transmitting diseases. However, while we have relatively good information on the historical spread of alien species, there is still little knowledge about their future development.

Dramatic loss of biodiversity

At the moment, it is not yet possible to generate precise predictions based on computer models as to how the spread and impact of alien species will change in the future. Therefore, expert assessments via standardized surveys are an important tool to obtain a better understanding of the causes and consequences of the spread and impact of alien species for the coming decades. The expert survey carried out in the study revealed, that an increase of 20 to 30 percent in the number of newly introduced alien species is considered sufficient to cause massive global biodiversity loss - a value that is likely to be reached soon, as the number of introduced species is constantly increasing.

Climate change and trade determine increase in alien species

Furthermore, humans are the main driver of the future spread of alien species. The experts identify three main reasons, primarily the increasing global transport of goods, followed by climate change and the extent of economic growth. The study also shows that the spread of alien species can be greatly slowed down by ambitious countermeasures.

The researchers additionally investigated the influence of the increase of alien species on different regions of the world: For example, tourism is a major driver of biological invasions in tropical and subtropical regions, while climate change favors the survival and establishment of alien species in the future, especially in polar and temperate regions.

Politics have the responsibility to act

“Our study illustrates the option space we currently have to reduce the future impacts of alien species”, says first author Dr Bernd Lenzner from the University of Vienna. The scientists believe that political decision-makers have the responsibility to act. The results form an important scientific basis for the further development of international agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals or the Convention on Biological Diversity.

“Minimizing the effect of other important global change drivers such as eutrophication and pollution also indirectly will potentially reduce species invasions and its effects”, says Dr Marten Winter, a co-author from iDiv. “Moreover, we see an urgent need to increase joint collaborations towards an exchange of spatially highly resolved monitoring data as well as across political borders coordinated alien species management.“ 


Original publication:
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation bold)

Franz Essl, Bernd Lenzner, Sven Bacher, Sarah Bailey, Cesar Capinha, Curtis Daehler, Stefan Dullinger, Piero Genovesi, Cang Hui, Philip E. Hulme, Jonathan M. Jeschke, Stelios Katsanevakis, Ingolf Kühn, Brian Leung, Andrew Liebhold, Chunlong Liu, Hugh J. MacIsaac, Laura A. Meyerson, Martin A. Nuñez, Aníbal Pauchard, Petr Pyšek, Wolfgang Rabitsch, David M. Richardson, Helen E. Roy, Gregory M. Ruiz, James C. Russell, Nathan J. Sanders, Dov F. Sax, Riccardo Scalera, Hanno Seebens, Michael Springborn, Anna Turbelin, Mark van Kleunen, Betsy von Holle, Marten Winter, Rafael D. Zenni, Brady J. Mattsson, Nuria Roura-Pascual (2020): Drivers of future alien species impacts: An expert-based assessment. Global Change Biology 00:1–15. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15199.

 

Contact:

Dr Marten Winter
Coordinator of sDiv (Synthesis Centre of iDiv)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733129
Email: marten.winter@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/sdiv

 

Prof Dr Ingolf Kühn
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Phone: 0345 558 5311
Email: ingolf.kuehn@ufz.de
Web: https://www.ufz.de/index.php?de=38592

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/media

 

]]>
Media Release iDiv Members TOP NEWS Tue, 14 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Job announcement - PostDoc ‘Global woody demography’ (f-m-x) - Application deadline 14 August 2020 https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1760.html Announcement Working time: 100% (39 hours per week), limited to 30.09.2021 with option to extend

Announcement

]]>
SIE group news Wed, 08 Jul 2020 15:21:24 +0200
Job announcement - Scientific Coordinator (f-m-x) - Extended application deadline 2 August 2020 https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1758.html Parental leave replacement - 12 months starting 3 October 2020 Parental leave replacement - 12 months starting 3 October 2020

Announcement     

]]>
SIE group news Wed, 08 Jul 2020 12:26:55 +0200
Root Economics – Between Do-It-Yourself Strategies and Fungal Outsourcing https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1756.html International group of researchers with iDiv participation describes the growth strategies of plant... International group of researchers with iDiv participation describes the growth strategies of plant roots

Based on a press release by Freie Universität Berlin

The formation of a plant’s root growth often depends on symbiosis with fungi. This is the main finding of an international group of researchers with members from Freie Universität Berlin (FU), the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), and Wageningen University, among others, has been studying the complex belowground economy of roots. In the journal Science Advances the biologists describe the different growth strategies found in root systems and how they “collaborate” with fungi. Their findings are based on the analysis of approximately 1,800 plant species from around the world and the specific traits of their roots. The new insights will help scientists better understand “root economics” and the adaptations and exchanges that take place belowground as well as how environmental changes affect these relationships.

Through photosynthesis, plants have the ability to convert light into chemical energy and to bind carbon, the basic biochemical building block. They absorb vital substances from the soil through their roots – nutrients, minerals, and water. The authors of the study compare these metabolic processes with economic value chains. In plant economies, carbon is the main currency. Plants can invest carbon to promote organ growth, for example, to produce leaves, flowers, seeds, or roots. 

It has long been known that plants follow different growth strategies when forming their aboveground organs, especially leaves. Short-lived leaves, for example, can be produced in a relatively cost-efficient way, but can only photosynthesize and bind carbon for a limited time. Long-lived leaves, on the other hand, demand higher investments, but continue to function for a longer period. The research team led by Dr Joana Bergmann (FU) with participation of Prof Dr Alexandra Weigelt (Leipzig University, iDiv) was able to prove that root growth, too, follows similar economic principles. How roots develop and how long they live depend on a plant’s biochemical investments in carbon and energy.

However, according to the study, symbiosis with mycorrhizal fungi has an especially strong influence on root traits. Many plants “outsource” their nutrients supply chain below ground to varying degrees. Fungi provide them with soil nutrients through special exchange methods. The fungi are then paid in carbon through the plant roots. The scientists discovered that the adaptations that make the symbiotic exchange with fungi have a significant effect on root traits. In addition, closely related plants tend to show similar patterns in how their roots grow.

This give-and-take relationship has adapted along evolutionary lines over time, explains Joana Bergmann, lead author of the research project. The “division of labor” between plants and fungi, she says, depends on the depends on the plants’ evolutionary history. Plants have many different growth strategies and collaborative methods – such as fungal outsourcing – that they can use to acquire the nutrients they need.

The paper is a joint effort of the working group sROOT. sDiv, the synthesis center of the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), finances working group meetings with 10 to 20 international scientists to work on current scientific issues, funded by the German Research Foundation (FZT 118).

Original publication:
(Scientists with iDiv-Affiliation bold)

J. Bergmann, A. Weigelt, F. van der Plas, D. C. Laughlin, T. W. Kuyper, N. Guerrero-Ramirez, O. J. Valverde-Barrantes, H. Bruelheide, G. T. Freschet, C. M. Iversen, J. Kattge, M. L. McCormack, I. C. Meier, M. C. Rillig, C. Roumet, M. Semchenko, C. J. Sweeney, J. van Ruijven, L. M. York, L. Mommer, The fungal collaboration gradient dominates the root economics space in plants. Sci. Adv. 6, eaba3756 (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba3756

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Alexandra Weigelt
Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity
University of Leipzig
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49-341-97-38594
Email: alexandra.weigelt@uni-leipzig.de

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/media

 

]]>
iDiv Members sDiv TOP NEWS Fri, 03 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Nature data as a basis for decisionmaking in politics and society https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1757.html iDiv researchers to play a leading role in setting up National Research Data Infrastructure iDiv researchers to play a leading role in setting up National Research Data Infrastructure

Based on a press release of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved the application of a nationwide consortium of biodiversity researchers to fund a National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) of biodiversity data. The aim is to provide high-quality data, tools and infrastructures that follow the FAIR guiding principles (findability, accessibility, interoperability and reuse) in a sustainable manner. NFDI4BioDiversity is partly coordinated by researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University (FSU), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), and many other iDiv partner organisations participate.

 

The full text is only available in German.

]]>
iDiv iDiv Members TOP NEWS Biodiversity Informatics Unit (BDU) Fri, 03 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Scientists warn of increasing threats posed by invasive alien species https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1746.html A contribution to "World scientists’ warning to humanity: a second notice" A contribution to "World scientists’ warning to humanity: a second notice"

Based on a media release by Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

In a new study, scientists from around the world with participation of researchers from the Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) warn that the threats posed by invasive alien species are increasing. They say that urgent action is required in order to prevent, detect, and control invaders at both local and global levels.

Alien species are plants, animals and microbes that are introduced by people, accidentally or intentionally, into areas where they do not naturally occur. Many of them thrive, spreading widely with harmful effects on the environment, economy, or human health.

The study, published in Biological Reviews, was carried out by an international team of researchers from 13 countries across Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and South America. It states that the number of invasive alien species is increasing rapidly, with over 18,000 currently listed around the world. 

The researchers attribute the escalation in biological invasions to the increase in the number and variety of pathways along which species spread, and to the increasing volume of traffic associated with those pathways. They highlight the role of emerging pathways such as the online trade in unusual pets, and the transport of species across oceans on rafts of plastic. 

The study also shows how other drivers of global change, such as climate change, land-use change, alongside international trade are exacerbating the impacts of biological invasions. For example, species transported through shipping can now thrive in new regions, owing to climate warming; and the permanent opening of the Arctic Ocean with global warming is allowing marine species to move between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The paper is a part of the World scientists’ warning to humanity: a second notice initiative calling for urgent change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it.  The authors stress that biological invasions can be managed and mitigated. They point to approaches that are working around the world and make specific recommendations for improved management. For example, the introduction of more stringent border controls, including X-ray machines and detector dogs, has led to a progressive decline in the rate of fungal plant pathogens entering New Zealand.

Professor Petr Pyšek of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Prague, lead author of the paper, says: “As our knowledge about invasive alien species increases, the problems associated with biological invasions are becoming clearer. The threats posed by invasive alien species to our environment, our economies and our health are very serious, and getting worse. Policy makers and the public need to prioritize actions to stem invasions and their impacts.” 

Professor Ingolf Kühn, an ecologist at UFZ and iDiv says: “We summarised the pertinent knowledge on alien invasive plant and animal species in a brief review. And even if many alien species do yet have impact on the environment, some species are so harmful that immediate action is necessary to conserve our biological diversity” .

Original publication:

(Scientists with iDiv-affiliation bold)

Pyšek P., Hulme P. E., Simberloff D., Bacher S., Blackburn T. M. Carlton J. T., Dawson W., Essl F., Foxcroft L. C., Genovesi P., Jeschke J. M., Kühn I., Liebhold A. M., Mandrak N. E., Meyerson L. A., Pauchard A., Pergl J., Roy H. E., Seebens H., van Kleunen M., Vilà M., Wingfield M. J. & Richardson D. M.: Scientists’ warning on invasive alien species. Biological Reviews DOI: 10.1111/brv.12627

 

UFZ press release

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Ingolf Kühn
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Phone: 0345 558 5311
Email: ingolf.kuehn@ufz.de
Web: https://www.ufz.de/index.php?de=38592

 

]]>
TOP NEWS iDiv Members UFZ News Mon, 29 Jun 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Forest loss escalates biodiversity change https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1738.html New international research reveals the far-reaching impacts of forest cover loss on global... New international research reveals the far-reaching impacts of forest cover loss on global biodiversity.

Based on a media release of the University of St Andrews

Forest loss does not always lead to a decline in biodiversity but can amplify how it changes. This is one of the results of a recent study from an international team of researchers, including the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). Focussing on biodiversity data spanning 150 years and over 6,000 locations, the study, published in the journal Science, reveals that as tree cover is lost across the world’s forests, plants and animals are responding to the transformation of their natural habitats. However, these responses may be delayed by decades.

Forests support around 80% of all species living on land, from eagles and bluebells, to beetles and many more. This biodiversity provides important ecosystem services. And, importantly, some species, such as the rosalia longicorn beetle, survive best in intact old-growth forests. However, forests are being altered by human activities. For example, they are being converted to rangelands for grazing cattle, or to grow agricultural crops.

The researchers, including Dr Shane Blowes of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), investigated the impacts of forest loss on species and biodiversity over time and around the world, revealing that forest loss amplified both gains and losses in the abundance of different species as well as in the overall biodiversity.

Forest loss amplifies both gains and losses in biodiversity

“Biodiversity, the types of species like different plants and animals around the world, is always changing and the species we see on our forest walks today are likely different from the ones we saw growing up,” says lead author Gergana Daskalova of the University of Edinburgh. “Surprisingly, we found that forest loss doesn’t always lead to biodiversity declines. Instead, a loss in forest cover can amplify the ongoing biodiversity change: If a plant or animal species was declining before forest loss, its decline becomes even more severe after forest loss. The same intensification was also true for increasing species.”

This study used the BioTIME and Living Planet biodiversity databases that contain data collected by researchers working at sites around the world. Bringing together over 5 million records of the numbers of different plants and animals with information on both historic and contemporary peaks in forest loss, the researchers analysed the worldwide impacts of forest loss on biodiversity. “To get a global picture of how the planet is changing, different types of information – from observations of plants and animals on the ground through to satellite records of ecosystem change from space – had to be combined,” says Dr Isla Myers-Smith, co-senior author of the University of Edinburgh. 

Biodiversity responses may be delayed by decades

The international research team discovered both immediate and delayed effects of forest loss on ecosystems, indicating that biodiversity responses to human impacts are diverse and play out across decades. The pace at which biodiversity responds to forest loss varies from a few years, as is the case for many short-lived grasses, light-loving plants and insects, to decades for long-living trees and larger birds and mammals. For long-lived species, the effects of forest loss do not happen right away and could take decades to become apparent in the biodiversity data that scientists collect.

The findings also reveal that some tropical areas experience more forest loss now than they have ever seen in the past, resulting in declining numbers of different animal species. In North America and Europe, the greatest loss of forests often occurred centuries ago, however even the smaller amounts of forest loss in the present day led to different biodiversity responses, escalating gains in certain species and losses in others. 

“Understanding the different ways, both positive and negative, that forest loss influences biodiversity, can improve future conservation and restoration of global ecosystems. And collaborative science that integrates datasets from around the world are important for assessing both the state of the world’s forests, as well as the millions of plants and animals they support,” says Dr Shane Blowes.

 

Original publication
(iDiv scientists and alumni in bold)
Gergana N. Daskalova, Isla H. Myers-Smith, Anne D. Bjorkman, Shane A. Blowes, Sarah R. Supp, Anne E. Magurran, Maria Dornelas (2020). Landscape-scale forest loss as a catalyst of population and biodiversity change. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aba1289

 

Contact:

Dr Shane Blowes
Biodiversity Synthesis
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733254
Email: shane.blowes@idiv.de

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/media

 

]]>
Media Release Biodiversity Synthesis TOP NEWS MLU News Research iDiv Thu, 18 Jun 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Simulations: personal responsibility alone makes COVID-19 pandemic in Germany manageable – albeit at a high price https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1735.html iDiv economists combine epidemiological model with survey data for the first time

Leipzig, Hamburg, Kiel. How high would the infection and death rates be if Germany had relied solely on voluntary social distancing at the beginning of the pandemic? A new study by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the universities of Leipzig, Hamburg and Kiel shows that even purely voluntary social distancing – in order to protect ourselves and others – could stabilise the number of new infections (R0=1). However, this would mean 100 times more infections and 15 times as many deaths compared to an optimal policy of reducing social contacts. The study was recently published on a preprint server.

“This is serious – so take it seriously.” This is what Chancellor Angela Merkel said on 18 March in an unprecedented televised address, her only such address other than her annual New Year’s message. She made it clear that the COVID-19 pandemic meant exceptional contact restrictions for the population. Among other things, the measures saw schools and day-care centres shut and travel prohibited.

The number of deaths shows that Germany has handled its lockdown well. But would this have been possible with less radical restrictions? How sensible would people have been by themselves? And how would infection and death rates have developed without government intervention?

Behavioural component added to epidemiological models

To investigate just this, for the first time environmental economists at iDiv, Leipzig University and the universities of Hamburg and Kiel combined a common epidemiological model with behavioural data from a large-scale, representative survey. At the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March, the researchers had more than 3500 people throughout Germany surveyed about whether they had reduced their contact with other people, and their motives for doing so. The results were then fed into a common epidemiological model. This enabled the researchers to extend previous epidemiological approaches to include the social component of human decisions.

The survey showed that at the beginning of the epidemic, the average German reduced their contact with other people to a quarter of the normal level. About half of them did this to protect themselves, 30 per cent to protect friends and family, and 18 per cent to protect others. 

On this basis, the researchers then developed models predicting infection and death rates under different conditions: a) What kind of policy would strike an optimal balance between protecting health and maintaining a minimum level of social life? What would be the infection and death rates in this case? And how would these figures evolve in the absence of state intervention, if people restricted their contact with others purely voluntarily b) only in order to protect themselves or c) also to protect others? 

The main focus is on the question of the “social cost” of an infection. The costs of a person becoming infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus are not only the health consequences for that person, but also the increased risk of infection for everyone else. 

The scientists found that an optimal regulatory approach – one that took into account health consequences for everyone equally – would impose a drastic lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic in order to reduce physical contact, thereby virtually eradicating the virus. Subsequently, stabilising people’s contact with others at about one third of the normal, pre-pandemic level would be sufficient until a vaccination became tangible. This scenario, however, includes far more drastic measures than those actually imposed by Germany’s federal and state governments.

Voluntary social distancing for self-protection stops the pandemic, but does not go far enough

The survey showed that even without state intervention, people severely restricted their physical social contacts anyway in order to protect themselves. People would have intensified this protective behaviour as the virus spread throughout the population and people considered themselves to be at greater risk of becoming infected. As such, purely selfish behaviour in the population would have also led to a stabilisation of the infection rate (basic reproduction rate of R0=1). However, this freedom of choice would have come at a price. Compared to the optimal policy, the number of infections would have increased a hundredfold and there would be about 15 times as many deaths over the course of the pandemic. The simulations also showed that the additional motivation of wanting to protect others as well (i.e. altruistic behaviour) would result in around a third fewer infections and deaths compared to the purely selfish approach.

Risk aversion makes herd immunity unlikely

“According to our simulations, people’s fear of becoming infected is enough to cause them to limit their social contacts so much that herd immunity is unlikely in the coming years,” said Dr Jasper Meya, co-author of the study and postdoctoral researcher at iDiv and Leipzig University. 

How the pandemic develops depends primarily on how people behave. “Our analyses show that, especially in the case of high numbers of infected people and thus a high risk of infection, self-protection and altruistic behaviour can already deliver a considerable portion of the social distancing needed to protect the public,” said Meya. However, the study also shows that, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, a bolder approach to social distancing saves many more lives: “If Germany had relied solely on personal responsibility in the initial weeks after mid-March, the death toll would most likely have been many times higher.”

“As environmental economists, our motivation to examine such health issues is the fact that health protection is a public good, the availability of which depends on human behaviour,” said Professor Martin Quaas, head of the Biodiversity Economics Group at iDiv and Leipzig University. As part of the sustainability debate, the group normally researches various uses of natural resources, such as fish stocks or forests, and how to protect them. “The results from our COVID-19 study also deliver important insights for the provision of other common goods – such as a stable climate or intact biodiversity, said Quaas.


Original publication: 
(Researchers with iDiv affiliation bold)

Quaas, M.F., Meya, J.N., Schenk, H., Bos, B., Drupp, M.A., Requate, T. (June, 2020). The Social Cost of Contacts: Theory and Evidence for the Covid-19 Pandemic in Germany. CESifo Working Paper No. 8347, https://www.cesifo.org/en/publikationen/2020/working-paper/social-cost-contacts-theory-and-evidence-covid-19-pandemic-germany 

 

The full text is only available in German.

]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Economics Mon, 15 Jun 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Citizen Science Dialogue Forum https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1725.html Online forum to further develop citizen science strategy in Germany Online forum to further develop citizen science strategy in Germany

This event will be held in German language only. Please refer to the German press release.

 

Contact:

]]>
Ecosystem Services iDiv TOP NEWS Media Release Thu, 04 Jun 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Turning the spotlight on insects https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1720.html Only a few butterfly species appear to benefit from Natura 2000 conservation areas Only a few butterfly species appear to benefit from Natura 2000 conservation areas

Based on a media release by Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

Paris, Halle, Leipzig. The European Union's (EU) network of Natura 2000 conservation areas is designed to protect endangered animal and plant species and their habitats. But it also benefits a large number of non-target species. However, these beneficiaries are unevenly distributed across the major animal groups, reports an international team of researchers, including biologists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), in the journal Conservation Biology. According to the research team, almost half of the bird species not named in the target group benefit from Natura 2000 protection, but only one forth of the butterflies.

“When it comes to the prioritisation of future conservation efforts, we need to pay more attention to insects”, concludes co-author Prof Josef Settele from UFZ and iDiv. The agricultural ecologist and butterfly specialist does not only have butterflies in mind, but also other, often less visible groups such as mosquitoes, ants and the many soil insects that also play an essential role in nature.

However, the researchers only investigated the impacts of Natura 2000 conservation areas on birds and butterflies. Why were these groups chosen? “For these two groups only we have long-term observations going back many years or even decades,” says Settele. So the researchers evaluated data collected by thousands of volunteers over an extended period at over 9,500 sites for birds and over 2,000 sites for butterflies.

Ornithologists and butterfly enthusiasts, both volunteers and professionals, regularly visit these areas, counting the number of individuals of the respective species at a given time. Between the beginning of April and the end of September, 318 volunteers in Germany walk 460 defined routes, usually once a week, and count the butterflies they see. Only in unfavourable weather conditions, for example when strong winds prevent most butterflies from flying, the observers take a break as well. Between 2005 and 2018, volunteers counted 3.3 million butterflies in Germany alone.

The ornithologists also collected a huge amount of data, which has now been evaluated by Vincent Pellissier, from the Sorbonne University in Paris and lead author of the study, and his international colleagues. In studies of this kind, most researchers have so far focused on species diversity, and they have often counted more species within Natura 2000 areas than outside. But little is known about the frequency of these supposedly more common species to date, which often play an essential role in nature.

Natura 2000 very successfully targets selected habitats and species of high conservation interest in the European Union. In woodlands, for example, the focus is often on bat species facing difficulties in large areas of the EU. In open landscapes, on the other hand, the targets often are dry and nutrient-poor grasslands, which serve as habitat for rare butterflies such as the Large Blue. It is with these habitats and species in mind that, since 2013, 27,700 of these Natura 2000 areas have reached a total coverage of approximately 18% of the land and around 7% of marine areas in the European Union. This has made the network into one of the world's most successful conservation initiatives.

However, it isn't only these selected species that play an important role in nature, but also many others, that are believed to benefit equally from the establishment of Natura 2000 sites. If their populations dwindle, food webs can be disrupted and ecological patterns can be significantly altered, sometimes with enormous impacts on nature. It is therefore important to take these non-focal species into consideration – and the picture regarding birds and butterflies is very different.

For almost half of the 155 bird species investigated, there are significantly more individuals living in regions with a high cover of Natura 2000 areas, many of them being typical woodland dwellers. By contrast, only 27 out of 104 investigated species of butterflies benefit from this protection, with only two of these species living in woodlands. At first glance this may not seem surprising, since European butterflies spend much more time fluttering across sunny meadows than through woods. But on top of that, many forests in Germany are planted. "The trees growing there are all of the same age and their crowns form a dense roof that allows little sunlight to penetrate," explains Martin Musche, also an insect researcher at the UFZ and a co-author of the study. But most butterflies cannot make their home on the dim forest floor. "So from a butterfly's perspective, we would need a lot more woodland with plenty of light," says the biologist.

Outside woodland areas, the situation does not look too favourable either. Specialists of open landscapes such as the Small Blue are not recorded more frequently in Natura 2000 areas. “We haven't yet investigated the reasons for this, but we do have a strong suspicion,” says Martin Musche. It appears that grasslands and other open habitats in Natura 2000 areas are not faring too well. In many places, dry and nutrient poor meadows are often overgrown with bushes, depriving specialist butterflies of the environment they depend on.

Other meadows are fertilised, and mown more frequently than just once or twice a year. This has a very negative impact on the conditions for many butterflies. “It could easily be the same for other insects that we haven't studied yet,” says Musche. When new conservation areas are designated, or a management plan is being developed for existing areas, then much more attention needs to be given to previously neglected insects. 

Published in parallel to the Biodiversity Strategy of the European Union, the paper helps placing a focus on the potentials and the challenges for EU's nature protection, especially for grasslands. “The european conservation policy is not sufficient for maintaining Europe's grasslands,” says Dr Guy Pe’er, postdoctoral researcher at iDiv and co-author on the paper. “Particularly the CAP as the key mechanism affecting permanent grasslands, focuses on area rather than quality, thus allowing onward habitat degradation even under seeming protection. To stop insect declines, the CAP needs to adapt clear definitions for high-quality grasslands, promote High-Nature-Value farming areas and set sufficient incentives to protect them.”

The study emerges from the synthesis project LOLA-BMS (How Local-scale processes build up the Large-scale response of Butterflies to global changes: Integrative analysis across Monitoring Schemes), led by Romain Julliard (MNHN, Paris) and Guy Pe’er (UFZ/iDiv), funded by the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity.

Original publication:
(Researchers with iDiv affiliation bold)

V. Pellissier, R. Schmucki, G. Pe’er, A. Aunins, T. M. Brereton, L. Brotons, J. Carnicer, T. Chodkiewicz, P. Chylarecki, J.C. del Moral, V. Escandell, D. Evans, R. Foppen, A. Harpke, J. Heliölä, S. Herrando, M. Kuussaari, E. Kühn, A. Lehikoinen, Å. Lindström, C.M. Moshø, M. Musche, D. Noble, T.H. Oliver, J. Reif, D. Richard, D.B. Roy, O. Schweiger, J. Settele, C. Stefanescu, N. Teufelbauer, J. Touroult, S. Trautmann, A.J. van Strien, C.A.M. van Swaay, C. van Turnhout, Z. Vermouzek, P. Voříšek, F. Jiguet, R. Julliard: Effects of Natura 2000 on non-target bird and butterfly species based on citizen science data, Conservation Biology 34, 3, DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13434

 

Contact:

Dr. Guy Pe’er
Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ)
Abteilung Ökosystemleistungen & Abteilung Ökonomie
Phone: +49 341 97 33182
Email: guy.peer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/eshow/peer_guy.html

 

Dr Martin Musche
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Department of Community Ecology
Phone: +49 345 558 5310
Email: martin.musche@ufz.de
Web: https://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=38618

 

Prof. Dr. Josef Settele
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ)
Department Biozönoseforschung
Email: josef.settele@ufz.de
Web: http://www.ufz.de/index.php?de=38572

 

]]>
TOP NEWS Media Release UFZ News Ecosystem Services iDiv Members Mon, 25 May 2020 00:00:00 +0200
International Day of Biodiversity 2020: the pandemic calls for nature conservation https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1713.html A comment by Prof Dr Henrique Pereira A comment by Prof Dr Henrique Pereira

Leipzig, Halle. 2020 was declared a political “super year” for nature conservation. In October, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) should have set the course for international biodiversity policies for the next 10 to 30 years. The corona pandemic has pressed the pause button also in this so-called post-2020 process. COP-15 has been postponed until further notice. However, the pandemic also highlights the important role natural ecosystems play for human health – as a source of pathogens, but also as part of the solution. This is what Prof Dr Henrique Miguel Pereira stresses at this year’s International Day of Biodiversity on 22 May themed “Our solutions are in nature”. Pereira is head of the research group Biodiversity and Nature Conservation at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and co-chair of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON). He is involved in several forums with policy makers, including the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the CBD.

“This year marks the end of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. The setting stage for this happened in 2010, when two hundred countries met in the city of Aichi (Japan), under the auspices of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). Back then, the countries decided to achieve a set of 20 so called Aichi-Targets to reduce biodiversity loss by 2020. Recently, the global assessment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) showed that the efforts made by the countries during the last decade were insufficient to meet most of the Aichi Targets. Therefore, 2020 was expected to be the year when a new set of ambitious targets would be agreed by the countries for the next decade, which has already been designated as the UN Decade on Restoration. 

Better biodiversity monitoring and protection can help prevent further pandemics

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a halt and also brings a slowdown to the development of the new biodiversity targets. In some ways, it is fitting that 2020 is marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. This corona virus had bats as original hosts, and may have reached humans through wet markets in China where wildlife is sold, and sometimes, illegally traded. Human destruction of forest habitats and intrusion of human populations in nature have been increasing the likelihood of emergence of new infectious diseases, which in a globalised world can easily lead to pandemics. Better protection of native habitats in the most biodiverse regions of the world and better monitoring of biodiversity and its pathogens can help prevent further pandemics.

Social lockdown allows more space for nature - a glimpse of what could be achieved by rewilding our ecosystems

For a moment, the COVID-19 pandemic has also shown us what happens when humans step back and allow more space for nature. All over the world, people are reporting how wildlife is coming back to cities and other human-dominated ecosystems, from sea turtles on the beaches of Thailand to deer roaming European urban areas. We got a glimpse of what could be achieved by rewilding our ecosystems. I hope that we will keep this in mind as we return to normal life and plan the restoration decade.

2020 is not a lost year for the protection of our livelihood

Despite COVID-19, 2020 will continue to be a key year for biodiversity. Maybe now even more. The EU Commission has just launched a new biodiversity strategy today, a commitment under the European Green Deal to take a leading role in the transition to a more sustainable world. The negotiations for the new global targets for 2030 are well underway in the Open Ended Working Group of the CBD. Parties to the CBD should meet early in 2021 to approve these new set of targets under the post-2020 Framework. And in July, the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) will host its quadrennial meeting, this time dedicated to Biodiversity Monitoring in the post-2020 Framework. Hopefully, 2020 will put the world on a trajectory to meet the CBD vision of living in harmony with nature. Let this be a reason to celebrate the International Day of Biodiversity 2020.”

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Henrique Miguel Pereira
Head of research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Phone: +49 341 9733137
Email: henrique.pereira@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/132.html

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/media

 

]]>
Media Release Biodiversity Conservation TOP NEWS Wed, 20 May 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Deadline for abstracts approaching fast! https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1709.html You are invited to submit your abstract by 15 May 2020 for the GEO BON Open Science Conference &... You are invited to submit your abstract by 15 May 2020 for the GEO BON Open Science Conference & All Hands Meeting 2020.

The conference takes place from 6 to 10 July 2020 in “fully virtual” format, due to the current Covid-19 restrictions.

The event brings together all those involved and interested in the development of Biodiversity Observation Networks and Essential Biodiversity Variables, as well as their potential to support global biodiversity monitoring and conservation.

If you would like to present your work as a scheduled talk or during one of the poster sessions, then please submit an abstract of your work via our online submission portal (https://conf2020.geobon.org/) no later than 15 May 2020.

]]>
GEO BON TOP NEWS Mon, 11 May 2020 11:37:30 +0200
Medicinal plants thrive in biodiversity hotspots https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1705.html New approach to phylogenetically guided drug discovery New approach to phylogenetically guided drug discovery

Based on a press release of Leipzig University

With their rich repertoire of anti-infective substances, medicinal plants have always been key in the human fight to survive pathogens and parasites. This is why the search for herbal drugs with novel structures and effects is still one of the great challenges of natural product research today. Scientists from Leipzig University (UL), the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) have now shown a way to considerably simplify this search for bioactive natural compounds using data analyses on the phylogenetic relationships, spatial distribution and secondary metabolites of plants. Their new approach makes it possible to predict which groups of plants and which geographical areas are likely to have a particularly high density of species with medicinal effects. This could pave the way for a more targeted search for new medicinal plants in the future.

Over 70 per cent of all antibiotics currently in use originate from natural substances obtained from plants, fungi, bacteria and marine organisms. In the battle against infectious diseases, humans are particularly dependent on new drugs from natural sources, as pathogens are constantly changing and producing new dangerous strains. At the same time, we have not exhausted our natural resources. In the plant kingdom alone, only about ten per cent of all vascular plants have so far been screened for suitable active compounds. There are currently about 250,000 structures of natural products stored in scientific databases, with an estimated total of ca. 500,000 in plants alone. So far, however, researchers have not systematically tested the entire plant kingdom; instead, they have conducted isolated searches for drugs, partly in plants with known medicinal properties, and partly in preferred species or geographical regions, or depending on the type and sensitivity of the detection methods used.

Moreover, the knowledge of medicinal plants and their active compounds so far has not been documented consistently. Plants are named differently from region to region, while the metabolites isolated from them are given different trivial names in the literature. The scientists from Leipzig and Halle have now taken a first step towards collecting and standardising this knowledge. To this end, they collected information on the known secondary metabolites, phylogenetic relationships and distribution of the plants on the Indonesian island of Java. They recorded around 7,500 seed plant species, which contained some 16,500 metabolites listed in substance databases. Based on existing knowledge, almost 2,900 of these metabolites were identified as substances with anti-infective effects against viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. These 2,900 active compounds are produced by a total of 1,600 of the 7,500 plant species examined.

This shows that not all plant species produce bioactive compounds in the same way. “Rather, there tends to be a concentration of species that produce active compounds in individual plant families, with those species being usually closely related,” says Prof Alexandra Muellner-Riehl from the Institute of Biology at Leipzig University, who is also a member of iDiv. In order to better narrow down these groups of plants rich in active compounds, the scientists combined the genetic data and the metabolite information. This made it possible to identify those groups of plants in which anti-infective substances occur with significant overrepresentation – and those where only few anti-infective activities have been documented so far. “This information allows us to identify specific plant groups that very likely possess anti-infective substances but have not yet been examined for them,” says Dr Jan Schnitzler from iDiv and Leipzig University. At the same time, the study facilitates the identification of species for which little information on the presence of bioactive compounds has been reported so far. As Prof Ludger Wessjohann of the IPB points out, it is nevertheless important not to ignore these species in the search for new drugs, “because there is a high probability of finding new active substances with as yet completely unknown structures”. 

The approach can also be used to identify promising regions rich in bioactive compounds. In this case, the highest diversity of plant species can be found in Java’s mountainous regions, where the greatest density of plants with anti-infective compounds can also be expected. So the search for new drugs will be more likely to succeed in species-rich areas than in the less biodiverse, agricultural lowlands of central and western Java. If adapted accordingly, Wessjohann and Muellner-Riehl say that this approach could easily be transferred to other geographical areas or other groups of bioactive compounds.

The study was funded as part of the BMBF project “BIOHEALTH – Indonesian Plant Biodiversity and Human Health”. The collaborative project involving partners from German and Indonesian research institutions is coordinated by Leipzig University.


Original publication
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation in bold)
Laura Holzmeyer, Anne-Kathrin Hartig, Katrin Franke, Wolfgang Brandt, Alexandra N. Muellner-Riehl, Ludger A. Wessjohann & Jan Schnitzler. Evaluation of plant sources for anti-infective lead compound discovery by correlating phylogenetic, spatial, and bioactivity data. PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1915277117

 

Contact:

Dr Jan Schnitzler
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +493419738582
Email: jan.schnitzler@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/1058.html

 

Prof Alexandra Muellner-Riehl
Leipzig University
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +493419738581
Email: muellner-riehl@uni-leipzig.de

 

]]>
Research iDiv iDiv Members Media Release TOP NEWS Mon, 11 May 2020 00:00:00 +0200
More soil-borne plant pathogens in a warmer world https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1711.html Scientists develop global map of future risk areas for plant diseasesBased on a media release by... Scientists develop global map of future risk areas for plant diseases

Based on a media release by Pablo de Olavide University Sevilla

Sevilla / Leipzig / Halle. Global warming will increase the proportion of plant pathogens in soils across the globe. Many of these plant pathogens also affect important food and medicinal plants, which is likely to have a long-term impact on the world population's food security. This is the result of an experimental study published in the journal Nature Climate Change with significant contribution by researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University (UL) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU).

A teaspoon of soil contains millions of microbes. Most of these soil organisms are beneficial to humankind: They regulate our climate, support the fertility of our soils, and help us produce food and fiber. Others, however, are capable of devastating entire crops, resulting in important economic losses and even human starvation. Diseases of widespread food crops regularly destroy entire harvests. At the end of the 1990s, one of the most common soil-borne cereal fungi, Fusarium, affected the wheat and barley production in North America, causing an annual loss of around one billion US Dollars. 

A new study, conducted by an international team of scientists including researchers of iDiv, UL and MLU, provides experimental and global observational evidence that the proportion of soil-borne plant pathogens will increase in a warmer world. The researchers reveal the most common fungal plant pathogens found in soils across the globe, and suggest that soils are a critical reservoir of some of the most important plant pathogens worldwide. This is likely to affect many of the globally most important crops like wheat, sunflowers or vegetables, but also cosmetic or medicinal plants like Hibiscus and Aloe Vera as well as wild species serving as a food source for livestock. 

Global atlas of soil-bound plant pathogens

The study also provides the first global atlas of soil-borne plant pathogens highlighting the locations on Earth where these organisms are more common today and will be in the near future. The projections take into account various so-called shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs), including sustainability, regional inequality and fossil-fueled development.

“The insights of this study are particularly valuable as they combine data from a global observation network with data from a targeted experiment,” says Prof Nico Eisenhauer, head of the Experimental Interaction Ecology group at iDiv and UL. “This allowed us to provide scientific proof for causal relationships between warming temperatures and increasing prevalence of pathogens in the soils across the globe.”

The researchers collected soil samples from 235 different locations across 6 continents and 18 countries, spanning an entire range of climates from deserts to tropical forests. Moreover, they used a warming field experiment located in Madrid. For the last decade, the experiment has been maintained by the laboratory of co-author Fernando T. Maestre, who cooperated with scientists at iDiv in 2019 during his sabbatical year at iDiv's synthesis center sDiv.

The team used DNA sequencing to investigate the association between the proportion of soil-borne pathogens and increases in temperature across different types of soil. The results made it possible to generate global maps showing the distribution of soil-borne pathogens today, and in thirty years’ time.

Highly populated world regions affected

This opens the door to predict what regions of our planet will be more vulnerable to future microbial plant pests. “Many of the soil-borne fungal taxa affect the health and productivity of economically important crops and wild species serving as food source for livestock worldwide,” says co-author Dr Carlos António Guerra, researcher at iDiv and MLU. “The impacts are likely to have implications for sustaining a growing human population especially in the least-developed countries, where the majority of people rely to a large degree on livestock and natural products supported by natural ecosystems.”

The study highlights that large regions of Asia, Africa, Australia and America contain high proportions of soil-borne plant pathogens. These regions correspond to warm climates such as those from hot deserts and tropical forests. The impacts of warming are particularly evident in soils across the Northern Hemisphere, towards the Arctic, as well as in South Africa, for which all the scenarios show a systematic temperature rise. Many of the affected areas also have a large human population as well as high growth rates, which might indicate potential future threats to their nutrition.

“Global warming is already here, and we will need to adapt to the consequences of decades of heavy fossil fuel consumption,” says the first author of the paper Dr Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo from the Pablo de Olavide University Sevilla. “Knowing more about how climate change is going to affect the microbial communities which control our capacity to produce food and fiber is fundamental for humanity, especially, if we are up to feeding a continuously growing global population.”

This study was made possible by iDiv’s synthesis centre sDiv, funded by the DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (FZT-118).

 

Original Publication:
(Researchers with iDiv affiliation or sDiv sabbatical professor bold)

Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Guerra, C. A., Cano-Díaz, C., Egidi E., Wang, J.T., Eisenhauer, N., Singh, B. K., Maestre, F. T. (2020): The proportion of soil-borne pathogens increases with warming at the global scale. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/s41558-020-0759-3 

 

A short video explaining the topic can be found here

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Nico Eisenhauer
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +49 341 97 33167
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html

 

Dr. Carlos António Guerra
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle, Jena, Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733174
Email: carlos.guerra@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/474.html

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/media

 

]]>
Media Release Experimental Interaction Ecology TOP NEWS sDiv Mon, 11 May 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Climate change impact greater on marine systems https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1703.html New international research reveals warming in temperate regions leads to species gains at sea, but... New international research reveals warming in temperate regions leads to species gains at sea, but not on land.

Based on a media release by the University of St Andrews

Temperature changes lead to clear biodiversity responses in marine systems, where warming coincided with increases in the number of species in most locations. These increases in the number of species are likely caused by the influx of climate migrants from species-rich warmer regions. These are the results of a new research, led by scientists from the Universities of Helsinki, St Andrews and Radboud, in collaboration with researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). published in Nature Ecology and Evolution and focussed on linking biodiversity change to temperature change, and on comparing responses between ocean and land. The research was published in Nature Ecology and Evolution and focussed on linking biodiversity change to temperature change, and on comparing responses between ocean and land.

The researchers found that increases in the number of species were more pronounced in warmer marine areas, where, on the other hand, the numbers of individuals tended to decrease with warming. By contrast, the study did not detect any systematic responses on land, despite a larger increase in temperature, but this is not to say that temperature change is not affecting terrestrial biodiversity. The research team suggests that this result is linked to species on land having wider tolerance and more strategies to avoid warming temperatures compared to ocean organisms. For example, land-based organisms have access to small pockets of suitable climate even if the wider region is warming substantially. However, these findings also suggest that terrestrial species might be lagging behind and not keeping pace with temperature change, known as a “climatic debt”.

The international team used 21,500 biodiversity time series from temperate regions around the globe from the BioTIME database, measuring the change in the number of species and in the total number of organisms through time. Then the research team related these changes with air and ocean temperature changes over the same time periods in each location.

Dr Maria Dornelas, co-senior author from the University of St Andrews, said: “We knew that climate change is having clear and important effects on the distribution of species. We also knew marine heat waves can cause dramatic die offs, but we didn’t know its net effect on the numbers of species.”

Lead researcher Laura Antão from the University of Helsinki added: “We expected to see marine communities responding faster, but were surprised that we could not find consistent responses across our locations on land. As we add more and more pieces describing how ocean and land biodiversity responses are different, further studies are needed to understand what might explain these differences.”

Despite using the largest global database of standardized biodiversity time series, the study focused only on the temperate regions of the globe, since monitoring data from polar and tropical regions remains scarce. As the world is committed to further warming, with 2020 set to be the hottest year on record, substantial challenges remain in maintaining local biodiversity amongst increased climate-related migration. Quantifying how and where biodiversity is changing is crucial given the urgent need to halt current rates of biodiversity loss.


Original publication:

(Scientists with iDiv affiliation in bold)
Laura H. Antão, Amanda E. Bates, Shane A. Blowes, Conor Waldock, Sarah R. Supp, Anne E. Magurran, Maria Dornelas, Aafke M. Schipper (2020). Temperature-related biodiversity change across temperate marine and terrestrial systems. Nature Ecology and Evolution, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1185-7


Related links:
BioTIME database
The composition of species is changing in ecosystems across the globe

 

Contact:

Dr Shane Blowes
Biodiversity Synthesis
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733254
Email: shane.blowes@idiv.de

 

]]>
Media Release MLU News iDiv Biodiversity Synthesis Research TOP NEWS Mon, 04 May 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Insects: Largest study to date confirms declines on land, but finds recoveries in freshwater https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1695.html Global insect populations show highly variable local trends. Global insect populations show highly variable local trends.

Leipzig. A worldwide compilation of long-term insect abundance studies shows that the number of land-dwelling insects is in decline. On average, there is a global decrease of 0.92% per year, which translates to approximately 24% over 30 years. At the same time, the number of insects living in freshwater, such as midges and mayflies, has increased on average by 1.08% each year. This is possibly due to effective water protection policies. Despite these overall averages, local trends are highly variable, and areas that have been less impacted by humans appear to have weaker trends. These are the results from the largest study of insect change to date, including 1676 sites across the world, now published in the journal Science. The study was led by researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University (UL) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). It fills key knowledge gaps in the context of the much-discussed issue of “insect declines“.

Over the past few years, a number of studies have been published that show dramatic declines in insect numbers through time. The most prominent, from nature reserves in Western Germany, suggested remarkable declines of flying insect biomass (>75% decrease over 27 years). This was published in 2017 and sparked a media storm suggesting a widespread “insect apocalypse”. Since then, there have been several follow-up publications from different places across the world, most showing strong declines, others less so, and some even showing increases. But so far, no one has combined the available data on insect abundance trends across the globe to investigate just how widespread and severe insect declines are. Until now.

Largest data compilation to date

An international team of scientists collaborated to compile data from 166 long-term surveys performed at 1676 sites worldwide, between 1925 and 2018, to investigate trends in insect abundances (number of individuals, not species). The complex analysis revealed a high variation in trends, even among nearby sites. For example, in countries where many insect surveys have taken place, such as Germany, the UK and the US, some places experienced declines while others quite close by indicated no changes, or even increases. However, when all of the trends across the world were combined, the researchers were able to estimate how total insect abundances were changing on average across time. They found that for terrestrial insects (insects that spend their whole lives on land, like butterflies, grasshoppers and ants), there was an average decrease of 0.92% per year.

Insects disappear quietly

First author Dr Roel van Klink, a scientist at iDiv and UL, said: “0.92% may not sound like much, but in fact it means 24% fewer insects in 30 years’ time and 50% fewer over 75 years. Insect declines happen in a quiet way and we don’t take notice from one year to the next. It’s like going back to the place where you grew up. It’s only because you haven’t been there for years that you suddenly realise how much has changed, and all too often not for the better.” 

Insect declines were strongest in some parts of the US (West and Midwest) and in Europe, particularly in Germany. For Europe in general, trends became on average more negative over time, with the strongest declines since 2005.

Fewer insects in the air

When reporting about “insect decline”, the mass media have often referred to the “windscreen phenomenon”: people’s perception that there are fewer insects being splattered on the windscreens of their cars now compared to some decades ago. The new study confirms this observation, at least on average. Last author Jonathan Chase, professor at iDiv and MLU, said: “Many insects can fly, and it’s those that get smashed by car windshields. Our analysis shows that flying insects have indeed decreased on average. However, the majority of insects are less conspicuous and live out of sight – in the soil, in tree canopies or in the water.”

For the new study, the researchers also analysed data from many of these hidden habitats. This showed that on average, there are fewer insects living in the grass and on the ground today than in the past – similar to the flying insects. By contrast, the number of insects living in tree canopies has, on average, remained largely unchanged.

Freshwater insects have recovered

At the same time, studies of insects that live (part of) their lives under water, like midges and mayflies, showed an average annual increase of 1.08%. This corresponds to a 38% increase over 30 years. This positive trend was particularly strong in Northern Europe, in the Western US, and since the early 1990s, in Russia. For Jonathan Chase this is a good sign. He said: “These numbers show that we can reverse these negative trends. Over the past 50 years, several measures have been taken to clean up our polluted rivers and lakes in many places across the world. This may have allowed the recovery of many freshwater insect populations. It makes us hopeful that we can reverse the trend for populations that are currently declining.”

Roel van Klink added: “Insect populations are like logs of wood that are pushed under water. They want to come up, while we keep pushing them further down. But we can reduce the pressure so they can rise again. The freshwater insects have shown us this is possible. It’s just not always easy to identify the causes of declines, and thus the most effective measures to reverse them. And these may also differ between locations.”

No simple solutions

Ann Swengel, co-author of the study, has spent the last 34 years studying butterfly populations across hundreds of sites in Wisconsin and nearby states in the US. She stresses how complex the observed abundance trends are and what they mean for effective conservation management: “We’ve seen so much decline, including on many protected sites. But we’ve also observed some sites where butterflies are continuing to do well. It takes lots of years and lots of data to understand both the failures and the successes, species by species and site by site. A lot is beyond the control of any one person, but the choices we each make in each individual site really do matter.”

Habitat destruction most likely causes insect declines

Although the scientists were unable to say for certain exactly why such trends – both negative and positive – emerged, they were able to point to a few possibilities. Most importantly, they found that destruction of natural habitats – particularly through urbanisation – is associated with the declines of terrestrial insects. Other reports, such as the IPBES§ Global Assessment, also noted that land-use change and habitat destruction are a main cause of global biodiversity change. 

This new study was made possible by iDiv’s synthesis centre sDiv, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). It is currently the most comprehensive analysis of its kind. It depicts the global status of insects and shows where insect protection is most urgently needed.

§IPBES = Intergovernmental Science-Policy Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

 


Original publication:
(scientists with iDiv affiliation bold)

Roel van Klink, Diana E. Bowler, Konstantin B. Gongalsky, Ann B. Swengel, Alessandro Gentile and Jonathan M. Chase (2020) Meta-analysis reveals declines in terrestrial but increases in freshwater insect abundances. Science, 368(6489) DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9931

 

Open access links to publication:

Abstract
Reprint
Full text

 

Further information:

Media release on dramatic decline in insect numbers in Western Germany, which is mentioned in this media release: 
https://www.ru.nl/english/news-agenda/news/vm/iwwr/2017/three-quarters-total-insect-population-lost/

Global Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which is mentioned in this media release: 
https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf

An iDiv policy brief summarises the key findings of the study and offers policy recommendations for insect conservation:
https://www.idiv.de/fileadmin/content/Files_Science-Policy/iDiv_PolicyBrief01_20_Insects.pdf

 

 

Contact:

Dr Roel van Klink (speaks English, German and Dutch)
Postdoctoral researcher at iDiv’s synthesis centre sDiv
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 1520 3117216 (mobile phone)
Email: roel.klink@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/788.html

 

Prof Dr Jonathan Chase
Head of research group Biodiversity Synthesis
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Email: jonathan.chase@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/35.html

 

Dr Volker Hahn
Head of Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33154
Email: volker.hahn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/17.html

 

]]>
sDiv TOP NEWS Media Release Biodiversity Synthesis Fri, 24 Apr 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Plant diversity in European forests is declining https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1693.html More nitrogen in the soil: common plant species on the rise More nitrogen in the soil: common plant species on the rise

Leipzig / Halle. In Europe's temperate forests, less common plant species are being replaced by more widespread species. An international team of researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) has found that this development could be related to an increased nitrogen deposition. Their results have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The number of animal and plant species is declining globally. By contrast, there are occasionally opposing trends in individual local ecosystems, where there may even be evidence of an increase in species richness (number of species). How can this apparent contradiction be explained, and what are the reasons for it?

Over 1000 plant species studied in Europe

It was precisely these questions that an international team of scientists wanted to explore. Using data from a total of 68 different locations in temperate forests in Europe - including forest sites in Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Bavaria - they investigated how the diversity of herb-layer plant species has changed over the past decades. For this, the researchers had to assess stocks of 1,162 different plant species. This set of data was compiled by a network of forest ecologists, called forestREplot. “This network has the advantage that the experts on the actual locations can be asked if something is unclear, and, in this way, it differs from many other large databases,” said lead author Ingmar Staude, a doctoral student at iDiv and the MLU.

The analysis of these data was made possible by the sDiv synthesis centre of iDiv. The scientists found that plant species with a small geographical range, which can often be found in only a few forests, tend to have an increased risk of extinction within the respective forests. "This is not so much due to the smaller population size of such plants, but rather to their ecological niche," explains Ingmar Staude. Small-ranged species are often those adapted to relatively few nutrients in the soil.

Nitrogen-loving plants on the increase

The scientists were able to show that chronic and excessive nitrogen deposition in many parts of Europe is related to the increased risk of extinction of such species. In contrast, plant species that prefer nutrient-rich soils, such as nettle and blackberry benefit. These plants grow faster under higher nutrient supply and have now a sudden competitive advantage.

While small-ranged species have disappeared, widespread, nitrogen-loving, and occasionally exotic species are on the rise. The average biodiversity of individual forests has therefore not actually decreased. However, the biodiversity of the biome has decreased as small-ranged species were commonly lost. Based on their research, the researchers estimated a 4% decrease over the last decades. However, they point out that many of the sites investigated are in protected areas, and if areas used for forestry were to be examined, the decline could be even greater.

Consequences for the entire ecosystem

“We now have to find out whether the processes we observe in forests are similar in other biomes,” said Ingmar Staude. With the help of the sDiv synthesis centre of iDiv, data are to be evaluated now for a number of biomes; for example, European grasslands and Alpine ecosystems.

The loss of less common species has an impact on ecosystems. If individual plant species disappear, some insect species and soil organisms also disappear along with them. And the further regional floras homogenise, the less effectively these ecosystems can react to changing environmental conditions. The scientists of this study argue that nitrogen deposition needs to be reduced to decrease the extinctions of small-ranged species. These species play an important role when it comes to the capacity of our forest ecosystems to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

This study is a product of the sDiv synthesis working group sREplot. iDiv's synthesis center sDiv funds working group meetings where 10 to 20 national, international scientists and iDiv researchers work together on scientific issues.

Kati Kietzmann

Original publication:
(Scientists with iDiv affiliiation and alumni in bold)
Ingmar R. Staude, Donald M. Waller, Markus Bernhardt-Romermann, Anne D. Bjorkman, Jorg Brunet, Pieter De Frenne, Radim Hedl, Ute Jandt, Jonathan Lenoir, František Mališ, Kris Verheyen, Monika Wulf, Henrique M. Pereira, Pieter Vangansbeke, Adrienne Ortmann-Ajkai, Remigiusz Pielech, Imre Berki, Marketa Chudomelova, Guillaume Decocq, Thomas Dirnbock, Tomasz Durak, Thilo Heinken, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Martin Kopecky, Martin Macek, Marek Malicki, Tobias Naaf, Thomas A. Nagel, Petr Petřik, Kamila Reczyńska, Fride Hoistad Schei, Wolfgang Schmidt, Tibor Standovar, Krzysztof Świerkosz, Balazs Teleki, Hans Van Calster, Ondřej Vild, Lander Baeten (2020). Replacements of small- by large-ranged species scale up to diversity loss in Europe’s temperate forest biome. Nature Ecology & Evolution, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1176-8


Related Links:

The composition of species is changing in ecosystems across the globe

Plant species with medium abundance have declined the most

"We are losing biodiversity threefold," says Marten Winter

Database forestREplot

sDiv working group sREplot

 

Contact:

Ingmar Staude
Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Phone: +49 341 9733136
Email: ingmar.staude@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/818.html

 

Prof Dr Henrique Miguel Pereira
Head of research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Phone: +49 341 9733137
Email: henrique.pereira@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/pereira_henrique_miguel.html

 

]]>
MLU News Media Release sDiv Biodiversity Conservation Research iDiv TOP NEWS Mon, 13 Apr 2020 00:00:00 +0200
A glimpse into the future of tropical forests https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1691.html New method enables predictions for the development of species-rich forests New method enables predictions for the development of species-rich forests

Leipzig / Panama City. Tropical forests are a hotspot of biodiversity. Against the backdrop of climate change, their protection plays a special role and it is important to predict how such diverse forests may change over decades and even centuries. This is exactly what researchers at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University (UL) and other international research institutions have achieved. Their results have been published in the scientific journal Science.

Nowhere in the world is the loss of the so-called primary forests advancing faster than in the tropics. The natural primary forests are compelled to give way to agriculture and livestock farming and, as a result of clearing, important habitats are lost. In addition, the carbon stored in the trees is released as CO2. When the cleared areas are no longer used, new ‘secondary’ forests grow on them and these then capture part of the previously released CO2. The promotion of such natural forest areas can therefore offer an inexpensive way of mitigating climate-damaging CO2 from the atmosphere and, at the same time, promote biodiversity.

However, not all forests develop in the same way. In order to manage the recovery and renaturation of tropical forests, it is necessary to be able to predict how the forests will develop. To achieve this, certain parameters must be known; how quickly do the trees grow and how quickly do they die? How many offspring do they produce, which then in turn ensure the continued existence of the species? This is precisely the data which has been recorded in Panama over the past 40 years, in one of the most researched tropical rainforests in the world, for 282 tree species.

Using this data, researchers were able to show that trees pursue different strategies during their development. On the one hand, they differ in terms of their pace of life; while ‘fast’ species both grow and die quickly, ‘slow’ species grow slowly and reach an old age. On the other hand, trees can differ regarding their stature, irrespective of pace of life. These ‘infertile giants’, also known as long-lived pioneers, grow relatively quickly, and reach a great stature, but produce only a few offspring per year, contrasting with the ‘fertile dwarfs’; small shrubs and treelets which grow slowly and do not live long, but produce a large number of offspring.

But how many, and which factors of this demographic diversity have to be taken into account in order for us to be able to predict the development of a diverse forest? An international research team used a digital experiment to answer this question. In a computer model, they simulated how trees grow, die, produce offspring and compete for light as in a real forest. They allowed different configurations of the model to compete against each other; these contained either all 282 species from Panama or only a few selected ‘strategy types’. The species differed in only one or two respects; their pace of life and their stature. The respective model predictions were then compared with the observed development of real, regrowing secondary forests.

The researchers found that their model worked reliably with only five strategy types, but that both strategy dimensions must be taken into account. “In particular, the long-lived pioneers are important because they account for the bulk of biomass – and carbon – in this forest type at almost all ages, and not only in middle-aged forests as assumed so far,” said first author Dr Nadja Rüger, junior research group leader at iDiv and UL.

Following years of research, Rüger and her colleagues have now been able to establish a completely data-driven modelling approach which can be used to predict the development of species-rich forests, without the usual, tedious adjustment and calibration of unknown model parameters, thus saving both time and resources. “Basically, we were able to reduce the forest to its essence, and that was only possible because we know so much about the tree species in the forest in Panama,” said Rüger.

While forests are being impacted by climate change, they are also significantly slowing its pace – estimates are the vegetation of the earth is soaking up approximately 34% of the carbon molecules we emit, annually. However, scientists are not sure whether we will be able to count on this significant ecosystem service in the future. “By advancing our ability to predict forest carbon storage and represent the rich biodiversity within tropical forests, we are now on a path to much more accurately capture important ecological processes in the global models that are used by policy makers to predict the pace of climate change,” said co-author Caroline Farrior, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Kati Kietzmann


Original publication:
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation and iDiv alumni in bold)
Nadja Rüger, Richard Condit, Daisy H. Dent, Saara J. DeWalt, Stephen P. Hubbell, Jeremy W. Lichstein, Omar R. Lopez, Christian Wirth, Caroline E. Farrior (2020). Demographic trade-offs predict tropical forest dynamics. Science, Vol. 368, Issue 6487, pp. 165-168, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz4797


Related links:
‘Infertile giants’ or ‘fertile dwarfs’

Natural Regrowth of Tropical Forest Helps Reach Climate Goals

 

Contact:

Dr Nadja Rüger
Head of Junior Research Group 'Computational Forest Ecology'
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733168
Email: nadja.rueger@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/rueger_nadja.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Research Media Release Computational Forest Ecology iDiv TOP NEWS Thu, 09 Apr 2020 00:00:00 +0200
Ecosystem services are not constrained by borders https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1689.html Study evaluates and quantifies ecosystem service flows Study evaluates and quantifies ecosystem service flows

Based on a media release by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

What do chocolate, migratory birds, flood control and pandas have in common? Many countries benefit from ecosystem services provided outside their nations. This can happen through economic relationships, biological and geographical conditions, but we hardly know how and where these ecosystem service flows occur. Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) show in a recent study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, how interregional ecosystem service flows can be identified and quantified.

“Ecosystem services are not constrained by borders,” says Prof. Aletta Bonn, who works on ecosystem services at the UFZ and iDiv. “For example, one country benefits from agricultural products originating from other continents or flood protection provided by floodplains in a neighbouring country.” These close links between distant regions arising from ecosystem services are known as telecoupling. Understanding these flows can help to recognise the value of intact nature, identify global drivers of biodiversity loss or soil erosion in distant regions, and develop measures for more sustainable management.

“It is important to understand the interlinkages and the environmental costs caused by domestic consumption of ecosystem services in other countries,” says Aletta Bonn. “This information can then be used in political decisions, such as fair trade standards, environmentally and socially acceptable certification, and financial compensation measures.” But how can ecosystem service flows be identified, quantified and ultimately balanced between countries? The researchers investigated these issues in their recent study. As part of this, they examined the extent to which Germany uses ecosystem services that are provided in other countries. 

“In previous work, we had already developed a conceptual framework for quantifying interregional ecosystem service flows,” says Aletta Bonn. “Here, we differentiated between four types of flows which were examined for Germany in more detail.” The scientists assessed trade flows using cocoa imports as an example and their impact on biodiversity in the producing countries. “It turns out that approximately 85 percent of imported cocoa comes from only five mainly West African countries — Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo.

“Significant impacts on biodiversity are considered for Cameroon and Ecuador due to cocoa trade with Germany,” says Dr. Janina Kleemann, former iDiv researcher and now at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. In the “migratory species” category, the scientists investigated the importance of migratory birds for German agriculture. “Our results indicate that Africa’s tropical and subtropical climate zones provide a habitat for the majority of migratory bird species that make an important contribution to pest control in German agricultural landscapes,” explains Janina Kleemann. Ecosystem services associated with flood protection are assigned to the “passive biophysical flow” category. Here, the researchers concluded that Germany benefits by almost two-thirds from flood regulation provided in other countries’ floodplains, and in return also exports around 40 percent flood regulation to downstream neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands. In the “information flows” category, the loan of a Chinese giant panda to Berlin Zoo served as a case study. The research team highlighted the political, economic, scientific and cultural aspects of this exchange for the relationship between Germany and China.

“To place our study on a sound basis, we collaborated in an interdisciplinary, international team of ecologists, economists, geographers and social scientists,” explains Aletta Bonn. The study, supported by iDiv’s Synthesis Centre (sDiv), is one of the first studies to identify, systematically quantify and assess several interregional ecosystem service flows for a specific country using examples. Awareness and understanding of these flows is the first step towards fairly balancing ecosystem services use and sustainable resource management. “When we know how and to what extent we influence global biodiversity with our consumption patterns and international trade, we can make better decisions regarding individual and national consumption of resources and  develop adequate measures for sustainable management,” says Aletta Bonn. “Our study clearly demonstrates that countries such as Germany bear a global responsibility to protect and conserve biological diversity worldwide.” 

The study is a product of the sDiv synthesis working group sTELEBES. iDiv's synthesis center sDiv funds working group meetings where 10 to 20 national, international scientists and iDiv researchers work together on scientific issues.


Original publication: 
(researchers with iDiv affiliation bold)

Janina Kleemann, Matthias Schröter, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Christian Kuhlicke, Thomas Kastner, Dor Fridman, Catharina J. E .Schulp, Sarah Wolff, Javier Martínez-López, Thomas Koellner, Sebastian Arnhold, Berta Martín-López, Alexandra Marques, Laura Lopez-Hoffman, Jianguo Liu, Meidad Kissinger, Carlos Antonio Guerra, Aletta Bonn (2020): Quantifying interregional flows of multiple ecosystem services — A case study for Germany. Global Environmental Change 61, 102051; doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102051

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Aletta Bonn
Head of Department Ecosystem Services
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
Phone: +49 341 9733153
Email: aletta.bonn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/137.html

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/media

 

]]>
sDiv TOP NEWS Ecosystem Services Media Release UFZ News Mon, 30 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0200
EU Biodiversity Strategy: Call for nature restoration https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1683.html Scientists and NGOs present policy papers. Scientists and NGOs present policy papers.


Based on a media release by Rewilding Europe

This year, the EU will take decisions that have far-reaching consequences for Europe's people and nature. A new set of policy papers outlines why restoring nature should be made a priority in the new EU biodiversity strategy. According to the papers, restoration of nature, based on rewilding principles, is one of the best ways to tackle our current climate and biodiversity emergencies.

“We have to take the great opportunity to allow more nature and wilderness in Europe – for enhancing biodiversity conservation and human wellbeing," says Néstor Fernández, scientist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). “It is now up to EU policymakers to ensure that this happens across Europe.”

New tools

The policy papers published today describe the research analysing the degree of ecological degradation of European landscapes. They also propose priority corridors that need to be restored to meet the goals of biodiversity European policies. The study was led by iDiv and MLU researchers Dr Néstor Fernández and Prof Henrique Pereira, in partnership with Rewilding Europe, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, the WWF European Policy Office, the European Environmental Bureau. It is the culmination of a three-year programme to promote and strengthen Europe's biodiversity conservation agenda.

A new policy brief, entitled “Boosting Restoration for a Wilder Europe”, focuses on a series of maps. These maps help to identify priority areas for landscape-scale nature restoration across the EU, thus helping to establish critical new connectivity between Europe’s “Natura 2000” sites. Integrating a range of different data sets on biodiversity and human impacts on the landscape, the maps aim to inform and guide European policymakers at all levels as they plan and deliver nature recovery.

A fragmented, impoverished landscape

By illustrating the ecological integrity of European terres¬trial landscapes, the new maps showcase the serious degradation of wild nature across much of the continent, impacted by factors such as infrastructure construction, intensive agriculture and forestry, and the disappearance of naturally occurring, large-bodied animals. 

The maps show that areas of Europe where nature is relatively intact are frequently small-scale and isolated, which often leads to further biodiversity decline. This problem is made worse by the absence or unnaturally low presence of large-bodied animals – such as European bison or bears – which are unable to play their unique role in European ecosystems. According to the authors, this further diminishes the functions and benefits those ecosystems could and should be providing.

The role of rewilding

Rewilding, the long-term recovery of ecologically complex ecosystems with lower human intervention, enhances the wide range of benefits that nature gives all Europeans – from clean air and water, carbon sequestration and fertile soil, right through to flood protection, climate change resilience and enhanced health and wellbeing. 

Despite the widespread degradation of European landscapes, wild nature is slowly recovering of its own accord in many areas. This is further promoted by abandonment of less productive lands – a trend that will likely continue in much of Europe for many years. According to the paper authors, this can be seen as an opportunity for policies aimed at recovering landscapes where natural processes play a far greater role in restoring wild nature and natural values.

Original publication (policy brief):
(scientists with iDiv affiliation and iDiv alumni bold)
Fernández, N., Torres, A., Wolf, F., Quintero, L., Pereira, H.M. 2020. Boosting Ecological Restoration for a Wilder Europe. Making the Green Deal work for Nature. ISBN 978-3-9817938-5-7. LINK

Policy recommendations:
https://www.rewildingeurope.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/europe-needs-large-scale-restoration-for-nature-and-climate/index.html

Contact:

Dr Néstor Fernández
Postdoctoral researcher
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Phone: +49 341 97 33229
Email: nestor.fernandez@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/342.html
   
Dr Volker Hahn
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33154
Email: volker.hahn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/media

]]>
Media Release Biodiversity Conservation TOP NEWS Wed, 18 Mar 2020 09:30:56 +0100
Plant life on the edge https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1681.html Plants growing at extremes follow the global rules Plants growing at extremes follow the global rules

Edinburgh/Leipzig. All of plant life can be summarised by what shapes plants take and how they grow. An international team of scientists funded by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Natural Environment Research Council of the UK found that tundra plants use a wide variety of adaptations to deal with the very short summers and long harsh winters found at Arctic latitudes and at the top of mountains. The findings, published in Nature Communication, indicate that tundra plants are more diverse in how they cope with cold climates than previously thought. In a warming world, these tundra plants will benefit from having a wide range of ways to adapt to the changing climate.

Based on a blog post by Haydn Thomas, University of Edinburgh

In the far north-west of Canada, beyond the glacier-capped mountains, out along the Mackenzie delta and across the Arctic Sea, a scientist is crouched over a tiny sprig of Arctic heather. He has spent all day on the lookout for the patch of characteristic white flowers, rising just a few centimetres above the tundra. With caliper and notepad, hands now numb, he takes a few final measurements before hurrying back to the warmth of his cabin. The Arctic heather remains, flowers bobbing merrily in the breeze, quite at home at the cold edge of life on Earth.

That scientist, unsurprisingly, was me. And my hands have almost recovered. It can come as a bit of a surprise to some that I spent the majority of my time in this breathtakingly beautiful environment staring at the ground (with periodic scans for bears) taking intricate measurements of Arctic plants. However, the characteristics of plants, known as plant traits, can tell us a huge amount about their life strategies and how they might respond to climate change. In the tundra, which is currently warming more than twice as fast as the planet as a whole, being able to link rising temperatures to traits such as plant height is extremely valuable in understanding how whole ecosystems might change. Of course, that only works if tundra plants follow the rules.

The idea that plants follow general rules relating to their form and function is extremely appealing. The search for simple patterns underpinning the vast diversity of plant life on Earth has been on the go for at least a century, and perhaps as far back as Humboldt’s explorations over 200 years ago . What is more, if patterns in plant traits could be linked to environment or to species co-existence, we could see a revolution in our understanding of plant ecology - the “holy grail” of ecology according to some.

In 2016, a study led by Sandra Díaz provided a major step forward. The authors found that just two dimensions – plant size (large and woody vs small and non woody) and resource economics (acquisitive vs conservative) – explained the majority of variation in six fundamental plant traits across global plant species. In their words, “the global spectrum of plant form and function is thus, in a sense, a galactic plane within which we can position any plant—from star anise to sunflower—based on its traits.”

Now let’s return to our Arctic heather. With hardy evergreen leaves half the size of a grain of rice, a ground-hugging woody structure, and seeds almost too small to see, this dwarf shrub must surely occupy the most icy and distant of outposts within this galactic plane. And what about other tundra plants? Are they a close-knit constellation, or a scattering of stars throughout the galaxy? Inside a small room attempting to catch the last glimmers of a Scottish autumn, brains were whirring.

The greatest barrier before us lay in the data. The majority of the world’s plant trait data is collected from temperate regions and the tropics. Very little data was available for tundra plants. That might be appropriate to draw out patterns across the planet as a whole, but we wanted to understand if apparently underlying rules applied within the whole, in the extreme conditions in the tundra.

Step up the power of collaboration. Thankfully, I was far from the only scientist crouched over a sprig of heather. The “Tundra Trait Team”, who also met for several meetings at iDiv's synthesis centre sDiv (sTundra), had been compiling just the information we needed to understand trait variation in the tundra. With help from well over 100 contributors, together adding over 50,000 new trait records, we now had the data we needed to test whether the two dimensions that framed the global spectrum of plant form and function held up in the tundra.

The answer in short, is that tundra plants occupy half of global trait space. The slightly longer answer is that although tundra plants do cluster together, they occupy a surprisingly wide range of global trait space. Although they are at the small end of plant life on Earth (as you might have expected), they still have remarkably varied strategies for capturing resources and coping with the extreme climatic conditions and incredibly short growing seasons of the tundra biome. Perhaps even more surprisingly, global rules hold up extremely well in the tundra: the same two dimensions explain the majority of trait variation.

Where does this leave us? Our study suggests that trait relationships are not simply emergent properties from global plant trait data, but say something fundamental about the rules that underpin evolution, community assembly, and ecosystem response to environmental change. So from the towering redwood tree to the tiny Arctic heather, global plant trait relationships really do seem to apply across the broad spectrum of plant life on Earth. The holy grail of plant ecology may indeed be within reach.

Haydn Thomas

 

Original publication
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation and iDiv alumni bold)

Thomas, H.J.D., Bjorkman, A.D., Myers-Smith, I.H., Elmendorf, S.C., Kattge, J., Diaz, S., Vellend, M., Blok, D., Cornelissen, J.H.C., Forbes, B.C., Henry, G.H.R., Hollister, R.D., Normand, S., Prevéy, J.S., Rixen, C., Schaepman-Strub, G., Wilmking, M., Wipf, S., Cornwell, W.K., Beck, P.S.A., Georges, D., Goetz, S.J., Guay, K.C., Rüger, N., Soudzilovskaia, N.A., Spasojevic, M.J., Alatalo, J.M., Alexander, H.D., Anadon-Rosell, A., Angers-Blondin, S., te Beest, M., Berner, L.T., Bjork, R.G., Buchwal, A., Buras, A., Carbognani, M., Christie, K.S., Collier, L.S., Cooper, E.J., Elberling, B., Eskelinen, A., Frei, E.R., Grau, O., Grogan, P., Hallinger, M., Heijmans, M.M.P.D., Hermanutz, L., Hudson, J.M.G., Johnstone, J.F., Hülber, K., Iturrate-Garcia, M., Iversen, C.M., Jaroszynska, F., Kaarlejarvi, E., Kulonen, A., Lamarque, L.J., Lantz, T., Lévesque, E., Little, C.J., Michelsen, A., Milbau, A., Nabe-Nielsen, J., Nielsen, S.S., Ninot, J.M., Oberbauer, S.F., Olofsson, J., Onipchenko, V.G., Petraglia, A., Rumpf, S.B., Shetti, R., Speed, J.D.M., Suding, K.N., Tape, K.D., Tomaselli, M., Trant, A.J., Treier, U.A., Tremblay, M., Venn, S.E., Vowles, T., Weijers, S., Wookey, P.A., Zamin, T.J., Bahn, M., Blonder, B., van Bodegom, P.M., Bond-Lamberty, B., Campetella, G., Cerabolini, B.E.L., Chapin, F.S. III, Craine, J.M., Dainese, M., Green, W.A., Jansen, S., Kleyer, M., Manning, P., Niinemets, Ü., Onoda, Y., Ozinga, W.A., Peñuelas, J., Poschlod, P., Reich, P.B., Sandel, B., Schamp, B.S., Sheremetiev, S.N., de Vries, F.T. (2020). Global plant trait relationships extend to the climatic extremes of the tundra biome. Nature Communications 11, 1351. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15014-4

 

Contact:

Haydn Thomas
School of GeoSciences
University of Edinburgh
Email: hydthomas@gmail.com

 

Dr Marten Winter
Coordinator of sDiv (Synthesis Centre of iDiv)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733129
Email: marten.winter@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/sdiv

 

]]>
Research iDiv TOP NEWS sDiv Media Release Fri, 13 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Getting hit from all sides: Anthropogenic threats gang up on biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1679.html Report by Diana Bowler, postdoctoral researcher at the Ecosystem Services group at iDiv, FSU resp....

Report by Diana Bowler, postdoctoral researcher at the Ecosystem Services group at iDiv, FSU resp. UFZ and first author of a new publications in 'people and nature'

Leipzig. An important step in assessing which species are most at risk of extinction is determining which places are most affected by human activities. Environmental changes caused by harmful human activities are often grouped as climate change, habitat loss, exploitation (e.g., hunting and fishing), pollution, and spread of non-native species. In this study, we examined maps of the intensities of these human-caused environmental changes across the world. We analysed the spatial relationships among the intensities of these environmental changes to identify which were most associated with each other. 

We found that places exposed to one type of change (e.g., habitat loss) also tend to be exposed to another (e.g., non-native species). These associations were especially common on land and along coastlines. Places with the highest intensities of multiple threats were temperate broad-leaf and mixed forest (e.g., in western and central Europe) and the central Indo-pacific. Places with the lowest intensities of multiple threats were the boreal forest and the South Pacific. On land, climate change was relatively independent – but areas of high climate change (such as deserts and northern habitats such as the tundra and boreal forests) are less likely to have other types of environmental changes. From our analysis emerged the concept of an ‘Anthropogenic Threat Complex’ or ATC that represents a distinctive set of environmental changes. 

We grouped the entire surface of the world into 11 ATCs that can be used to guide future studies on the interactive effects of different types of environmental changes by identifying the changes which overlap, and where these changes are most intense. Our study also supports the development of research synthesis and joined-up conservation policy among regions of the world exposed to the same types of environmental changes.

Original publication:
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation bold)

Bowler, D. E., Bjorkman, A. D., Dornelas, M., Myers-Smith, I. H., Navarro, L. M., Niamir, A., Supp, S. R., Waldock, C., Vellend, M., Blowes, S. A., Böhning-Gaese, K., Bruelheide, H., Elahi, R., Antão, L. H., Hines, J., Isbell, F., Jones, H. P., Magurran, A. E., Cabral, J. S., Winter, M. and Bates, A. E. (2019). Mapping human pressures across the planet uncovers anthropogenic threat complexes. People and Nature. DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10071

 

Contact:

Dr. Diana Bowler
Postdoktorand der Forschungsgruppe Ökosystemleistungen
Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung – UFZ
Phone: +49 341 9733199
Email: diana.bowler@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/975.html

 

]]>
TOP NEWS sDiv Ecosystem Services Thu, 12 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100
TRY database for plant traits has released more than a billion records https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1674.html On February 29, the number of 1 billion trait records delivered by iDiv’s research platform... On February 29, the number of 1 billion trait records delivered by iDiv’s research platform TRY was cracked. Founded in 2007 this open-access database has become the primary resource of plant traits used by the research community worldwide. A recent publication in Global Change Biology with more than 700 authors summarizes the main achievements of the 13 years of operation and the contribution to research. As of today, TRY comprises 657 datasets from 991 data contributors. The database contributed to 290 publications in 83 scientific journals.

The most frequent keywords in these publications are biodiversity, climate change, plant traits and functional diversity. Besides advancing basic science, the research relying on TRY data is instrumental in devising strategies to combat the biodiversity crisis and to develop strategies for a sustainable use of our planet’s biodiversity (e.g. Newbold et al. 2015, Nature), thus supporting the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). TRY is a network of vegetation scientists headed by Future Earth and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. The TRY database is coordinated by Jens Kattge, Gerhard Bönisch and Christian Wirth.

Original publication:
Jens Kattge et al. (2020) TRY plant trait database – enhanced coverage and open access. Global Change Biology 26,1, Pages 119-188. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14904

 

Contact:

Dr Jens Kattge
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Phone: +49 3641 576226
Email: jkattge(at)bgc-jena.mpg.de
Web: https://www.bgc-jena.mpg.de/functionalbiogeography/index.php/People/JensKattge

 

]]>
iDiv iDiv Members TOP NEWS Mon, 09 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100
More taxpayers’ money for the environment and public benefit https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1664.html Common Agricultural Policy reform: More than 3,600 researchers call for science to be taken into... Common Agricultural Policy reform: More than 3,600 researchers call for science to be taken into consideration

Leipzig. Scientists from across Europe call for swift and effective action from the EU with regard to its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In a position paper written by 21 authors and coordinated by scientists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Rostock, the EU Commission’s current reform proposals were identified as inadequate. Billions of euros of taxpayers' money are about to be poured down the drain – making it unlikely to reach the set climate and nature conservation targets or the envisaged social objectives. The researchers are proposing ten measures for a sustainable and fair agricultural policy. Over 3,600 signatories support the call for action.

The European Union is currently deciding on funding guidelines for its common agricultural policy for the next seven years. There is a lot of money at stake: in 2019, the EU spent 58 billion euros, a good third of its annual budget, on funding agriculture and rural development. These public funds are primarily used to guarantee farmers' incomes, including intensive agriculture.

According to the World Biodiversity Council (IPBES), intensive agriculture is the number one cause of biodiversity loss and associated ecosystem services that are essential for human well-being. For example, the decline in numbers of insects leads to decreased pollination of food plants or a lack of plant pest control through natural enemies. Intensive farming also promotes emission of climate gases and contributes to soil and water pollution.

Public awareness of the value of biological diversity is growing, and, at the same time, so is public rejection of the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP). According to a 2016 survey carried out on behalf of the EU Commission, 92 percent of the citizens surveyed and 64 percent of the farmers considered the CAP funding for environmental and climate protection to be insufficient.

Many scientists from across Europe share these public concerns. “The post-2020 CAP, as proposed by the European Commission, is an inadequate response to environmental and sustainability challenges, and makes a business-as-usual scenario very likely,” write the authors of the position paper. Twenty-one ecologists, economists and agricultural scientists drafted the position paper and posted it in the form of a petition on the Internet in autumn last year. Over 3,600 scientists, from all 27 EU countries and 36 others, have signed the petition, some of them well-known people from society and public authorities. The petition has now been closed and the position paper with the list of signatories published. A more in-depth version of the text, with specific proposals for implementation, appears in the latest issue of the journal People and Nature. [The statements in this press release refer to the signed position paper.]

The action was coordinated by researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Rostock.
The scientists are concerned that the already inadequate environmental requirements within the current reform proposals could be even further restricted. This is apparent from the amendments tabled by the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the EU Council – as representatives of the Member States – according to which a number of environmental constraints are to be reduced or lifted altogether.

“The EU is contradicting itself by asserting that the next CAP will be better for the environment and rural areas, while at the same time, cutting the budget for doing just that,” says co-initiator and first author of the position paper Dr Guy Pe’er, ecologist at the iDiv research centre and at the UFZ.

The researchers and signatories are urging that scientific data be taken into account in the current revision of the CAP. “The knowledge necessary for a transition to sustainable European agriculture is available,” they write in the position paper. This knowledge should now be used “… to meet citizens' demands for sustainable agriculture and to remedy systemic weaknesses in the CAP.”

Back in 2017, Pe’er and other authors of the new position paper carried out a ‘fitness check’ to check the currently expiring CAP for effectiveness and efficiency, and identified major shortcomings. In a subsequent analysis, published in the scientific journal Science in August 2019, the scientists examined the current EU Commission reform proposals for possible improvements and drew the conclusion that the next CAP may likely perform even worse than the current one. The current position paper is based on workshops with experts including representatives from society and public authorities. Based on these, the authors come up with a list of recommendations for the EU and its Member States. The authors are now getting great support from many other European scientists and CAP experts.

With their position paper, the authors present ten measures for an improved CAP. Their recommendations include, among others, a demand for adequate funds for reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions (which are currently increasing), for effective protection of natural habitats and biological diversity, more efficient assessment of the performance of implemented measures, and a more transparent EU agricultural policy that should involve all stakeholders rather than protect narrow interests.

A top priority, the authors say, is to transfer the so-called direct payments to farmers into payments for activities that serve public goods and societal expectations. “These direct payments are primarily used to guarantee farmers’ incomes,” says agricultural economist and last author of the position paper Prof Dr Sebastian Lakner from the University of Rostock. “This prevents these resources being spent more wisely. Direct payments do little to help achieve environmental goals.” More appropriate measures could include the conservation and restoration of small-scale landscape structures with elements such as flower strips, hedges and grassland. Many birds, insects and mammals benefit from this, which in turn also benefits agriculture.

With 40 billion euros annually, direct payments to farmers take up 70 percent of the EU’s agricultural budget. The money is distributed based on the size of the area being cultivated without any significant relationship to sustainability or social standards - the bigger the area, the higher the funding. In their ‘fitness test’, the researchers assessed the direct payments as inefficient, harmful to the climate and environment, and socially unjust.

“Currently, there is a gap between the green aspirations of these payments and reality of the CAP,” says agricultural economist Lakner. “Although the EU claims that 40 percent of payments (including direct payments) are climate-friendly, only 18 percent of the EU budget can be linked to any environmental actions at all, and not all environmental instruments are efficient. Instead, direct payments drive up land prices and create a difficult business environment particularly for the less competitive operators.”

The position paper also refers to the ‘European Green Deal’ announced last December by EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen promising a “… climate-neutral Europe and the protection of our natural habitat …” by 2050. The authors write that “A restructuring of the CAP to effectively support farmers in adapting to the challenges of sustainability would demonstrate the new Commission’s commitment, but such a change requires political courage.” They call on the Commission, Parliament and Council to step up and fulfil their responsibility to protect European agricultural systems, landscapes and people.
Sebastian Tilch

 

Original publications:
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation bold)

Position paper (signed by over 3600 signatories):
Guy Pe’er, Aletta Bonn, Helge Bruelheide, Petra Dieker, Nico Eisenhauer, Peter H. Feindt, Gregor Hagedorn, Bernd Hansjürgens, Irina Herzon, Angela Lomba, Elisabeth Marquard, Francisco Moreira, Heike Nitsch, Rainer Oppermann, Andrea Perino, Norbert Röder, Christian Schleyer, Stefan Schindler, Christine Wolf, Yves Zinngrebe, Sebastian Lakner (2019): Action needed for the EU Common Agricultural Policy to address sustainability challenges (preprint version). DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3666258. Sigantories’ list is available at DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3685632.

Publication based on the above-mentioned position paper:
Guy Pe’er, Aletta Bonn, Helge Bruelheide, Petra Dieker, Nico Eisenhauer, Peter H. Feindt, Gregor Hagedorn, Bernd Hansjürgens, Irina Herzon, Angela Lomba, Elisabeth Marquard, Francisco Moreira, Heike Nitsch, Rainer Oppermann, Andrea Perino, Norbert Röder, Christian Schleyer, Stefan Schindler, Christine Wolf, Yves Zinngrebe, Sebastian Lakner (2020): Action needed for the EU Common Agricultural Policy to address sustainability challenges. People and Nature. DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10080.

 

Further links:

Fitness Check of EU Common Agricultural Policy (iDiv media release 2017) 

EU agriculture not viable for the future (iDiv media release 2019)

 

Contact:

Dr Guy Pe’er
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Dept. Ecosystem Services & Dept. Economics
Phone: +49 341 97 33182
Email: guy.peer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/peer_guy.html

 

Prof Dr Sebastian Lakner
Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences
Chair of Agricultural Economics
University of Rostock
Phone: +49 381 498 3260
Email: sebastian.lakner@uni-rostock.de
Web: https://www.auf.uni-rostock.de/en/professorships/a-g/agricultural-economics/team/professor-dr-sebastian-lakner/

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/media

 

]]>
Media Release TOP NEWS Ecosystem Services iDiv Tue, 03 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100
iDiv Summer School 2020 - Pollination Ecology https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1662.html The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig in cooperation... The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig in cooperation with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) will conduct its sixth summer school “Pollination Ecology” from 5-12 July 2020 in Leipzig, Germany.

Instructors include: Prof. Tiffany Knight, Amibeth Thompson, Dr. Demetra Rakosy, Dr. Reinart Feldmann, Elena Motivans, Valentin Stefan and Aizhan Ilyassova.

During the six summer school days, participants will be immersed into the field of pollination ecology with lectures, computer labs using the programming language R, fieldwork, plant and insect identification, and data analysis (Species Accumulation Curves, Linear Regression, NMDS, Network Metrics). In addition, students will have opportunities to attend iDiv Seminars and exchange with iDiv researchers.

The summer school aims to attract early career scientists (bachelor, master, or PhD level) from around the world with an overall interest in pollination ecology and interest in fieldwork.

Please find detailed information here

]]>
SIE group news Mon, 02 Mar 2020 15:28:09 +0100
German-Italian Summer School on Alpine Plant Demography https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1660.html In cooperation with the University of Turin (UNITO), ...... In cooperation with the University of Turin (UNITO), the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity (iDiv) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research- UFZ organize a summer school in Italy focused on alpine plant demography. We invite students (Master or PhD level) from Germany and Italy to participate.

The summer school aims to provide an introduction to the demographic study of plant populations. This school will teach students how to collect plant demographic data in the field and how to perform basic demographic analyses that link abiotic drivers (e.g., climate) to plant population dynamics (e.g., population growth rates, extinction probability). The data collected will be analysed in order to:

  • Quantify the basic demographic characteristics of alpine plant populations
  • Determine how these demographic characteristics change across micro-topographical gradients

The summer school will take place jointly in Alagna, and at the Angelo Mosso Scientific Institute long term ecological research site (LTER, 45.8752, 7.8717). Field collection will be carried out nearby the LTER site, at about 2700m of altitude.

Website Summer School

]]>
SIE group news Mon, 02 Mar 2020 14:04:00 +0100
Colour vision in primates closely linked to palm fruite colours https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1658.html Colourful fruits may be the reason why primates can distinguish between shades of red, green and... Colourful fruits may be the reason why primates can distinguish between shades of red, green and blue.

Leipzig/Amsterdam. The evolution of colour vision might be closely linked to the availability of food. Researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University (UL), and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) found that colour vision in African primate species, which is similar to that of humans, is related to the spatial distribution of palm fruit colours. The results of their study have been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They shed new light on the evolution of primates.

In our retina, three kinds of receptors are responsible for the perception of basic colours: red, green and blue. The same holds true for many primate species – in contrast to all other mammals. For nocturnal species, the ability to distinguish different colours would not provide a significant advantage. It is therefore highly probable that so-called trichromatic vision developed in diurnal primates. In addition to greens and blues, they can also distinguish shades of red, making it easier to detect coloured fruit. This could provide a competitive advantage over other fruit-eating animals that cannot distinguish red from green. While this idea had been tested experimentally in a few species, it remained largely unexplored on a larger scale.

A team of researchers from iDiv, UL and UvA has now shown that trichromatic vision in primates is strongly linked to the availability of conspicuous, red palm fruits. Their research involved analysing data on the colour vision and distribution of more than 400 primate species as well as fruit colour data for over 1700 palm species. The result was clear: trichromatic vision in primates is most common in African countries with a high proportion of palm species with very colourful, conspicuous fruits.

This relationship is a win-win situation, benefiting both primates and palms: while primates rely on palm fruits as their primary food source, they are also important seed dispersers in tropical forests, particularly for large fruits. The research shows that the number of diurnal, fruit-eating primates in Africa increases with the proportion of conspicuous palm fruits, with a peak in subtropical regions. The results suggest that the effects of palm fruits on primates are strongest in the transition zones of arid to subtropical regions, where competition for food is also high. For the African primates, the ability to see several colours is thus an advantage when foraging. Palms, in turn, evolved colourful fruits that could be easily spotted by the primates, thus helping to disperse their seed.

The researchers did not only analyse data from the African continent, but also from Asia and the Americas. “Interestingly, in the Americas and Asia some primate species have trichromatic vision, whereas others do not. Here, we did not identify a relationship between colour vision and the proportion of conspicuous palm fruits,” said first author Dr Renske Onstein from iDiv and UL. Furthermore, most primates in the Americas prefer palm fruits with non-conspicuous colours. By contrast, many trichromatic primates in Asia have no interest whatsoever in a fruit’s colour – they enjoy feeding on large amounts of fruit in general.

“In Asia and the Americas, birds and bats could play a more important role as seed dispersers than primates,” explained Dr Daniel Kissling from UvA, senior author of the study. “In contrast, there are relatively few frugivorous birds on the African continent, so palm species may rely more on primates as seed dispersers than other fruit-eating animals.” The analyses show that palm species in Africa are dominated by those with conspicuous fruits, whereas the fruits of American species tend to be more inconspicuous.

Many primate species are now threatened with extinction due to rapid habitat loss and global changes. This may have cascading effects, especially when some plant species rely on primates as their primary seed dispersers. Thus, conservation efforts should also take plant-animal interactions and fruit-colour diversity into account as this is crucial for maintaining tropical biodiversity.
Kati Kietzmann

Original publication:
(Wissenschaftler mit iDiv-Affiliation fett)
Onstein RE, Vink DN, Veen J, Barratt CD, Flantua SGA, Wich SA, Kissling WD (2020). Palm fruit colours are linked to the broad-scale distribution and diversification of primate colour vision systems. Proc. R. Soc. B 20192731. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2731

 

Contact:

Dr Renske Onstein
Head of the junior research group Evolution and Adaptation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733 -129
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/core_groups/evolution_and_adaptation.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/media

 

]]>
iDiv Media Release TOP NEWS Research Evolution and Adaptation Wed, 26 Feb 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Climate change will lead to abrupt shifts in dryland ecosystems https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1654.html As aridity increases, dryland ecosystems undergo abrupt changes that will reduce their capacity to... As aridity increases, dryland ecosystems undergo abrupt changes that will reduce their capacity to provide important ecosystem services.

Based on a media release of the University of Alicante

Alicante. Increases in aridity can alter the capacity of dryland ecosystems to sustain life, also limiting the provision of essential ecosystem services to more than 2 billion people living in those areas, such as soil fertility and biomass production. This was shown by a study recently published in Science. The study was led by Fernando T. Maestre from the University of Alicante, who is also a sabbatical at sDiv, the synthesis centre of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv).

Drylands cover about 41% of the Earth’s land surface and host one in three humans inhabiting our planet. In these areas, life is highly influenced by aridity, i.e. the balance between the amount of rainwater and the water lost by evaporation. In this sense, aridity is increasing worldwide as a result of climate change. A study conducted by the Dryland Ecology and Global Change Lab at the University of Alicante (UA) led by Fernando T. Maestre revealed for the first time that as aridity increases, dryland ecosystems on the planet undergo a series of abrupt changes.

“In the study we found that numerous ecosystem characteristics had a non-linear response to small aridity increases. This means that there are levels at which faster, sometimes even abrupt shifts occur as a result of relatively small aridity increases. When certain aridity thresholds are crossed, the ecosystem undergoes disproportionate changes and becomes even more arid.

Three phases of change

Three phases of change were identified by the researchers. First, when aridity levels cross values of around 0.54, “the ecosystem becomes limited by the lack of water. The vegetation changes and it becomes dominated by species adapted to drought, such as grasses and shrubs, as is already the case in many areas in the Iberian Peninsula”, researcher Fernando T. Maestre points out.

After these initial vegetation changes, when aridity values exceed 0.7, the soil becomes much less fertile. It loses its structure and becomes more vulnerable to erosion. Moreover, soil organisms that play essential roles in maintaining soil nutrients are radically affected, with a dominant presence of pathogens at the expense of more beneficial organisms.

Finally, beyond aridity values of 0.8, an abrupt loss of diversity and plant cover takes place. “Once this threshold is crossed, the water deficit is such that plants cannot thrive in these conditions. Biological activity is drastically reduced and life becomes conditioned by the windows of opportunity that occur during infrequent rain events. The ecosystem has become a desert”, Maestre says.

20% of global lands affected by 2100

According to climate forecasts, more than 20% of the emerged lands of the planet may cross one or several of the aridity thresholds identified in this study by 2100. ‘Life will not disappear, but our findings suggest that these ecosystems may experience abrupt changes that will reduce their capacity to provide ecosystem services to more than 2 billion people, such as soil fertility and biomass production”, says Miguel Berdugo, lead author of the study and a researcher at the UA Dryland Ecology and Global Change Lab until January 2020.

Minimising negative consequences

The findings of this study are of great relevance in understanding the impacts of climate change on dryland ecosystems, as they could help establish mitigation actions. “While we will not stop climate change, I believe we still can minimise its negative consequences on these ecosystems, which are essential to achieve a sustainable development”, says Maestre. “By providing information on how vegetation and soil properties change as aridity increases, and by mapping those areas most sensible to such increases, our results can be used to optimise monitoring and restoration efforts, preserve biodiversity and avoid the desertification of these ecosystems.”


Original publication

Berdugo, M., M. Delgado-Baquerizo, S. Soliveres, R. Hernández-Clemente, Y. Zhao, J. J. Gaitán, N. Gross, H. Saiz, V. Maire, A. Lehman, M. C. Rillig, R. V. Solé & F. T. Maestre (2020) Global ecosystem thresholds driven by aridity. Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.aay5958

 

Contact:

Prof Fernando T. Maestre
Sabbatical at sDiv
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
University of Allicante
Email: ft.maestre@ua.es

 

]]>
sDiv iDiv Media Release Research TOP NEWS Fri, 14 Feb 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Global science team on red alert as Arctic lands grow greener https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1652.html Causes of greening process more complex and variable than previously thought Causes of greening process more complex and variable than previously thought

Based on a media release of the University of Edinburgh

New research techniques including drone and satellite technology are being adopted by scientists tackling the most visible impact of climate change – the so-called greening of Arctic regions. A team of 40 scientists from 36 institutions, supported by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), revealed that the causes of this greening process are more complex – and variable – than was previously thought. Their findings have now been published in Nature Climate Change.

As Arctic summer temperatures warm, plants are responding. Snow is melting earlier and plants are coming into leaf sooner in spring. Tundra vegetation is spreading into new areas and where plants were already growing, they are now growing taller. The latest drone and satellite technology is helping an international team of researchers to better understand how the vast, treeless regions are becoming greener.

Understanding how data captured from the air compare with observations made on the ground will help to build the clearest picture yet of how the northern regions of Europe, Asia and North America are changing as the temperature rises.

Now a synthesis project of 40 scientists from 36 institutions (www.idiv.de/stundra), hosted by iDiv’s synthesis centre sDiv, revealed that the causes of this greening process are more complex – and variable – than was previously thought.

Researchers from Europe and North America are finding that the Arctic greening observed from space is caused by more than just the responses of tundra plants to warming on the ground. Satellites are also capturing other changes including differences in the timing of snowmelt and the wetness of landscapes.

Lead author Dr Isla Myers-Smith from the University of Edinburgh said: “New technologies including sensors on drones, planes and satellites, are enabling scientists to track emerging patterns of greening found within satellite pixels that cover the size of football fields.”

This research is vital for our understanding of global climate change. Tundra plants act as a barrier between the warming atmosphere and huge stocks of carbon stored in frozen ground. Changes in vegetation alter the balance between the amount of carbon captured and its release into the atmosphere. Small variations could significantly impact efforts to keep warming below 1.5 degrees centigrade – a key target of the Paris Agreement. The study will help scientists to figure out which factors will speed up or slow down warming.

Dr Jeffrey Kerby, who was a Neukom Fellow at Dartmouth College while conducting the research, said: “Besides collecting new imagery, advances in how we process and analyse these data - even imagery that is decades old - are revolutionising how we understand the past, present, and future of the Arctic.”

The research was also supported by the Synthesis Centre of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), and was informed by a U.S. National Academy of Sciences workshop, Understanding Northern Latitude Vegetation Greening and Browning.

 

Original publication:
Isla H. Myers-Smith, Jeffrey T. Kerby, Gareth K. Phoenix, Jarle W. Bjerke5, Howard E. Epstein, Jakob J. Assmann, Christian John, Laia Andreu-Hayles, Sandra Angers-Blondin, Pieter S.A. Beck, Logan T. Berner, Uma S. Bhatt, Anne D. Bjorkman, Daan Blok, Anders Bryn, Casper T. Christiansen, J. Hans C. Cornelissen, Andrew M. Cunliffe, Sarah C. Elmendorf, Bruce C. Forbes, Scott J. Goetz, Robert D. Hollister, Rogier de Jong, Michael M. Loranty, Marc Macias-Fauria, Kadmiel Maseyk, Signe Normand, Johan Olofsson, Thomas C. Parker, Frans-Jan W. Parmentier, Eric Post, Gabriela Schaepman-Strub, Frode Stordal, Patrick F. Sullivan, Haydn J. D. Thomas, Hans Tømmervik, Rachael Treharne, Craig E. Tweedie, Donald A. Walker, Martin Wilmking, Sonja Wipf (2020), Complexity revealed in the greening of the Arctic, Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/s41558-019-0688-1

 

Contact:

Dr Marten Winter
Coordinator of sDiv (Synthesis Centre of iDiv)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733129
Email: marten.winter@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/sdiv

 

]]>
iDiv sDiv TOP NEWS Research Media Release Fri, 31 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Pollination is better in cities than in the countryside https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1646.html Plants benefit from more bees, especially bumble bees Plants benefit from more bees, especially bumble bees

Flowering plants are better pollinated in urban than in rural areas. This has now been demonstrated experimentally by a team of scientists led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). Although the scientists found a greater diversity of flying insects in the countryside, more bees in cities resulted in more pollinated flowers of test plants. By far the most industrious pollinators were bumble bees, most likely benefitting from the abundant habitats available in the city. To promote pollination, the researchers recommend to take into greater account the needs of bees when landscape planning – both in cities and in the countryside. Their results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Cities all over the world are expanding. A number of studies have already shown that the conversion of natural areas into built land affects insects and, while the diversity and abundance of insects often decreases, some insect species or species groups may benefit. However, little is known about the effects of urbanisation on the ecosystem services insects provide, such as plant pollination.

A team of scientists led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) has now investigated the effect of the urban environment on insect pollinators and pollination. For this purpose, flower-rich, inner city locations such as parks and botanical gardens were compared with similarly flower-rich sites in rural areas surrounding nine large German cities; Berlin, Braunschweig, Chemnitz, Dresden, Göttingen, Halle, Jena, Leipzig and Potsdam. The scientists sampled flying insects using pan-traps and potted red clover plants as reference for pollination in all locations. Furthermore, they also recorded all insect visits to red clover flowers 20 times a day for 15 minutes. The seeds produced were also counted, thus determining the rate of pollination success.

The most successfully pollinated plants were in the cities; here the flowers were visited more often than in the rural areas. Although the researchers found a greater biodiversity and biomass of flying insects in the rural areas – especially flies and butterflies – these did little to pollinate the red clover. This job was done predominantly by bees, which showed higher species richness and flower visitation rates in cities. Indeed, three out of four of the recorded flower visitors were bumble bees. At a frequency of 8.7 percent, the honey bee was the second most important pollinator.

The researchers believe the great diversity and number of bees in cities is due to the availability of suitable habitats available for wild bees and bumble bees. Good nesting opportunities are found in exposed soils, dead wood and wall cavities, and the large variety of flowering plants in parks and gardens ensures a reliable food supply. Also, bees probably cope better with the challenge of highly dynamic city life than other groups of insects. “Urban people are constantly changing their environment. Finding your way around is a challenge that bees are particularly well-equipped to deal with due to their highly developed orientation and learning skills,” says the head of the study, Prof Robert Paxton, scientist from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). “Flies and butterflies obviously find this more difficult.”

More flower-rich habitats in city centres

Invariably, almost all the insect species assessed benefit from diverse habitat structures which reliably provide food, nesting sites and orientation. In agricultural land these are flower strips, grassland, forest and hedges, and in inner city locations, gardens, wastelands and parks. These are often missing in an extensively cleared agricultural landscape. “I was really shocked at how consistently poor the pollination performance in agricultural land was,” says Paxton. “Other studies have shown that wild bees and bumble bees are particularly susceptible to pesticides. This could also help explain why their diversity is greater in the city, where pesticides play a lesser role.”

Urban insects could ensure agricultural pollination in the future

The figures show just how important pollination is, both for ecosystems and humankind. An estimated 90 percent of all flowering plant species rely on pollination by animals; insect pollinators are essential for maintaining plant diversity. But the food we eat also depends on pollination; the value of pollinators’ services to global agriculture in 2015 was calculated at between $235 and $557 billion.

Flowering plants and their pollinators also play an important role in cities. “What would our urban green spaces be without flowers?” says lead author Dr Panagiotis Theodorou, scientist from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). “The number of urban vegetable gardens and orchards is also growing, but without pollinators, no fruit will ripen there.”

In the medium term, however, cities could also help to maintain rural pollination. “If agricultural land degrades further, cities could serve as a source of pollinators for the farmland surrounding them,” says Theodorou. The researchers therefore recommend that cities should be made more attractive to pollinators, and that the needs of the hardworking bumble bee should be especially taken into account when planning green spaces. But of course, more flower-rich areas and suitable nesting sites also need to be created in the countryside and linked to city habitats so as to boost pollination in commercial orchards.

The study was carried out by first author Panagiotis Theodorou as part of his doctoral thesis at iDiv’s graduate school yDiv. It was funded by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), FZT 118 (DFG).
Sebastian Tilch


Original publication:
(Scientists with iDiv affiliation bold)

Theodorou, P., Radzevičiūte, R., Lentendu, G., Kahnt, B., Husemann, M., Bleidorn, C., Settele, J., Schweiger O., Grosse, I., Wubet, T., Murray, T.E., Paxton, R. J. (2020): Urban areas as hotspots for bees and pollination but not a panacea for all insects. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14496-6


Former media release about similar topic:

Study: Bees are more productive in the city than in surrounding regions (22 June 2016)
https://www.idiv.de/en/news/media_releases/media_release_single_view/469.html

 

Contact:

Dr Panagiotis Theodorou
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Phone: +49 345 55 26511
Email: panagiotis.theodorou@zoologie.uni-halle.de
Web: https://www.zoologie.uni-halle.de/allgemeine_zoologie/staff/panagiotis_theodorou/

 

Prof Dr Robert Paxton
Head of General Zoology
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 345 55 26451
Email: robert.paxton@zoologie.uni-halle.de
Web: https://www.zoologie.uni-halle.de/allgemeine_zoologie/staff/prof._dr._robert_paxton/?lang=en

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/media

 

]]>
iDiv Members yDiv Media Release TOP NEWS Wed, 29 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Public lecture: Butterflies and Politics https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1643.html About the connection between insect decline, agricultural policy and our own consumption. About the connection between insect decline, agricultural policy and our own consumption.

 

The full text is only available in German.

]]>
iDiv Media Release TOP NEWS Ecosystem Services Thu, 23 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Even after death, animals are important in ecosystems https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1639.html Scientists reveal the ecological importance of carion

Animal carcasses play an important role in biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems, also over prolonged periods. Scientists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the University of Groningen have published these findings in the journal PLOS ONE. The carcasses not only provide food for many carrion-eating animal species, their nutrients also contribute to the significantly increased growth of surrounding plants. This, in turn, attracts many herbivorous insects and their predators. The researchers recommend relaxing regulations governing the disposal of animal carcasses when applied to nature conservation areas.

In the Dutch nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen, one of the largest wetland areas in Central Europe, the scientists investigated how red deer carcasses impact local biodiversity. To this purpose, they first recorded the presence of insect species on surfaces both with and without carcasses, and then plant growth in the immediate vicinity of a carcass. They found that the carcasses not only directly benefit many carrion-eating insects like flies or carrion beetles. They also have a positive long-term effect on plant growth.

Plants such as the Welted Thistle (Carduus crispus) grew more than five times larger near the carcasses than in other locations, and this, in turn, resulted in a four-fold increase in the number of herbivorous insects and their predators. “That animal carcasses are important for scavengers is hardly surprising,” says the head of the study, Dr Roel van Klink. “However, I hadn’t expected they would have such a significant impact on the entire local food chain, and continue to do so even after five months, especially on such nutrient-rich soils as in Oostvaardersplassen.” Van Klink carried out the study with colleagues at the University of Groningen. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv).

The results shed new light on the role of animal carcasses in the ecosystem. "It is now largely accepted that dead wood remains in our forests - which benefits many species," says Prof Chris Smit from the University of Groningen. “However, the sight of dead animals in nature is often still a social taboo, and this is a shame given their important value for ecosystems and biodiversity”. Apart from this, EU laws make it difficult to leave the carcasses of large animals in nature reserves. The authors recommend relaxing these regulations for nature reserves.
Sebastian Tilch

Original publication
(iDiv scientists bold)

van Klink, Roel, van Laar-Wiersma, Jitske, Vorst, Oscar, Smit, Christian (2020): Rewilding with large herbivores: Positive direct and delayed effects of carrion on plant and arthropod communities. PLOS ONE 15 (1) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226946

 

 

 

Contact:

Dr Roel van Klink
sDiv – Synthesis Centre
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733135
Email: roel.klink@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/788.html

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/central_management/media_and_communications.html

 

]]>
TOP NEWS sDiv Media Release Wed, 22 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Bringing back nature to the EU in the post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1640.html The rewilding of European ecosystems can help to tackle both the current climate and biodiversity... The rewilding of European ecosystems can help to tackle both the current climate and biodiversity emergencies.

Based on a media release of Rewilding Europe

The rewilding of European ecosystems can help to tackle both the current climate and biodiversity emergencies. In a policy brief published today, experts from six organisations, including the German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), call on the European Commission to prioritise nature recovery in the EU Biodiversity Strategy post-2020.

Helping nature help us 

We are currently facing two global environmental emergencies: biodiversity loss and climate change. While they are often considered in isolation, many of their underlying causes are linked to unustainable development. The recovery of nature through rewilding, and the associated enhancement of nature-based solutions, offers a way to effectively address both crises simultaneously.

Recognising and advocating this twin-track approach, the WWF European Policy Office, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia, the European Environmental Bureau, Rewilding Europe, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg have today released a policy brief calling on the European Commission to prioritise rewilding in the EU Biodiversity Strategy post-2020. By proposing ambitious nature restoration targets and legislation, the strategy would ensure the recovery of nature at landscape-scale across Europe, providing solutions to both the climate and biodiversity crises, helping the EU meet its biodiversity and climate targets, and benefitting every European citizen.

"The large-scale restoration of European nature will not only help to halt and reverse biodiversity decline, it will also protect carbon reservoirs on land and in the seas, and remove carbon from the atmosphere," says Prof Henrique Pereira, head of the Biodiversity Conservation group at iDiv and MLU. "The Biodiversity Strategy post-2020 should, therefore, propose legally binding targets for the restoration of degraded habitats, using rewilding principles, and ensure financing for climate action delivers active restoration of natural habitats on land and at sea."

Enhancing solutions

Nature-based solutions are actions that work with wild nature and natural processes to help mitigate and overcome society's challenges. The new policy brief outlines the many ways in which the large-scale restoration of European nature would see the enhancement of such solutions mitigate the impact of climate change and boost climate resilience.

For example, forest restoration could sequester up to two thirds of the accumulated carbon dioxide emissions in the Earth's atmosphere, contributing decisively to limit global warming below 1.5°C. Such efforts will only be effective if directed towards the restoration of natural, biologically complex and self-sustained forests, because single species plantation forestry often damages existing biodiversity and can be more prone to wildfire and disease. 

The restoration of peatlands also offers a cost-effective approach to climate change mitigation. Naturally functioning peatlands sequester carbon from the atmosphere, laying it down as peat. But the majority of European peatlands have been damaged through drainage, peat extraction, forestry or burning, causing the peat to dry, oxidise and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, rather than locking it up. Rewetting peatlands can reverse this damage and restore their carbon absorption function.

Meeting targets

The policy brief also outlines how the rewilding of European ecosystems, through the restoration and maintenance of ecologically functional and connected landscapes, wetlands and floodplains, is critical to achieving the objectives of the EU's Birds and Habitats Directives and the Water Framework Directive.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy was adopted by the European Commission in 2011 to combat the decline of biodiversity and nature-based services in the EU. While the strategy to 2020 aimed to "restore at least 15% of degraded ecosystems", a mid-term evaluation carried out in 2015 made it clear that progress on this target has been largely insufficient. A fitness check of the EU Nature Directives carried out in 2016 pointed to the lack of connectivity in the EU's network of Natura 2000 sites as one of the main problem areas.

In addition to mitigating the scale and impact of climate change, landscape-scale nature restoration would improve both the conservation status and the connectivity of the Natura 2000 network.  

Delivering cost-effective change

The new policy brief calls for the EU Biodiversity Strategy post-2020 to ensure legally binding restoration targets are laid down for member states. Such targets would encompass the restoration of set  areas of natural forest, peatland, floodplain, wetland and biodiversity-rich grassland, as well as coastal and marine zones. Planned afforestation in the context of this agenda would focus on the urban planting of native species while natural regeneration would be promoted elsewhere.

The costs of large-scale ecosystem restoration are often prohibitive – this is another reason why the EU is currently falling short on its restoration targets. As the policy brief points out, restoring self-sustaining, functioning ecosystems that require little human intervention can help to reduce the financial burden of creating coherent ecological networks, supporting restoration at greater scale and providing new opportunities for managing land that is otherwise economically unproductive.

Working with restored nature can – in a timely and cost-effective way – draw down carbon from the atmosphere, protect us from flooding and coastal erosion, stabilise crops, minimise the threat of wildfire, secure drinking water supplies, ensure human health and wellbeing, and drive economic growth. By supporting rewilding, the EU Biodiversity Strategy post-2020 can help to deliver all these benefits and more.

 

Original publication
(iDiv scientists bold):

Henrique M. Pereira, Néstor Fernández, Andrea Perino, Josiane Segar, Frans Schepers, Rob Stoneman (2020). Ecological restoration in the EU post-2020 biodiversity strategy: The opportunities of rewilding European landscapes for nature and climate. PDF

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Henrique Miguel Pereira
Head of research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Phone: +49 341 9733137
Email: henrique.pereira@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/pereira_henrique_miguel.html

 

Dr Andrea Perino
Science-Policy Coordination
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733184
Email: andrea.perino@idiv.de

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/media

 

]]>
Biodiversity Conservation iDiv MLU News Media Release TOP NEWS Fri, 17 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100
iDiv receives award by the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1637.html Project brings together experts from all over Germany Project brings together experts from all over Germany

 

The full text is only available in German.

]]>
iDiv Media Release TOP NEWS sDiv Mon, 13 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Fish species benefit from marine protection to varying extents - common and exploited species profit most https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1632.html Marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea are home to more fish species, with the greatest... Marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea are home to more fish species, with the greatest gains found among species most sensitive to exploitation.

Leipzig. Marine protected areas reduce fish mortality by limiting harvesting and reducing habitat destruction. They are often designed and implemented to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable fisheries. New research shows these conservation efforts lead not only to an increase in the total number of fishes (individuals) in general. Protected areas in the northern Mediterranean Sea also harbour a higher number of common fish species, and significant positive network effects accumulate between individual reserves. This was found by a team of researchers from multiple institutions including the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Tel Aviv University, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). Their results have been published in the Journal of Applied Ecology and shed new light onto how fish communities respond to protection.

Coastal regions of the Mediterranean are home to more than one hundred million of people. For centuries, these regions have been impacted by multiple human stressors – such as nutrient pollution and harvesting of natural resources.

Currently, 6.5% of the Mediterranean Sea is designated with some level of protection, though less than 1% is fully protected from all extractive uses, including fishing. Such protection is known to increase the number of individuals and fish biomass inside protected areas, but the effect on the number of species (species richness) is more variable, and evidence for biodiversity gains through protection is mixed. The international team of researchers examined how fish biodiversity in the Mediterranean responded to protection by comparing the numbers of individuals, the relative abundance of species and how they are distributed in space, for fishes inside and outside of protected areas.

The researchers found that conservation has strong impacts on biodiversity. Most notable effects were found on the relative abundance of species in protected areas. Rare and common species were disproportionately affected by protection. In particular, there were more common species inside individual protected areas, as well as at the scale of all protected areas combined.

The researchers found that species most sensitive to exploitation responded more strongly to protection than species less sensitive to exploitation. Exploited species showed gains in the number of individuals inside protected areas, the number of common species, as well as of all species combined. Importantly, the increase in the number of common species with high sensitivity to exploitation was greater at regional than local scales. This reflects a tendency for different protected sites to have different exploited species. As a result, biodiversity benefits from a network of protected areas within an ecosystem.

“We found this network effect in reserves that were independently implemented, so they were not necessarily designed to combine as a network. It would be interesting to know whether similar patterns are found in networks of reserves designed with a particular focus, such as to maximize habitat diversity or promote connectivity among reserves”, said first author Dr Shane Blowes from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU).

The research shows that examining multiple biodiversity components across scales gives new insights into how communities respond to protection. The findings of the team suggest that protection could help reverse taxonomic homogenisation that is possibly associated with harvesting, and that local biodiversity conservation initiatives can combine synergistically across a regional system of marine protected areas.

 

Original publication
(iDiv scientists bold)

Shane Blowes, Jonathan Chase, Antonio Di Franco, Ori Frid, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Paolo Guidetti, Tiffany Knight, Felix May, Daniel McGlinn, Fiorenza Micheli, Enric Sala, Jonathan Belmaker, 2020. Mediterranean marine protected areas have higher biodiversity via increased evenness, not abundance. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2020;00:1–12. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13549

 

Contact:

Dr Shane Blowes
Biodiversity Synthesis
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733254
Email: shane.blowes@idiv.de

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Research iDiv TOP NEWS Biodiversity Synthesis Media Release Tue, 07 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Early management and good planning for favourable restoration outcomes https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1633.html This text is only available in German. This text is only available in German.

]]>
Media Release MLU News Research Spatial Interaction Ecology TOP NEWS Wed, 01 Jan 2020 00:05:00 +0100
Forstwirtschaftsplan: Conservation of species in Leipzig riparian forest needs management https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1622.html Scientists from iDiv, UFZ and Leipzig University discuss conservation management Scientists from iDiv, UFZ and Leipzig University discuss conservation management

 

The full text is only available in German.

]]>
iDiv TOP NEWS Tue, 17 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0100
The Evidence is Clear: Transformative Change Needed Now to <br />Address Nature Crisis and Protect Human Quality of Life https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1620.html To save biodiversity, the major global challenges should be tackled now

Press release by the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on 12 December 2019

 

https://ipbes.net/news/new-article-science-ipbes-global-assessment-authors

 

Contact:

]]>
UFZ News TOP NEWS iDiv Members Fri, 13 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0100
Urban growth causes more biodiversity loss outside of cities https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1617.html Researchers assess direct and indirect effects of urban growth on a global scale. Researchers assess direct and indirect effects of urban growth on a global scale.

Leipzig/Halle/Arlington. In a rapidly urbanising world, the conversion of natural habitats into urban areas leads to a significant loss of biodiversity in cities. However, these direct effects of urban growth seem to be much smaller than the indirect effects outside of cities, such as the urban release of greenhouse gases causing climate change globally or the increasing demand for food and resources in cities leading to land-use change in rural areas. Both climate and land-use change are key drivers of global biodiversity loss. An international team of researchers including researchers from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and other institutions assessed the direct and indirect effects on a global scale. The results have been published in the journal Nature Sustainability.

We are living in the period of fastest urban growth in human history, with more than 2 billion additional people expected in cities by 2030 – a pace that is the equivalent to building a city the size of New York City every 6 weeks. But what do scientists know and not know about how urban growth is affecting biodiversity? To answer this question, an international team of researchers reviewed more than 900 studies. The work of the highly international synthesis working group was funded and supported by sDiv, the synthesis centre of German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv).

The researchers found that the direct effects of cities on natural habitat and biodiversity are large and straightforward to map using satellite data. Direct effects occur when urban areas expand, converting natural habitat into cities. Direct effects are cumulatively significant, with 290,000 km2 of nature habitat forecast to be converted to urban land uses between 2000 and 2030. This is equal to an area larger than the entire United Kingdom. Urban areas are causing the most destruction of high-biodiversity habitat in places like coastal China, Brazil, and Nigeria. This adds up to a big loss of biodiversity, because species richness (number of species) at a site is globally on average 50% lower at urban sites than in intact natural habitat.

However, the indirect effect of urban growth on biodiversity is likely far greater than the direct effect. Indirect effects include the biodiversity impacts of resources consumed within the city as well as the impacts of pollution released from cities. The researchers estimate that just the area required to feed the world’s cities is 36 times greater than the urban area of cities. “In other words, the food urban dwellers eat turns out to be more important for global biodiversity than the direct environmental impact of the urban areas”, said co-author Dr Andressa Vianna Mansur, postdoctoral researcher at iDiv. Similar conclusions can be made for other indirect effects, including the role of greenhouse gas emissions from cities in making climate change worse.

To date, much research has been done on the direct effects of urban expansion in particular cities or places – out of 900 studies, more than 600 dealt with the direct effects of urban growth. However, the effects of urban growth are not studied in the regions where the satellite data suggests the most intense effects. “Most studies are in developed countries like the United States and the European Union. Relatively few papers are from developing countries, where cities are expanding the most rapidly into high-biodiversity habitat”, commented first author Robert McDonald from The Nature Conservancy. “As a result, we don’t know much about the way ecosystems change in these habitats in response to urbanisation.”

In contrast to the direct effects, little research has been done on the indirect effects of urban growth – only 34% of all studies of urban impacts on biodiversity consider indirect effects. “In other words, we are spending about twice as much effort to study direct effects than indirect effects, even though indirect effects seem to be far more important in magnitude”, said Robert McDonald.

This gap in the literature may have an effect on policymaking: “The lack of data on the significance of urban biodiversity loss in middle- and low-income countries could lead policymakers to underestimate the importance of the issue”, said Prof Henrique Pereira, research group head at iDiv and MLU. Moreover, there is a lack of information on how unique socioeconomic processes in developing countries, such as informal settlements (slums), affect biodiversity. “Only by closing these research gaps will society be able to make smart and informed decisions about how to protect biodiversity in an increasingly urban world."

 

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold)
Robert I McDonald, Andressa V Mansur, Fernando Ascensão, M’Lisa Colbert, Katie Crossman, Thomas Elmqvist, Andrew Gonzalez, Burak Güneralp, Dagmar Haase, Maike Hamann, Oliver Hillel, Kangning Huang, Belinda Kahnt, David Maddox, Andrea Pacheco, Henrique Pereira, Karen C Seto, Rohan Simkin, Brenna Walsh, Alexandra S Werner, Carly Ziter, 2019. Research gaps in knowledge of the impact of urban growth in biodiversity. Nature Sustainability, DOI: 10.1038/s41893-019-0436-6

 

Contact:

Dr Andressa Vianna Mansur
sDiv – synthesis centre of the
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733176
Email: andressa.vianna_mansur@idiv.de

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Media Release Biodiversity Conservation TOP NEWS Research sDiv iDiv Mon, 09 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0100
Storytelling in the practise of Citizen Science https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1615.html Narratives have functions and can be explained in a (simple) model Report by iDiv alumna Anett Richter, now scientist at Thünen Insitute, on a new publication in Journal of Science Communication:

Leipzig. Storytelling is understood by many as a communication tool to trigger interest, bring joy and allow the understanding of a complex system. Storytelling is also a method in science communication and, thus, the centre of investigation for researchers from multiple disciplines. In citizen science, where members of the public cooperate with scientists to generate new knowledge, pursue educational goals or gain empowerment as citizens, storytelling is expected to be an integrative part of the communication strategy to find a common language. But can storytelling act as more than a tool for communication? And if so: What are these functions and pathways of storytelling in citizen science?

When investigating storytelling, the first selection to be made is the language of the stories being investigated. The second selection is the choice of format in which the stories are being communicated. In the German-speaking countries Austria, Switzerland and Germany, citizen science platforms are well established and represent todays citizen science practise. We decided to investigate all citizen science projects that are represented on these platforms and analysed the role of storytelling in these projects. Once we had established an overview of the projects that apply storytelling, we developed categories and investigated the functions. In a process of abstraction of these functionalities, we derived to a generalised model and some more insights into the significance of storytelling in citizen science.

We found that storytelling has manifold functions. By analysing over 209 analysed projects from Austria, Switzerland and Germany and with the help of two expert workshops to validate the findings, we distinguished the application and integration of storytelling along three major categories. Stories are part of citizen science and function as 1) core research objectives, 2) agents and/or 3) tools.

These functions build linkages between citizens and science and each story facilitates interactions between people and science. The narratives in storytelling act as connecting elements, as co-operator to achieve the goals of the citizen science project. We show that stories create “shortcuts” between science and society and stories stand for the connection of individuals or communities.  

In conclusion, we suggest that storytelling should be a prerequisite to enhance the competencies of the actors involved and to exchange knowledge at the interfaces of science and policy as well as science and society.

Anett Richter

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold)
Richter, A., Sieber, A., Siebert, J., Miczajka-Rußmann, V., Zabel, J., Ziegler, D., Hecker, S. and Frigerio, D., 2019. Storytelling for narrative approaches in citizen science: towards a generalized model. Journal of Science Communication, 18(6), p.A02. DOI: 10.22323/2.18060202

Contact:

Dr Anett Richter
Thünen-Institut für Biodiversität
Bundesallee 65
38116 Braunschweig
Tel. 0531 596 2686
E-mail: anett.richter@thuenen.de

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
E-mail: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

]]>
Media Release Ecosystem Services TOP NEWS yDiv Tue, 03 Dec 2019 14:06:30 +0100
Plant diversity struggles in wake of agricultural abandonment https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1614.html Although local plant diversity increases over time, plant productivity does not significantly... Although local plant diversity increases over time, plant productivity does not significantly recover from agricultural use.

Based on a media release of the University of Minnesota.

Minnesota/Leipzig. Decades after farmland was abandoned, plant diversity and productivity struggle to recover. This has been shown by a new research, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Minnesota examined plant diversity and plant productivity on fields that had been ploughed and abandoned for agricultural use. Although local grassland plant diversity increased over time, plant productivity did not significantly recover.

The international team of researchers examined 37 years of data tied to plant diversity (species richness, i.e., number of species) and plant productivity (i.e., biomass or amount of plants) related to 21 grasslands and savannas in Minnesota. Most of these fields had been ploughed and abandoned for agricultural use between one and 91 years prior. The researchers then compared the plots to nearby land that has not been significantly impacted by human activity.

They found that one year after abandonment, the fields had, on average, 38% of the plant diversity and 34% of the plant productivity for the land that was never ploughed. 91 years after abandonment, the fields had 73% of the plant diversity and 53% of the plant productivity. This shows that local grassland plant diversity increased significantly over time, but incompletely recovered. Plant productivity did not significantly recover.

The researchers suggest that the slow and incomplete recovery of species on abandoned farmland in Minnesota is likely happening in ecosystems around the world where land has been cleared for agriculture, logging or other human activities.

“The amount of land being used for agricultural purposes has slowly been decreasing, leaving some 11 million square miles of old fields and recovering forests across our planet,” said co-author Dr Adam Clark, who is currently a postdoctoral researcher with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). “In these spaces, active restoration efforts may often be needed to restore biodiversity and prevent the extinction of species.”

Restoration tactics can include using prescribed burns, dispersing seeds, using haying to remove nutrients added through fertilization and reintroducing others in the food chain (e.g., herbivores, predators) pushed out of the area.

“When taken at a global scale, fossil records indicate plant species are going extinct at rates hundreds of times faster than the natural extinction rate,” said first author Prof Forest Isbell, assistant professor in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS). “At this localized level, we’re seeing how human activity can impact the loss of species.”

 

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold)
Forest Isbell, David Tilman, Peter Reich, and Adam T. Clark. "Deficits of biodiversity and productivity linger a century after agricultural abandonment". Nature Ecology and Evolution 3:1533–1538, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-1012-1

 

Contact:

Dr Adam Clark
Physiological Diversity
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Email: adam_thomas.clark@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/798.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Physiological Diversity Media Release TOP NEWS Research sDiv iDiv Fri, 22 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0100
Highly Cited Researchers 2019 https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1609.html 10 iDiv members named Highly Cited Researchers Clarivate Analytics lists 10 iDiv members in its 2019 selection of “Highly Cited Researchers”. According to Clarivate Analytics, these scientists have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last ten years.

 

 

The following iDiv members can be found on the list (in alphabetical order):
Prof Jonathan Gershenzon (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, iDiv)
Prof Stanley Harpole (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, iDiv, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg)

Dr Jens Kattge (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, iDiv)
Dr Stefan Klotz (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, iDiv)
Prof Ingolf Kühn (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, iDiv)

Prof Markus Reichstein (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, iDiv)
Prof Matthias Rillig (Freie Universität Berlin, iDiv)
Prof Josef Settele (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, iDiv)
Prof Peter F. Stadler (Leipzig University, iDiv)
Dr Marten Winter (iDiv)

In total, 6,200 researchers from 21 research fields have been selected.
https://t.co/gScxl0iJfs

]]>
Media Release sDiv TOP NEWS Tue, 19 Nov 2019 16:00:08 +0100
Plant species with medium abundance have declined the most. https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1608.html The full text is only available in German.  

The full text is only available in German.

]]>
iDiv Members Ecosystem Services Media Release Fri, 08 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0100
Higher local earthworm diversity in Europe than in the tropics https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1600.html Global climate change could alter earthworm communities worldwide. Global climate change could alter earthworm communities worldwide.

Leipzig. In any single location, there are typically more earthworms and more earthworm species found in temperate regions than in the tropics. Global climate change could lead to significant shifts in earthworm communities worldwide, threatening the many functions they provide. These are the two main results of a new study published in Science. The research was led by scientists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Leipzig University. They brought together 140 researchers from across the globe to compile the largest earthworm dataset worldwide, encompassing 6928 sites in 57 countries.

Earthworms can be found in many ecosystems worldwide. Where the soil is not frozen (permafrost), too wet, acidic, or completely dry (deserts), earthworms substantially shape the way ecosystems function. They dig holes, mix soil components and eat organic debris. By doing so, they drive a wide range of ecosystem services, such as nutrient provision, freshwater supply, carbon storage, climate mitigation or seed dispersal. It is for these reasons that earthworms are considered highly important “ecosystem engineers”. This importance is also reflected by the large amount of biomass that accumulates in earthworms: in fact, the total earthworm biomass is often larger than that of all mammals living in the same area.

Although the great impact of earthworms on ecosystems and the services they provide to people are well known, little is known about how they are distributed on a global scale. “Researchers have known for decades that for any given area in the tropics we would usually expect more species than in the same sized area in temperate regions,” says first author Dr Helen Phillips, researcher at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Leipzig University (UL). “But until now, we had been unable to quantitatively investigate the same global patterns for earthworms, as there was no global earthworm dataset.”

Phillips and her colleagues aimed to create a global map using as much data on earthworm diversity, abundance and biomass as possible. Working as part of an international sDiv (iDiv’s synthesis centre) working group, Phillips, senior authors Nico Eisenhauer (iDiv, UL) and Erin Cameron (Saint Mary’s University), as well as other members of the group contacted earthworm researchers from around the world and asked them to provide their data for compiling a whole new global earthworm dataset with open access for everyone. “Initially, we thought this is a crazy idea. But then, we were impressed how many colleagues were highly motivated to share their data for this exciting endeavour,” says senior author Prof Nico Eisenhauer, research group head at iDiv and Leipzig University. “We basically started from scratch in 2016 – only a couple of years later we could publish one of the largest datasets on soil biodiversity. This is an amazing achievement of the lead author Helen Phillips and the many scientists that trusted in us.”

The results of this huge effort show that patterns of belowground biodiversity do not match those observed for organisms living aboveground. Plant, insect or bird diversity (number of species within any given area) typically increases from high to low latitudes, meaning that the number of species is highest in the tropics. For earthworms, however, the researchers found the opposite pattern. In fact, highest local earthworm diversity was found in Europe, northeastern USA and New Zealand. Similar patterns were found for earthworm abundance (number of individuals per area) and earthworm biomass (mass per area) – also showing highest values in temperate regions.

At the same time, earthworm species in the tropics seem to have smaller distribution ranges. “In the tropics, if you drive just a few kilometres, you may find a whole new set of earthworm species, while in the colder regions they remain more or less the same,” says Helen Phillips. “This could mean that while there are few species found in a single location in the tropics, the total number of species across the whole region may in fact be extremely high. But we don’t know yet.” The main reason for this uncertainty is that many tropical earthworm species have not yet been described. Thus, earthworms identified at different locations could belong to the same species or not – a question to be resolved.

The researchers also assessed which environmental factors drive the number of earthworm species, as well as their abundance and biomass. They found that factors related to precipitation and temperature had the largest effects. “Based on these strong climate effects, we conclude that climate change could cause shifts in earthworm communities and change the functions and services ecosystems provide,” says Nico Eisenhauer. “Given their role as ecosystem engineers, we are concerned about potential cascading effects on other organisms like microbes, soil insects and plants.”

The results of the study have implications for conservation priorities: Biodiversity is usually an important criterion for the selection of protected areas. However, focusing only on aboveground diversity may result in insufficient protection of earthworms. Thus, belowground biodiversity needs to be included for a complete assessment – enabling conservationists to identify the planet’s true biodiversity hotspots. “It’s time for a paradigm shift in the conservation of biological diversity – because they are mostly dwelling in the soil, we easily forget about the amazing creatures under our feet,” says Nico Eisenhauer. “Earthworms may be cryptic and may not have the charisma of a panda bear, but they are extremely important for other organisms and the functioning of our ecosystems.”
Volker Hahn


Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold)
Helen R. P. Phillips, Carlos A. Guerra, Marie L. C. Bartz, Maria J. I. Briones, George Brown, Thomas W. Crowther, Olga Ferlian, Konstantin B. Gongalsky, Johan van den Hoogen, Julia Krebs, Alberto Orgiazzi, Devin Routh, Benjamin Schwarz, Elizabeth M. Bach, Joanne Bennett, Ulrich Brose, Thibaud Decaëns, Birgitta König-Ries, Michel Loreau, Jérôme Mathieu, Christian Mulder, Wim H. van der Putten, Kelly S. Ramirez, Matthias C. Rillig, David Russell, Michiel Rutgers, Madhav P. Thakur, Franciska T. de Vries, Diana H. Wall, David A. Wardle, Miwa Arai, Fredrick O. Ayuke, Geoff H. Baker, Robin Beauséjour, José C. Bedano, Klaus Birkhofer, Eric Blanchart, Bernd Blossey, Thomas Bolger, Robert L. Bradley, Mac A. Callaham, Yvan Capowiez, Mark E. Caulfield, Amy Choi, Felicity V. Crotty, Andrea Dávalos, Darío J. Diaz Cosin, Anahí Dominguez, Andrés Esteban Duhour, Nick van Eekeren, Christoph Emmerling, Liliana B. Falco, Rosa Fernández, Steven J. Fonte, Carlos Fragoso, André L. C. Franco, Martine Fugère, Abegail T. Fusilero, Shaieste Gholami, Michael J. Gundale, Mónica Gutiérrez López, Davorka K. Hackenberger, Luis M. Hernández, Takuo Hishi, Andrew R. Holdsworth, Martin Holmstrup, Kristine N. Hopfensperger, Esperanza Huerta Lwanga, Veikko Huhta, Tunsisa T. Hurisso, Basil V. Iannone III, Madalina Iordache, Monika Joschko, Nobuhiro Kaneko, Radoslava Kanianska, Aidan M. Keith, Courtland A. Kelly, Maria L. Kernecker, Jonatan Klaminder, Armand W. Koné, Yahya Kooch, Sanna T. Kukkonen, Hmar Lalthanzara, Daniel R. Lammel, Iurii M. Lebedev, Yiqing Li, Juan B. Jesus Lidon, Noa K. Lincoln, Scott R. Loss, Raphael Marichal, Radim Matula, Jan Hendrik Moos, Gerardo Moreno, Alejandro Morón-Ríos, Bart Muys, Johan Neirynck, Lindsey Norgrove, Marta Novo, Visa Nuutinen, Victoria Nuzzo, Mujeeb Rahman P, Johan Pansu, Shishir Paudel, Guénola Pérès, Lorenzo Pérez-Camacho, Raúl Piñeiro, Jean-François Ponge, Muhammad Imtiaz Rashid, Salvador Rebollo, Javier Rodeiro- Iglesias, Miguel Á. Rodríguez, Alexander M. Roth, Guillaume X. Rousseau, Anna Rozen, Ehsan Sayad, Loes van Schaik, Bryant C. Scharenbroch, Michael Schirrmann, Olaf Schmidt, Boris Schröder, Julia Seeber, Maxim P. Shashkov, Jaswinder Singh, Sandy M. Smith, Michael Steinwandter, José A. Talavera, Dolores Trigo, Jiro Tsukamoto, Anne W. de Valença, Steven J. Vanek, Iñigo Virto, Adrian A. Wackett, Matthew W. Warren, Nathaniel H. Wehr, Joann K. Whalen, Michael B. Wironen, Volkmar Wolters, Irina V. Zenkova, Weixin Zhang, Erin K. Cameron, Nico Eisenhauer (2019) Global distribution of earthworm diversity. Science 366(6464):480–85. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax4851



 

Contact:

Dr Helen Phillips
Postdoctoral researcher at the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +49 341 9733122
Email: helen.phillips@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/587.html

 

Prof Dr Nico Eisenhauer
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +49 341 97 33167
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html

 

Dr Volker Hahn
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33154
Email: volker.hahn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/media

 

]]>
sDiv Media Release Experimental Interaction Ecology TOP NEWS Thu, 24 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Macaques can make palm oil more sustainable and efficient by hunting plantation rats https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1603.html Considered an oil palm pest, macaques can in fact diminish a more severe pest: rats Considered an oil palm pest, macaques can in fact diminish a more severe pest: rats

Leipzig/Gelugor. In Malaysia, wild pig-tailed macaques do not have the best reputation and are even considered a crop pest. Contrary to this, they actually feed on rats, the major oil palm pest, and can provide an important ecosystem service as biological pest control agent. This was found by a team of researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University (UL) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI EVA). Their research investigates the costs and benefits of macaques foraging in oil palm plantations and was published in Current Biology.

Used as common ingredient of processed foods, cosmetics, detergents and biofuel, palm oil has become an indispensable part of our modern society. The production comes at a high cost for the environment: Decline in pristine forest cover, reduced biodiversity and impaired climate regulation functions are only some of the negative effects when tropical rainforest is turned into monocultures. To date, more than 18 million hectares of land worldwide are covered with oil palm plantations, one third of which are located in Malaysia, one of the world’s main palm oil producers.

Oil palm plantations commonly suffer high yield losses due to rats feeding on the ripe and unripe fruits. In Malaysia alone, the annual losses equal an area twice the size of Luxembourg. Consequently, rodent pests are often managed with poison. The extensive use of rodenticides is not only expensive and largely ineffective, but, most importantly, also very harmful to non-target animals and the environment. One crucial aspect of biological pest control and, thus, more sustainably managed oil palm plantations, is the identification of natural rat predators such as barn owls that have become a widely used biological alternative for conventional pest management methods. However, researchers doubt that barn owls alone can regulate rodent populations effectively. “The best way seems a combination of different predator species that cover different ecological niches, foraging either during the day or night, or in different substrates in the plantation,” says corresponding author Dr Nadine Ruppert from USM, founder of the Macaca Nemestrina Project.

In their study, the team from Malaysia and Germany assessed whether pig-tailed macaques can, indeed, significantly reduce populations of plantation rats. They investigated the foraging behaviour of two groups of wild and habituated Southern pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) in oil palm plantations next to a forest reserve at the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The data revealed that even though macaques also feed on palm oil fruits, they cause relatively minor direct yield losses: less than 1% compared to 10% caused by rats. More importantly, the authors estimated an annual consumption of more than 3,000 rats per macaque group in this area. “We assume that macaques are excellent pest control agents as they actively search for rats by applying a very targeted foraging technique,“ says first author Anna Holzner, doctoral researcher at UL and MPI EVA. “Unlike other predators, which hunt for rats on the plantation ground during the night, pig-tailed macaques actively remove pieces of old, persistent leaf bases from oil palm trunks to uncover rats that seek shelter during the day.” Holzner and her colleagues were also able to show that regular plantation visits by the macaques can reduce rat numbers by more than 75%. When offsetting costs and benefits, macaques can contribute to yield increases of up to 7%, which is equal to an annual monetary gain of approximately 100€ per hectare.

“We expect that our results will encourage both private and public plantation owners to consider the protection of these primates and their natural forest habitat in and around oil palm plantations,” comments senior author Prof Anja Widdig, head of the research group Primate Behavioural Ecology at MPI EVA and UL. In collaboration with local palm oil companies and NGOs, they will work towards the realisation of a plantation design that maintains viable macaque populations and higher levels of biodiversity via wildlife corridors, while increasing the plantations’ productivity and sustainability by effective and environmentally friendly pest control. “This can ultimately lead to a win-win situation for both the oil palm industry and biodiversity,” says Prof Widdig.

 

Original publication:
(iDiv researchers bold)
Anna Holzner, Nadine Ruppert, Filip Swat, Marco Schmidt, Brigitte M. Weiß, Giovanni Villa, Asyraf Mansor, Shahrul Anuar Mohd Sah, Antje Engelhardt, Hjalmar Kühl, Anja Widdig (2019), Macaques can contribute to greener practices in oil palm plantations when used as biological pest control. Current Biology, Vol. 29(20), PR1066-R1067. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.011

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Anja Widdig
Head of Research Group Primate Behavioural Ecology
Institute of Biology, Leipzig University
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9736 707
Email: anja.widdig@eva.mpg.de

 

Dr Nadine Ruppert
School of Biological Sciences
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Phone: +604 6533513
Email: n.ruppert@usm.my

 

Anna Hoizner
Institute of Biology, Leipzig University
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Phone: +49 341 9736 872
Email: anna.holzner@uni-leipzig.de

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Research iDiv TOP NEWS Media Release iDiv Members Mon, 21 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0200
The composition of species is changing in ecosystems across the globe https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1597.html Researchers map types and rates of biodiversity change. Researchers map types and rates of biodiversity change.

Leipzig/Halle/St Andrews. Biodiversity is changing rapidly in many places all over the world. However, while the identities of species in local assemblages are undergoing significant changes, the number of species is on average remaining relatively constant. Thus, changes in local assemblages do not always reflect the species losses occurring at the global scale. These findings are based on observations by a team of scientists led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the University of St Andrews. Their findings, which have been published in Science, reveal greater changes in species composition in marine systems than on land, with most extreme changes in tropical marine biomes.

Human activities are fundamentally altering biodiversity. Species are declining at the global scale, but this is contrasted by highly variable trends at local scales. An international team of scientists from leading universities across Europe, the USA and Canada aimed to identify geographic variation in biodiversity change. The scientists examined longitudinal variation in species richness (number of species) and species composition (identities of species). They pieced together and mapped over 50,000 biodiversity time series from studies across the planet using the biodiversity database BioTIME, hosted at the University of St Andrews. They were then able to dissect variation in biodiversity trends to identify the places that are changing most rapidly.

Previous findings showing no net change in the number of species at local scales had proved extremely controversial. Thus, the group of researchers aimed to reach a consensus on global biodiversity change. Their meetings were hosted by sDiv, the synthesis centre at iDiv. “sDiv managed to bring people together who had very different backgrounds and find common ground”, says Prof Jonathan Chase, head of the Biodiversity Synthesis group at iDiv and MLU.

The results show how biodiversity change varies geographically. The species that make up local assemblages are changing everywhere, but rates of species richness change and turnover were higher and more variable in marine biomes, with maximum turnover rates twice those observed in terrestrial biomes. This could be due to greater sensitivities of marine species to climate warming.

Moreover, tropical marine regions are exhibiting biodiversity change at the extremes of richness gains, losses and turnover more often than other regions. “If these trends are maintained, this could lead to a dramatic restructuring of biodiversity, with potentially severe consequences for ecosystem functioning”, says first author Dr Shane Blowes from iDiv and MLU. The tropics, which harbour the majority of biological diversity, are generally considered to be where biodiversity is most threatened on the planet. In the context of climate change, there are likely fewer species available to replace those species lost in tropical zones.

“When biodiversity is in the news these days, it is often because the Amazon is on fire, or there is a global mass mortality event in coral reefs, and rightly so, because these are terrifying news”, says senior author Dr Maria Dornelas from the University of St Andrews. “However, there is a lot of recovery also taking place silently in the background, and many places where not much is happening.” The new study shows that while some locations have experienced decreases in species richness, others show increases, whereas changes in species composition are far more ubiquitous. Knowing where biodiversity change is happening – and how – is critical to planning conservation and management strategies.

Detecting geographic variation in biodiversity trends not only improves our understanding of how and where biodiversity is changing worldwide, but it can also inform conservation priorities by identifying which regions to protect and which regions to help recover. However, despite the large amount of data synthesised for this study, biodiversity monitoring overall is lacking for many regions of the planet, e.g., the deep ocean and the tropics. The study highlights the critical importance of continuing to improve the spatial coverage of biodiversity monitoring. This will lead to better understanding of global biodiversity change and appropriate conservation strategies in the future.
Kati Kietzmann

 

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold)
Shane A. Blowes and Sarah R. Supp, Laura H. Antão, Amanda Bates, Helge Bruelheide, Jonathan M. Chase, Faye Moyes, Anne Magurran, Brian McGill, Isla Myers-Smith, Marten Winter, Anne D. Bjorkman, Diana Bowler, Jarrett E.K. Byrnes, Andrew Gonzalez, Jes Hines, Forest Isbell, Holly Jones, Laetitia M. Navarro, Patrick Thompson, Mark Vellend, Conor Waldock, Maria Dornelas (2019), The geography of biodiversity change in marine and terrestrial assemblages. Science, 366, 339-345. DOI: https://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aaw1620

 

Contact:

Dr Shane Blowes
Biodiversity Synthesis
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733254
Email: shane.blowes@idiv.de

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Biodiversity Synthesis Media Release TOP NEWS Research sDiv iDiv Fri, 18 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0200
MIE research in German TV documentary https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1598.html On 15 October 2019, MDR TV broadcasted a beautiful documentary on the Leipzig botanical... On 15 October 2019,  MDR TV broadcasted a beautiful documentary on the Leipzig botanical garden, the oldest botanical garden in Germany. You will see our iDiv gardener Alvin, our former gardener Daniel and their colleagues hard at work. After about 31 minutes into the documentary, you can see our MIE research is highlighted. Please click here to see many MIE members starring on TV. The documentary is in German.

]]>
Molecular Interaction Ecology Wed, 16 Oct 2019 13:07:17 +0200
Global South most affected by climate change and land use effects https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1595.html Where people’s needs for nature are greatest, nature’s ability to meet those needs is declining Where people’s needs for nature are greatest, nature’s ability to meet those needs is declining

Based on a media release of the Natural Capital Project

Leipzig/Stanford. By 2050, up to 5 billion people could be at higher risk of water pollution, coastal storms or under-pollinated crops with a majority living in developing countries. This is one of the most alarming results of a study recently published in Science by an international research team with contribution of the German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). The team produced a high-resolution global map showing the distribution of nature’s ability to provide services to humankind. These services are increasingly threatened by human-driven degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity. The map may improve policy and decision-making around investments in nature locally as well as globally. With the help of sustainable development, the threats to vital ecosystem services may be reduced.

Nature supports people in critical ways, often at a highly local level. A wild bee buzzes through a farm, pollinating vegetables as it goes. Nearby, wetlands remove chemicals from the farm’s runoff, protecting a community drinking water source. In communities all around the world, nature’s contributions are constantly flowing to people. A new study with contribution of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), published in Science, uses high-resolution satellite data to funnel the details of individual local analyses into one, global map. Using advanced technology and software, the researchers created interactive maps that showcase the details of local analyses on a global stage. Informed by this planet-wide analysis, the paper emphasizes nature’s declining ability to protect people from water pollution, coastal storms and under-pollinated crops.

“For the first time, we have mapped globally the overlap between the provision of ecosystem services and the areas where people are most dependent on nature to meet their needs,” said co-author Prof Henrique Miguel Pereira, head of the Biodiversity Conservation working group at iDiv and MLU. “We find that ecosystems are being degraded in places where people are particularly dependent on nature. This is very worrying and requires policies to immediately stop the degradation of ecosystems”

The researchers focused on three fundamental benefits that nature provides to people: water quality regulation, protection from coastal hazards and crop pollination. Using open-source software developed by the Natural Capital Project, they modeled how the flow of these benefits might change in the future.

5 billion could be at higher risk

Across the board, they found that where people’s needs for nature are greatest, nature’s ability to meet those needs is declining. By 2050, their projections show that up to 5 billion people could be at higher risk of water pollution, coastal storms and under-pollinated crops.

Critically, the team’s research shows that these impacts are inequitably distributed. In all scenarios, developing countries shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden. People in Africa and South Asia are the most disadvantaged in the face of diminishing contributions from nature. More than half the population in these regions is facing higher-than-average “benefit gaps,” the tangible elements — like vulnerability to coastal storms, water pollution or crop losses — that people feel when contributions from nature stop flowing. The impacts aren’t isolated to certain countries, though. Under climate change, projected sea-level rise increases risk to coastal communities everywhere and may impact over 500 million people worldwide by 2050.

Informing policies to invest in nature

In an increasingly globalized world, this new technological application of integrated, high-resolution data provides an opportunity to incorporate nature into worldwide policy decisions. With accessibility in mind, a key priority of the research was to produce high-resolution, interactive maps through an online viewer. Not only did this viewer help the team digest the data internally, but it now serves as a model for presenting complex global data to key decision-makers in a digestible way.

The goal of this research — and future projects building off this new approach — is to help inform policy and decision-making around investments in nature. For example, the models suggest that places within the Ganges Basin and parts of Eastern China can be targeted for high-impact investments in natural ecosystems. Preserving or restoring these areas’ ecosystems will help bolster the wellbeing of entire communities.

The team is looking to policymakers, development banks and other global influencers to use this information to drive sustainable development and conservation. Looking forward, the researchers are expanding their analysis to model other ecosystem benefits. They’re also looking to more deeply understand where nature’s contributions could best support the planet’s most vulnerable populations. “We’re equipped with the information we need to avert the worst scenarios our models projected and move toward an equitable, sustainable future,” said Dr Becky Chaplin-Kramer, lead scientist at Stanford’s Natural Capital Project and lead author on the study. “Now is the time to wield it.”


Original publication:
(iDiv scientists in bold)

Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Richard P. Sharp, Charlotte Weil, Elena M. Bennett, Unai Pascual, Adrian L. Vogl, Katie K. Arkema, Kate A. Brauman, Anne D. Guerry, Nick M. Haddad, Maike Hamann, Perrine Hamel, Justin A. Johnson, Lisa Mandle, Henrique M. Pereira, Stephen Polasky, Mary Ruckelshaus, M. Rebecca Shaw, Jessica M. Silver, Gretchen C. Daily(2019), Global Modeling of Nature’s Contributions to People. Science, 6462, 255-258. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw3372

Interactive map:
http://viz.naturalcapitalproject.org/ipbes/

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Henrique Miguel Pereira
Head of research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Phone: +49 341 9733137
Email: henrique.pereira@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/pereira_henrique_miguel.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Biodiversity Conservation iDiv TOP NEWS Research Media Release Tue, 08 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0200
German fishermen’s scepticism towards EU impedes compliance with its regulations https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1592.html Game of chance experiment: In a relationship with an unpopular regulator, the truth is somewhat... Game of chance experiment: In a relationship with an unpopular regulator, the truth is somewhat elastic.

Leipzig/Hamburg/Kiel: Negative perception of a regulatory authority like the EU diminishes the honesty of those regulated, for example, that of fishermen. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Leipzig University, the University of Hamburg and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy from a game of chance experiment with EU-sceptic commercial fishermen and Brexit voters. Among other things, the findings, published in the European Economic Review, help to assess the effectiveness of unmonitored EU fisheries regulations. The experiment also revealed that the fishermen were more honest than students.

That the EU does not enjoy a good reputation among German commercial fishermen has been confirmed by many surveys, but what influence this scepticism has on honesty when, for example, complying with rules, has hitherto been unclear. In order to find out, the three economists Prof Martin Quaas (iDiv, Leipzig University), Prof Moritz Drupp (University of Hamburg) and Prof Menusch Khadjavi (Kiel Institute for the World Economy) conducted a game of chance experiment. Each of the almost 900 German commercial fishermen received a letter containing a questionnaire on economic decisions made by fishermen.

All participants were given the prospect of winning a cash prize of up to 100 euros and entering a raffle to win an additional 500 euros. Among other things, they were asked to toss a one-euro coin four times and report back to the scientists how often it came up 'heads' or 'tails'. Each 'tail' meant a five-euro win. But not everyone received the same letter: some of the letterheads showed only the logos of the research institutions while others showed part the logo of the EU. 120 fishermen took part in the study.

Statistically, the most frequent result would have to be ‘tails' twice. Four 'tails’ or none at all would be extremely rare. In the knowledge that their information could not be verified, some of the participants, as expected, made false claims in their favour and the number of reported incidences of three and four times 'tails' was disproportionately high. However, on average four out of five fishermen were truthful - when the letterhead contained only the logos of the research institutions. When the letterhead also showed the EU flag, almost one in three fishermen answered dishonestly.

"The results clearly show: In the absence of monitoring and checks, the level of honesty depends largely on the attitude of those regulated towards the regulating authority - in this case the EU," says Martin Quaas, head of the Biodiversity Economics Research Group at iDiv and Leipzig University.

Current resentment of fishermen regarding EU policy makes effective regulation difficult

In practice, honesty on the part of fishermen plays an essential role in compliance with fishing quotas and the European Union's recently introduced discard ban. Since its introduction, fishermen have had to bring the entire catch ashore and count it towards their quota - including unsaleable animals; fish which are too small, for example, and should not be caught in order to support conservation of stocks. The discard ban is intended to encourage more selective fishing techniques; bycatch does not usually survive capture and the unwanted animals are thrown back dead into the sea. This practice is now banned but, so far, checks have rarely been carried out.

"Monitoring would cost a lot of money," says Moritz Drupp, first author and Assistant Professor for Environmental Economics at the University of Hamburg who began the study at the University of Kiel. "Therefore, the question of how honest fishermen are with an unpopular regulatory authority is of vital interest in regulating public resources such as marine fish.”

Increased dishonesty as a result of suspicion towards an authority can be generalised

However, the tendency towards dishonesty in dealings with the EU is not limited to commercial fishermen. This was demonstrated using the same coin toss experiment with another EU-cynical group: Brexit voters. If the origin of the survey was presumed to be the European Union, dishonest results for personal financial gain were also more frequently reported for this group than if the EU reference was missing. “From this we conclude that dishonesty in dealings with a sceptically viewed supervisory authority can be regarded as generally valid," says Menusch Khadjavi, also co-author of the study and researcher at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

"In the past, EU fisheries regulation was often half-hearted and not very effective; more transparent and effective regulation may well increase fishermen's confidence in the EU in the long term. Our study shows that the authority would then be able to rely more on fishermen’s honesty," concludes Martin Quaas.

"Some of the fishermen reported that they found the researchers’ tasks rather childish," says the Secretary General of the German Fisheries Association, Dr Peter Breckling. "That makes it all the more gratifying to now see the important results of the study."

The fact that commercial fishermen are not fundamentally or especially dishonest is also shown by another control experiment in this study. This was carried out at the same time with students from Kiel University as the subjects. Less than half of the participants reported their coin toss results honestly.
Sebastian Tilch

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists in bold)

Drupp, M. A., Khadjavi, M., Quaas, M. F. (2019), Truth-telling and the regulator. Experimental evidence from commercial fishermen. European Economic Review 120. DOI: 10,1016/y.euroecorev.2019,103310

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Martin Quaas
Head of research group Biodiversity Economics
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Leipzig University
Phone: Please contact the iDiv Media and Communications department
Email: martin.quaas@idiv.de

 

Prof Dr Moritz Drupp
Fakultät für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften
Universität Hamburg
Phone: +49 40 42838 6171
Email: moritz.drupp@uni-hamburg.de
Web: http://www.wiso.uni-hamburg.de/envecon.html

 

Prof Dr Menusch Khadjavi
Institut für Weltwirtschaft Kiel
Phone: +49 431 8814 631
Email: menusch.khadjavi@ifw-kiel.de
Web: https://www.ifw-kiel.de/de/experten/ifw/menusch-khadjavi/

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/central_management/media_and_communications.html

 

]]>
Media Release TOP NEWS Biodiversity Economics Mon, 30 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Building bridges in Central Germany https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1593.html Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grants 5 million euros for novel approach to investigate mechanisms... Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grants 5 million euros for novel approach to investigate mechanisms underlying biodiversity and ecosystem functions at Jena Experiment

Joint media release of iDiv, the University of Leipzig and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Jena/Leipzig. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) funds a new research unit at the Jena Experiment with a total of 5 million euros for five years. The research will be lead by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the University of Leipzig and the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and will investigate the mechanisms underlying the relation between biodiversity and ecosystem functions. For this purpose, the new research unit will also make use of other research platforms.

The diversity of species determines ecosystem functioning and, thus, the ecosystem services that are vital for humankind. However, we know only very little about the underlying mechanisms. This is now set to change: A new research unit will investigate, which mechanisms shape the relation between biodiversity and ecosystem services in the short and long term. The new unit will be led by Prof Nico Eisenhauer, head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology at iDiv and the University of Leipzig.

Until 2002, the later Jena Experiment was just an ordinary agricultural area: about 10 hectares in size, nestled in the floodplain of the river Saale and managed in a traditional way. To date, more than 500 experimental plots are breeding ground for different combinations of meadow plants: There are plots with only one plant species, others with two, four, eight, sixteen or even sixty different species. This unique fieldside laboratory allows the collection of long-term data and helps to find answers to fundamental questions about the role of species diversity and ecosystem functions. In the past, scientists already aimed to understand the complexity of ecosystems with the help of the Jena Experiment – from species to nutrient cycles; from plants to microorganisms and to animals. This innovative approach made the Jena Experiment internationally renowned.

The new DFG Research Unit wants to build on this reputation – and break new ground. Researchers from the fields of ecology, biochemistry and microbiology will be working together. “We will bundle expertise in Central Germany and beyond,” says Nico Eisenhauer. “This will be a unique collaborative approach. At the same time, we are building bridges between two experimental platforms: the Jena Experiment and the iDiv Ecotron.” The scientists will combine field experiments with tests in the controlled environment of the so-called iDiv Ecotron. This allows a detailed investigation of the mechanisms that shape the relation between biodiversity and ecosystems. “We know that species-rich communities are more resilient when it comes to extreme climate events. They also produce higher yields and have better protection against pathogens. If we can understand why this is the case, then we will be one step closer to a practical application of this knowledge,” says Eisenhauer.

The new research unit will try to answer these and other questions in 12 subprojects involving 12 German research institutions, including the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). International collaborations include universities from the Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland and the US.

Kati Kietzmann

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists in bold)

Eisenhauer N, Bonkowski M, Brose U, Buscot F, Durka W, Ebeling A, Fischer M, Gleixner G, Heintz-Buschart A, Hines J, Jesch A, Lange M, Meyer S, Roscher C, Scheu S, Schielzeth H, Schloter M, Schulz S, Unsicker S, van Dam NM, Weigelt A, Weisser WW, Wirth C, Wolf J, Schmid B (2019) Biotic interactions, community assembly, and eco-evolutionary dynamics as drivers of long-term biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships. Research Ideas and Outcomes 5: e47042. https://doi.org/10.3897/rio.5.e47042

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Nico Eisenhauer
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Phone: +49 341 97 33167
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Research TOP NEWS Experimental Interaction Ecology iDiv Media Release Mon, 30 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Martin Volf wins Alexander von Humboldt Return Fellowship https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1586.html iDiv postdoctoral researcher Martin Volf received an Alexander von Humboldt Return Fellowship to... iDiv postdoctoral researcher Martin Volf received an Alexander von Humboldt Return Fellowship to continue his research on chemical defence mechanisms of trees against herbivorous insects. Volf has been a Humboldt Research Fellow and postdoctoral researcher in the iDiv research group Molecular Interaction Ecology (MIE) for the last two years. In particular, he studied the localized induction of volatiles and other defences in trees, their impact on predation and the cascading effects on insect herbivores. His current project with the MIE group ends in October. He will then start a new position at the Czech Academy of Sciences to investigate evolutionary aspects of the insect-plant arms race and the genesis of plant chemical diversity. The Alexander von Humboldt Return Fellowship will allow him to continue his collaboration with iDiv.

]]>
Molecular Interaction Ecology TOP NEWS Wed, 25 Sep 2019 10:41:29 +0200
Climate and biodiversity go hand in hand – climate change destroys our natural resources https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1585.html iDiv scientists call for action to tackle climate and biodiversity change. iDiv scientists call for action to tackle climate and biodiversity change.

Leipzig. Global warming is changing nature and its diversity. It puts the resources at risk, that our diet and fundamental aspects of human life rely on. Increasing scarcity of clean water and fertile soil may lead to global conflicts. Many employees from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) will participate in the Fridays for Future demonstration which takes place on 20 September in Leipzig to get this on top of the political agenda. iDiv reseachers Nicole van Dam and Roel van Klink plan to give statements at Leipzig's Augustusplatz.

Statement by iDiv researcher Dr Roel van Klink: 

"We are here to remind our government that climate change is the largest threat our civilization has ever seen. We are here to remind them that they have the obligation to protect their citizens from its catastrophic consequences, no matter if that will happen next year or in 200 years. And we are here to remind them that they have the power to prevent the worst from happening. But climate change is not the only threat to the future of humankind.

We depend on nature. Nature provides us with food, clean water and air, wood and energy, and we enjoy being in nature. Nature is beautiful and interesting, relaxing, and sometimes scary. In other words, nature is part of us, and we’re part of nature. Yet, we’re destroying nature at an unprecedented rate.

It is estimated that there are some 8 million plant and animal species on earth. According to the report of the World Biodiversity Council earlier this year, one million species of these species are threatened with extinction. Also the diversity of our livestock species is declining. Almost 10% of all mammalian domestic livestock breeds have already gone extinct. This loss of diversity at all levels threatens our food security and wellbeing. And the climate crisis will make this much, much worse.

The grounds for the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are deeply connected: overfishing and deforestation are made possible by the use of fossil fuels. The fossil fuel use leads to global warming, which causes the and the dying of the coral reefs. New threats keep emerging, such as the plastic pollution that is now everywhere, with unknown consequences for our health and for the natural world. At the same time, nature and biodiversity can provide solutions against the effects of climate change, for example by providing coastal protection and carbon storage in bogs and forests. 

And this is why these two crises must be tackled together.

The science is clear: we cannot continue living the way we do now. We need transformative changes to our economic system to prevent the climate catastrophe and the global mass extinction. If we continue with business as usual, this will cause war, famine and poverty, hundreds of millions of people will have to flee from their homes, and many thousands of species will go extinct.

What we need is to stop greenhouse gas emissions immediately, and the transformation to a sustainable civilization. Because we don’t want to go extinct, and neither does any other species.

Right here is where the change begins. With all of us. And we will not stop until we have secured a better future. For everyone.

Thank you."

 

Contact:

Dr Roel van Klink
Postdoc at sDiv Synthesis Centre
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733135
Email: roel.klink@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/788.html

 

Prof Dr Nicole van Dam
Head of research group Molecular Interaction Ecology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Friedrich Schiller-University Jena (FSU)
Phone: +49 341 9733165
Email: nicole.vandam@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/van_dam_nicole.html

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/central_management/media_and_communications.html

 

]]>
iDiv sDiv Media Release TOP NEWS Wed, 18 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Study: We need more realistic experiments on the impact of climate change on ecosystems https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1582.html Most experiments do not correspond to projected climate scenarios

Based on a Media release by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)

When it comes to the impact of climate change on ecosystems, we still have large knowledge gaps. Most experiments are unrealistic because they do not correspond to projected climate scenarios for a specific region. As a result, we lack reliable data on what ecosystems might look like in the future, as a team of biodiversity researchers from Central Germany show in the journal Global Change Biology. The team reviewed all experimental studies on the topic. The researchers are now calling for the introduction of common protocols for future experiments.

The facts that climate change is man-made and that it will alter ecosystems are indisputable. However, there is debate about its extent and its consequences. “In order to predict how plant communities will react to climate change and what ecosystems of the future will look like, we need realistic field experiments worldwide,” says Humboldt Professor Tiffany M. Knight from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). She heads the group “Spatial Interaction Ecology” at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. According to Knight, field experiments are a necessary tool for understanding the effects of climate on plant communities. “Nature is complex and plant communities are structured by many interacting environmental factors. Experiments can specifically isolate the role of climate factors, such as precipitation and temperature,” says Knight.

The researchers conducted an extensive literature review on the subject, searching for field experiments on the relationship between climate factors and plant communities. “In these experiments, temperature and precipitation are altered to investigate their effects on the plant community,” explains Dr Lotte Korell, a member of Knight's research group and lead author of the study. The team was able to identify a total of 76 studies that manipulated either precipitation, temperature or both.

“We were surprised to find that most of the studies were not based on the actual climate forecasts for the specific geographical regions. In many cases they were not even close,” says Korell. According to her, this mismatch between the climate manipulations in field experiments and climate projections for the regions is due to many factors. Many of the experiments were set up to address questions unrelated to climate change, or were set up before more precise climate projections were available for some regions. “There’s nothing wrong with the science in those experiments. They are just not suited to answer the questions we are now asking”, says Tiffany Knight.

Depending on the region, current climate models project changes in precipitation of up to 25 per cent and higher temperatures of up to 5 degrees Celsius. However, almost all of the studies the team looked at manipulated much more extreme changes in precipitation, with values ranging from -100 and +300 percent. The temperature experiments, on the other hand, underestimated the climate forecasts for the worst-case scenario. “This is why we don’t have the data we need to forecast and plan for our future,” says Lotte Korell. “There is too little known about how ecosystems will react to climate change and how we can best manage our natural ecosystems to maintain the functions that are critical to humanity”, she continues. For example, it is unclear whether ecosystems react consistently to a changing climate or whether there are thresholds at which ecosystems react in a dramatic or even unexpected way. The team is therefore suggesting the establishment of global protocols that can be used to conduct climate experiments based on realistic projections.

Original publication:
(iDiv researchers bold)

Korell, L., Auge H., Chase, J.M., Harpole, W. S. and Knight, T. M. (2019), We need more realistic climate change experiments for understanding ecosystems of the future. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14797

 

Contact:

]]>
Media Release TOP NEWS Spatial Interaction Ecology Mon, 16 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Diversity increases ecosystem stability https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1581.html Recent study proves: Forests that are more diverse are also more productive and more resilient Recent study proves: Forests that are more diverse are also more productive and more resilient

Based on a media release by the University of Freiburg

Leipzig/Freiburg: Forests with a large variety of species are more productive and stable under stress than monocultures: scientists from the University of Freiburg and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) have confirmed this with data from the world’s oldest field trial on the diversity of tropical tree species. The team around doctoral researcher Florian Schnabel has published its results in the journal Global Change Biology.

As the researchers state, there is increasing scientific evidence of positive relationships between the diversity of tree species and ecosystem functioning. However most studies on this relationship to date have used either data from forests where the influence of biodiversity cannot be separated from other factors, or from young planted experiments, which do not provide data on longer periods of time. Therefore, the research team analyzed data from the Sardinilla experiment which was planted in Panama in 2001. This experiment covers 22 plots planted with one, two, three or five native tree species. Since these grow at different rates, the plots with a greater variety of species also have a greater structural diversity with regard to the height and diameter of the trees. Annual data on the size and height of the trees, which are seen as indicators of the productivity and stability of the ecosystem, come from the period 2006 to 2016.

The study concludes that mixtures of two and three tree species have on average a 25 to 30 per cent higher productivity than monocultures, and those with five species even 50 percent higher. The differences during a severe dry period caused by the tropical climate phenomenon El Niño were especially pronounced. This indicates that forests with a greater diversity of tree species are not only more productive, but also more stable and resilient under drought stress – the researchers believe this is a particularly important finding in view of global climate change. In the context of initiatives that aim to reduce atmospheric CO2 with extensive reforestation, these results indicate that to store the same amount of CO2 in biomass, far less space is needed with mixed-species forests.

According to the team, these results offer new insights into the dynamics of tropical plantation forests and emphasize the importance of analyses that cover a longer development period, since they contribute to a better understanding of the connections between the diversity, productivity and stability of ecosystems. The study is based on Florian Schnabel’s master thesis, for which he will be receiving the Hansjürg-Steinlin prize, a University of Freiburg award for new talent, in October. Florian Schnabel is now a PhD student involved in the TreeDì project at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig. At the iDiv Conference 2018, he was awarded the price for the best scientific talk.

Original publication:
(iDiv researchers in bold)

Schnabel, F., Schwarz, J., Dănescu, A., Fichtner, A., Nock, C., Bauhus, J., Potvin, C. (2019): Drivers of productivity and its temporal stability in a tropical tree diversity experiment. Global Change Biology. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14792

 

Contact:

Florian Schnabel (German, English)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
University Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9738595
Email: florian.schnabel@idiv.de

 

Kati Kietzmann (German, English)
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
TOP NEWS iDiv Media Release Thu, 05 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0200
iDiv Science Communication Award 2019 https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1576.html Rebekka Sontowski (iDiv, FSU) honored for her outreach activities of the MIE group iDiv Science Communication Award (iSCA) goes to Rebekka Sontowski (iDiv, FSU) for her outstanding engagement in diverse outreach activities of the Molecular Interaction Ecology group over the past three years. To name only a few successes, Rebekka contributed to the “Long Night of Sciences” in 2016 and 2018 with materials and direct exchange with the audience as well as every year to the “Museumsnacht” at the UL Zool. Museum. She designed the group’s outreach poster, supported pupil internships at iDiv and is featured in a current documentary on the botanical gardens in Leipzig that will be broadcast on 15 Oct. 2019 at 21:00 on MDR. The award is endowed with 1,000 Euros and aimed at yDiv doctoral researchers who show great willingness to acquire media expertise and to communicate with the public. It was handed over at this year's iDiv Annual Conference. ]]> iDiv Molecular Interaction Ecology TOP NEWS yDiv Fri, 30 Aug 2019 11:32:55 +0200 iDiv Summer School: International young scientists explore citizen science https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1574.html The 5th iDiv Summer School on “Citizen Science – Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy”... The 5th iDiv Summer School on “Citizen Science – Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy” took place from 21 to 28 August 2019. After project presentations and a panel discussion, the iDiv Summer School 2019 was concluded on Wednesday August 28. This year’s edition focused on integrated biodiversity sciences through citizen science in theory and practice and was led by Dr Anett Richter, Susanne Hecker and Prof Aletta Bonn of the Ecosystem Services group at iDiv. Eighteen young international researchers were selected to take part in the one-week event. “With lectures and workshops, the attendees learned about different issues concerning citizen science, such as data analysis, data management and science communication,” said Dr Richter. The participants also had the opportunity to consult iDiv group leaders on different topics like Female Career Development or Cross-disciplinary research. In addition, the participants worked on two summer school projects: science policy impact of citizen science, and communication in citizen science, which as an outcome produced a short video clip. Moreover, pupils from the school project “Coolspots” joined the iDiv Summer School for one day and worked together with the young researchers Ada Chornelia, a summer school participant from the Center for Integrative Conservation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, described the course as “top-notch, fully packed and managed well considering that participants coming from different knowledge levels of citizen science”. Lara de Macedo Monteiro from the International Institute for Sustainability in Brazil added: “Now I come back to my country, where citizen science is still giving its first steps, with many ideas and willingness to develop new projects and raise awareness about the importance of citizens in scientific research." Many of the summer school participants will stay for the iDiv Conference and present their project results as well as their own research. The iDiv Summer School takes place every year under a different topic chosen by the current lead teacher relating to integrative biodiversity research. Dr Nicole Sachmerda-Schulz]]> TOP NEWS yDiv iDiv Ecosystem Services Wed, 28 Aug 2019 09:40:30 +0200 Small-scale fisheries’ large contribution to food security https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1561.html iDiv researchers calculated the economic value of local fisheries and the impact of fishing... Report by Kira Lancker, PostDoc Biodiversity Economics at iDiv and UL, and first author of two new publications in Food Policy and PLoS ONE:

Leipzig, Kiel. Food security is a global challenge. In a few years, food for 9 billion people has to be produced and distributed fairly. Small-scale, canoe-operated fisheries provide food and income in many developing regions. We are now able to model these contributions to food security and to predict how fish stock fluctuations, market development and climate change affect them. Our application to a Senegalese fishery reveals that if coastal inhabitants lost access to their resource, this would mean a loss equivalent to 2% of per capita yearly food cost. The value of the fishery for local food security also amounts to more than five times the yearly revenue earned through the current EU-Senegal fishery agreement. Our results help policy-makers to decide how to use marine resources towards better ethical and economic decisions.
Policy-makers have to decide how to use marine resources. Often, they tend to sell fishing rights to the highest bidder, e.g. to the EU, because the lack of information about the value of small-scale fisheries makes a comparison difficult. To make a well-informed decision on this kind of agreements, policy-makers need to know the value of the small-scale, artisanal fishery to their nation's food security and the consequences for food security when the local fish stocks were reduced due to foreign fisheries agreements. Fisheries agreements affect the food security of the population Our analysis shows that such reductions in fish stocks changes fishing cost, fish prices and the number of fishers and canoes simultaneously. The quantification of the overall net effect is therefore a new, major and necessary achievement. Our clarification of causal relationships also provides insights into similar small-scale fisheries around the globe, where data is often unavailable. In the EU project PREFACE we cooperated with researchers from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel to develop a model that captures the complex nature of small-scale fisheries. We include decisions of fishers and local fish consumers, labor and capital markets as well as the biological productivity of fish stocks and climate impacts. In a recent Food Policy paper, we show that small-scale fisheries make a large contribution to food security in two ways: The local population has access to affordable protein food. Fishers, who have few alternatives as demonstrated by their willingness to accept low incomes, earn the income needed to cover food expenses. We were also able to examine the importance of local market development. An urban region with a busy local market provides consumers with access to meat and other non-local food, i.e. a more diverse choice of protein food. These consumers depend less on locally caught fish. Our model captures this effect remarkably well and shows that market development plays a crucial role for small-scale fisheries: The local fish harvest is of far greater relevance for consumers in remote regions. Climate change can severely affect small-scale fisheries In a second part, we cooperated with climate scientists from Norway and The Netherlands, to reveal the impact of climate change. We find that warming waters cause fish to move closer towards the coast, where fishers can easily catch them. Fishing costs decrease and fish becomes cheaper for consumers, leading to an increase in demand. We demonstrate in our second paper, published in PLoS ONE, how this can lead to unsustainable over-harvesting, and finally extinction of the local fish stock. Without counteracting policy, we estimate that the fishery will become economically extinct between 2030 and 2035. However, we also find that in the medium term, climate change will not alter biological productivity. If fishers and policy-makers were able to avoid over-harvesting, the future contribution to food security and income could even rise compared to current levels. In other words, climate change may alter the need for resource management in a fishery.
Kira Lancker Original publication:
(iDiv scientists in bold) Lancker, K., Fricke, L., Schmidt, J. O. (2019), Assessing the contribution of artisanal fisheries to food security: A bio-economic modeling approach, Food Policy, in press, doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2019.101740. Lancker, K., Deppenmeier, A.-L., Demissie, T., Schmidt, J. O. (2019), Climate change adaptation and the role of fuel subsidies: An empirical bio-economic modeling study for an artisanal open-access fishery, PLoS ONE, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220433
Contact:
Dr Kira Lancker
Biodiversity Economics
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Leipzig University
Tel: +49 341 9733265
Email: kira.lancker@idiv.de
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/lancker_kira.html]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Economics Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:43:00 +0200
Nico Eisenhauer is new editor-in-chief of journal Soil Organisms https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1565.html Open-access journal follows exceptionally fair approach Soil Organisms, together with Willi Xylander (Senckenberg). The journal of Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz offers soil biodiversity researchers worldwide a forum for the exchange of soil biological concepts and new discoveries. Moreover, it follows an exceptionally fair approach: the journal is open access and free of publication charges. Authors are also encouraged to publish neutral effects in order to counteract the usual publication bias. Further fairness aspects are: double-blind reviews and final formatting only after acceptance of the paper. Soil Organisms is published with three volumes per year. The recent issue Volume 91 came out in August. more]]> Experimental Interaction Ecology TOP NEWS Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:39:00 +0200 EU agriculture not viable for the future https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1552.html Researchers analyse EU Commission reform plans for the CAP Researchers analyse EU Commission reform plans for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Leipzig, Brussels. The current reform proposals of the EU Commission on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are unlikely to improve environmental protection, say researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Göttingen in the journal Science. While the EU has committed to greater sustainability, this is not reflected in the CAP reform proposal. The authors show how the ongoing reform process could still accommodate conclusive scientific findings and public demand to address environmental challenges including climate change.

Agricultural areas cover 174 million hectares, or 40 percent of the EU area (over 50 percent in Germany). Land use intensification, primarily by agriculture, is identified by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) as the number one cause of biodiversity loss, with risk to human wellbeing resulting from losses of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The European Union, and thus also Germany, has committed in various international agreements to shift toward sustainable agriculture, the protection of biodiversity, and combatting climate change. With approx. 40 percent of the total budget, the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the most important policy areas for implementing these international commitments. “The proposal made by the European Commission for the CAP post-2020, published in June 2018, demonstrates very little of this intention,” says a research team led by Dr Guy Pe'er (iDiv, UFZ) and Dr Sebastian Lakner (University of Göttingen).

The researchers analysed the proposal for the CAP post-2020 with a focus on three questions: Is the reform proposal compatible with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), does it reflect public debate on agriculture, and, does it offer a clear improvement compared to the current CAP? The analysis was based on a comprehensive review of the literature with about 450 publications, addressing issues such as effectiveness, efficiency and relevance of the CAP. The scientists’ conclusion: The proposed CAP represents a clear step backwards compared with the current one. “Taking sustainability and the SDGs seriously requires a deep reflection on agricultural policy, its budgets and instruments, and developing good indicators for measuring success,” says ecologist Guy Pe'er. “Beyond words, we found little of that.” According to the researchers, the CAP has the potential to support at least nine of the seventeen SDGs, but currently it only contributes to achieving two of them.

The researchers also criticize that the EU wants to maintain some of the CAP instruments that have been proven to be inefficient, harmful to the environment and socially unfair. One key example for an inefficient instrument are the Direct Payments under the so-called Pillar 1 of the CAP. Around 40 billion euros (about 70 percent of the CAP budget) are paid to farmers on the basis of the cultivated area alone. This leads to unequal funding distribution: 1.8 percent of recipients get 32 percent of the money. “These compensatory payments, provisionally introduced in 1992 as an interim solution, are lacking a sound scientific justification,” says agricultural economist Sebastian Lakner of the University of Göttingen. According to the researchers’ analysis, Direct Payments contribute very little both to environmental or social goals. This criticism is not new, and was already reflected by the EU in 2010 with the so-called ‘Greening’ of Direct Payments – but the Greening attempt was watered down by political pressure during the last reform process and ended up largely ineffective, say the researchers.

The EU Commission proposes to maintain and even expand Direct Payments, but came up with a so-called new ‘green architecture’ in response to the widespread criticism. This includes an expansion of the Good Environmental Agricultural Criteria and new voluntary measures called ‘eco-schemes’ in Pillar 1. In addition, the EU commission states that 40 percent of the CAP shall be labelled as ‘climate-friendly’. But according to the researchers, this calculus remains questionable. And while agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are currently rising rather than declining, the Commission offers no suitable specific instruments to address climate change.

Pillar 2, called ‘Rural Development Programme’, offers much better tools to address biodiversity protection and climate change. While environmental instruments in Pillar 2 take merely one tenth of Pillar 1, the Commission suggests to considerably cut Pillar 2 by 28 percent in the coming years, risking both environment and rural societies, according to the researchers. The researchers believe the key reason for the environmental shortfalls lies in an unbalanced reform process which allows powerful lobby organisations far-reaching opportunities to influence the reform and promote own interests, excluding important players from science and society.

“The EU obviously lacks the will to meet public demand for sustainable agriculture and to implement the global environmental and development goals it had a share in adopting,” says Pe'er. “Lobby interests have clearly outweighed both ample evidence and public interests.” According to an EU survey, 92 percent of the citizens and 64 percent of farmers say that the CAP should improve its performance with respect to environmental and climate protection. The researchers see the termination of Direct Payments one key task for improving the CAP. In the short term, Pillar 2 should be strengthened, and measures that have been proven to be beneficial for biodiversity and sustainability should be supported in order to meet the SDGs.

Pe'er and Lakner see the newly-elected European Parliament as an opportunity to reshape the reform process in order to still meet public will and the EU’s commitments to international obligations: “There is sufficient scientific evidence on what works and what doesn’t, especially with respect to the environment,” says Pe’er. “It should be in the core interest of the EU Commission to use tax payers’ money more efficiently to support societal objectives such as the maintenance of biodiversity or in general sustainable agriculture,” adds Lakner. The scientists believe that a genuine reform process, which involves all relevant stakeholders and takes scientific findings seriously, can help rebuilding public support and acceptance of the CAP. The final round of CAP negotiations between the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament is expected to start in autumn.
Sebastian Tilch


Original publication: 
(iDiv scientists bold)

Pe'er, G., Zinngrebe, Y., Moreira, F., Sirami, C., Schindler, S., Müller, R., Bontzorlos, V., Clough, D., Bezák, P., Bonn, A.Hansjürgens, B., Lomba, A., Möckel, S., Passoni, G., Schleyer, C., Schmidt, J. & Lakner, S. (2019) A greener path for the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Science, 365, 449-451. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax3146

Open access links to publication:
Summary
Reprint
Full text


 

Contact:

Dr Guy Pe’er
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Dept. Ecosystem Services & Dept. Economics
Phone: +49 341 97 33182
Email: guy.peer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/peer_guy.html

 

Dr Sebastian Lakner
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development
University of Göttingen
Phone: +49 551 39 24579
Email: slakner@gwdg.de
Web: http://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/24750.html

 

Dr Volker Hahn
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 97 33154
Email: volker.hahn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/media

 

]]>
Ecosystem Services Media Release TOP NEWS sDiv Fri, 02 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0200
The biggest losers: Large predators most threatened by habitat isolation https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1551.html With increasingly isolated habitats, complex food webs are deconstructed from top to bottom. With increasingly isolated habitats, complex food webs are deconstructed from top to bottom.

Report by Johanna Häussler, doctoral researcher at iDiv and Friedrich Schiller University Jena, about a new publication in Proceedings B:

Leipzig. Human land-use change threatens natural ecosystems in which animals and plants live and feed. Natural landscapes get more and more separated, for example by roads and agricultural fields. But how do such landscape changes affect ecosystems – and the species in them?

It is impossible to observe all species in a whole landscape at once, let alone the innumerable interactions between them. One way to overcome this obstacle is the use of computer models that simulate the interactions between species. We developed a computer model to investigate the complex feeding and dispersal dynamics of food webs in large landscapes. With only limited information about species that feed on each other and disperse between habitats, we can predict how complex food webs might respond to landscape changes such as increasing habitat isolation and how these changes affect the diversity patterns of species embedded in complex networks.

We find that isolated landscapes are a big problem for large predators such as tigers or foxes. They are the ones that run out of food first. In our model, their prey gets less and less when distances between habitats expand. We assume that smaller animals have limited dispersal abilities and, thus, might struggle to successfully bridge between distant habitats. If there is not sufficient prey, large predators literally run out of energy and go extinct. But the loss of large predators can change the entire species community: As species interact in highly complex networks, other species might subsequently also face extinction, even if they are not be directly affected by habitat fragmentation, isolation or related issues such as landscape degeneration.

But there is hope: We can do something about it. To what extent we lose species strongly depends on the spatial context – in other words, how successful species can disperse between habitats. If we want to maintain species-rich natural communities with species at all trophic levels – from plants at the bottom of the food web to large predators at the top ­–, conservationists must consider that species interact in complex ways with one another and that their feeding and spatial dynamics are closely linked. Conservation planning must work towards sufficient exchange of species between local habitats to alleviate the bottom-up energy limitation of large predators. One way to achieve this is to increase the dispersal success in isolated landscapes, for example with the help of dispersal corridors. Avoiding habitat loss also plays a key role as the loss of habitat limits the overall availability of prey and poses a severe threat to large predators.

Johanna Häussler

Original publication:

(iDiv scientists in bold)
Ryser R., Häussler J., Stark M, Brose U., Rall B. C., Guill C.: The biggest losers: habitat isolation deconstructs complex food webs from top to bottom. Proc. R. Soc. B (2019) DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.1177

 

Contact:

Johanna Häussler
Doctoral researcher at yDiv and the research group Theory in Biodiversity Science
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Email: johanna.haeussler@idiv.de

 

Kati Kietzmann
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: kati.kietzmann@idiv.de

 

]]>
Theory in Biodiversity Science yDiv Wed, 31 Jul 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Introduced species dilute the effects of evolution on diversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1547.html International research team investigates mechanisms of forest biodiversity in Hawaiian archipelago

International research team investigates mechanisms of forest biodiversity in Hawaiian archipelago

Media release by the University of Göttingen

Göttingen/Halle/Leipzig/Hawaii: Understanding how biodiversity is shaped by multiple forces is crucial to protect rare species and unique ecosystems. Now an international research team led by the University of Göttingen, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) together with the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa has found that biodiversity is higher on older islands than on younger ones. Furthermore, they found that introduced species are diluting the effects of island age on patterns of local biodiversity. The findings were published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

Oceanic islands, such as the Hawaiian archipelago, have long been a natural laboratory for scientists to analyse evolutionary and ecological processes. In such archipelagos, islands formed by undersea volcanoes often differ in age by several millions of years, allowing scientists to look at the long-term impacts of geology and evolution on biodiversity. In this study, researchers used data from more than 500 forest plots across the archipelago to explore how historical and recent ecological processes influence the number of species that coexist – whether at the scale of an island or a much smaller area such as a typical backyard.

Their analysis showed that even within small plots, older islands had a greater number of both rare species as well as native species when compared with islands formed more recently. The researchers were able to compare data from older islands such as Kau’I (which is around 5 million years old) with islands like the Big Island of Hawai’i (which is only around 500,000 years old and still growing). “To be honest, I was a bit surprised by the results. I expected that ecological mechanisms would outweigh the macroevolutionary forces at the scales of these small plots, and that there’d be no differences in local-scale diversity among the islands,” says Prof Jonathan Chase (iDiv and MLU), senior author of this study. “So, to me, this is the coolest kind of discovery – one that challenges your assumptions.”

They also showed that widespread introduced species weakened the effect of island age on biodiversity, by making Hawaiian forests more similar to one another. Lead author Dr Dylan Craven (alumnus of iDiv and UFZ, now at the University of Göttingen) says, “We’re seeing evidence that human activity – such as planting introduced species in our gardens and parks – is starting to erase millions of years of history, of plants and animals interacting with one another and their environment”.


Original publication:

(iDiv scientists and alumni in bold)
Dylan Craven, Tiffany M. Knight, Kasey E. Barton, Lalasia Bialic-Murphy, Jonathan M. Chase: Dissecting macro-ecological and macro-evolutionary patterns of forest biodiversity across the Hawaiian archipelago. PNAS (2019) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1901954116

 

Contact:

Dr Dylan Craven
iDiv alumnus
now at: University of Göttingen
Department of Biodiversity, Macroecology and Biogeography
Phone: +49-(0)551-3910443
Email: dylan.craven@uni-goettingen.de
Web: www.uni-goettingen.de/en/585428.html

 

Prof Jonathan Chase
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733120
Email: jonathan.chase@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/kerngruppen/biodiversitaetssynthese.html

 

Dr Volker Hahn
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733154
Email: volker.hahn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/eshow/hahn_volker.html

 

]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Synthesis Media Release Mon, 29 Jul 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Study: Global farming trends threaten food security https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1542.html Media release by the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg Based on a Media release by Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg Citrus fruits, coffee and avocados: The food on our tables has become more diverse in recent decades. However, global agriculture does not reflect this trend. Monocultures are increasing worldwide, taking up more land than ever. At the same time, many of the crops being grown rely on pollination by insects and other animals. This puts food security at increased risk, as a team of researchers with help from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) writes in the journal Global Change Biology. For the study, the scientists examined global developments in agriculture over the past 50 years.

The researchers analysed data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the cultivation of field crops between 1961 and 2016. Their evaluation has shown that not only is more and more land being used for agriculture worldwide, the diversity of the crops being grown has declined. Meanwhile, 16 of the 20 fastest growing crops require pollination by insects or other animals. “Just a few months ago, the World Biodiversity Council IPBES revealed to the world that up to one million animal and plant species are being threatened with extinction, including many pollinators,” says Professor Robert Paxton, a biologist at MLU and iDiv, who is one of the authors of the new study. This particularly affects bees: honeybees are increasingly under threat by pathogens and pesticides, and populations of wild bees have been on the decline around the world for decades.

Fewer pollinators could mean that yields are much lower or even that harvests fail completely. However, risks are not spread equally across the world. The researchers used the FAO data to create a map showing the geographical risk of crop failure. “Emerging and developing countries in South America, Africa and Asia are most affected,” says Professor Marcelo Aizen of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research CONICET in Argentina, who led the study. This is not surprising, he says, since it is precisely in these regions where vast monocultures are grown for the global market. Soy is produced in many South American countries and then exported to Europe as cattle feed. “Soy production has risen by around 30 percent per decade globally. This is problematic because numerous natural and semi-natural habitats, including tropical and subtropical forests and meadows, have been destroyed for soy fields,” explains Aizen.

According to the authors, current developments have little to do with sustainable agriculture, which focuses on the food security of a growing world population. And, although poorer regions of the world are at the greatest risk, the consequences of crop failure would be felt worldwide: “The affected regions primarily produce crops for the rich industrial nations. If, for example, the avocado harvest in South America fails, people in Germany and other industrial nations may no longer be able to buy them,” concludes Robert Paxton, who is also a member of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

The researchers advocate for a trend reversal: Care should be taken to diversify agriculture worldwide and make it more ecological. This means, for example, that farms in particularly susceptible countries should grow a diversity of crops. In addition, farmers all over the world would need to make the areas under cultivation more natural, for example by planting strips of flowers or hedgerows next to their fields and by providing nesting habitats on field margins. This would ensure that there are adequate habitats for insects, which are essential for sustainable and productive farming.

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold) Marcelo A. Aizen, Sebastián Aguiar, Jacobus C. Biesmeijer, Lucas A. Garibaldi, David W. Inouye,  Chuleui Jung, Dino J. Martins, Rodrigo Medel, Carolina L. Morales, Hien Ngo,  Anton Pauw, Robert Paxton, Agustín Sáez, Colleen Seymour: Global agricultural productivity is threatened by increasing pollinator dependence without a parallel increase in crop diversification. Global Change Biology (2019). doi: 10.1111/gcb.14736

Contact:

Prof Dr Robert Paxton
Institute of Biology of Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 (0) 345 55-26500
Email: robert.paxton@zoologie.uni-halle.de ]]>
TOP NEWS MLU News Media Release Thu, 11 Jul 2019 11:05:00 +0200
States take over financing for the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research after 2024 https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1540.html Joint media release by the State Ministries of Science of Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt Joint media release by the State Ministries Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt: From October 2024, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig is to be funded primarily by the states of Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony. Today, Saxony’s Science Minister Dr Eva-Maria Stange and the Science Ministers of Saxony-Anhalt, Prof Dr Armin Willingmann, and Thuringia, Wolfgang Tiefensee, signed a corresponding declaration in Leipzig. The funding is to amount to 12.5 million euros per year, with additional federal funding being strived for. Since its foundation in 2012, iDiv has been primarily funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). This funding will expire in 2024 after the third funding phase, which iDiv is currently applying for. This media release is only available in German.]]> TOP NEWS Media Release iDiv Mon, 08 Jul 2019 14:48:40 +0200 MIE postdoc wins award https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1534.html Fredd Vergara (right), postdoctoral researcher at Molecular Interaction Ecology and EcoMetEoR,... Molecular Interaction Ecology Wed, 12 Jun 2019 14:21:18 +0200 Inauguration of iDiv research greenhouse at Botanical Garden Leipzig https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1532.html Media release by the Saxon State Ministry of Finance A new research greenhouse has been built at the Botanical Garden of Leipzig University. It is a pilot project for innovative solutions to save energy. Today representatives of the Saxon government have officially handed over the symbolic key. The greenhouse will be used by iDiv researchers.
The media release by the Saxon State Ministry of Finance is only available in German.]]>
iDiv TOP NEWS Tue, 11 Jun 2019 14:47:29 +0200
Bacteria in fermented food interact with human immune system https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1530.html They activate a specific cell receptor In the gut of humas and apes, they activate a cell receptor  The full news item is only available in German.]]> TOP NEWS Media Release Fri, 24 May 2019 11:56:00 +0200 How gardeners help conserving biological diversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1528.html From 24 May to 1 September the Botanical Garden of the University of Jena presents “Garten findet... From 24 May to 1 September the Botanical Garden of the University of Jena presents “Garten findet Stadt”. The exhibition on urban gardening is a project of the iDiv research centre. The full text is only available in German.]]> TOP NEWS Media Release iDiv Tue, 21 May 2019 17:01:51 +0200 Size is everything https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1526.html Predators play key role in the stability of ecosystems Predators play key role in the stability of ecosystems

Based on a Media release by Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Jena. Natural ecosystems are as vulnerable as they are diverse. Environmental changes such as climate change, pollution or the spread of alien species can easily throw an ecosystem off balance. Researchers are therefore investigating how susceptible ecosystems are to disruption. But in their search for answers they face the problem that the complex network of relationships includes innumerable interactions, which are virtually impossible to record comprehensively and convert into measurable data. Data set with information from 290 food webs  In an effort to overcome this obstacle, a team lead by ecologist Prof Ulrich Brose of Friedrich Schiller University Jena and of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) has developed a new approach. The special feature of the method is that only limited information is needed about the characteristics of ‘predators’ that hunt prey animals. These data enable researchers to determine the structure and stability of a habitat, without the need for a comprehensive examination of the relationships to other organisms. The scientists were able to confirm the value of their method using a large dataset of 220,000 interactions from 290 food webs. They had collected the data from research partners throughout the world over a period of more than 10 years. Larger hunters with smaller prey are ideal for the ecosystem “The decisive characteristic of a predator is the relationship between its body mass and that of its prey,” explains Brose, who was recently awarded the Thuringian Research Prize. “If there is a big difference, this has a positive effect on the equilibrium of the energy flows of the food web and, by extension, on the stability of the ecosystem.” Large hunters with small prey, such as mouse-hunting martens, therefore have an important positive effect on the organisms’ habitats.
With the help of the data they had collected, Brose and his team were able to predict precisely which animals play a key role within a food web. The prediction is even more precise if, in addition to body mass, additional features such as the mode of locomotion or the metabolic type are considered. The analysis showed that, depending on the nature of the habitat, different species of predator maintain the equilibrium of an ecosystem. In three-dimensional biotopes (air, water), very large predators have a stabilising effect, whereas in two-dimensional spaces (land), this is done by smaller predators. Food web theory provides stimulus for practical nature conservation Brose and his team now wish to study the reasons for these differences. For their next step, they want to supplement the existing data on food webs with additional physical factors, such as the gravitational force or the viscosity of the medium in which the organisms live. “Our aim is to uncover the fundamental laws of the architecture of biodiversity,” says Brose, who makes his data available to other research teams through the iDiv database. His latest findings might also help to close the gap between food web theory and practical nature conservation. If we understand nature conservation to be a way of cushioning nature against disturbance from outside, we will have most success if we protect large hunters such as whales and sharks in water and large birds of prey in the air. In contrast, on land we should prioritise small mammals such as weasels or polecats. Original publication:
(iDiv scientists in bold) Ulrich Brose, Phillippe Archambault, Andrew D. Barnes, Louis-Felix Bersier, Thomas Boy, João Canning-Clode, Erminia Conti, Marta Dias, Christoph Digel, Awantha Dissanayake, Augusto A. V. Flores, Katarina Fussmann, Benoit Gauzens, Clare Gray, Johanna Häussler, Myriam R. Hirt, Ute Jacob, Malte Jochum, Sonia Kéfi, Orla McLaughlin, Muriel M. MacPherson, Ellen Latz, Katrin Layer-Dobra, Pierre Legagneux, Yuanheng Li, Carolina Madeira, Neo D. Martinez, Vanessa Mendonça, Christian Mulder, Sergio A. Navarrete, Eoin J. O’Gorman, David Ott, José Paula, Daniel Perkins, Denise Piechnik, Ivan Pokrovsky, David Raffaelli, Björn C. Rall, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Remo Ryser, Ana Silva, Esra H. Sohlström, Natalia Sokolova, Murray S. A. Thompson, Ross M. Thompson, Fanny Vermandele, Catarina Vinagre, Shaopeng Wang, Jori M. Wefer, Richard J. Williams, Evie Wieters, Guy Woodward and Alison C. Iles (2019) Predator traits determine food-web architecture across ecosystems. Nature Ecology & Evolution, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0899-x

Media release of FSU

Contact:

Prof Ulrich Brose
Institute of Biodiversity of Friedrich Schiller University, Jena
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)341 / 9733205
E-mail: ulrich.brose@idiv.de]]>
TOP NEWS Theory in Biodiversity Science Mon, 20 May 2019 10:46:00 +0200
Economy meets ecology - Match or Clash? https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1524.html Martin Quaas gave inaugural lecture for his new iDiv professorship here.

]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Economics Thu, 16 May 2019 08:19:14 +0200
Measures being taken to combat loss of biodiversity are insufficient https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1518.html World Biodiversity Council IPBES presents long-awaited Global Assessment. Paris, Leipzig. Species and ecosystems are dwindling at speeds never seen before, and the rate is even increasing. This is one of the key messages in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services IPBES, whose summary for policy makers recently was presented at a press conference in Paris. The Global Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the flagship of already published IPBES reports. Several scientists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research iDiv were involved in the report, some at the highest level.

One million species, around one eighth of the estimated total number, are threatened with extinction. Many could even disappear within the next decades. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and poses an imminent threat to human well-being in all parts of the world,” says Prof. Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the iDiv research centre. Settele is one of the three co-chairs of the Global Report.

Because functioning ecosystems are directly interconnected with the fundamentals of human existence, such as the provision of fertile soils, healthy drinking water and recreational areas, the loss also threatens human well-being. For the first time, the report also determines the relative importance of the causes. Most of the loss is due to intensive land use followed by direct extraction of organisms (hunting, fishing, etc.), climate change, pollution and non-native species. The indirect causes are, above all, global population growth and the ever-increasing per capita consumption of resources.

The authors of the report make it very clear: Previous corrective measures are not enough to stop species loss. For the report, a set of scenarios to predict the future development of biodiversity and its contribution to human well-being were designed. A number of iDiv scientists contributed significantly to this, including the groups of Prof Henrique Pereira (iDiv, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg) to Chapter 4, and Prof Ralf Seppelt (UFZ, Div) to Chapter 5. These scenarios show that continuing with ‘business as usual’ is not an option. The future use of ecosystems to feed the growing world population will only be possible as a result of major changes in all areas of society.

The official IPBES press release with key facts and figures can be found at https://www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment

Contact:

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de]]>
TOP NEWS Media Release Mon, 06 May 2019 14:21:41 +0200
Helping ecosystems to sustain themselves https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1508.html Restoration success depends on regeneration potentials Leipzig/Halle. Regardless of whether we are dealing with a small floodplain landscape or an entire national park, the success of a restoration project depends on more than just safeguarding that individual plant or animal species can live in an area on the long term. An international team of researchers led by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) reveals it is more a matter of helping the damaged ecosystem to regenerate and sustain itself. In the current issue of the journal Science the researchers describe how rewilding measures can be better planned and implemented - and the benefits this can have on humans.

Nature has been severely affected around the world by the construction of cities, roads and factories as well as intensive farming practices. Entire ecosystems have been destroyed, resulting in a continuous decline in biodiversity. “As a result, many ecosystems are no longer able to perform important tasks such as flood regulation,” says Professor Henrique Pereira of MLU and iDiv. For several decades projects have been conducted around the world that aim to recreate regions that are as near to nature as possible. A well-known approach is so-called rewilding. “Rewilding focuses on the ecosystem as a whole and attempts to restore its functionality through targeted measures, allowing the ecosystem to sustain itself with little or no human management,” explains lead author Andrea Perino, who is working on her PhD thesis in Pereira's research group. At the same time, rewilding also serves to make the aesthetic and intangible value of nature accessible to people.

A prime example of a successful rewilding project in Germany is the Oder river delta at Stettin Lagoon located along the Baltic coast between Germany and Poland. Many animals live here in the wild, including white-tailed eagles, bison and beavers. A vibrant nature tourism has developed in the area in recent years. “This is a good example of how rewilding can benefit both the environment and society,” says Perino.

In their article in “Science”, the researchers present a type of blueprint on how to plan and carry out rewilding projects. Above all, they call for a shift in perspective: there is no one ideal ecosystem that can be created through specific measures. Instead, it is much more important to examine the functions of the respective ecosystem, analyse the disturbances in this system and derive a range of measures to restore the processes that have been disrupted, while at the same time minimizing human intervention. In a floodplain landscape, for example, this could be achieved by removing dams that are no longer needed, thereby submerging at least part of the landscape. This could create a habitat for animals and plants that were previously displaced by humans.

It is important to factor in geographical and social possibilities. “Rewilding projects must always involve the local population,” explains Perino. Otherwise, the projects will have no chance of success. A compromise always needs to be made between what is theoretically possible and what is actually feasible. Not every region is suitable for all rewilding measures: “It is not about directing all measures towards the specific objective of creating an ideal ecosystem. Ecosystems are dynamic and therefore measures also have to be dynamic.”
Tom Leonhardt

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold) Andrea Perino, Henrique M. Pereira, Laetitia M. Navarro, Néstor Fernández, James M. Bullock, Silvia Ceaușu, Ainara Cortés-Avizanda, Roel van Klink, Tobias Kuemmerle, Angela Lomba, Guy Pe'er, Tobias Plieninger, José M. Rey Benayas, Christopher Sandom, Jens-Christian Svenning, Helen Wheeler: Rewilding complex ecosystems. Science (2019). doi: 10.1126/science.aav5570

Contact: Andrea Perino
Research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Tel: +49 341 9733261
Mail: andrea.perino@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/perino_andrea.html

Prof Henrique Pereira
Head of research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Mail: henrique.pereira@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/pereira_henrique_miguel.html

Dr Tabea Turrini
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel: +49 341 9733106
Mail: tabea.turrini@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/eshow/turrini_tabea.html ]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Conservation Fri, 26 Apr 2019 09:22:00 +0200
Award of the Wilhelm-Amo Prize to Amibeth Thompson https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1513.html The prize, endowed with 1,000.00 euros ... Spatial Interaction Ecology Tue, 23 Apr 2019 11:25:00 +0200 Taxon-specific databases are essential for filling biodiversity data gaps https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1515.html Data bases often underfunded By focusing on a group of organisms, taxon-specific databases make a broad range of high-quality data accessible

Report by Stefanie Heinicke, scientist at MPI EVA & iDiv and first author of a new study in Environmental Research Letters


Leipzig. We used data from the IUCN SSC A.P.E.S. database, to show the wealth of information that can be derived from a database that focuses on a specific group of organisms. For this study we focused on the western chimpanzee, a critically endangered subspecies of chimpanzees. Many taxon-specific databases already exist, but are largely underfunded. These databases are, however, in a unique position to fill the niche between local data collectors and global data bases to contribute to closing the large gaps in biodiversity data that still persist. More and more data on patterns and trends of biodiversity are becoming available. However, even though a lot of data have been and are being collected, they are often not accessible to researchers, decision-makers, planners and conservation practitioners.
Various databases have been established that centrally store datasets, and organize and quality-check them so that the data can be accessed and used by others. Global databases store data from all around the world covering all types of organisms. In contrast, databases that specialize on a specific group of organisms can focus on getting more detailed information. Thereby, specialized databases can complement the efforts of global databases in making data available. For example, by using data from the IUCN SSC A.P.E.S. database we were now for the first time able to estimate that approximately 52,800 chimpanzees (95% confidence interval: 17,577-96,564 chimpanzees) occur in West Africa. We also created maps that show in which areas there are likely high densities or low densities of chimpanzees. This can be used to identify areas that need more protection or where habitat destruction should be avoided. A lot of taxon-specific databases already exist. Although they are fundamental in providing access to the type of data needed for decision-making and conservation planning, they are often strongly underfunded. The contribution of these databases needs to be recognized, and more databases should be established to make the available data accessible to researchers, planners and decision-makers. We suggest that a network of taxon-specific databases should be created that grows step by step. Within the network each database pools the data and expertise of its respective field, and users can retrieve data available across the entire network via a central portal.
Stefanie Heinicke Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold)

Stefanie Heinicke,
Roger Mundry, Christophe Boesch, Bala Amarasekaran, Abdulai Barrie, Terry Brncic, David Brugière, Geneviève Campbell, Joana Carvalho, Emmanuel Danquah, Dervla Dowd, Henk Eshuis, Marie-Claire Fleury-Brugière, Joel Gamys, Jessica Ganas, Sylvain Gatti, Laura Ginn, Annemarie Goedmakers, Nicolas Granier, Ilka Herbinger, Annika Hillers, Sorrel Jones, Jessica Junker, Célestin Y. Kouakou, Vincent Lapeyre, Vera Leinert, Fiona Maisels, Sergio Marrocoli, Mary Molokwu-Odozi, Paul K. N’Goran, Liliana Pacheco, Sébastien Regnaut, Tenekwetche Sop, Els Ton, Joost van Schijndel, Virginie Vergnes, Maria Voigt, Adam Welsh, Erin G. Wessling, Elizabeth A. Williamson, Hjalmar S. Kühl (2019) Advancing conservation planning for western chimpanzees using IUCN SSC A.P.E.S. – the case of a taxon-specific database. Environmental Research Letters, DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab1379

Contact:

Dr. Hjalmar S. Kühl

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel. +49 341 3550-236
Email: kuehl@eva.mpg.de
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/kuehl_hjalmar.html

Stefanie Heinicke
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel. +49 341 3550-282
Email: stefanie_heinicke@eva.mpg.de
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/heinicke_stefanie.html]]>
TOP NEWS Sustainability and Complexity in Ape Habitat Wed, 17 Apr 2019 08:34:55 +0200
TRY plant trait database now publicly available https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1511.html It has been published under a CC-BY license The continously growing database is now published under a CC-BY license Jena. The latest, improved version 5 of the TRY database has been released on March 26, 2019. Compared to version 4, released in 2017, the number of trait records in the TRY database has further increased from about 7 to nearly 12 million, the number of plant taxa from about 148,000 to almost 280,000 of about 400.000 extant species.

Even though the availability of trait data was restricted, the TRY database has been increasingly used for scientific publications worldwide. So far TRY data contributed to 225 scientific publications, which have been cited almost 10,000 times (h-index 43, Google Scholar) with a continuously growing trend.

With the release of version 5, trait data are now publicly available under a creative commons attribution license (CC-BY), which means anybody can use the data under the only condition of appropriate citation. However, access to else unpublished data may be restricted temporarily on request, normally for up to two (+2) years, until data are published in the scientific literature.

TRY is a network of vegetation scientists founded in 2007 with the aim to provide a global database of plant traits to support Earth system science and ecology. TRY is headed by Future Earth, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and iDiv, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research.

Contact:

Dr. Jens Kattge
Group Leader Functional Biogeography
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (idiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel: +49 (0)3641 576226
Email: jkattge@bgc-jena.mpg.de

Further Information:

Webpage TRY database
Webpage TRY Database at Google Scholar ]]>
TOP NEWS iDiv Members Thu, 11 Apr 2019 11:23:23 +0200
How much nature is lost due to higher yields? https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1507.html UFZ study reveals link between increasing yields and biodiversity Based on a media release by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research  - UFZ


The exploitation of farmland is being intensified with a focus to raising yields. The degree to which yields actually increase as a result and the extent of the simultaneous loss of biological diversity have to date been under-researched factors. An international team of scientists led by the UFZ, suppoerted by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), has now evaluated data from worldwide research in which both yield and biodiversity were examined before and after intensification measures. The findings of this meta-analysis have now been published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Around 80 percent of land area in Europe is used for settlement, agriculture and forestry. In order to increase yields even further than current levels, exploitation is being intensified. Areas are being consolidated in order to cultivate them more efficiently using larger machines. Pesticides and fertilisers are increasingly being used and a larger number of animals being kept on grazing land. "Such measures increase yield but, overall, they also have negative impacts on biodiversity," says UFZ biologist Dr. Michael Beckmann. "This is because even agricultural areas offer fauna and flora a valuable habitat - which is something that is frequently not sufficiently taken into consideration." In addition, previous studies have mostly examined the effects of intensified land use only from one perspective: either with regard to the increase in yield or the loss of biodiversity. "We unfortunately still know far too little about the relationship between the two and what price nature ultimately has to pay for increases in yield," says Beckmann. In the recent study, the team of scientists aimed to address this knowledge gap. To this end, the researchers sifted through some 10,000 topically relevant studies looking for those that collected measurement data for yield and biodiversity both before and after intensification measures. "The majority of the studies fell through the net in this respect. A mere 115 studies actually measured both parameters for the same areas, making them relevant for our purposes," says Beckmann. The 449 agricultural areas examined in these studies are, however, distributed around the globe, are located in different climatic zones and the time they have been in use varies greatly. To be able to use these studies for their analysis, the researchers developed a mathematical model that takes account of these differences and renders the data comparable. They then summarised the respective yield increases and biodiversity losses. "We were able to demonstrate that, on average, intensification of land use gave rise to an increase in yield of 20 percent but this is, at the same time, associated with a nine percent loss of species," says Beckmann. To obtain a more detailed insight into the impact of intensification measures, the researchers divided the agricultural areas into three classes of intensity - low, medium and high. Proceeding in this way made it possible to compare the results of all three agricultural production systems - arable land, grasslands and forest - with each other. Areas of medium intensity of use demonstrated the highest increase (85 percent) in yield following intensification measures. But they also had the greatest loss of species (23 percent). In contrast, areas that already had high intensity of use did not reveal any significant loss of species but still showed an increase in yield of 15 percent. "Initially, this sounds excellent: greater yield without loss of species," says Beckmann. "But where there was not much biodiversity left to start with due to highly intense usage, there is, of course, also not much that can be lost. In such cases, the critical point may have already been passed." In a comparison of the effects of intensification measures on arable land, grasslands and forests, forests performed best with regard to lower species loss. The study findings indicate that intensified land use may, in individual cases such as timber production, also lead to greater yields without any detrimental effect on biodiversity. The study makes clear how great the impact of the intensity of agricultural production can be for the protection of biodiversity. It reveals general trends and identifies gaps in our knowledge. Concrete recommendations for action in specific regions cannot be derived from the study, however. "Further research is necessary in order to understand the conditions under which land usage is linked to a low or an especially high risk to biodiversity," says Michael Beckmann. "This is the only way to ensure that we are able to apply intense land use practices and protect biodiversity at the same time. After all, species conservation can and must also take place in our cultivated landscapes." This work was supported by the National Socio‐Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC; NSF DBI‐1052875) and sDiv, the Synthesis Centre of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig (DFG FZT 118).

Original publication:

(iDiv scientists bold)

Beckmann, M., Gerstner, K., Akin‐Fajiye, M., Ceaușu, S., Kambach, S., Kinlock, N. L., Phillips, H. R. P., Verhagen, W., Gurevitch, J., Klotz, S., Newbold, T., Verburg, P. H., Winter, M., Seppelt, R. (2019) Conventional land-use intensification reduces species richness and increases production: A global meta-analysis. Global Change Biology (2019) DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14606

Contact:

Dr Michael Beckmann
UFZ Department of Landscape Ecology
michael.beckmann@ufz.de UFZ press office
Susanne Hufe
Phone: +49 341 235-1630
presse@ufz.de ]]>
TOP NEWS UFZ News sDiv Thu, 11 Apr 2019 08:59:09 +0200
Extensive grassland use is not sufficient to mitigate climate change https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1504.html Soil activity decreases nevertheless Soil activity decreases nevertheless Leipzig/Bad Lauchstädt. Climate change and intensified land use are among the most pervasive human impacts on terrestrial ecosystems. On agriculturally used areas it is therefore of particular importance to assess the consequences and develop appropriate countermeasures to maintain the functionality and productivity of such ecosystems in the future. Especially with regard to soil processes considerable knowledge gaps still remain. A team of researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University, and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) now published a comprehensive two-year field study, in which they provide insight into the effects of future climate conditions and differently managed grassland systems on soil microbial and invertebrate activity. “Despite the known relevance of belowground organisms for nutrient cycling and other important processes in grasslands, there are still many open questions that need to be addressed,” says Professor Nico Eisenhauer, senior author of the study that was published in Advances in Ecological Research this week. The study was conducted from March 2015 to April 2017 within the framework of the Global Change Experimental Facility (GCEF) at the UFZ in Bad Lauchstädt (Saxony-Anhalt). The GCEF offers unique opportunities for the simulation of future climatic conditions (including dynamic alterations in temperature and precipitation patterns over the course of the year) in different agricultural land-use scenarios. With almost 40 consecutive sampling events, the present study has the potential to advance the scientific field by providing detailed insight into belowground activity patterns. “We could show that climate change has significantly reduced soil biological activity over the entire study period, which certainly can have serious consequences for agriculture,” comments Julia Siebert, lead author of the study. Moreover, the researchers revealed that the simulated climate conditions led to a clear shift in activity patterns towards earlier activity peaks in the year (on average 29 days earlier) – an effect that was previously mainly known from aboveground organisms. Thus, the current results indicate complex shifts in aboveground and belowground interactions to be expected in the future. Furthermore, the team was also able to confirm a reduction in soil activity in response to intensive grassland management. “What is particularly interesting about our results, however, is that the extensive use of grasslands was not sufficient to mitigate the effects of climate change on soil activity,” says Julia Siebert. On the contrary, the study even shows that extensively used systems were particularly affected by climate change. The maintenance of these valuable, species-rich ecosystems thus represents a major challenge. “To ensure the stable provision of soil functions in the future, and hence reliable crop yields, it is crucial to develop additional measures and strategies to secure such essential ecosystem functions under the influence of climate change,” says Nico Eisenhauer.
Julia Siebert

Original publication:

(iDiv researchers in bold)

Julia Siebert, Madhav P.Thakur, Thomas Reitz, Martin Schädler, Elke Schulz, Rui Yin, Alexandra Weigelt, Nico Eisenhauer: Extensive grassland-use sustains high levels of soil biological activity, but does not alleviate detrimental climate change effects. Advances in Ecological Research (2019). https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.aecr.2019.02.002

Contact:

Julia Siebert
Research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Tel: +49 341 9736882
Mail: julia-siebert@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/siebert_julia.html ]]>
TOP NEWS Experimental Interaction Ecology iDiv Members Thu, 11 Apr 2019 08:12:07 +0200
Biodiversity loss: habitat amount is the key, not fragmentation https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1502.html New puzzle piece in scientific debate The most accurate predictor of species diversity at a given location is the total size of the remaining habitat around it. Fragmentation, the sizes of the habitat fragments of the sampling points and the distances from other fragments are irrelevant. These are the findings of a research project headed by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), recently published in the renowned Journal of Biogeography. This brings clarity to a scientific debate on how biodiversity can be conserved best in human-modified landscapes. The researchers suggest rethinking the prevailing approaches of island biogeography to manage biodiversity.

The theory of island biogeography from the 1960s is typically used as a basis for predicting species richness in a location. According to this theory, species richness depends on the size of the insular area and its distance from the ‘mainland’; its degree of isolation. Conservation biologists adopted the concept to assess the effect of increasing habitat fragmentation on population development caused by, for example, roads, clearcutting and agricultural use. However, researchers have increasingly questioned the accuracy of this approach. An alternative could be the habitat amount hypothesis, according to which only the total available area of the habitat in the surrounding landscape determines biodiversity; fragmentation, the sizes of the fragments and their distances from each other, plays no role. “Identifying which of these two theories is correct is essential to develop the best management strategies for conservation in countryside landscapes,” says study coordinator Prof Henrique M. Pereira. Pereira heads the Biodiversity and Conservation Research Group at the iDiv research centre and the University of Halle. To answer this question, the joint first authors Dr Thomas Merckx (UCLouvain) and Dr Murilo Dantas de Miranda from the iDiv research centre and the University of Halle (MLU), led by Prof Henrique M. Pereira (iDiv/MLU) compared the two approaches, the ‘habitat amount hypothesis’ and the ‘patch size and isolation effect’ with empirical data specifically collected for the purpose.

The researchers worked in three different habitat types, forest, scrubland and meadows, in the Portuguese Peneda-Gerês National Park. There they collected moths with light traps and sorted them according to their preferred habitat type. They then determined the number of species collected at a given spot and set this proportionally to the total surrounding amount of the respective habitat type, the area of the sampled fragment and distance from the nearest other fragment. The results show that the number of species of both forest and meadow moths is more dependent on the total area of the preferred habitat than on the configuration of habitat patches. Thus, the results support the habitat amount hypothesis.

This finding was also confirmed through the calculation of beta and gamma diversity, that is, the heterogeneity and spatial distribution of species diversity in the region: consideration of the total amount of the habitat by using the cSAR-model (countryside species area relationship) provided better results than by implementing the commonly used SAR-model.

"Our work adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the habitat amount hypothesis is correct," says Pereira. Ultimately, this insight may cause a major paradigm shift in biodiversity science: Ecology textbooks will have to be rewritten and landscape management policies changed. For decisions on conservation measures, we might thus need to put more focus on preserving the total area of habitats rather than on their interconnectedness,” says Pereira.
Sebastian Tilch

Original publication:

(iDiv scientists bold) Thomas Merckx, Murilo Dantas de Miranda, Henrique M. Pereira (2019). Habitat amount, not patch size and isolation, drives species richness of macro-moth communities in countryside landscapes. Journal of Biogeography, DOI: 10.1111 / jbi.13544

Contact:

Prof Henrique Miguel Pereira
Head of research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Email: henrique.pereira@idiv.de
Web: www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/pereira_henrique_miguel.html]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Conservation Wed, 10 Apr 2019 09:40:47 +0200
Plant diversity increases insect diversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1496.html Halle, Leipzig, Göttingen. The more plant species live in grasslands and forests, the more...

Halle, Leipzig, Göttingen. The more plant species live in grasslands and forests, the more insect species find a habitat there. However, the presence of more plant species does not only increase the number of insect species, but also the number of insect individuals. Simultaneously, animal diversity is not only determined by plant diversity, but also by the physical structure of the plant communities. These are the results of an international collaboration led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), published in the journal Nature Communications. These results have consequences for the insect-friendly management of grasslands and forests.

“Our results make it clear that developments such as the currently observed insect decline can be linked to the way in which we humans manage the ecosystems we use,” says lead author Prof Andreas Schuldt from the University of Göttingen, previously with the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). Together with his co-authors, Schuldt evaluated extensive data on plant and insect diversity from two of the world’s largest biodiversity experiments: the Jena Experiment and BEF-China. In the first experiment, the number of plant species in a grassland was altered and in the second, the number of tree species in a forest. Both experiments were designed to investigate the effects of plant diversity on other organisms and the functioning of the respective ecosystem.

The data show that a reduction in plant species richness (number of species) caused by, for example, the intensive use of agricultural and forest land, can lead to reduced insect abundance (number of individuals), which in turn reduces insect species richness. “It is important to note that it is not only the loss of plant species alone which is crucial, but also the associated loss of structural diversity,” says Jena Experiment speaker and senior author Prof Nico Eisenhauer from the iDiv research centre and Leipzig University. “These results show that we can make a significant contribution to the protection of biodiversity through structure-enhancing measures such as adapted mowing times and the preservation of old trees,” adds BEF-China speaker Prof Helge Bruelheide from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and iDiv.

The comparison of data from widely differing habitats shows the relevance of these research results for key ecosystems used by humans. The study was made possible by extensive funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
Andreas Schuldt, Volker Hahn

 

Original publication (iDiv scientists bold):

Schuldt A, Ebeling A, Kunz M, Staab M, Guimarães-Steinicke C, Bachmann D, Buchmann N, Durka W, Fichtner A, Fornoff F, Härdtle W, Hertzog L, Klein AM, Roscher C, Schaller J, von Oheimb G, Weigelt A, Weisser W, Wirth C, Zhang J, Bruelheide H, Eisenhauer N (2019) Multiple plant diversity components drive consumer communities across ecosystems. Nature Communications DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09448-8




 

Contact:

Prof Andreas Schuldt
Department Waldnaturschutz
University of Göttingen
Phone: +49-341 9733232
Email: andreas.schuldt@forst.uni-goettingen.de
Web: https://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/595615.html

 

Prof Nico Eisenhauer
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html

 

Prof Helge Bruelheide
Professor for Geobotany
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Co-Director of the
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49-345 5526222
Email: helge.bruelheide@botanik.uni-halle.de
Web: http://www.botanik.uni-halle.de/geobotanik/helge_bruelheide/

 

Dr Volker Hahn
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733154
Email: volker.hahn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/eshow/hahn_volker.html

 

]]>
iDiv Members Media Release TOP NEWS Tue, 09 Apr 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Thuringian Research Prize for Ulrich Brose https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1492.html For outstanding achievements in basic research Jena. Once a year, the state of Thuringia honours outstanding achievements in research at universities and non-university research institutions. Today, Prof Ulrich Brose, head of the research group Theory in Biodiversity Science at iDiv and Friedrich Schiller University Jena, received the Thuringian Research Prize 2018 in the field of basic research – for the systematic elucidation of the effects of anthropogenic land use on biodiversity and the functionality of complex ecological networks. According to the rationale, his outstanding research results provide completely new possibilities for assessing the effects of land-use changes and represent an excellent conceptual development of basic ecological research.

Media release of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (in German): https://idw-online.de/de/news713655 ]]>
TOP NEWS Theory in Biodiversity Science Thu, 04 Apr 2019 16:08:05 +0200
Loss of habitat causes double damage to species richness https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1489.html Also in neighbouring habitat patches species are lost

Halle (GER), Lunz (A). Loss and fragmentation of habitat are among the main reasons why biodiversity is decreasing in many places worldwide. Now, a research team with participation of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) has established that the destruction of habitat causes double damage to biodiversity; if habitat patches disappear, not only do the species living there become extinct, but species richness in neighbouring  patches also declines. The reason for this additional species loss is the large physical distances between the remaining habitat patches, the researchers write in the journal Ecology Letters.

For their study, scientists from the iDiv research centre, the Uni Halle and the WasserCluster Lunz research centre in Austria used long-term data on the presence of invertebrate zooplankton such as little crustaceans and rotifers in the saline ponds (“Salzlacken”) of the Seewinkel region of eastern Austria. These so-called soda pans are shallow ponds fed by precipitation and groundwater, which are usually less than a square kilometre in size, regularly dry out and can reach a very high salinity. In the 1950s, the 270 square kilometre area of study had more than 110 of these soda pans. Because of agricultural intensification, their numbers had dwindled to about 30 in 2010 - a decline of 70 percent within six decades. In 1957, ecologists found 64 species and in 2010 just 47 – a net loss of 17 species.
 
What were the reasons why so many plankton species disappeared from the soda pans? Was it just because their habitat was lost or were there other factors? In fact, the researchers found that, based on calculations and models, the decline in the number of soda pans from 110 to 30 should have resulted in the extinction of just four zooplankton species. “Even if we had not taken into account the number of soda pans, but rather their area, we would have expected a decline of only nine species,” says Prof Jonathan Chase, head of the Biodiversity Synthesis Research Group at iDiv and Uni Halle and senior author of the study. Instead, 17 species went extinct from the region. The researchers were, however, able to rule out that deterioration in the quality of the habitat played a role in the additional drop in the number of species; for example, changes in salinity and fluctuations in the nutrient content, water levels and turbidity of the ponds. “So there must be another factor on landscape scale which is responsible for the extinction of these species in this region,” says first author Dr Zsófia Horváth. Horváth carried out the study at the WasserCluster Lunz research centre in Austria as well as at the iDiv research centre and Halle University.

Spatial processes can explain the sharp decline in species richness; when many soda pans disappear, the distances between those which remain are quite large, greatly reducing the ability of zooplankton to colonise new habitat patches – for example via the passive dispersal of eggs through wind, or as ‘hitchhikers’ on amphibians and birds. “That species disappear locally happens again and again. But if they have no possibility to repopulate habitat patches, it becomes a problem,” says Jonathan Chase. If there are fewer soda pans in which a specific species dwells, and if the remaining soda pans are far from each other, the possibility for this species to redisperse is low, the scientist explains. This means that local extinction can no longer be countered by recolonization from the region.

Metacommunities, that is, communities of organisms that are distributed over multiple habitat patches and are potentially connected through moving individuals, hence experience an additional effect at the regional level when habitat patches disappear locally. This has always been widely suspected, but has, up to now, rarely been proven because long-term studies are scarce. Thanks to the data on soda pans in the Seewinkel region, this gap in knowledge has now been closed. “This is important because this effect can now be taken more into consideration in future modelling – for example, when calculating expected losses of biodiversity when habitat is lost,” summarises Chase.

 

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists in bold)

Horváth, Zsófia; Ptacnik, Robert; Vad, Csaba; Chase, Jonathan (published online on 1 April 2019): Habitat loss over six decades accelerates regional and local biodiversity loss via changing landscape connectance. Ecology Letters. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13260

 

Contact:

Prof Jonathan Chase
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733120
Email: jonathan.chase@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/kerngruppen/biodiversitaetssynthese.html

 

Dr Zsófia Horváth
WasserCluster Lunz, Austria
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: Please contact iDiv Media and Communications for mobile number.
Email: hhzsofia@gmail.com
Web: https://aquascalelab.wordpress.com/members/zsofia-horvath/
and http://wasserkluster-lunz.ac.at/index.php/en/people?peid=4295226183

 

Dr Volker Hahn
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733154
Email: volker.hahn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/eshow/hahn_volker.html

 

]]>
Biodiversity Synthesis iDiv Media Release TOP NEWS Tue, 02 Apr 2019 00:00:00 +0200
Europe’s farmlands are losing their insect-eating birds https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1486.html First Europe-wide study relating population trends of birds to their diet Based on a media release by Senckenberg

Frankfurt am Main/Leipzig. The number of birds that primarily feed on insects has decreased significantly during the past 25 years in the European Union. This is mainly due to the decline of these so-called insectivores in agricultural landscapes, researchers from the German Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) report currently in the scientific journal Conservation Biology. It is the first Europe-wide study that examines how population trends of birds are related to their diet. Insectivores make up roughly half of all European bird species.

About half of the bird species found in Europe feed primarily on insects, and they are currently facing difficult times. “The populations of birds that feed mainly on insects have decreased on average by 13% between 1990 and 2015 in the European Union,” explains Dr Diana Bowler who now works at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU).

Bowler teamed up with researchers from the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, and discovered that since 1990, the European populations of white wagtail (Motacilla alba), northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) and meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis), among other species, have all decreased. These species prefer to pick up insects directly from the ground. The number of birds that feed primarily on flying insects, such as barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) and house martins (Delichon urbicum), has decreased as well.

While there are some declining insectivore species in several habitat types, species in some habitats do fare worse than others. The scientists are especially concerned about the situation in fields, meadows and pastures, which are home to the insectivorous bird species whose populations have decreased most dramatically.

The insect eaters share this fate with the so-called seed eaters. Some species, such as the Eurasian skylark (Alauda arvensis), whose diet, while not primarily insect-based, still contains a considerable proportion of insects, have also declined in agricultural areas. “Insect and seed eaters may no longer be able to find enough food in these habitats. Thus, the dramatic decrease of insects that has only been documented on a local basis to date apparently may have had a wider impact on bird populations,” says iDiv member Prof Katrin Böhning-Gaese, director of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and professor at Goethe University Frankfurt.

The scientists suggest that some agriculture practices may be at least partly responsible for the Europe-wide decline of insectivorous birds. In addition to the widespread use of insecticides, the trend toward large-scale monocultures has caused the increasing loss of hedgerows, edge habitats and fallow fields, and many meadows and pastures are being converted into arable fields.

This not only makes it harder for the insectivores to find food, but also to find suitable nesting sites as well. However, in addition to agriculture, there are other pressures on bird populations, including climate change, which may also contribute to some of the declines.

While insectivores are on the decline, birds that have an omnivorous diet, eating a variety of food types, have fared better. “Except for a few individual species, the populations of omnivores have remained more or less stable across Europe since 1990. Omnivores now make up a higher percentage of the avian communities than they did previously,” explains Bowler.

According to Böhning-Gaese, the study results call for action: “Not all insect-eating birds but mainly those that search for insects in meadows and pastures continue to decline. This poses a problem, since these birds are the natural enemies of pest insects that can cause considerable damage in agricultural fields. If we want to stop the decline of insect eaters, we have to make significant changes to our agricultural practices.”

 

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold)

Bowler, D. E., Heldbjerg, H. , Fox, A. D., Jong, M. and Böhning‐Gaese, K. (2019), Long‐term declines of European insectivorous bird populations and potential causes. Conservation Biology, doi: 10.1111/cobi.13307

 

Contact:

Dr Diana Bowler
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Phone: +49 (0)341 973 3199
Email: diana.bowler@idiv.de

 

Prof Katrin Böhning-Gaese
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre
Goethe-University Frankfurt
Phone: +49 (0)69 7542 1821
Email: katrin.boehning-gaese@senckenberg.de

 

Dr Tabea Turrini
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: tabea.turrini@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/turrini_tabea.html

 

Sabine Wendler
Press Office
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre
Phone: +49 (0)69 7542 1818
Email: pressestelle@senckenberg.de

 

]]>
Media Release Ecosystem Services TOP NEWS Wed, 27 Mar 2019 00:00:00 +0100
Mismatches between above- and belowground biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1485.html Research team evaluates global biodiversity data – with surprising resultsLeipzig. After conducting... Research team evaluates global biodiversity data – with surprising results

Leipzig. After conducting comprehensive studies, an international team of researchers led by Leipzig University and the iDiv research centre has gained important new insights into biodiversity above and below the earth’s surface: they discovered that, on about 30 per cent of our planet’s terrestrial surface, there is great diversity of flora and fauna in the soil compared to considerably fewer species above the ground, or vice versa, biodiversity is much greater above than below ground. These differences in biodiversity were not detectable in the remaining 70 per cent of the earth’s terrestrial surface. Here there were hot and cold spots that displayed either high or low overall levels of biodiversity. The researchers have published the results of their study in the journal Conservation Biology.

“We were surprised that such large parts of the earth are affected by this contrasting biodiversity,” remarks Professor Nico Eisenhauer of Leipzig University, who is also a researcher at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). He explains that examples of these areas include boreal and tundra regions in Canada and Siberia, where there is little above-ground biodiversity but soils tend to be rich in species. Conversely, soils in places like  forests in temperate latitudes often contain fewer species, while there is a lot of plant and animal life above ground.

The research team evaluated data from numerous existing scientific studies on plant, animal and microbial life in soils and above the ground in a wide variety of regions of the world. “Each data set was unique,” explains Eisenhauer. The aim of the research was to obtain a uniform picture of global biodiversity above but also below the earth’s surface; the latter having been largely neglected by researchers in the past.

The team believes that one potential use of this global knowledge is to estimate much more precisely which areas of the earth should be declared nature reserves in order to protect biodiversity. In addition, it is argued that areas with permafrost and other types of soil in northern regions such as Siberia, which are very species-rich below but not above ground, will be particularly badly affected by climate change. “If frozen soils suddenly thaw, this triggers dramatic changes. These soils store a lot of carbon, which is released during thawing,” explains Eisenhauer.

The project involved researchers from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the University of Bremen and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) Leipzig as well as experts from Finland, France, Sweden and several other countries.

Original publication:

(iDiv researchers in bold)

Erin K. Cameron, Inês S. Martins, Patrick Lavelle, Jérôme Mathieu, Leho Tedersoo, Mohammad Bahram, Felix Gottschall, Carlos A. Guerra, Jes Hines, Guillaume Patoine, Julia Siebert, Marten Winter, Simone Cesarz, Olga Ferlian, Holger Kreft, Thomas E. Lovejoy, Luca Montanarella, Alberto Orgiazzi, Henrique M. Pereira, Helen R. P. Phillips, Josef Settele, Diana H. Wall, Nico Eisenhauer (2019). Global mismatches in aboveground and belowground biodiversity. Conservation Biology, doi: 10.1111/cobi.13311

 

Contact:

Prof Nico Eisenhauer
Leipzig University
Head of the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
University of Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733167
Email: nico.eisenhauer@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/eisenhauer_nico.html

 

Sebastian Tilch
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733197
Email: sebastian.tilch@idiv.de

 

]]>
GEO BON Experimental Interaction Ecology sDiv iDiv Members Media Release Biodiversity Conservation TOP NEWS Wed, 13 Mar 2019 00:00:00 +0100
A new framework for global species monitoring https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1474.html Developed under the auspices of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network... Based on a media release by Yale University, USA:
New Haven, Leipzig. A group of international experts including scientists of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) has developed a much-needed framework to significantly improve the monitoring of status and trends of species worldwide. This finding comes after a multi-year collaboration under the auspices of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON). Their report is now published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Changes to biodiversity are already happening with severe potential consequences to all species, including humans, the researchers say. The loss or invasion of a single species can dramatically alter the function of an entire ecosystem, explained Walter Jetz, lead author and Yale professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and of forestry and environmental studies. Jetz conducted parts of the study Parts during a sabbatical at the iDiv research center in cooperation with the iDiv researchers Henrique Pereira (iDiv, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg - MLU), Petr Keil (iDiv, MLU) and Carsten Meyer (iDiv, Leipzig University). Yet, current information about how and where species populations are changing on the planet remains “woefully inadequate,” according to study co-author Melodie McGeoch of Monash University, Australia. It lags far behind scientists’ monitoring of other aspects of environmental change, she explained. Following in the footsteps of a similar approach in climate science to characterize core information, the researchers first identified “essential variables” for addressing species populations. These are standardized measures that with the aid of other information — such as that gathered by satellite-based remote sensing — and models integrate the often gap-ridden raw species data to give a clear picture of the distribution and abundance of species. The experts then laid out recommended practices that support this framework, such as better data sharing across national borders and enhanced collaboration between the varied parties involved in relevant data collection, from amateurs to government agencies. “We hope that the presented concept and framework for global species monitoring will lay an important foundation for the collection and use of biodiversity data in support of conservation and resource management worldwide. Any agencies, businesses, conservation organizations, or international bodies concerned with the management of our lands and oceans would benefit from more reliable and representative information about the status and trends of species,” said Jetz. The study’s suggestions also have the potential to help researchers themselves, he said. Improved global species monitoring would help close knowledge gaps that hinder present research that requires spatial biodiversity information, especially information about parts of the world and the tree of life that are hard to document through current practices. The study was developed with support from GEO BON and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, iDiv. Additional funding was provided by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Original publication:
(iDiv researchers in bold)
Walter Jetz, Melodie A. McGeoch, Robert Guralnick, Simon Ferrier, Jan Beck, Mark J. Costello, Miguel Fernandez, Gary N. Geller, Petr Keil, Cory Merow, Carsten Meyer, Frank E. Muller-Karger, Henrique M. Pereira, Eugenie C. Regan, Dirk S. Schmeller, Eren Turak (2019) Essential biodiversity variables for mapping and monitoring species populations. Nature Ecology and Evolution, DOI 10.1038/s41559-019-0826-1. Further information:
Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON): https://geobon.org/ Contact: Prof Walter Jetz (speaks English and German)
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
Phone: +1 203 432 7540
Email: walter.jetz@yale.edu
Web: https://jetzlab.yale.edu/people/walter-jetz Dr Tabea Turrini
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel: +49 341 9733-106
Email: tabea.turrini@idiv.de  ]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Conservation sDiv Biodiversity Synthesis Macroecology and Society Media Release Mon, 11 Mar 2019 14:34:20 +0100
Biodiversity and iDiv at Leipzig Book Fair https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1473.html This news item is only available in German.  

The full text is only available in German.

]]>
TOP NEWS iDiv Mon, 11 Mar 2019 00:00:00 +0100
Chimpanzees lose their behavioral and cultural diversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1464.html Human impact reduces the behavioral repertoire of chimpanzees Human impact reduces their behavioral repertoire Media release of the Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology: Chimpanzees are well known for their extraordinary diversity of behaviors, with some behaviors also exhibiting cultural variation. An international research team led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) investigated whether chimpanzee behavioral diversity is reduced under high human impact. By comparing sets of chimpanzee behaviors across a large number of social groups exposed to different levels of human disturbance, the scientists found a reduction in behavioral diversity when human impact was high. Chimpanzees exhibit exceptionally high levels of behavioral diversity compared to all other non-human species. This diversity has been documented in a variety of contexts, including the extraction of food resources, communication and thermoregulation. Many of these behaviors are assumed to be socially learned and group-specific, supporting the existence of chimpanzee cultures. As all other great apes, chimpanzees have come under enormous pressure by human activities, leading to a change of the natural environment. Their prime habitat, tropical rainforests and savanna woodlands, are increasingly converted to agricultural farmland, plantations and settlements, or otherwise degraded by the extraction of natural resources and infrastructure development. Much of the empirical work and resulting debate on the loss of wildlife biodiversity has been conducted in the context of species decline or loss of genetic diversity and ecosystem functions. However, behavioral diversity is also a facet of biodiversity. Due to limited empirical data, until now it had been unclear whether behavioral diversity would similarly be negatively affected by human impact. 

Data from 15 countries

An international research team, led by Hjalmar Kühl and Ammie Kalan of the Department of Primatology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), compiled an unprecedented dataset on 31 chimpanzee behaviors across 144 social groups or communities, located throughout the entire geographic range of wild chimpanzees. Whereas part of this information was already available in the scientific literature, the international research team also conducted extensive field work at 46 locations, as part of the Pan African Programme, across 15 chimpanzee range countries over the last nine years. The particular set of behaviors considered in this study included the extraction and consumption of termites, ants, algae, nuts and honey; the use of tools for hunting or digging for tubers, and the use of stones, pools and caves among several others. The occurrence of behaviors at a given site was investigated with respect to an aggregate measure of human impact. This measure integrates multiple levels of human impact, including human population density, roads, rivers and forest cover, all indicators for the level of disturbance and the degree of land cover change found in chimpanzee habitats. "The analysis revealed a strong and robust pattern: chimpanzees had reduced behavioral diversity at sites where human impact was high", explains Kalan, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "This pattern was consistent, independent of the grouping or categorization of behaviors. On average, chimpanzee behavioral diversity was reduced by 88 percent when human impact was highest compared to locations with the least human impact."

Potential mechanisms for loss of behaviors

As is known for humans, population size plays a major role in maintaining cultural traits and a similar mechanism may function in chimpanzees. Chimpanzees may also avoid conspicuous behaviors that inform hunters about their presence, such as nut cracking. Habitat degradation and resource depletion may also reduce opportunities for social learning and thus prevent the transfer of local traditions from one generation to the next. Lastly, climate change may also be important, as it may influence the production of important food resources and make their availability unpredictable. Very likely a combination of these potential mechanisms has caused the observed reduction in chimpanzee behavioral diversity. "Our findings suggest that strategies for the conservation of biodiversity should be extended to include the protection of animal behavioral diversity as well", says Kühl, an ecologist at the iDiv research center and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "Locations with exceptional sets of behaviors may be protected as 'Chimpanzee cultural heritage sites' and this concept can be extended to other species with high degree of cultural variability as well, including orangutans, capuchin monkeys or whales." These propositions are in accordance with existing biodiversity conservation efforts, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity or the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, of the United Nations Environment Programme, which calls for the protection of biological diversity in its entirety, including behavioral diversity of culturally rich wildlife. AK, HK ]]>
TOP NEWS Sustainability and Complexity in Ape Habitat Fri, 08 Mar 2019 11:31:00 +0100
Roofing ceremony for iDiv building https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1462.html The new building will be complete by March 2020. Saxon State Ministry of Finance in only available in German.]]> TOP NEWS Media Release iDiv Wed, 06 Mar 2019 15:56:00 +0100 Biodiversity crisis: Technological advances in agriculture are not a sufficient response https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1461.html Population and economic growth offset improvement of environmental balance of land use

Leipzig, Halle. Rapid population and economic growth are destroying biological diversity - especially in the tropics. This was reported by a research team led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in Nature Ecology & Evolution. A constantly growing demand for agricultural products requires ever new cultivated areas. Even though technological advances are making agriculture ever more efficient, the growing number of people makes up for these successes. The study shows: an effective nature conservation policy needs concepts against population growth and for sustainable consumption.

World population and the global economy are growing. People want consumer goods and food. As a result, more and more land is needed and nature is converted into fields and plantations: a threat to biodiversity and the ecosystem services that nature provides to humans. The usual response by policy makers to this sustainability challenge is to promote increases in agricultural and forestry efficiency through technological methods. But is this enough?

Scientists led by the iDiv research centre and the University of Halle have determined how land use affects biodiversity and ecosystem services and, for the first time, in what ways this impact has changed over time. They examined the role that population growth and economic development play in the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services globally by combining data on biodiversity, land use and the sequestration of CO2 with economic models for the period between 2000 and 2011.

The results show that the growing world population and expanding global economy are resulting in more land use everywhere. This destroys biodiversity and ecosystem services. For example, between 2000 and 2011, the number of bird species endangered due to land use increased by up to seven percent. During the same period, the planet lost six percent of its potential to absorb CO2 from the air; this is because vegetation planted on newly created farmland cannot absorb as much carbon as that in natural habitats.

Loss of biodiversity occurs almost entirely in the tropical regions. In 2011, more than 95% percent of the bird species endangered due to agriculture and forestry were from Central and South America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific region. However, our ecosystems' carbon sequestration capacity is dwindling all over the world - a quarter of its decline is due to agricultural and forestry land use in Europe and North America.

In the first eleven years of the millennium, cattle farming was the prime responsible for the decimation of biodiversity. At the same time, the cultivation of oilseeds increased massively in Asia and in South America. "This is, among other things, a consequence of the increased promotion of biofuels, which is meant to serve climate protection," says the coordinator of the study, Prof. Henrique M. Pereira. Pereira is head of the Biodiversity Conservation research group at the iDiv research centre and the University of Halle.

In addition, the researchers wanted to find out to what extent global trade impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems. Almost every food purchase indirectly affects nature in other places around the world. A hamburger, for example, is made from meat from cattle raised on South American pastures, or cattle raised in local byres and fed on soy from South America. For this purpose, forests are cleared, the original biodiversity is destroyed. Thus, the developed countries, for example, are outsourcing 90 percent of the destruction caused by the consumption of agricultural products to other regions. In the period under investigation, consumption increased rapidly in other parts of the world as well. "Emerging economies are currently overtaking developed countries as the main drivers of biodiversity loss," says Pereira.

The researchers found that environmental damage per dollar earned decreased throughout the world, meaning that land use has become more efficient. “Nevertheless, total environmental damage increased,” says lead author Dr Alexandra Marques from the iDiv research centre and the University of Halle. “Economic and population growth proceed so fast that they outpace the improvements".

"The picture of who is causing biodiversity loss has therefore changed dramatically in a short time," concludes Henrique Pereira. "It is not either the north or the south – it’s both." From his point of view, this should also be taken into account in international nature conservation negotiations.

According to the scientists, a reduction in population growth is essential to reach the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. This would, in the end, benefit both society and nature. At the same time, developed countries should take greater account of their remote responsibility for biodiversity destruction in other parts of the world and the impact of their climate policies on global land use. "We need an environmental policy which addresses climate change and biodiversity change in combination," recommends Pereira.
Sebastian Tilch


Original Publication:

(iDiv researchers in bold)

Marques, A., Martins, I.S., Kastner, T., Plutzar, C., Theurl, M.C., Eisenmeger, N., Huijbregts, M.A., Wood. R., Stadler, R., Bruckner, M., Canelas, J., Hilbers, J., Tukker, A., Erb, K., Pereira, H.M. (2019) Increasing Impacts of land use on biodiversity and carbon sequestration driven by population and economic growth. Nature Ecology and Evolution, doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0824-3.

 

Contact:

Prof Henrique Miguel Pereira
Head of research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Email: henrique.pereira@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/pereira_henrique_miguel.html

 

Dr Alexandra Marques
German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Leiden University, The Netherlands
Email: alexandra.penedo@gmail.com

 

Dr Tabea Turrini
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: tabea.turrini@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/turrini_tabea.html

 

]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Conservation Media Release Mon, 04 Mar 2019 00:00:00 +0100
“Globalisation” of plant distribution through plant-fungus symbioses https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1458.html This news item is only available in German. This news item is only available in German.

]]>
sDiv TOP NEWS Tue, 26 Feb 2019 10:07:48 +0100
Complete world map of tree diversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1476.html New statistical model eliminates blank spaces New statistical model eliminates blank spaces

Leipzig, Halle. The biodiversity of our planet is one of our most precious resources. However, for most places in the world, we only have a tiny picture of what this diversity actually is. Researchers at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have now succeeded in constructing, from scattered data, a world map of biodiversity showing numbers of tree species. With the new map, the researchers were able to infer what drives the global distribution of tree species richness. Climate plays a central role; however, the number of species that can be found in a specific region also depends on the spatial scale of the observation, the researchers report in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. The new approach could help to improve global conservation.

Around the world, biodiversity is changing dramatically and its protection has become one of the greatest challenges mankind is facing. At the same time, we still know very little about why some places are biologically diverse while others are poor, and where are the most biodiverse places on Earth. Also, the reasons why some areas are more species-rich than others are often unclear: what role do environmental factors like climate play, and how important are historical factors like past ice ages for the biodiversity we are observing today? Our knowledge is based on scattered local surveys and is full of gaps; especially in tropical regions, where biodiversity can be particularly high. Closing all gaps by comprehensively surveying the whole planet, is, however, simply impossible.

Satellite imagery can close some data gaps; for example, when collating information on forest cover, but these techniques have their limits. “We don’t have to just count the trees, we also need to identify what species they are,” explains Dr Petr Keil, lead author of the new study. “In the tropics, we find hundreds of different tree species in a single hectare. We can identify these only on site. Therefore, most areas haven’t been surveyed for biological diversity – and probably never will be.” Keil and co-author Prof Jonathan Chase are scientists at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

Despite the patchy data, Keil and Chase wanted to create a world map of tree species richness. In a first step, they compiled well over 1,000 lists of tree species. These came either from small forest plots which had been surveyed in previous studies, or from whole countries. For most countries in the world, it is known which tree species can be found there, but not where exactly, and also it is often unclear whether specific species are rare or common. In order to be able to calculate the number of tree species for the extensive blank spaces on the map, the researchers developed a statistical model. The trick is that the model combines the available patchy information on the surveyed plots with the information on the country level and also integrates established data on environmental factors like climate. The result is a complete map of biodiversity in all the forested areas in the world.

“It was like a 1000-piece puzzle that we only had a few pieces of, and we didn’t even know what the big picture was,” says Jonathan Chase. “With our approach, we were able to calculate the missing pieces and put the puzzle together.” Using the new method, the researchers can calculate the number of tree species for areas of different sizes; a nature reserve, a country or an entire continent. This enabled them to investigate the underlying causes of the variation of tree diversity on our planet. Their analysis revealed that climate is the most important factor; the highest number of tree species can be found in the hot, humid tropics. Nevertheless, the number of tree species also varies across different places with the same climate, in some cases quite substantially. In southern China, for example, the researchers see a much higher diversity than in other regions with a similar climate. 

Importantly, however, just how much ‘extra’ diversity one finds in places like China depends on the view of the observer. “If you’re standing in a forest counting the number of species around you, you might not even notice the difference between China and other climatically similar areas. However, when you move from one site to the next and add up species observed across many sites, the difference really pops out”, Jonathan Chase says.

This disparity between adjacent areas is called beta diversity. Within a larger region it leads to a high total diversity. Keil and Chase have shown in their analysis that this measure of diversity is particularly high in the dry (not wet) tropics, especially in mountainous areas like in southern China, Mexico, or in the Ethiopian highlands. One reason for this high beta-diversity might be events in the geological past, like ice ages. “During the last glaciation, the trees could survive only in mountain valleys, and different populations were isolated from each other as a result,” explains Petr Keil. “If you stand in one of these valleys today, you see a medium number of tree species. But if you climb over the ridge and hike down into the neighbouring valley, you find different tree species, and still others in the next valley.”

Keil and Chase are primarily concerned with understanding how biodiversity is distributed on the planet and what factors are driving it. But their model can also be useful for developing strategies for conservation, especially in forests where tree diversity has not been heavily influenced by humans. For example, in the case of the mountains of China, protecting only one valley is not enough; it is the diversity of different valleys which gives this area its high biological value. “In order to really understand and protect biodiversity, we have to look at the local and regional scale at the same time,” says Keil. “That is, we need both the perspective of a naturalist standing in a forest and the big picture of an entire country. Our approach now enables that”.
Volker Hahn, Tabea Turrini


Original publication:

Keil, P., & Chase, J. M. (2019). Global patterns and drivers of tree diversity integrated across a continuum of spatial grains. Nature Ecology & Evolution. doi:10.1038/s41559-019-0799-0

 

Contact:

Dr Petr Keil
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9733232
Email: petr.keil@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/keil_petr.html

 

Prof Jonathan Chase
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: Please contact iDiv Media and Communications for mobile number.
Email: jonathan.chase@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/core_groups/synthesis.html

 

Dr Tabea Turrini
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733106
Email: tabea.turrini@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/turrini_tabea.html

 

]]>
Biodiversity Synthesis Media Release TOP NEWS Wed, 20 Feb 2019 00:00:00 +0100
White paper on National Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1453.html Document calls for the involvement of all relevant players Halle, Jena, Leipzig. A team of scientists led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) has published a white paper on the design of a National Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring. The white paper is intended to serve as a basis for discussion; it calls for the involvement of all relevant players in the conception and design of the future centre. The authors of iDiv, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Leipzig University and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) make recommendations for a consistent national monitoring system for Germany. This system should include current monitoring initiatives and continue existing time series (prospective monitoring). Another aim should be the mobilisation of existing biodiversity data (retrospective monitoring) through the new centre: Data already collected in the past by agencies, professional societies and NGOs should be compiled and synthesised. According to the authors, this is particularly important in order to identify long-term trends. It is also crucial to identify the causes of these trends in order to develop targeted measures that can halt biodiversity loss. The iDiv scientists believe that biodiversity monitoring should be understood as a service for the general public and not as research. The scientists also recommend setting up the National Monitoring Centre on a permanent basis. In the coalition agreement, the German federal government decided to establish a National Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring. In the early summer of 2019, it intends to adopt a corresponding concept.
Volker Hahn

White paper:
https://www.idiv.de/fileadmin/content/iDiv_Files/Documents/White_paper_Monitoringzentrum_iDiv_et_al_20181218_de3.pdf The authors are collecting suggestions for amendments in order to further develop the white paper. If you would like to participate in this process, please contact Prof Helge Bruelheide: Prof Dr Helge Bruelheide
Professor for Geobotany
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Co-Director of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Email: helge.bruelheide@botanik.uni-halle.de
Web: https://www.botanik.uni-halle.de/geobotanik/helge_bruelheide/
]]>
TOP NEWS iDiv Mon, 18 Feb 2019 14:34:47 +0100
PhD award 2018 for yDiv alumna Bettina Ohse https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1449.html Award of the Research Academy Leipzig Leipzig. Bettina Ohse has received the PhD Award 2018 of the Research Academy Leipzig. At the graduate school’s annual reception, the 35-year-old was honoured by Prof Beate Schücking, rector of Leipzig University. The insights gained during her doctoral research attracted great attention and aroused international media response. Together with her co-authors, Ohse proved that trees can tell whether one of their buds or shoots was just accidentally torn off by a storm gust or fell victim to a voracious deer. When the deer eat them, the trees launch defence mechanisms. Ohse’s work has already been awarded the Wilhelm Pfeffer Foundation's Best Paper Prize.
Bettina Ohse was a graduate student in the working group of iDiv director Prof Christian Wirth at Leipzig University. From 2014 to 2018 she was member of iDiv’s graduate school yDiv.
Volker Hahn More information in the media release of Leipzig University (in German):
https://www.uni-leipzig.de/newsdetail/artikel/promotionspreise-an-herausragende-nachwuchsforscher-verliehen-2019-02-01/ Media release about Bettina Ohse’s research:
https://www.idiv.de/en/news/media_releases/archive_2016/archive_2016_single_view/news_article/trees-recogn.html ]]>
TOP NEWS yDiv Mon, 04 Feb 2019 15:06:36 +0100