Alle Meldungen https://www.idiv.de/ en Alle Meldungen 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, 17 Feb 2020 09:25:23 +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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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

 

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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

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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

 

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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

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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.

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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

 

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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

 

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Research iDiv iDiv Members Media Release TOP NEWS 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

 

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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.

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

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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

 

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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:

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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

 

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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/
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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
Ingenious techniques in neighbourhood dispute https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1448.html Tobacco plants gain an advantage by the timely sending of hungry caterpillars to the competition Tobacco plants gain an advantage by the timely sending of hungry caterpillars to the competition

Leipzig. Plants cannot run away from animals which eat them, but many species have their own ways of defending themselves; they produce chemicals which don’t do hungry creepy-crawlies any good. In this way, wild tobacco plants strike back at the caterpillars of the tobacco hawk moth. A new study led by researchers from the iDiv research centre, the University of Jena and the UFZ shows that it can be worthwhile for a plant to put up with these little creatures for a few days before starting its defence. In this way, the caterpillars move to a neighbouring plant when, and only when they are mature enough to be really good eaters, thus giving plant number one an advantage in intraspecies competition.

Actually, one would normally assume that plants suffer disadvantages if they do not mount their defences until after herbivores have inflicted their first damage. The faster a plant reacts, the better; or so one would expect. Why, then, do some plant species take several days to produce chemical defences after they are attacked by caterpillars, for example?

An explanation has now been provided by a research team led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in the journal The American Naturalist. Scientists have been working on wild tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata), which the caterpillars of the tobacco hawk moth (Manduca sexta) are particularly partial to. To defend themselves, the plants produce chemical substances which are toxic to the caterpillars. The researchers have now been able to find out why the plants delay production of these substances for a few days after a caterpillar hatches from its egg, using a computer model based on observational data.

The key lies in the special ecology of wild tobacco. The species grows in desert areas in the United States where seeds wait for years in the ground for a fire and afterwards all germinate together. As a result, competition for water and nutrients between the many tobacco plants of the same age is high. If a plant then has to deal with herbivores as well, this puts it at a great disadvantage. "Wild tobacco, however, has found an ingenious way to ‘pass the buck’; the plant dispatches the caterpillars to its neighbours without further ado," says Dr Pia Backmann from the iDiv research centre and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ).

This works best when the caterpillars are already several days old, as the new model by Pia Backmann shows. Before this, the caterpillars of the tobacco hawk moth are still too small and not strong or agile enough to make their way to another plant. Furthermore, they also eat very little at this stage and the resulting damage is therefore relatively minor. Starting at around ten days of age however, eating really begins in earnest; the caterpillars now eat well over 90 per cent of the leaf mass they will consume until they pupate at about 21 days of age. Also, they are now big enough to move to another plant when things get uncomfortable; that is to say, when their host plant has ramped up its defences. For this reason, the plant optimally starts producing toxins about four days after the caterpillar infestation. It takes a few more days for the defence to become fully active.

"For tobacco plants, ‘the sooner the better’, doesn’t apply", says Prof Nicole van Dam of the iDiv research centre and the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. "Instead, it's about activating the defence at the right time so that the caterpillar crawls to a neighbouring plant and weakens it – and the clever plant will, in the end, outperform its competitor." If the plant is too early, it may indeed succeed in killing the caterpillar after a few days. But because the production of defence chemicals uses energy, the plant’s growth will ultimately lag behind that of its conspecifics. If the defence mechanism kicks in too late, the caterpillar may stay on the plant until pupation, causing serious feeding damage which may even kill the plant.

Prof Nicole van Dam together with Prof Ian Baldwin, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, MPI-CE, and a member of iDiv, and their team had already found, in previous laboratory experiments, that caterpillars develop more slowly and die more often under the effect of the defence chemicals. They also assessed that it pays off for caterpillars on plants with activated defences to move to another plant, which is not producing toxins. However, that this is the plant's own strategy to deal with intraspecific competition; allowing itself to be eaten for a few days and only then defending itself, could be clarified only with the assistance of the new computer model.

Lead author Pia Backmann carried out the study at the iDiv research centre and the UFZ, collecting the observational data during a residence at the field station of the MPI-CE in the United States. Since then, Pia Backmann has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University Dresden.
Tabea Turrini

Wild tobacco and tobacco hawk moth:
Wild tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata) is related to those plant species which are used for the production of smoking tobacco. In the past, wild tobacco was smoked by some Native American tribes. The plant constantly produces nicotine to discourage mammals and other non-specialized herbivores. However, the caterpillars of the tobacco hawk moth (Manduca sexta) are adapted to this and not only tolerate the nicotine, but can even accumulate it in their bodies to protect themselves against their own predators such as birds and lizards. To defend itself against the caterpillars, wild tobacco produces toxins and so-called proteinase inhibitors, which weaken the caterpillars, inhibit their growth and can even kill them. In addition, the plant gives off fragrances to attract the caterpillars’ herbivores. However, these defence mechanisms do not operate permanently. They are activated only after the plant has registered the presence of a caterpillar, with its saliva serving as the indication. Usually tobacco plants are attacked by one caterpillar, but sometimes by several caterpillars simultaneously. Many of our insights regarding interactions between the wild tobacco and the tobacco hawk moth are based on research by Ian Baldwin and his team, who have been studying this system for more than 20 years.

 

Original publication:
(iDiv employees and members in bold)
Pia Backmann, Volker Grimm, Gottfried Jetschke, Yue Lin, Matthijs Vos, Ian T. Baldwin, and Nicole M. van Dam (2019): Delayed Chemical Defense: Timely Expulsion of Herbivores Can Reduce Competition with Neighboring Plants. The American Naturalist 193:1, 125-139. https://doi.org/10.1086/700577


Earlier media release about a similar topic:
20 April 2017: Bergamotene   ̶   alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta
Media release of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena
https://www.ice.mpg.de/ext/index.php?id=1370&L=0

 

Contact:

Prof Nicole van Dam
Head of research group Molecular Interaction Ecology
German Center 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

 

Dr Pia Backmann
German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Technical University Dresden
Phone: Please contact iDiv Media and Communications
Email: pia.backmann@ufz.de
Web: https://piabackmann.wordpress.com (personal website)

 

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

 

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TOP NEWS Media Release iDiv Members Molecular Interaction Ecology Fri, 25 Jan 2019 00:00:00 +0100
Courage to aim for less cleanliness? https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1431.html More living organisms on our bodies and in our homes could help in combatting diseases - if we let... More living organisms on our bodies and in our homes could help in combatting diseases - if we let them live

Leipzig, Raleigh. Do the same laws of biodiversity which apply in nature also apply to our own bodies and homes? If so, current hygiene measures to combat aggressive germs could be, to some extent, counterproductive. So writes an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University and North Carolina State University in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. They propose that examination of the role diversity of microorganisms plays in the ecosystems of our bodies and homes should be intensified. The findings could challenge existing strategies for fighting infectious diseases and resistant germs.

Ecosystems like high-biodiversity grasslands and forests are more resistant to disturbances, such as invasive species, climate fluctuations and pathogens, than lower-diversity ecosystems. If this diversity is reduced, basic ecosystem functions are lost. This so-called stability hypothesis has been proven in hundreds of biological studies. This research mainly deals with the world of animals and plants, but when looking at our own body or home through a microscope, an equally diverse community of microorganisms is revealed. Potentially, similar laws could apply to these communities as to the ‘big‘ ecosystems, and this could have far-reaching consequences for our health care.

Researchers at the iDiv research centre propose, in an article published in November, 2018 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, that the theories of ecosystem research should also be tested on our immediate environment and its microorganisms.

“We influence this micro-biodiversity on a daily basis, especially by combatting it with, for example disinfectants and antibiotics – actually with the aim of promoting good health,“ says ecologist Robert Dunn, professor at North Carolina State University and the University of Copenhagen. Dunn wrote the article during a one-year sabbatical stay at iDiv – in collaboration with iDiv scientist Nico Eisenhauer, professor at Leipzig University. “This interference in microbial species compositions could impede the natural containment of pathogens,“ says Eisenhauer.

According to the ecological niche theory, plants and animals apportion the available resources in their habitat among themselves, whereby species with similar needs compete with each other. Newly arriving species find it hard to gain a foothold, at least in a stable ecosystem. However, in species-poor ecosystems or those disturbed by humans, non-native species can invade much more easily.

Microorganisms also form their own ecosystems. So far, more than two hundred thousand species are known to live in human dwellings as well as on and in human bodies. Bacteria in human dwellings account for half of these, and thousands of bacteria live on our bodies. In addition, there are around forty thousand species of fungi in our homes, although these are less likely to be found on human bodies.

“Pathogens in our environment are comparable to invasive species in nature,“ says ecologist Nico Eisenhauer. “If you transfer the findings from large habitats to the world of microbes, you have to expect that our habitual use of disinfectants and antibiotics actually increases the dispersal of dangerous germs because it interferes with the natural species composition.“ As an example, this has been documented for rod bacteria of the species Clostridium difficile, which causes intestinal inflammation with diarrhoea. The use of antibiotics enabled these to spread faster. So-called non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTMs), which form a biofilm primarily on shower heads and can cause diseases, are predominant in chlorinated water. They are largely free to proliferate on metal shower hoses, while plastic shower hoses, which encourage a rich community of microorganisms, have lower levels of NTMs.

Bacteria communities which prevent disease can also be actively created. For example, in the 1960s, researchers discovered that babies whose noses and navels were inoculated with harmless strains of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus were rarely colonised by S. aureus 80/81. This bacterium can cause diseases ranging from skin infections to life-threatening blood poisoning and pneumonia. Another example is faecal bacteriotherapy; by transferring a healthy community of microorganisms from person to person, it is possible to treat intestinal infections.

So, is our fear of ‘Bacteria & Co.‘ unfounded and our knee-jerk reaction to fight them actually dangerous? “We are not physician,“ says Eisenhauer. “I would certainly not recommend a surgeon to work non-sterile on the open body. Having said that, as far as surfaces are concerned, targeted inoculations with a selected microbial community could possibly prevent the spread and establishment of dangerous pathogens.“

In any case, only a relatively small proportion of the microorganisms in our environment actually causes disease. This also applies to insects and other arthropods, usually regarded as pests in flats and houses – especially spiders. As hunters, they provide important ecosystem services by exterminating mosquitoes, bedbugs, cockroaches and house flies, which can actually transmit diseases. “We just have to let them be,“ says Robert Dunn.

How the theories of biodiversity and ecosystem research apply to the health sector should, according to the three authors, be systematically investigated. Eisenhauer suggests, firstly, to test in which microbial communities common pathogens can spread better or worse on surfaces.
Sebastian Tilch


Original publication (iDiv researchers in bold):

Dunn, R.R., Reese, A.T. & Eisenhauer, N. (2019). Biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships on bodies and in buildings. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3 (1), 7-9. doi: 10.1038 / s41559-018-0750-9

Former news item about a similar topic:

Bringing the ‘micro‘ to the field of Macroecology (12.10.2018)
https://www.idiv.de/en/news/news_single_view/news_article/bringing_the.html

More information:

New book, which Robert Dunn partly wrote during his stay at iDiv:
“Never home alone - from microbes to millipedes, camel crickets, and honeybees, the natural history of where we live“
http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

 

Contact:

Prof Nico Eisenhauer
Leipzig University
Head of the Department 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

 

Prof Robert R. Dunn
Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University
Natural History Museum of Denmark
German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle, Jena, Leipzig
Phone: Please contact iDiv Media and Communications
Email: rrdunn@ncsu.edu
Web: www.robdunnlab.com

 

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

 

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TOP NEWS sDiv Experimental Interaction Ecology Media Release Mon, 21 Jan 2019 00:00:00 +0100
Research results re-edited for children https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1407.html iDiv scientists explain research on tropical arthropods in journal for young readers iDiv scientists explain research on tropical arthropods in journal for young readers

Report by Dr Malte Jochum, postdoctoral researcher at iDiv and Leipzig University and first author of a new publication in Frontiers for Young Minds:

Leipzig. Ground-dwelling arthropod communities in tropical forests are more diverse, have higher numbers (more individuals) and higher biomass than those in nearby plantation systems. We have translated these research results for a young audience and published an article in Frontiers for Young Minds. This journal is committed to making research accessible to kids aged between eight and fifteen, who can also actively take part as reviewers. After all, what is more important than helping kids understand how the world functions and what we can do to help saving it? Tropical ground-dwelling arthropods are threatened by conversion of lowland rainforest into plantations for rubber and palm oil. We published these results in 2014 in Nature Communications and have given several talks and presented posters at scientific conferences since. Also, there was some resonance in the media about our article. However, it has been a while since I last felt as excited about the communication of our results as I am now that we have re-written our scientific article for kids in Frontiers for Young Minds. The journal publishes freely-available articles written by scientists for kids and reviewed by kids together with a science mentor – a researcher or teacher who teams up with a young reviewer to guide them through the review process. Articles are either kid-friendly summaries of published research articles or “core concepts” introducing fundamental ideas for a given field of research. During our joint PhD projects in the EFForTS project, a German-Indonesian research collaboration funded by the DFG, my colleague Andrew Barnes and I found that tropical arthropod communities living in the litter layer of lowland rainforests on Sumatra, Indonesia, were heavily reduced in their number of species (45% decline), number of individuals per area (48% decline) and biomass (52% decline) when these forests were converted into oil-palm plantations. Over the last months, we set some time aside to translate our research findings into a language understandable for kids and created figures visualizing the decline in a simple, intuitive way. For me, writing this article for kids was a very exciting and refreshing experience. As a scientist, I took this as a valuable training exercise in communicating my results to the general public and in a form that can be understood by everyone. It meant taking a step back and looking at my research with an outside perspective asking myself questions like “Why am I even doing this?”, “What good is my research for anyone outside my research bubble?”, or “Why should we care about tropical arthropods and how to explain this to a kid who does not live in or might never visit the tropics?”. I really enjoyed the interactive review process answering the questions of a curious young mind who challenged my mindset of why my research is important or what is the most exciting result of our article. “How long did it take to gather all the data?”, “What is a biodiversity hotspot?”, “What is an arthropod?”, “How was your interaction with the native people of Sumatra?”, questions like these were fun to answer and set my own view of my research into a broader perspective of what others might think or find fascinating about it. If you are a curious young mind between eight and fifteen, a parent looking for a fun read and food for thought for your teenager, or a teacher looking for an interesting article to read in your science or English class, you should have a look at Frontiers for Young Minds. There is also the possibility to sign up as a science mentor. As a researcher interested in science communication, publishing in this journal may help you to once and for all explain to your grandparents, parents, siblings or kids what it is you are working on in your science ivory tower. If you manage to translate your research in an entertaining manner, you can bring an article home for Christmas that will set an end to the never-ending “What is it you are doing there in Indonesia? I don’t understand what’s so fascinating about cockroaches living in-between dead leaves at the other end of the world.”
Malte Jochum
Original publication in Frontiers for Young Minds:
(iDiv-affiliated author in bold) Jochum M and Barnes AD (2018) Is Arthropod Biodiversity on the Rainforest Floor Threatened by Rubber and Palm-Oil Plantations? Frontiers for Young Minds 6:72. doi: 10.3389/frym.2018.00072 Preceding research article in Nature Communications:
(iDiv- affiliated authors in bold) Barnes, A. D., Jochum, M., Mumme, S., Haneda, N. F., Farajallah, A., Widarto, T. H., Brose, U. (2014) Consequences of tropical land use for multitrophic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Nature Communications 5:5351. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6351 Further information: EFForTS  project:
https://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/310995.html Press release about original research article (University of Göttingen, 31.10.2014, German only):
https://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/3240.html?archive=true&archive_id=4957&archive_source=presse Contact: Dr Malte Jochum
Postdoctoral researcher at the research group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Leipzig University
Email: malte.jochum@idiv.de
Tel.: +49 341 9733173
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/jochum_malte.html Dr Tabea Turrini
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel.: +49 341 9733106
Email: tabea.turrini@idiv.de]]>
TOP NEWS Experimental Interaction Ecology Sun, 23 Dec 2018 10:36:00 +0100
Soil moisture matters, even in tropical rainforests https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1387.html Growth rates shape distributions of tropical tree species on a soil moisture gradient Growth rates shape distributions of tropical tree species on a soil moisture gradient

Report by Stefan Kupers, scientist at iDiv and first author of a new study in the Journal of Ecology:

Leipzig. Even in wet environments like tropical rainforests, tree species are separated along local gradients of soil moisture. We found evidence for this separation based on highly detailed soil moisture data. The reason for this separation was that some tree species grew faster at wetter locations while other species grew faster at drier locations. Our findings were recently published in the Journal of Ecology. It is important to understand how tree species respond to variation in soil moisture in order to better predict how tropical forests may respond to shifts in rainfall patterns caused by climate change. Tree species differ strongly in their water requirements: some species do best in moist habitats but do not support drought very well, and for other species it is vice versa. Therefore, in forests that are located in regions with high rainfall, different species are abundant compared to forests in comparably drier regions. This is also true for tropical rainforests, where we observe clear patterns of species distributions along regional rainfall gradients. But what if we narrow down the scale on which we observe the distribution of species – and instead of different regions, we compare two locations some dozen meters apart? Do we find that the tree species specialise with respect to soil moisture? This question is difficult to study because on such local scales, detailed soil moisture data are usually not available. Researchers have therefore been limited to studying species distributions among broad habitat classes such as moist slopes versus drier hilltops. However, soil moisture can vary strongly within habitats, for example when the soil type changes (sandy soils are usually drier than clay soils). It has therefore remained unclear how important local soil moisture gradients are for the performance and distributions of tropical tree species. Together with colleagues from Panama, we measured soil moisture in a tropical forest on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. We then linked these data to the performance of individual seedlings measured yearly for over two decades. For 62 species, we compared growth and mortality rates with their position along the soil moisture gradient. This allowed us to identify the mechanism that causes the separation of species on the moisture gradient. We found that the distribution of species was determined by differences in growth rates on the soil moisture gradient. In particular, species that grew well on the wet end of the gradient were also more abundant there. The reason for this was not only that they became taller more quickly, making them less vulnerable to die during a drought, but that they grew faster than competing species that were more abundant on the dry end of the gradient. These findings show that it is important to understand the growth responses of species to soil moisture, because it determines where species are able to survive and become abundant. This information can help understand how tree species in tropical forests may be affected by changes in rainfall that are expected in the tropics due to climate change.
Stefan Kupers Original publication:
(iDiv scientists in bold) Kupers, S.J., Engelbrecht, B.M.J., Hernández, A., Wright S.J., Wirth C., Rüger, N. (2018) Growth responses to soil water potential indirectly shape local species distributions of tropical forest seedlings. Journal of Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365‐2745.13096 Contact: Stefan Kupers
Doctoral researcher in the research group Computational Forest Ecology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Tel.: +49 341 9733168
Email: stefan.kupers@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/kupers_stefan.html Dr Tabea Turrini
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Tel.: +49 341 9733106
Email: tabea.turrini@idiv.de]]>
TOP NEWS Computational Forest Ecology Fri, 14 Dec 2018 16:43:00 +0100
Less butterflies in protected areas https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1404.html Media release by UFZ The European system of protected areas Natura 2000 has not yet been able to halt the decline of butterflies in Germany This news item is only available in German. ]]> UFZ News TOP NEWS iDiv Members Mon, 10 Dec 2018 12:20:55 +0100 Why biodiversity-rich ecosystems perform better https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1401.html Zooming in on the causes of complementarity in grasslands Zooming in on the causes of complementarity in grasslands Report by Katie Barry, postdoctoral researcher at iDiv and the UL and first author of a new paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution Leipzig. “How” biodiversity enhances ecosystem functioning may be just as important as “that” biodiversity enhances ecosystem functioning. Our new review in Trends in Ecology and Evolution highlights how focusing on the consequence of enhanced ecosystem functioning in more diverse ecosystems has caused scientists to overlook the “how” of biodiversity ecosystem functioning relationships. This review also emphasises that understanding how relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning arise changes the implications of biodiversity loss in more diverse systems. Understanding how biodiversity loss will affect ecosystem functioning is one of the major goals of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiments. Yet, biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research often focuses on the abstract idea of “complementarity” where species “fit together like puzzle pieces” to enhance ecosystem functioning. Complementarity is used so frequently in this context that it is often conflated with the consequence of better performance in mixture. This false association forces biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research to focus on the consequence of better performance and neglect what causes better performance. In our review, we focus on three potential causes of complementarity that may enhance ecosystem functioning in more biodiverse systems: resource partitioning, abiotic facilitation, and biotic feedbacks. We found that there is evidence that plants partition resources, facilitate each other through changes to abiotic conditions, and are subject to positive and negative biotic feedbacks. However, there is very little evidence directly tying these different causes to enhanced ecosystem functioning in more diverse plant mixtures. Further, we argue that understanding how these different causes may drive enhanced ecosystem functioning is important. This is because they have different ecological consequences when species are lost, vary across ecological contexts, and may combine with each other. Finally, we predict that – when causes combine – biodiversity may be even more important for supporting ecosystem functioning. 
Kathryn E. Barry

Original paper:

(iDiv scientists in bold) Barry, K.E., Mommer, L., van Ruijven, J., Wirth, C., Wright, A.J., Bai, Y., Connolly, J., De Deyn, G.B., de Kroon, H., Isbell, F., Milcu, A., Roscher, C., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Schmid, B., & Weigelt, A. (2018). The future of complementarity: Disentangling causes from consequences. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2018.10.013

Contact:

Dr Kathryn E. Barry
Flexpool postdoc
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Community Assembly and the Functioning of Ecosystems
Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity
Leipzig University
Mail: kathryn.barry@idiv.de

Further Information:

The Jena Experiment:
http://www.the-jena-experiment.de/ ]]>
TOP NEWS Research Wed, 05 Dec 2018 15:42:44 +0100
iDiv member Martin Schlegel senior professor at Leipzig University https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1399.html Certificate handed over on 3 December German. ]]> TOP NEWS iDiv Members Wed, 05 Dec 2018 14:08:50 +0100 Highly Cited Researchers https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1397.html New ranking published Clarivate Analytics lists 13 iDiv members/scientists in its 2018 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. Two iDiv scientists based at the iDiv core centre can be found on the list: Prof W. Stanley Harpole (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, iDiv, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg) leads the research group Physiological Diversity. Harpole’s research focuses on understanding interactive effects of multiple global change drivers. Dr Marten Winter (iDiv) coordinates iDiv’s synthesis centre sDiv. He is a wildlife ecologist with a focus on Invasion Ecology/Macroecology and a contributing author for the assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Another eleven iDiv members based outside the iDiv core centre are on the list (in alphabetical order):
Prof Ian T. Baldwin (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, iDiv)
Prof Jonathan Gershenzon (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, iDiv)
Prof Helmut Hillebrand (University of Oldenburg, Helmholtz-Instituts für Funktionelle Marine Biodiversität, iDiv)
Dr Jens Kattge (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, iDiv)
Prof Ingolf Kühn (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, iDiv)
Dr Steffen Neumann (Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, iDiv)
Prof Robert Paxton (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) In total, 6,000 researchers from different fields of science and social science have been selected.
https://hcr.clarivate.com/

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iDiv Members Physiological Diversity sDiv TOP NEWS Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:47:04 +0100
iDiv at 14th CoP to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1393.html Wide range of activities of iDiv scientists From 17 to 29 November 2018, the 14th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Several iDiv scientists participated.  Prof Josef Settele (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, iDiv) gave two talks related to the IPBES Global Assessment he is co-chairing. GEO BON representatives Dr Laetitia Navarro (iDiv, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg – MLU), HyeJin Kim (iDiv, MLU), Dr Néstor Fernández (iDiv, MLU) and Prof Henrique Pereira (iDiv, MLU) joined the convention as an “observer delegation”, presenting an official intervention in the plenary by reading the “Beijing call”. In this statement, GEO BON calls for the post-2020 targets to explicitly include the development of sustained operational national biodiversity observation networks. GEO BON also organised and hosted a side event entitled “From biodiversity data to reporting”. Furthermore, Néstor Fernández and Henrique Pereira hosted a session on “Rewilding Landscapes for Nature & People”. Henrique Pereira gave several talks during the CoP, including one on “Nature Futures for the post 2020 biodiversity strategy”. Laetitia Navarro (iDiv, MLU), Executive Secretary of GEO BON, gave another two presentations at CoP side events.
Further information: The Beijing 2018 call on biodiversity observations for post-2020 decision-making
https://geobon.org/the-beijing-2018-call-on-biodiversity-observations-for-post-2020-decision-making/
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TOP NEWS iDiv GEO BON Biodiversity Conservation iDiv Members Wed, 28 Nov 2018 15:31:07 +0100
Concrete jungles? Cities could swallow 290,000 km2 of wildlife habitat by 2030 https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1389.html Area of habitat larger than New Zealand could be lost to urbanisation over next 20 years Based on a media release by The Nature Conservancy Arlington/Leipzig. An area of natural habitat larger than New Zealand could be swallowed by growing cities between now and 2030, according to projections released today by an international team of scientists. Environmental non-profit The Nature Conservancy (TNC) led the assessment; it is also a product of the sDiv working group sUrbio2050 involving Dr Andressa Vianna Mansur of the iDiv research centre and Prof Henrique M. Pereira of iDiv and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.  The report also highlights how unchecked urban development will also increasingly threaten nature’s potential to protect those 120 million people projected to be living in coastal regions particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. By 2030, it is projected that urbanisation could transform 144,000 km2 of coast – an area larger than Greece.  Slowing the pace of urbanisation in these critical areas could help protect communities from threats like flooding and storm surges, while also supporting coastal biodiversity.
Published ahead of November’s crucial United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP14) summit in Egypt, where policymakers will debate questions including what proportion of the planet should be set aside to support wildlife, the report – Nature in the Urban Century – draws parallels between unprecedented urban growth and increasing pressure on remaining habitat, farmland and even strictly protected areas like national parks. Analyzing metropolitan areas around the world, the study maps projected growth rates against proximity to protected areas.
Produced in partnership with Future Earth and Stockholm Resilience Center, the report projects that 290,000 km2 of additional land – vital not only for wildlife but also agriculture and mitigating CO2 emissions – could be lost to urbanisation by 2030. Equivalent to adding a new metropolis the size of London every seven weeks, this urban growth threatens to encroach within 50km of nearly half the planet’s strictly protected lands – precious sanctuaries including national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife refuges. Habitat loss could be particularly significant in temperate broadleaf forest and humid tropical forest, including regions of Brazil, China, Indonesia, and the United States.
“We are living in an increasingly urban century, with at least 70% of humans likely to live in cities by 2050 – an additional 2.4 billion people,” comments the report’s coordinating lead author and TNC’s lead scientist for global cities, Dr. Rob McDonald. “If current growth trends continues, by the end of this century we could see an area of habitat larger than New Zealand becoming urbanised, raising obvious questions not only in terms of wildlife biodiversity but also human health and wellbeing. We hope the publication of this report, coming as it does ahead of the important UN CBD Congress of Parties in Sharm El Sheik, will provide an urgent rallying cry to factor these considerations into future land use policy. Cities themselves are not the problem – unsustainable planning very much is.”

Full report:

http://www.urbannature100.org/

Contact:

Prof Dr Henrique M. Pereira
Head of research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
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 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/media]]>
TOP NEWS Media Release Biodiversity Conservation sDiv Thu, 15 Nov 2018 15:30:13 +0100
The dawn of a new era for genebanks https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1385.html Molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection Mission accomplished: molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

Joint media release by the IPK Gatersleben, iDiv, the JKI and the University of Göttingen

Gatersleben/Leipzig. Biodiversity goes beyond species diversity. Another important aspect of biodiversity is genetic variation within species. A notable example is the immense variety of cultivars and landraces of crop plants and their wild progenitors. An international research consortium led by the of the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK Gatersleben) and supported by the iDiv research centre has now characterised at the molecular level a world collection of barley comprising seed samples from a total of more than 22,000 varieties.  In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the scientists usher in a new era for gene banks that transform from museums of past crop diversity into bio-digital resource centres. Genebanks store samples of cultivars, landraces and wild relatives of crop plants from all over the world to safeguard our agricultural heritage and exploit it for future crop improvement. The German federal ex situ gene bank at IPK in Gatersleben hosts one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of cultivated plants, including 22,000 barley seed samples. Under the leadership of the IPK Gatersleben, researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI, German Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants) in Quedlinburg and the University of Göttingen collaborated with colleagues from Japan, China, and Switzerland. This international cooperation revealed how well the IPK collection represents global barley diversity. A single plant was genotyped for each of more than 22,000 seed samples, enabling the scientists to identify duplicate samples within the collection. Opening up new ways for genetically informed quality management, this comprehensive dataset also guides the effective use of the collection in research and breeding by pinpointing lines for further in-depth characterization. Prof Dr Nils Stein (IPK Gatersleben and University of Göttingen) says: “This publication enables us to fully describe the wide range of morphological diversity of a worldwide genebank in terms of molecular genetics.” To do this, Stein and his team used a method called “genotyping by sequencing” (GBS). The complete DNA sequence of the barley variety ‘Morex’, which was released in 2017, forms the basis of the present work. It serves as a high-quality sequence anchor for the GBS information. To characterise genetic diversity between cultivated and wild barley forms throughout the whole genome, the researchers searched for so-called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). In total, they found more than 171,000 of these small DNA variants in the huge barley genome consisting of 5 billion base pairs. Stein adds: “This density is sufficient to find even very small differences between samples, but also to confidently flag pairs of duplicated samples in our collection.” “We can now draw conclusions about the origin, distribution area and relationship between the barley populations hosted in our collection. All digital genetic data are publicly accessible and targeted queries can be submitted online. A state-of-the art database combines traditional passport records with the new molecular data to inform research and breeding applications,” explains Dr Martin Mascher of the IPK and iDiv, who co-led the study. The combination of historical field data of the genebank with modern molecular analyses is an impressive showcase for the opportunities that still lie dormant within gene banks around the world. New research methods and international collaborations have paved new ways for the preservation and use of this valuable genetic diversity. Prof Dr Frank Ordon from the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) points out: “Detailed knowledge about genetic variability and its use are prerequisite for breeding new varieties adapted to a changing environment. In the future, plant breeders will have to cope with heat, drought stress and new pathogens and also must adapt to changes regarding the use of fertilisers and pesticides. Genes that code for key properties can thus be detected in native species or related wild species more quickly and be used in breeding.”  In the past, the lack of genetic data at the level of whole collections limited practical applications of genetic diversity in breeding and research. Thanks to the new analysis and open research data, it will now be possible to search across 22,626 barley seed samples. To host this unique resource, the researchers developed the BRIDGE “Data Warehouse” as a first steps towards a bio-digital resource centre. The BRIDGE project: BRIDGE stands for “Biodiversity informatics to bridge the gap from genome information to educated utilisation of genetic diversity hosted in Genebanks”.  Funded in frame of the Leibniz Competition, the project was launched on 1 May 2015 and has been financially supported for the past three years with nearly 1.2 million euros. The aim of BRIDGE is to develop appropriate procedures to connect genetic, genomic and phenotypic information about plant genetic resources preserved in gene banks, enabling fast and easy access to the collection by researchers and breeders. More information is available at: http://bridge.ipk-gatersleben.de/bridge/ . Original publication:
(iDiv scientist bold) Sara G. Milner, Matthias Jost, Shin Taketa, Elena Rey Mazón, Axel Himmelbach, Markus Oppermann, Stephan Weise, Helmut Knüpffer, Martín Basterrechea, Patrick König, Danuta Schüler, Rajiv Sharma, Raj K. Pasam, Twan Rutten, Ganggang Guo, Dongdong Xu, Jing Zhang, Gerhard Herren, Thomas Müller, Simon G. Krattinger, Beat Keller, Yong Jiang, Maria Y. González, Yusheng Zhao, Antje Habekuß, Sandra Färber, Frank Ordon, Matthias Lange, Andreas Börner, Andreas Graner, Jochen C. Reif, Uwe Scholz, Martin Mascher, Nils Stein (2018): Genebank genomics highlights the diversity of a global barley collection, Nature Genetics. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41588-018-0266-x, DOI: 10.1038/s41588-018-0266-x . Former media releases about similar topics: Wheat genome fully mapped (iDiv news item based on a media release by the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben, 23.08.2018): https://www.idiv.de/de/news/news_single_view/news_article/bread_for_th.html Barley genome sequenced: a story of malting genes and vulnerable diversity (iDiv news item based on a media release by the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben 28.04.2017): http://www.ipk-gatersleben.de/fileadmin/content-ipk/content-ipk-institut/Presseinformationen/2017/170426_PM_2017_5_Nature_dt_FINAL.pdf Contact: Prof Dr Nils Stein
Head of research group Genomics of Genetic Resources
Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben
Professor for Genomics of Plant Genetic Resources, CiBreed, Georg August University Göttingen
Tel.: +49 39482 5522
E-mail: stein@ipk-gatersleben.de
Web: http://www.ipk-gatersleben.de/genbank/genomik-genetischer-ressourcen/ Dr Martin Mascher
Head of the research group Domestication Genomics
Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel.: +49 39482 5243
E-Mail: mascher@ipk-gatersleben.de
Web: http://www.ipk-gatersleben.de/unabhaengige-arbeitsgruppen/domestikationsgenomik/ Prof Dr Frank Ordon
Vice president of the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)
Head of the Institute for Resistance Research and Stress Tolerance at the JKI
Tel.: +49 3946 47602
E-Mail: frank.ordon@julius-kuehn.de
Web: https://www.julius-kuehn.de/en/resistance-research-and-stress-tolerance/ Dr Volker Hahn
Head of Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel.: +49 341 9733154
E-Mail: volker.hahn@idiv.de ]]>
TOP NEWS Media Release Domestication Genomics Fri, 09 Nov 2018 16:31:14 +0100
Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1376.html Scientists call for better monitoring Scientists call for better monitoring

Leipzig/Brunei. Orangutan populations are still declining rapidly, despite claims by the Indonesian Government that things are looking better for the red apes. In the journal Current Biology, a team of scientists including Maria Voigt of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology criticise the use of inappropriate methods for assessing management impacts on wildlife trends. The researchers call for scientifically sound measures to be employed in order to ensure that wildlife monitoring provides reliable numbers.

A recent report by the Government of Indonesia states that orangutan populations have increased by more than 10% from 2015 to 2017. These numbers are criticised in an article published in the current issue of Current Biology. Lead author Erik Meijaard from the Center of Excellence for Environmental Decisions at the University of Queensland and director of Borneo Futures in Brunei explains: “These numbers are in strong contrast with other recent publications about orangutan status and trends.”

According to the authors, over the past ten years alone, the number of Bornean orangutans has declined by at least 25%, representing a loss of more than 100,000 individuals since the year 1999. Sumatran orangutans and the recently described Tapanuli orangutan lost more than 60% of their forest habitat between 1985 and 2007, and their populations are expected to further decline by 11 to 27% until 2020.

The scientists reiterate that the latest scientific data show how the survival of the three orangutan species continues to be seriously threatened by deforestation and killing; all are “Critically Endangered” under the IUCN Red List.

How can there be such a mismatch between what the government states and what independent scientists have published about the orangutan conservation status? The paper’s authors offer a few suggestions:

The government monitoring methods focus on nine sampled populations. These populations represent less than 5% of the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan ranges, and zero percent of the Tapanuli orangutan range. All monitoring sites are within protected areas, whereas the majority of orangutans occur in non-protected lands like oil palm plantations, private gardens, community lands, and logging concessions. Habitat conditions and threats differ vastly across these and thus population trends observed in a few protected sites cannot credibly inform the status of all three species. The government-reported increases are also highly unlikely considering known reproductive rates and ongoing killing observed in many populations.

Senior author Maria Voigt of the iDiv research centre and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology highlights the clear need to improve collaboration and data sharing between scientists and the Indonesian government authorities: “It appears that the government isn’t always aware of the latest published conservation science,” Voigt notes. “Both parties need to increase their engagement.”                                                                                   

According to Voigt, better collaboration between government, non-governmental organisations and scientists is especially important now that Indonesia is developing its new action plan for orangutan conservation for the years 2018 to 2027. “It is critical to ensure that the best data and methods are used to determine which conservation strategies should be applied and where,” Voigt explains. “The choice of possible conservation strategies, such as forest protection, law enforcement, education, community engagement or orangutan rescues and rehabilitation depends on local orangutan trends, survival rate and pressures. This is what science can bring to the table.”

 “I am optimistic,” says first author Erik Meijaard. “I still believe that by bringing together science, policy, land-use and species management we can save the orangutan and prevent its extinction in the wild.”

And there is hope that this can help the remaining orangutans. The new moratorium on oil palm licenses by Indonesian President Jokowi, for example, presents a real opportunity for saving the 10,000 orangutans that currently occur in areas allocated to oil palm by giving them permanent forest protection status.

It does, however, require a change of conservation mindset. “We need to learn how to better manage and protect those populations that are found outside of formally protected areas,” Maria Voigt says. “An improvement of the status of the three orangutan species can only be achieved with the genuine collaboration and engagement of all parties that have a stake in these non-protected lands: the agriculture industry, local communities and local governments.”

 

Biodiversity monitoring in Germany

Biodiversity monitoring has also become a major issue in Germany – latest since the controversial debate on insect decline began in 2017 when entomologists reported a dramatic decrease in flying insect biomass (“Krefelder Studie“). As a consequence, the German federal government has promised to establish a scientific biodiversity monitoring centre in its coalition agreement in 2018. Researchers call for scientific methods to be employed in biodiversity monitoring. “The science of biodiversity monitoring is developing rapidly,” says Christian Wirth, director of iDiv and professor at Leipzig University. “New statistical methods, new sensor-based data acquisition techniques and big data analysis help to provide high-quality information on biodiversity trends urgently needed to support evidence-based conservation measures. This scientific revolution is highly needed in times of the biodiversity crisis.”

 

Original publication (iDiv scientist bold):

Meijaard, E., J. Sherman, M. Ancrenaz, S. A. Wich, T. Santika, and M. Voigt (in press). Orangutan populations are certainly not increasing in the wild. Current Biology. https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(18)31277-6 (link will be functional after online publication on 5 November). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.052


Previous media release on similar topic:

Dramatic decline of Bornean orangutans (2 Feb 2018):
https://www.idiv.de/en/news/news_single_view/news_article/dramatic_dec.html

 

Contact:

Maria Voigt
Research Group 'Sustainability and Complexity in Ape Habitat'
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA)
Phone: +49 157 88936214
Email: maria.voigt@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/voigt_maria.html

 

Volker Hahn
Head of Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Phone: +49 341 9733154
Email: volker.hahn@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/hahn_volker.html

 

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TOP NEWS Media Release Sustainability and Complexity in Ape Habitat Mon, 05 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100
Academies recommend immediate measures to protect biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1371.html three iDiv members involved This text is only available in German.]]> TOP NEWS iDiv Members Thu, 25 Oct 2018 13:32:48 +0200 Elucidating diversification processes in tropical biodiversity hotspots https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1355.html New paper in Molecular Ecology

Report by Chris Barratt (Flexpool Postdoc)

Leipzig. A new paper published in Molecular Ecology shows how we can discern between competing hypotheses of diversification by supplementing spatial and genetic analyses with genomic (RAD-seq) data for multiple co-distributed species. By integrating molecular dating, habitat stability modelling throughout the Pleistocene and genome-wide SNP analyses we improve our understanding of biodiversity patterns and the evolutionary processes (e.g. isolation, migration, secondary contact and population expansions and contractions) shaping them. We demonstrate that processes are idiosyncratic across species, even for ecologically similar species with shared population boundaries. Our work offers an integrative hypothesis-testing framework that is useful for unravelling the complex nuances of diversification processes in biodiversity hotspots.
In the coastal forests of Eastern Africa biodiversity hotspot, high levels of species endemism and phylogeographic structure within species is assumed to be the result of the “vanishing refuge” diversification model. This model postulates that climate-driven habitat fragmentation has driven diversification by the simultaneous isolation of lineages in regions of long term stability (Pleistocene forest refugia) alongside with the exposure and adaptation of others to new (non-forest) environments. Although this has been a long-standing hypothesis for this region, it has not been sufficiently tested due to patchy geographic and taxonomic sampling and a lack of suitable high-resolution data to enable the robust detection and quantification of historical evolutionary processes. To address these shortfalls, we conducted targeted fieldwork across poorly sampled coastal forest patches, building a large DNA barcoding database of the entire amphibian assemblage and highlighting species containing multiple evolutionary lineages. We then selected seven candidate species for RAD-seq high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. 
We investigated high-resolution population structure across all seven species based on thousands of genome-wide SNPs. Based on this we employed a demographic model-testing framework to evaluate the likelihood of competing models of diversification. We built and tested up to 15 opposing models across two- and three- population divergences within each species, including parameters accounting for varying degrees of isolation, migration, secondary contact and population expansion/contraction. Our models can be broadly categorised as forest refugia models (allopatric divergence with evidence of secondary contact and/or population size changes), landscape barrier models (allopatric divergence with no subsequent migration) or ecological gradient models (parapatric divergence with ongoing or recent migration and/or size changes). Evaluating the fit of the empirical data to these models combined with results from molecular dating, Pleistocene habitat stability modelling and analysis of effective migration rates and genetic diversity allowed us to make integrative analysis of evolutionary processes across species in this biodiversity hotspot. 
Our results show that even though phylogeographic patterns are congruent, processes are mostly idiosyncratic - even across ecologically similar species. We found that in contrast to previous assumptions, forest refugia are only partially supported as drivers of amphibian diversification in this region, with rivers and ecological gradients playing a major role in shaping diversity. These results improve our understanding of coastal forest biodiversity and demonstrate the clear advantages of genome-wide data to elucidate previously undetected evolutionary processes. Formally evaluating evolutionary processes in a rigorous hypothesis-testing framework is necessary to improve our understanding of how biodiversity accumulates and persists in highly diverse tropical habitats, and using this knowledge to predict biotic responses to future anthropogenic impacts and climate change. Chris Barratt
Original publication:
Christopher D. Barratt, Beryl A. Bwong, Robert Jehle, H. Christoph Liedtke, Peter Nagel, Renske E. Onstein, Daniel M. Portik, Jeffrey W. Streicher & Simon P. Loader (2018). Vanishing refuge? Testing the forest refuge hypothesis in coastal East Africa using genome-wide sequence data for seven amphibians. Molecular Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.14862
Contact:
Dr Chris Barratt
Flexpool Postdoctoral Researcher
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthroplogy
https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/eshow/barratt_christopher_david.html
Dr Volker Hahn
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
https://www.idiv.de/media
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TOP NEWS Evolution and Adaptation Computational Forest Ecology Thu, 25 Oct 2018 09:42:00 +0200
Excursion to Leipzig floodplain forest https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1369.html This text is only available in German. This text is only available in German.]]> TOP NEWS iDiv Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:03:05 +0200 Helping nature find its own way https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1365.html Two new iDiv publications take a closer look at rewilding. Two new iDiv publications take a closer look at rewilding. Leipzig. Rewilding is a growing restoration and conservation movement aimed at restoring natural landscapes and reintroducing lost species. The journal Philosophical Transactions B has dedicated a special issue to rewilding, which includes two publications by iDiv-affiliated researchers. The first one provides a set of indicators to measure the progress of rewilding, and the second one assesses how rewilding can promote insect conservation. Rewilding is a new way of nature conservation that advocates for as little human interference in natural ecological processes as possible. Sometimes an initial stage of active restoration is necessary, but after that, the basic idea of rewilding is that humans step aside and let nature manage itself. Typical rewilding measures are, for example, removing dams to allow rivers to run freely, reintroducing lost species or stopping active management of wildlife populations. The goal is to restore ecological integrity, i.e., nature and all of its components.   A rewilding assessment framework As the practice of rewilding takes off, it is important that the science underpinning it keeps up. This need receives a welcome boost today with the publication of a special rewilding issue of Philosophical Transactions B, an eminent scientific journal published by the UK’s Royal Society. Dr Aurora Torres from the German Centre of integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg is the lead author of one of the articles. She explains: “Rewilding is not simply the protection of wilderness areas, but an approach to restoring the healthy ecological complexity of natural environments damaged by human activity. Its principles can be applied to a wide variety of landscapes – from highly urbanized sites to remote mountainous areas – with different degrees of ecological degradation. But, until now, a suitable framework to quantify progress in achieving rewilding goals has been missing”. Therefore, in their article ‘Measuring Rewilding Progress’, Torres and her colleagues present a benchmark framework for assessing progress and success of rewilding initiatives. The researchers designed a set of indicators for measuring ecosystem changes brought on by implementing rewilding actions over time, such as reducing farming, forestry and artificial feeding of wildlife, restricting hunting and fishing, removing dams, or leaving deadwood in forests. This effort was complemented by interviewing practitioners and by an extensive review of the effectiveness of commonly used restoration actions for rewilding goals. To test the new framework, the researchers applied it to three flagship restoration areas with vastly different ecologies: the inland wetlands of Iberá in Argentina, the Swiss National Park in the Western Rhaetian Alps, and the Millingerwaard rewilding site in the Netherlands. At Millingerwaard, a “helping hand” from the area managers has brought the wetland back from the brink. Riverine vegetation has recovered, populations of wild boar, otter and white-tailed eagle have bounced back and the reintroduced beavers now have a thriving community of more than ten families. The new framework developed by Torres and her colleagues will help scientists and on-site managers to assess rewilding progress in areas like Millingerwaard in the future. Insects in rewilding areas A second paper in the special issue was published by iDiv researcher Dr Roel van Klink together with a colleague from the Dutch Butterfly Conservation in the Netherlands. The researchers collected publications about how insects and other invertebrates respond to rewilding in ten nature reserves in Europe. At one of those reserves, Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands, the study authors had conducted field experiments earlier. At Oostvaardersplassen, Konik horses (a robust breed that resembles the ancient wild horse), as well as Heck cattle (another robust breed) and red deer were introduced. Through grazing, these herbivores should prevent that the whole reserve would become a forest. This worked a bit too well, though: today there are no areas anymore that are not completely grazed down. When the researchers put up fenced areas, they found that this added many insect species to the biodiversity of the reserve. “What we conclude from our own and the other field studies we reviewed is that insects can benefit from rewilding, but only when all natural components are in place,” van Klink says. “When large carnivores that eat herbivores are missing, there will be too many herbivores, which will eat all the plants, leaving no place to live for insects and other small animals. “ If it is impossible to restore all the natural processes, and especially, feeding networks, the researchers recommend that it is best to install a substitute. A possible substitute could be periodic translocation of herbivores, meaning that animals are taken out of the reserve and brought to other reserves. This can help to keep their population densities low. Promoting rewilding principles The Royal Society’s high profile recognition of rewilding science comes at a particularly timely moment. Right now, the leading environmental NGOs BirdLife Europe, WWF Europe and the European Environmental Bureau in partnership with Rewilding Europe and iDiv, are pushing to ensure that rewilding principles feature strongly in the EU’s post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy. The goal is to strengthen the EU restoration agenda and ensure the creation of a coherent ecological network in Europe by promoting rewilding principles. Dr Aurora Torres, Dr Néstor Fernández and Prof Henrique Pereira from the iDiv research centre and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg lead the research activities within the initiative. This text is partly based on a longer article on rewilding by BirdLife Europe. Original publications (iDiv-affiliated researchers in bold): Aurora Torres, Néstor Fernández, Sophus zu Ermgassen, Wouter Helmer, Eloy Revilla, Deli Saavedra, Andrea Perino, Anne Mimet, José M. Rey-Benayas, Nuria Selva, Frans Schepers, Jens-Christian Svenning, Henrique M. Pereira (published on October 22, 2018): Measuring rewilding progress. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0433. Roel van Klink and Michiel F. WallisDeVries (published on October 22, 2018): Risks and opportunities of trophic rewilding for arthropod communities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0441. Both publications appeared in the special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B entitled “Trophic rewilding: consequences for ecosystems under global change”. DOI: 10.1098/rstb/373/1762. Related news: Rewilding as a means to reinforce Europe's ecological restoration (29.09.2017): https://www.idiv.de/news/archive_2017/news_2017_single_view/news_article/rewilding_as.html Green shoots for rewilding (05.04.2017): https://www.idiv.de/news/news_single_view/news_article/green-shoots.html Contact: Dr Aurora Torres
Research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Mail: aurora.torres@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/torres_aurora.html Dr Roel van Klink
Synthesis Centre sDiv
German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Mail: Roel.klink@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/van_klink_roel.html Dr Néstor Fernández
Research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Mail: nestor.fernandez@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/fernandez_nestor.html Dr Tabea Turrini
iDiv Media and Communications
Mail: tabea.turrini@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/de/gruppen_und_personen/mitarbeiterinnen/mitarbeiterdetails/eshow/turrini_tabea.html ]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Conservation sDiv Tue, 16 Oct 2018 14:38:49 +0200
Bringing the “micro” to the field of macroecology https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1363.html How macroecology and microbial ecology could benefit from a unified research agenda How macroecology and microbial ecology could benefit from a unified research agenda Leipzig. How are species and individuals distributed across the earth? And what are the mechanisms that shape these distributions? The scientific field dealing with those questions is called macroecology as it focuses on large (“macro”) spatial scales. Traditionally, macroecologists have studied plants and animals that are composed of multiple cells and are thus relatively large. In a new paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution with several iDiv researchers among the authors, researchers now push for applying the methods of macroecology to microorganisms, i.e. organisms that are composed of single cells, like bacteria or most fungi. Both disciplines, macroecology and microbial ecology, could benefit from bridging the gap between them, the study authors argue. When researchers divided the Czech Republic in quadrants of 10 km x 10 km and then counted the birds in each quadrant, they found the following pattern: bird species that tend to have many individuals (high abundance) within one quadrant also tend to be present in many quadrants. On the other hand, bird species that tend to be rare within one quadrant also tend to be absent from many quadrants. Replace quadrant with human belly button and birds with bacteria (every belly button is home to thousands of them) – and the pattern remains the same. In both cases, the distribution of species and individuals follows a typical abundance-occupancy relationship, independently of the size of the organisms considered and independently of their habitats. Abundance-occupancy relationships are just one of the ways that researchers in macroecology analyse data to understand patterns in diversity over space and time. And they are just one example of how an analysis typically used for larger organisms can be meaningfully applied to microorganisms, as the authors of the recent publication show. Another example are distance-decay relationships, which illustrate how the composition of different species changes from one location to another, for example between different forest fragments – be it communities of tree species or of microbes living in the soil. Senior author Prof Jonathan Chase, professor at the iDiv research centre and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) says: “Both macroecology and microbial ecology deal with the same currency: species and individuals. The two disciplines also have the same goal, namely to understand the causes and consequences of changes in biodiversity. Therefore, they both could benefit from a unified research agenda”. In addition to Chase, there are five more iDiv researchers among the authors, with backgrounds in both macroecology and microbiology. The first author of the study is Prof Ashley Shade from Michigan State University (USA). She adds: “We need to bring microbial ecology away from the fringe as a specialty sub-discipline and into the mainstream of ecology.  Microbes are the most diverse and specious organisms - starting from this perspective, their ecology should provide insights into the norms, not the exceptions”. In their publication, the researchers also discuss challenges in studying microbial communities at macroecological scales, but highlight how modern molecular techniques can help to overcome them. Tabea Turrini Original publication (iDiv researchers in bold): Ashley Shade, Robert R. Dunn, Shane A. Blowes, Petr Keil, Brendan J.M. Bohannan, Martina Herrmann, Kirsten Küsel, Jay T. Lennon, Nathan J. Sanders, David Storch, Jonathan Chase (2018): Macroecology to Unite All Life, Large and Small. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2018.08.005

Contact:

Prof Jonathan Chase
Head of the research group Biodiversity Synthesis at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/chase_jonathan.html Dr Tabea Turrini
iDiv Media and Communications
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/central_management/media_and_communications.html ]]>
TOP NEWS Biodiversity Synthesis Fri, 12 Oct 2018 11:42:00 +0200
Jena’s proposal for the research cluster ‘Balance of the Microverse’ to be funded in the Excellence Strategy https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1359.html Major success for the research profile of the University Jena Based on a media release by the Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Jena. The Friedrich Schiller University Jena was granted funding for one Cluster of Excellence. As the Excellence Commission announced, Jena's proposal for the cluster 'Balance of the Microverse' is among the 57 selected consortia which will be funded by the German Excellence Strategy for the following seven years. In the Cluster of Excellence 'Balance of the Microverse', the University cooperates with its University Hospital and external research institutions. After having been among the winners with its Graduate School 'Jena School for Microbial Communication' in 2007, this is the first Cluster of Excellence for Jena.
A number of iDiv members from Jena played a major role in the success of the proposal: Prof Kirsten Küsel (FSU), Prof Georg Pohnert (FSU), Prof Ian T. Baldwin (MPI-CE), Prof Birgitta König-Ries (FSU), Prof Manuela Marz (FSU), Prof Susan Trumbore (MPI-BGC), Prof Joachim Denzler (FSU) and Dr Meredith Schuman (MPI-CE).
"That is great news for the University, for the research location Jena, and the Free State of Thuringia," the President of the University, Walter Rosenthal, is thrilled with the decision. "It proves that middle-sized universities may also belong to the most outstanding German institutions of higher education." According to him, the decision acknowledges the profile that the University has developed over the past few years - with the motto 'Light, Life, Liberty'. The President is certain this success ultimately puts the scientific and economic region Jena on the global map. "Firstly, I would like to thank my colleagues for the strong commitment on which this very success is based. Secondly, I also thank the Free State of Thuringia for its intensive support." "This is the major breakthrough for Jena as an internationally significant scientific centre," says the Thuringian Minister of Science Wolfgang Tiefensee. "Jena is now part of the 'Champions League' of the German research centres."
Cluster of Excellence "Balance of the Microverse"
Society is currently facing huge challenges: pathogenic microorganisms being resistant to antibiotics and polluted soils, to mention but a few. The researchers of the Cluster of Excellence 'Balance of the Microverse' in Jena can significantly contribute to solutions for those. Nature is full of complex microbial communities - the microbiota. These may have a stabilizing influence on living creatures and the environment, for instance, on the health of human beings, animals, and plants as well as on the fertility of soils or the water quality. While there is a wide knowledge about the composition of such microbiota available, the functions and dynamics of such systems still have to be examined. The objective of the research activities is therefore to find out the general principles on which microbial communities interact with each other. The crucial questions are what factors may stabilize such systems and how humans may intervene with target-oriented measures to repair a microbial community which lost its balance. The research programme should advance the thematic and methodological scope of the Graduate School 'Jena School for Microbial Communication' and of four existing Collaborative Research Centres. "We are absolutely pleased about the fact that our commitment of the past years has been given the label of excellence and we thus rank among the top research institutions," says the spokesperson of the Cluster, Professor Axel Brakhage. As he says, all participating disciplines and institutions have evolved into a fantastic team. "The elucidation of the function of microbiota would provide completely new preventive measures and therapeutic approaches to diseases and the environmental protection." In the new research network, researchers from several of Jena's faculties are involved: Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, Faculty of Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, and Faculty of Medicine. The University cooperates with external partner institutions, too: Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the Leibniz Institute of Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Hans Knöll Institute), the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technologies, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering, the Helmholtz Institute, and the DLR Institute of Data Science.
Light, Life, Liberty - Connecting Visions
Led by the motto 'Light, Life, Liberty - Connecting Visions', the Friedrich Schiller University Jena will advance its profile in the upcoming years. In this context, the successful Cluster of Excellence 'Balance of the Microverse' has a vital role. A cluster of the universities in Jena and Würzburg with other partners, which was not granted the funding within the Excellence Strategy, represents another focus of the University. The joint cluster 'Enlightening the Receptome' is about to systematically research the receptome and its diversity as a whole. Both clusters thus play a central part in developing the University's profile lines 'Light, Life, Liberty'. In cooperation with the University Hospital, external research institutions, and research-oriented companies, the researchers of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena will take on global challenges, for example, climate change, a sustainable energy supply, ageing, personalized therapies, social change, or the struggle against infectious diseases. "Being the only Thuringian institution of higher education supported by the Excellence Strategy, we want to fulfil great expectations," emphasizes the President Walter Rosenthal. For further information on the Cluster of Excellence:
www.microverse-cluster.de.
  Kontakt:

Prof Dr Axel A. Brakhage
(Spokesperson of the cluster)
Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Institute of Microbiology
Friedrich Schiller University Jena

and
Dept. Molecular and Applied Microbiology
Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans-Knoell-Institute (HKI)

Phone +49 3641 532-1001
http://www.mikrobiologie.uni-jena.de/cms/index.php/de/mikrobiologie-und-molekularbiologie-pmm-23/prof-dr-axel-brakhage-pmm-49

and
Axel Burchardt, M.A.
Head of Communication Office and Press Spokesman
Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Phone: +49 3641 931031
https://www.uni-jena.de/en/Pressestelle.html
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TOP NEWS Research iDiv Members Tue, 09 Oct 2018 12:31:53 +0200
Mountains create biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1357.html New study in Nature Geoscience Based on a media release by the University of Amsterdam: Gothenburg/Leipzig. Mountains are among the most biodiverse places on Earth, but scientists have struggled to fully understand why they are so important in creating high species richness. An international research team, including one scientist from Leipzig University and iDiv, has now shed new light on answering this long-standing question. The team found that mountain building, through a process of uplift and erosion, continuously reshapes the landscape and is responsible for creating habitat heterogeneity in an elevational gradient.The new findings have now been published in the journal Nature Geoscience. "The intricate relationships between growing mountains and climate offer many opportunities for the emergence of new species," says Alexandra Muellner-Riehl of Leipzig University. She is also member of iDiv and one of the authors of the paper. "Although climate and ruggedness of the terrain were previously thought to be the principal cause for mountain biodiversity, our global synthesis now makes clear that geological history plays a paramount role in this process," explains Carina Hoorn (University of Gothenburg/Harvard University), senior author of the paper. The team reached this conclusion by applying statistical models to biological, geological and climatological datasets from across the globe. "In our models, we related the species richness of birds, mammals and amphibians to global datasets of temperature, precipitation, erosion rates, relief and soil composition," says Daniel Kissling (University of Amsterdam) who conducted the statistical analyses of the paper. "I was surprised to find not only the usual correlations with climate, but a significant relation between biodiversity, erosion history, relief and number of soil types," continues Kissling. While the study shows that this is evident globally, it also revealed that the relationship can vary depending on which mountain system is considered. "This regional variation in the importance of geological drivers was really unexpected," says Kissling. The study further showed that geographic position (e.g. whether a mountain intercepts atmospheric currents or not) and the duration of mountain building process (young or old) are also important processes influencing biodiversity in mountains. On shorter geological time scales, Quaternary climatic fluctuations can also promote the creation of new species in mountains. "We suggest that the waxing and waning of glaciers, which has strongly reshaped the landscape and repeatedly connected and disconnected animal and plant populations, has played an important role for the creation of new mountain species," says Suzette Flantua who studied the effects of Quaternary climate change on mountain biodiversity in Latin America for her Ph.D. at the University of Amsterdam. The advances in geological methods and the increasingly complete global data sets on climate, soils, erosion history, and species richness only now have made it possible to gain such comprehensive insights into the relation between mountain building and biodiversity. The scientists are optimistic that with the new methods and datasets, further insights into the complex relationship between biodiversity, climate and mountain building can be expected in the near future. Original publication (researchers of UL/iDiv in bold): Antonelli, A., Kissling, W.D., Flantua, S.G.A., Bermúdez, M.A., Mulch, A., Muellner-Riehl, A.N., Linder, H.P., Badgley, C., Fjeldså, J., Fritz, S.A., Rahbek, C. Herman, F., Hooghiemstra, H. & Hoorn, C. (2018): Geological and climatic influences on mountain biodiversity. Nature Geoscience, DOI: 10.1038/s41561-018-0236-z
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-018-0236-z The study was supported among others by the European Research Council (ERC), the German Science Foundation (DFG) and the sFossil workshop at the Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences (sDiv) at iDiv. Contact: Professor Alexandre Antonelli
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and Director of the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre
alexandre.antonelli@bioenv.gu.se
[in Brazil between 1-9 October but available by e-mail, or phone/skype contact upon agreement] and Professor Alexandra Muellner-Riehl
Professor for Molecular Evolution and Plant Systematics
Leipzig University and member of iDiv
https://www.biphaps.uni-leipzig.de/en/sysbot/people/prof-dr-alexandra-muellner.html Links: Press release by University of Gothenburg:
https://www.gu.se/english/research/news-detail//mountains-create-biodiversity.cid1587730 Press release by University of Amsterdam
http://www.uva.nl/en/shared-content/faculteiten/en/faculteit-der-natuurwetenschappen-wiskunde-en-informatica/news/2018/10/mountain-building-creates-biodiversity.html sDiv working group sFOSSIL - Integrating Phylogenies, Fossils and Earth System Dynamics
https://www.idiv.de/sdiv/working_groups/wg_pool/sfossil.html ]]>
TOP NEWS Research sDiv iDiv Members Mon, 08 Oct 2018 13:50:42 +0200
Species-rich forests store twice as much carbon as monocultures https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1354.html Reforestation with a variety of tree species would help biodiversity and climate Reforestation with a variety of tree species would help biodiversity and climate

Halle (Saale). Species-rich subtropical forests can take up, on average, twice as much carbon as monocultures. This has been reported by an international research team in the professional journal Science. The study was carried out as part of a unique field experiment conducted under the direction of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The experiment comprises forests grown specifically for this purpose in China; for the study, data from experimental plots with a total of over 150,000 trees were analysed. The researchers believe that the results speak in favour of using many different tree species during reforestation. Thus, both species conservation and climate protection can be promoted.

In the year 2009, BEF-China began as a unique forest experiment; combinations of trees comprising different numbers of species were planted – from monoculture to species-rich forest with 16 different tree species. After eight years, such a species-rich forest stored in its above-ground biomass an average of 32 tons of carbon per hectare. By contrast, an average monoculture stored only 12 tons per hectare; not even half the quantity of the species mixtures. During photosynthesis, the plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert the carbon to biomass. When a forest stores more carbon, this helps reduce greenhouse gases and, at the same time, also indicates high forest productivity.

That biodiversity increases productivity had previously been demonstrated through experiments in grassland ecosystems in Europe and the USA, for example in the Jena Experiment in Germany. By contrast, since it was assumed that all tree species occupy similar ecological niches, a minimal effect of biodiversity was conjectured for forests. Evidently, however, this assumption was wrong, as Prof Helge Bruelheide of Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, co-director of the iDiv research centre reports; "In the forestry experiment, biomass increased just as quickly as in the grassland ecosystems. As a result, even after just four years, there were clear differences between the monocultures and the species-rich forests."

“These findings have great ecological and economic significance”, says Prof Bernhard Schmid of the University of Zurich, senior author in the more than 60-strong writing team of the current publication in Science. A previous study already found a positive correlation between biodiversity and carbon storage. "However, this previous study was based on simple comparison of natural forest plots varying in species richness and therefore it was impossible to conclude that higher biodiversity was the cause of the higher productivity”, Schmid says. Prof Keping Ma of the Chinese Academy of Sciences adds: “But now we have reached the same conclusion with an experiment under controlled conditions: a forest with a large number of tree species is more productive than a monoculture”.

Worldwide, there are plans for major reforestation programmes with the aim of protecting the climate through the planting of new forests. In China alone, between 2010 and 2015, 1.5 million hectares of new forest were planted each year, although mainly with fast-growing monocultures. "With a mix of native tree species, it is possible to achieve higher productivity, which then also helps to better protect the climate", Helge Bruelheide points out; "Species-rich forests are also less susceptible to disease and the extreme weather events which are becoming more common due to climate change. In addition, they also contribute towards protecting the world's threatened biodiversity." Reforestation with a mix of different species also pays off economically, the study authors say: if the effects observed in the experiment are extrapolated to the world's existing forests, it can be concluded that a 10% decline in tree species would lead to production losses of 20 billion US dollars, worldwide, per year.
Tilo Arnhold, Tabea Turrini


BEF-China:

Through the BEF-China project, scientists are investigating the significance of biodiversity of trees and shrubs in forests in China. ‘BEF’ stands for ‘Biodiversity-Ecosystem Functioning’, that is, the correlation between biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems. The BEF-China project is the first forest biodiversity experiment to be established in the exceptionally species-rich subtropics. In the BEF-China experiment, over 30 hectares of forest were newly planted in a mountain area 400 kilometres to the west of Shanghai in 2009 and 2010. The more than 500 plots were planted with different combinations of tree species so that they could be compared later. Each plot is 670 square meters in size, corresponding to the traditional Chinese unit area ‘mǔ’. This makes BEF-China the largest experiment of its kind worldwide. Working with such a large area makes it possible to measure a wide variety of ecosystem functions, especially those from which we humans benefit; the so-called ecosystem services such as carbon storage, timber production and prevention of soil erosion.

More than 20 Chinese, German and Swiss universities and institutes are involved in the project. The research is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), The Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the EU. http://www.bef-china.de

Since 2017, the International Research Training Group "Tree Diversity Interactions: The role of tree-tree interactions in local neighbourhoods in Chinese subtropical forests" (TreeDì) has been part of BEF-China. The German Research Foundation (DFG) has provided funding of around 3.5 million euros over four and a half years. It is run by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in cooperation with the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. On the German side, the doctoral candidates have their place of work at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig. https://www.idiv.de/de/treedi.html

 

Original publication:
(current and former researchers of the iDiv consortium and the MLU in bold)

Yuanyuan Huang, Yuxin Chen, Nadia Castro-Izaguirre, Martin Baruffol, Matteo Brezzi, Anne Lang, Ying Li, Werner Härdtle, Goddert von Oheimb, Xuefei Yang, Xiaojuan Liu, Kequan Pei, Sabine Both, Bo Yang, David Eichenberg, Thorsten Assmann, Jürgen Bauhus, Thorsten Behrens, François Buscot, Xiao-Yong Chen, Douglas Chesters, Bing-Yang Ding, Walter Durka, Alexandra Erfmeier, Jingyun Fang, Markus Fischer, Liang-Dong Guo, Dali Guo, Jessica L.M. Gutknecht, Jin-Sheng He, Chun-Ling He, Andy Hector, Lydia Hönig, Ren-Yong Hu, Alexandra-Maria Klein, Peter Kühn, Yu Liang, Shan Li, Stefan Michalski, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Karsten Schmidt, Thomas Scholten, Andreas Schuldt, Xuezheng Shi, Man-Zhi Tan, Zhiyao Tang, Stefan Trogisch, Zhengwen Wang, Erik Welk, Christian Wirth, Tesfaye Wubet, Wenhua Xiang, Mingjian Yu, Xiao-Dong Yu, Jiayong Zhang, Shouren Zhang, Naili Zhang, Hong-Zhang Zhou, Chao-Dong Zhu, Li Zhu, Helge Bruelheide, Keping Ma, Pascal A. Niklaus, Bernhard Schmid (published on 05.10.2018): Impacts of species richness on productivity in a large-scale subtropical forest experiment. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat6405. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6410/80

 

Former press releases about similar topics:

Species-Rich Forests Better Compensate Environmental Impacts (22.08.2018):
https://www.media.uzh.ch/en/Press-Releases/2018/Species-Rich-Forests.html

How trees coexist (20.03.2018):
https://www.idiv.de/en/news/news_single_view/news_article/how_trees_co-1.html

How trees cooperate with each other: Nine new graduate students at iDiv (20.12.2017):
https://www.idiv.de/en/news/archive_2017/news_2017_single_view/news_article/how_trees_co.html

Value of Biodiversity for commercial Forest Production is up to five times higher than total Costs of Conservation (13.10.2016):
https://www.idiv.de/en/news/news_single_view/news_article/value-of-bio.html

 

 

Contact:

Prof Dr Helge Bruelheide
Professor for Geobotany, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Co-Director of iDiv
Phone: +49-345 5526222
Email: helge.bruelheide@botanik.uni-halle.de
Web: http://www.botanik.uni-halle.de/geobotanik/helge_bruelheide/

 

Prof Dr Bernhard Schmid
Remote Sensing Laboratories
Department of Geography
University of Zurich
Phone: +41 79 681 99 36
Email: bernhard.schmid@uzh.ch
Web: https://www.ieu.uzh.ch/en/staff/member/schmid_bernhard.html

 

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

 

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Media Release iDiv Members TOP NEWS Research Mon, 01 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200
New Professor for Biodiversity Economics: Martin Quaas completes iDiv research centre https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1347.html Quaas' professorship starts on 1 Oktober 2018

Leipzig. The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and the Faculty of Economics and Management Science at Leipzig University will receive a new joint professorship: Martin Quaas will join the faculty as Professor of Biodiversity Economics on 1 October. Quaas researches interactions between economics and biodiversity; for example, the effect of quotas on fishermen's incomes and stocks of marine fish species. Quaas completes a group of nine professors specifically appointed to develop the iDiv research centre, which is funded by the DFG and was founded in 2012.

Martin Quaas is the first non-biologist to head a working group at the iDiv research centre in the Bio City, Leipzig. With Prof Quaas, iDiv extends its strategic orientation into the social sciences. Director Prof Christian Wirth is pleased that iDiv and Leipzig University have managed to acquire one of the best minds at the interface of ecology and economics: "iDiv wants to understand how economics can work with biodiversity and not against it. For this we urgently need economic expertise. We searched worldwide for experts and have succeeded in bringing Martin Quaas, a star of the scene, to Leipzig. "Prof Uwe Vollmer, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Leipzig University, is also looking forward to the collaboration:" Martin Quaas and his group now face the exciting task of exploring a new field of research with their students. This sharpens the profile of both Faculty and University, further enhances our visibility and makes Leipzig even more attractive as a study and research location."

Martin Quaas researches the interactions between economics and biodiversity. At the University of Kiel, his previous employer, marine ecosystems were the primary focus. Quaas investigated which economic incentives for fishermen most effectively lead to the recovery of fish stocks. "We have not even managed to solve the problem of overfishing for the North and Baltic Seas," says Quaas. "We need to find new ways to preserve marine biodiversity."

Martin Quaas wants to make his contribution. He sees his new place of work in Leipzig offering ideal conditions for this: "At iDiv, I can combine my economic research with cutting-edge scientific research. I think such an integrative approach is absolutely essential in order to develop solutions to combat species loss. I would like to contribute to ensuring that Leipzig continues to play an international pioneering role with this integrative approach."

Although Quaas' new professorship starts in October, he and his family have been in Leipzig since August. His two daughters were able to start attending their new schools right at the beginning of the school year.

Another family member has been living in Leipzig for some time: Martin Quaas' twin brother Johannes is Professor of Theoretical Meteorology at Leipzig University. Martin Quaas has already lived in Leipzig too: from 2004 to 2007 he worked at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) - one of iDiv's most important partners. Martin Quaas is happy to be back: "Leipzig is not only a great place to explore species diversity conservation. The city itself also offers a wide variety of cultural activities." Volker Hahn

 

Contact:

Prof 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

 

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

 

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iDiv Media Release TOP NEWS Thu, 27 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200
New plants on the block: Taller species are taking over in a warming Arctic https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1346.html Analysis of comprehensive data set led to publication in Nature. Joint media release by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the German Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre

Frankfurt/ Leipzig, Germany, ­­­24.09.2018. Until now, the Arctic tundra has been the domain of low-growing grasses and dwarf shrubs. Defying the harsh conditions, these plants huddle close to the ground and often grow only a few centimetres high. But new, taller plant species have been slowly taking over this chilly neighbourhood, report an international group of nearly 130 biologists led by scientists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the German Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre today in Nature. This has led to an overall increase in the height of tundra plant communities over the past three decades.

The study, initiated by a team of researchers supported through the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), analysed the most comprehensive data set on plants in the Arctic tundra available. The study encompassed almost 120 tundra sites, most of them located in Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia and Siberia.

"The increase in height we saw was not just in a few sites but nearly everywhere," says lead author Dr Anne Bjorkman, who now works at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and who conducted the study at the iDiv research centre, the University of Edinburgh, and Aarhus University.

The researchers identify climate warming as the underlying cause. Temperatures in the Arctic have risen by about 1 degree Celsius in summer and 1.5 degrees in winter over the three decades covered by the study, some of the fastest rates of warming on the planet.

A detailed analysis showed that not only do individual plants grow taller with warmer temperatures, but that the plant community itself has also shifted. “Taller plant species, either from warmer pockets within the tundra or from southern areas, have spread across the tundra”, says Dr Nadja Rüger, a scientist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and at Leipzig University and a co-author of the study.

This move is far from over, as Bjorkman points out: “If taller plants continue to spread at the current rate, the plant community height could increase by 20 to 60% by the end of the century.” Surprisingly, the researchers found no evidence that this “invasion” of taller species is currently leading to a decline in shorter species.

Arctic regions have long been a focus for climate change research, as the permafrost underlying tundra vegetation contains one-third to half of the world’s soil carbon. When the permafrost thaws, greenhouse gases could thus be released.

An increase in taller plants could speed up this process as taller plants trap more snow in winter, which insulates the underlying soil and prevents it from freezing quickly and deeply in winter.

“Although there are still many uncertainties, taller tundra plants could fuel climate change, both in the Arctic and for the planet as a whole”, Bjorkman concludes.

In contrast to plant height, researchers found that six other measures, such as the size of leaves and their nitrogen content, showed no consistent change over the last thirty years. These other plant characteristics were strongly influenced by moisture levels in addition to temperature.

The researchers conclude that the response of the plant community as a whole to climate warming will depend on whether the tundra becomes wetter or drier over time. Rüger says: “In order to predict how the plant community in the tundra will react in the future, it is necessary to not only take into account alterations in temperature, but also in water availability. If precipitation or the water cycle change, or if the timing of snowmelt shifts, this may have severe effects on the tundra vegetation.”

 

Original publication (iDiv researchers in bold):

Anne D. Bjorkman, Isla H. Myers-Smith, Sarah C. Elmendorf, Signe Normand, Nadja Rüger, Pieter S. A. Beck, Anne Blach-Overgaard, Daan Blok, J. Hans C. Cornelissen, Bruce C. Forbes, Damien Georges, Scott J. Goetz, Kevin Guay, Gregory H. R. Henry, Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, Robert D. Hollister, Dirk N. Karger, Jens Kattge, Peter Manning, Janet S. Prevéy, Christian Rixen, Gabriela Schaepman-Strub, Haydn J. D. Thomas, Mark Vellend, Martin Wilmking, Sonja Wipf, Michele Carbognani, Luise Hermanutz, Esther Lévesque, Ulf Molau, Alessandro Petraglia, Nadejda A. Soudzilovskaia, Marko J. Spasojevic, Marcello Tomaselli, Tage Vowles, Juha M. Alatalo, Heather D. Alexander, Alba Anadon-Rosell, Sandra Angers-Blondin, Mariska te Beest, Logan Berner, Robert G. Björk, Agata Buchwal, Allan Buras, Katherine Christie, Elisabeth J. Cooper, Stefan Dullinger, Bo Elberling, Anu Eskelinen, Esther R. Frei, Oriol Grau, Paul Grogan, Martin Hallinger, Karen A. Harper, Monique M. P. D. Heijmans, James Hudson, Karl Hülber, Maitane Iturrate-Garcia, Colleen M. Iversen, Francesca Jaroszynska, Jill F. Johnstone, Rasmus Halfdan Jørgensen, Elina Kaarlejärvi, Rebecca Klady, Sara Kuleza, Aino Kulonen, Laurent J. Lamarque, Trevor Lantz, Chelsea J. Little, James D. M. Speed, Anders Michelsen, Ann Milbau, Jacob Nabe-Nielsen, Sigrid Schøler Nielsen, Josep M. Ninot, Steven F. Oberbauer, Johan Olofsson, Vladimir G. Onipchenko, Sabine B. Rumpf, Philipp Semenchuk, Rohan Shetti, Laura Siegwart Collier, Lorna E. Street, Katharine Suding, Ken D. Tape, Andrew Trant, Urs A. Treier, Jean-Pierre Tremblay, Maxime Tremblay, Susanna Venn, Stef Weijers, Tara Zamin, Noemie Boulanger-Lapointe, William A. Gould, David S. Hik, Annika Hofgaard, Ingibjörg S. Jónsdóttir, Janet Jorgenson, Julia Klein, Borgthor Magnusson, Craig Tweedie, Philip A. Wookey, Michael Bahn, Benjamin Blonder, Peter M. van Bodegom, Benjamin Bond-Lamberty, Giandiego Campetella, Bruno E. L. Cerabolini, F. Stuart Chapin III, William K. Cornwell, Joseph Craine, Matteo Dainese, Franciska T. de Vries, Sandra Díaz, Brian J. Enquist, Walton Green, Ruben Milla, Ülo Niinemets, Yusuke Onoda, Jenny C. Ordoñez, Wim A. Ozinga, Josep Penuelas, Hendrik Poorter, Peter Poschlod, Peter B. Reich, Brody Sandel, Brandon Schamp, Serge Sheremetev & Evan Weiher (published on 26 September 2018): Plant functional trait change across a warming tundra biome. Nature. Doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0563-7.

 

Please note:

Use of the pictures provided by iDiv is permitted for reports related to this media release only, and under the condition that credit is given to the picture originator.

 

Contact:

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

 

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

 

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Computational Forest Ecology TOP NEWS Media Release sDiv Wed, 26 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200
ICEI2018: Maintaining biological diversity with support of IT https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1333.html International Conference at the Interface of Ecology and Computer Science at the Friedrich Schiller... This text is only available in German.]]> Biodiversity Informatics Unit (BDU) iDiv TOP NEWS Mon, 24 Sep 2018 13:23:07 +0200 Adapt or go extinct – Inaugural lecture by new iDiv group head https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1331.html Renske Onstein presented her research in Jena Jena. On Tuesday, the new iDiv junior group head Dr Renske Emilie Onstein gave her inaugural lecture in Jena. Onstein talked mostly about her own research, which focuses on how environmental conditions and plant traits interact to influence both plant speciation and extinction rates. Since June, Onstein is heading the new iDiv junior research group Evolution and Adaptation. After Onstein’s lecture, iDiv members met for the General Members Assembly (GMA).
Global change threatens biodiversity - especially in hotspots such as subtropical ecosystems and tropical rainforests. Can plants adapt to these changes or are they threatened with extinction? How has climate change influenced evolution in the past? In her inaugural lecture, Renske Onstein took the audience on a scientific journey to some of the world’s most biodiverse places – from mediterranean-type ecosystems to tropical rainforests. Onstein’s hypothesis: Evolution is triggered by the match between functional traits and environments - the right traits in the right place at the right time. If this match is disrupted, species are threatened with extinction. To test this hypothesis, Onstein combines genetic data, fossils and functional traits of plants. 
Onstein presented research results showing the effect of megafauna extinction on palm trees. Onstein found that old-world palms, which depend on large animals for the dispersal of their seeds, adapted to global change, whereas new-world palms, which also depend on large animal species, have gone increasingly extinct since the beginning of the Quaternary 2.6 million years ago.
By focusing on the evolutionary perspective, Onstein’s work feeds particularly well into iDiv’s mission of integrating space and time to understand broad-scale biodiversity patterns. Tilo Arnhold

Interview with Renske Onstein:
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/core_groups/evolution_and_adaptation/interview_ro.html 


Links:
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/core_groups/evolution_and_adaptation.html
https://onsteinison.wordpress.com/


Contact:
Dr Renske Emilie Onstein 
Head of junior research group Evolution and Adaptation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
phone: +49 341 9733 -129
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/core_groups/evolution_and_adaptation.html
Dr Volker Hahn
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig 
phone: +49 341 9733 -154
https://www.idiv.de/media
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TOP NEWS Evolution and Adaptation Wed, 19 Sep 2018 09:01:41 +0200
Measuring species traits for biodiversity policy goals https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1329.html How trait variability within species can be incorporated in Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs). Based on a media release by the University of Amsterdam: Management of global biodiversity requires up-to-date, reliable, comparable, and repeated biodiversity data. Such monitoring is achieved on a global level by using Essential Biodiversity Variables. In a new perspective paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution, biodiversity researchers show how trait variability within species can be incorporated in Essential Biodiversity Variables. Including such trait variability will enable the assessment of how organisms respond to global change. This information is also crucial for international policy goals on biodiversity, according to the authors, among them iDiv researchers Jens Kattge, Laetitia Navarro and Nadja Rüger. In order to understand how biodiversity is changing worldwide, it needs to be monitored with common units of measure at different locations. To establish such common units is a central goal of GEO BON, the Group On Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network. About five years ago, GEO BON has initiated the concept of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) to derive globally coordinated measurements that are critical for detecting and reporting biodiversity change. Just like the Essential Climate Variables, EBVs are constructed from various sources of data and constitute the minimum set of information needed to assess biodiversity change through time. EBVs are also the building blocks of indicators that can be used to measure the achievement of conservation policies and targets. As such, EBVs play an important role in biodiversity-related policy decisions. Species traits A classical measure of biodiversity is the number of species at a given location. To get a better picture, however, researchers need to complement species numbers with other measurable aspects of biodiversity, e.g. the variation of traits within a given species. As an example, size is such a variable trait within a taxonomic unit, a specific characteristic of plants, animals or other organisms that can vary within a population from one individual to the other and also between different populations. The recent publication in Nature Ecology and Evolution, authored by a group of more than twenty scientific experts, describes the requirements for developing the EBV class “Species Traits”. It can cover measurable variations in, e.g., phenology, morphology, reproduction, physiology or migratory behaviour. The concept results from a workshop in March 2017 where three researchers of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Jens Kattge (Max Planck Institute of Biogeochemistry, iDiv), Nadja Rüger (iDiv, Leipzig University) and Laetitia Navarro (iDiv, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)) met with other international experts. Dr W. Daniel Kissling, lead author of the paper and researcher at the University of Amsterdam says: “Currently there is no detailed framework for the empirical derivation of most EBVs. In our paper, we provide a conceptual framework with practical guidelines for building global, integrated and reusable EBV data products of species traits. This facilitates the monitoring of intra-specific trait changes in response to global change and human pressures, with the aim to use species trait information in national and international policy assessments. ” Co-author Dr Jens Kattge, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena and a member of iDiv, leads the recently established GEO BON working group on species traits. He adds: “So far species traits are successfully used in local biodiversity assessments: reduced size of mature individuals in the catch of fish and in the harvest of trees indicates overexploitation of these natural resources; reduced foliation and leaf nutrient concentration indicates forest stress, e.g. due to acid rain; changes of bird migration patterns and plant phenology indicate species responses to climate change.” “This publication is an important milestone for GEO BON as, until recently, we didn’t have a dedicated group working on the development of the Species Traits EBVs. Now the group is set up and can build on the paper to define its roadmap,” says Dr Laetitia Navarro, Executive Secretary at GEO BON and researcher at iDiv and the MLU, and adds: “Understanding how species traits might vary, in space and time, and when populations and ecosystems are confronted with human pressure, is also important for our own well-being since those traits can be directly linked to several ecosystem services. ” Biodiversity policy The international research team assessed the societal relevance of species traits and highlighted their underrepresentation in current biodiversity change indicators that are used to assess policy targets at global scale, such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set by the Convention for Biological Diversity. Kissling: “I was surprised that there is such a lack of species trait information in current policy assessments of biodiversity change. We outline the steps needed for data-intensive science and effective global coordination to advance the inclusion of species trait information into indicators of biodiversity change, and how collected trait data can be shared in an open and machine-readable way.” Making biodiversity data available for policy assessments requires substantial financial and in kind investments from universities, research infrastructures, governments, space agencies and other funding bodies. As a positive example for such support, the ground-breaking workshop had been organized within the H2020 project GLOBIS-B “GLOBal Infrastructure for Supporting Biodiversity research” funded by the European Commission (http://www.globis-b.eu/).  Kissling emphasizes: “The operationalization requires not only more funding, but also a cultural shift towards more openness, interoperability and reproducibility within the broader science community.”  

Contact:

Dr Jens Kattge
Head of the Research Group Functional Biogeography
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Mail: jkattge@bgc-jena.mpg.de
Web: http://www.bgc-jena.mpg.de/~jkattge Dr Laetitia Navarro
Executive Secretary GEO BON
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Mail: laetitia.navarro@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/navarro_laetitia.html Dr W. Daniel Kissling
Head of Biogeography & Macroecology (BIOMAC) lab & Associate Professor of Quantitative Biodiversity
University of Amsterdam (UvA)
Mail: w.d.kissling@uva.nl
Web: www.biomac.org Dr Tabea Turrini
iDiv Media and Communications
Mail: tabea.turrini@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/turrini_tabea.html

Further Information:

Website of GEO BON: https://geobon.org  Page of the Species Traits WG: https://geobon.org/ebvs/working-groups/species-traits/ If you are interested in joining the species traits working group, you can register on the GEO BON website: members.geobon.org and contact the leads of the group.

Original Publication (iDiv researchers in bold):

W. Daniel Kissling, Ramona Walls, Anne Bowser, Matthew O. Jones, Jens Kattge, Donat Agosti, Josep Amengual, Alberto Basset, Peter M. van Bodegom, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen, Ellen G. Denny, Salud Deudero, Willi Egloff, Sarah Elmendorf, Enrique Alonso García, Katherine D. Jones, Owen R. Jones, Sandra Lavorel, Dan Lear, Laetitia M. Navarro, Samraat Pawar, Rebecca Pirzl, Nadja Rüger, Sofia Sal, Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Dmitry Schigel, Katja-Sabine Schulz, Andrew Skidmore & Robert P. Guralnick (2018) Towards global data products of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) on species traits. Nature Ecology and Evolution. Doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0667-3]]>
TOP NEWS GEO BON Biodiversity Conservation Computational Forest Ecology iDiv Members Mon, 17 Sep 2018 15:26:06 +0200
“Diskussionsforum Ökosystemleistungen”: Lessons learned from IPBES https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1327.html On 09 October the topic will be “Crisis of biological diversity: what can we learn for Germany from... “Crisis of biological diversity: what can we learn for Germany from the insights of the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)?” This will be the topic of the tenth discussion forum in the series “Diskussionsforum Ökosystemleistungen”. The event will take place on Tuesday, 09 October, from 6 - 9 pm in the premises of the Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. in Berlin. The iDiv research centre is a co-organiser and represented by Prof Aletta Bonn (UFZ/iDiv/FSU). The event will be held in German. Therefore, the full text with further information on the programme and registration procedure is only available in German ›.]]> TOP NEWS Ecosystem Services Tue, 04 Sep 2018 10:25:37 +0200 Butterflies and earthworms - guided tour at the Botanical Garden Halle https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1325.html Side event of the exhibition „Garten findet Stadt“ on Saturday, 08 September Side event of the exhibiton „Garten findet Stadt“ on Saturday, 08 September This Text is only available in German ›.]]> TOP NEWS iDiv Mon, 03 Sep 2018 11:22:24 +0200 Young scientists addressed biodiversity crisis at iDiv Summer School 2018 https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1323.html The 4th iDiv Summer School on “Ecological Theory and Modelling for the Biodiversity Crisis” took... The 4th iDiv Summer School on “Ecological Theory and Modelling for the Biodiversity Crisis” took place from 20 to 31 August.
This year’s summer school was led by Prof Henrique Pereira, head of the Biodiversity Conservation research group at iDiv. From the pool of applicants, 15 young international researchers were selected to take part in the iDiv summer school. In hands-on sessions the students were trained in using modelling to address different topics in the area of biodiversity conservation. Neil Jun Lobite, a student from the University of the Philippines Los Baños said: “It has been a rewarding experience to attend the iDiv summer school and I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about a wide range of ecological models as informed by ecological theory.” Dr André Große-Stoltenberg, a participant from Münster University, Germany, added: “The summer school was an excellent combination of theoretical input and practical classes about the latest methods in biodiversity modelling.” During the summer school, the participants developed their own projects that ranged from modelling optimal economic havesting of an Amazon freshwater fishery to modelling dynamics of invader/invaded species. The projects were presented in a final session on the last day of the Summer School. In addition to the indoor classes, Prof Pereira organised a scientific excursion to the Harz Mountains. The young researchers also appreciated the opportunity to meet and network with other iDiv scientists, for example at the “iDiv Summer Function” at the Botanical Garden. “I really appreciate being selected to participate in the iDiv summer school 2018,” said Leonardo Espinoza Rodriguez from the Austral University of Chile. “It also allowed me to get to know a high-level research centre and build new collaborative networks with other young researchers.” The iDiv summer school takes place every year under a different topic relating to biodiversity research that is chosen by the summer school leader of the respective year. Written by yDiv office Contact Dr Nicole Sachmerda-Schulz
Coordinator of yDiv and the iDiv summer school
Web: https://www.idiv.de/ydiv/763.html Prof Henrique Miguel Pereira
Head of the research group Biodiversity Conservation
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Web: https://www.idiv.de/groups_and_people/core_groups/biodiversity_conservation.html ]]>
TOP NEWS iDiv Biodiversity Conservation Fri, 31 Aug 2018 13:50:54 +0200
Biological globalization threatens remote islands https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1319.html Number of alien species on islands increases with distance to mainland Vienna/Leipzig. The effects of island remoteness from the mainland on the number of species found on islands differs strongly for non-native compared to native species. Numbers of native species on islands decrease with greater remoteness, while numbers of non-native species increase. This surprising finding has been uncovered by an international research team led by Dietmar Moser, Bernd Lenzner and Franz Essl from the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research of the University of Vienna and involving iDiv scientist Marten Winter. The study has been published in the prestigious scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A”. These findings have important implications for our understanding global biodiversity. It is widely accepted that island floras and faunas suffer from the introduction of non-native species, with almost every third extinction event on islands being directly or indirectly related to non-native species. Since many native island species are endemic – meaning they are exclusively present on “their own” island and found nowhere else on Earth – the introduction of non-native species poses an imminent threat to global biodiversity. To understand why some islands are more strongly affected than others by non-native species, the team analysed the effect of a number of influencing factors on the number of native and non-native mammals, reptiles, ants, birds and plants on 257 subtropical and tropical islands. The results confirm the existence of long-suspected relationships, for example between the size of an island and the number of native and non-native species present. However, Dietmar Moser explains: “What really surprised us was to see that the isolation of an island – its distance from the mainland – had opposite effects on native and non-native species richness. Native species declined whereas non-native species numbers increased with isolation”. His colleague Bernd Lenzner adds: “With increasing distance to the mainland, native species become more evolutionary isolated and ecologically distinct. This results from the fact that only some species are able to disperse over such long distances, and also from the fact that successful colonizers have become genetically adapted to the specific conditions of the island”. For example, many species have lost their behavioural or defence strategies that would reduce the risk of being eaten, in response to a lack of predators on the island. But, some non-native species may be successful on remote islands by predating on these naive natives, or they may be better able to exploit multiple resources on the remote islands while native species are not able to do so, due to evolved specialization. For the same reason, natives may not be able to exploit human-modified habitats on more isolated islands, while non-native species are able to do so. Marten Winter from the iDiv research centre in Leipzig says: “Newly introduced species often have very adaptable characteristics. They can establish themselves more quickly, expand, use existing resources more efficiently and are therefore so often the more assertive competitors or even more successful predators".  Overall, the scientists show that more remote islands that tend to have more distinct floras and faunas are at greater risk from the human introductions of non-native species. With the exception of birds, this pattern was consistent for all groups analysed. This means that biological invasions not only threaten many different species, but they especially threaten those that are unique to remote islands. As a result, Dietmar Moser recommends that “especially on remote islands, strict actions against the introduction of non-native species need to be implemented”. Original publication (iDiv scientist in bold):
Moser D, Lenzner B, Weigelt P, Dawson W, Kreft H, Pergl J, Pyšek P, van Kleunen M, Winter M, Capinha C, Cassey P, Dullinger S, Economo EP, García-Díaz P, Guénard B, Hofhansl F, Mang T, Seebens H, Essl F (2018) Remoteness promotes biological invasions on islands worldwide. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1804179115
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1804179115

Contact Dr Marten Winter
Coordinator sDiv Synthesis Centre
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Phone: +49 341 9733129
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/winter_marten.html and
Dr Dietmar Moser
Bernd Lenzner
Dept. of Botany & Biodiversity Research
University of Vienna
Phone: +43-1-4277-54-372 (Dietmar Moser)
Phone: +43-680-3278884 (Bernd Lenzner)
http://cvl.univie.ac.at/department/Staff/staff_detail.cfm?Nachname=Moser
http://cvl.univie.ac.at/department/Staff/staff_detail.cfm?Nachname=Lenzner
or
Tilo Arnhold
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Phone: +49 341 9733197
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/central_management/media_and_communications.html and
Mag. Alexandra Frey
Corporate Communications
University of Vienna
Phone: +43-1-4277-175 33
Mobile: +43-664-602 77-175 33
https://ufind.univie.ac.at/en/person.html?id=26809 ]]>
TOP NEWS iDiv Thu, 30 Aug 2018 17:46:00 +0200
Mitteldeutscher Universitätsverbund successful with iDiv in the Future Lab programme https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1321.html Improved research cooperation as a goal of funding This text is only available in German. ]]> TOP NEWS iDiv Wed, 29 Aug 2018 16:33:21 +0200 Multiple facets of biodiversity reduce variability of grassland biomass production https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1317.html Study from 39 grassland experiments published in Nature Ecology and Evolution Leipzig/Göttingen. A new study shows that, in addition to species richness, plant evolutionary history plays a critical role in regulating year-to-year variation of biomass production in grasslands. In the face of climate change, understanding the causes of variability in key ecosystem services such as biomass production is essential. A team of researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), University of Göttingen, and Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F) has published the results in Nature Ecology and Evolution. They show that multiple factors, including biodiversity and climate, jointly reduce annual variation in grassland productivity. Biodiversity is much more than just counting species; it also includes diversity in how plants function and in the history of how they have evolved. Despite the growing appreciation for biodiversity and its role in buffering the impacts of vital ecosystem services, these other aspects of biodiversity are frequently overlooked. An international team of researchers examined how multiple facets of biodiversity contribute to year-to-year variation in grassland biomass production. The researchers measured biomass, which is the dry weight of plant matter (including grassland and other species). “We show that grassland communities with high species richness and high diversity in evolutionary history show reduced variation in biomass production,” says Dylan Craven, lead author of the study, who summarised the results of the sTability synthesis workshop at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). He is now postdoctoral researcher at the University of Göttingen. “Our results suggest that greater diversity in evolutionary history makes biomass production in grasslands more stable because these communities are less vulnerable to herbivore attacks or pathogen outbreaks.” The researchers also found that biomass production of plant communities dominated by slow-growing species typically varied less. Peter Manning, the senior author of the study, says : “We were surprised by these results because we had expected that communities with a greater diversity in characteristics related to plant growth rates would have more stable biomass production, but actually species richness as measured by evolutionary history and genetic diversity were better predictors.” However, the researchers caution that lower year-to-year variation does not imply that grasslands will be more productive, and that measures of stability that consider over- and under-production may be more relevant for agro ecological applications. Original publication (iDiv scientist in bold): Dylan Craven, Nico Eisenhauer, William D. Pearse, Yann Hautier, Forest Isbell, Christiane Roscher, Michael Bahn, Carl Beierkuhnlein, Gerhard Bönisch, Nina Buchmann, Chaeho Byun, Jane A. Catford, Bruno E. L. Cerabolini, J. Hans C. Cornelissen, Joseph M. Craine, Enrica De Luca, Anne Ebeling, John N. Griffin, Andy Hector, Jes Hines, Anke Jentsch, Jens Kattge, Jürgen Kreyling, Vojtech Lanta, Nathan Lemoine, Sebastian T. Meyer, Vanessa Minden, Vladimir Onipchenko, H. Wayne Polley, Peter B. Reich, Jasper van Ruijven, Brandon Schamp, Melinda D. Smith, Nadejda A. Soudzilovskaia, David Tilman, Alexandra Weigelt, Brian Wilsey & Peter Manning (2018): Multiple facets of biodiversity drive the diversity-stability relationship. Nature Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0647-7
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0647-7 Behind the paper:

Ecological synthesizing, and the multiple drivers of stability
https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/users/173594-dylan-craven/posts/37387-synthesizing-people-and-data-to-understand-the-multiple-drivers-of-ecosystem-stability

Contact person: Dr. Dylan Craven
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

now:

University of Göttingen – Department of Biodiversity, Macroecology and Biogeography
Phone: +49-(0)551-3910443
www.uni-goettingen.de/en/585428.html
or
University of Göttingen - Public Relations
Phone: +49 551 39-4342
https://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/information+for+the+media/3240.html
and
Tilo Arnhold
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733197
www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/central_management/media_and_communications/contact.html

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TOP NEWS Experimental Interaction Ecology sDiv Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:35:20 +0200
Wheat genome fully mapped https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1315.html The sequence published in Science is the first reference genome of wheat. Based on a media release by the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben A thirteen-year scientific effort has culminated in a paper published in the journal Science: over 200 scientists from 73 research institutions in 20 countries joined forces to map the genome of bread wheat. iDiv member Martin Mascher from the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben also played a leading role. It is hoped that the findings will open up new prospects for feeding the world’s population. The sequence published in Science is the first nearly complete reference genome of wheat – a key tool for understanding, researching or improving the grain.

"It was long believed that it was impossible to sequence the bread-wheat genome in its entirety, because it is massive and complex," says Dr. Nils Stein, Head of the Research Group Genomics of Genetic Resources at the IPK in Gatersleben, in explanation of the challenge. "The wheat genome, five times bigger than the human genome, is divided into three subgenomes and is distributed over 21 chromosomes with numerous repeated elements."

As not even cutting-edge techniques are able to unravel the full length sequence of the genome, researchers had to improvise using sequenced genome fragments. The difficulty was to understand how the sub-sequences are arranged. To address this problem, the scientists developed special algorithms and new strategies to master this quintessentially ‘big data’ challenge.

"Once the final sequence was known, it was all about elucidating the content," explains Dr. Manuel Spannagl, Group Leader in the Research Unit Plant Genome and Systems Biology at Helmholtz Zentrum München. "Our task was to determine where, among billions of bases, specific genes are located and how they are organized: we were able to identify 107,891 genes*. In addition, more than four million molecular markers were annotated as well as regions between the genes that affect their activity." iDiv member Dr. Martin Mascher from the IPK Gatersleben, together with international partners, was leading the construction of sequence assemblies representing entire chromosomes from start to end. "Putting together the genome sequence of bread wheat was a big challenge”, Mascher says. “This is because the genome is five times larger than the human genome and full of repetitive elements.” However, taking advantage of the recent progress in genome assemblies methods, the researchers were able to finally solve this problem. Their results will help to advance both science and industry, Mascher says: “The wheat reference sequence will be an invaluable tool for scientists and breeders, who can now easily search for their genes of interest in online databases.  Ultimately, this will speed up crop improvement and may make an important contribution to ensuring food security in a changing environment." The study authors who are all involved in the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) hope that their work will now lead to new wheat varieties that are better adapted to climatic challenges, deliver higher and, above all, more stable yields, and are even more nutritious. A further aim is to make the cultivation and utilization of wheat more sustainable. Wheat, after all, is and will remain a crucial crop for global food security: It is a staple food for over one-third of the world’s population and supplies almost 20 percent of the carbohydrates and proteins in people’s diet – more than any other food.

Six other papers accompany the publication of the complete wheat reference sequence, highlighting its benefits for the scientific community. Since a first working version of the complete sequence was released in January 2017, over 100 research papers based on the preliminary data have been published. That number is now expected to soar.

But, according to the German scientists, there’s still a lot of work to do: The now fully-sequenced and annotated ‘Chinese Spring’ wheat variety has been used around the world, mainly in basic research. Other lines which are frequently used among breeders and which characterize the genetic diversity of bread wheat, referred to as the pan-genome, are already being intensively pursued.**

Further Information

* By comparison: 20,376 genes are currently known in humans.

** Researchers from Munich and Gatersleben are sequencing the ‘Julius’ variety of wheat in the WHEATSEQ project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) (funding reference: 2819104015). The work is part of the international “10 Wheat Genome Project”, a program associated with the International Wheat Initiative. The program will provide detailed insight into the structural diversity and complexity of the wheat pan-genome and provide a basis for developing new wheat varieties.

Background Wheat is a staple food for over one-third of the world’s population. It also serves as an important source of vitamins and minerals. According to the statement from the IWGSC, "The wheat code is finally cracked". In order to meet the future needs of a projected world population of 9.6 billion (by 2050), wheat productivity has to increase by 1.6 percent per year. To conserve biodiversity as well as water and nutrient resources, most of this increase must be achieved by improving the crops themselves and their characteristics and by growing them on existing farmland rather than exploiting new land for cultivation. Original publication International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (2018): Shifting the limits in wheat research and breeding using a fully annotated reference genome. Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7191 Press release by the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben: https://idw-online.de/en/news700650 Contact Dr. Martin Mascher
Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben
Head of Research Group Domestication Genomics
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
http://www.ipk-gatersleben.de/en/independent-research-groups/domestication-genomics/ ]]>
TOP NEWS Domestication Genomics Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:28:05 +0200
Insect decline ... even beneath our feet? https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1307.html Talks and exhibition inauguration (in German) This text is only available in German.]]> TOP NEWS Media Release iDiv Tue, 21 Aug 2018 17:07:00 +0200 “Frankfurter Erklärung” on the protection of biodiversity https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1309.html Joint position paper of renowned researchers Joint position paper of renowned researchers

 

The full text is only available in German.

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TOP NEWS iDiv Media Release Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
Animals and fungi foster forest multifunctionality https://www.idiv.de//en/news/news_single_view/1312.html Study based on ten years of research in subtropical forests

Leipzig, Halle. A new study shows that, in addition to the diversity of tree species, the variety of animal and fungus species also has a decisive influence on the performance of forests. Forest performance comprises many facets besides timber production, such as carbon storage and climate regulation. The study is based on ten years of research in species-rich subtropical forests. A team of researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg has published the results in the new issue of Nature Communications. They illustrate that biodiversity must be viewed as a whole in order to maintain the performance of forests.

There is a global concern that the loss of biodiversity caused by people is impairing the functioning of our cultural and natural landscapes. In our forests, trees are the most conspicuous and prominent organisms. The consequences of reduced tree species diversity are therefore comparatively easy to grasp. However, it is much more difficult to take into consideration the diversity of the thousands of sometimes tiny animal and micro-organism species that perform important tasks in forests as herbivores, pest controllers or recycling experts. Therefore, the effects of a loss of this species diversity have so far been difficult to quantify. After years of dedication, a team of German, Chinese, Swiss and American researchers has now succeeded in doing this for the first time for particularly species-rich, semi-natural forests in the subtropics of China. The research group has not only studied the enormous species diversity of beetles, spiders, ants, woodlice and fungi in these forests, but at the same time, they investigated a variety of processes that are essential for the functioning of the forests. These processes include the growth of timber, the prevention of soil erosion, the recycling of nutrients or the biological control of potential pests.

 

“Our analyses show that the diversity of animal and fungal species affects numerous important processes – such as the availability of nutrients for tree growth,” said Dr Andreas Schuldt, first author of the study, from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. “To understand why and how a loss of biodiversity affects these forests, it is not enough to concentrate solely on the trees and their species diversity.” The species richness of herbivores and their competitors was also important, an important finding with regard to the expected intensification and the possible prevention of pest infestation with progressive climate change. Furthermore, besides animals and fungi, the researchers found that the multifunctionality of forest stands is influenced not so much by the number of tree species as by their functional properties and the resulting composition of different types of tree species. “Our previous knowledge on the relationships between multifunctionality and biodiversity mainly comes from comparatively species-poor forests in Europe and North America,” said Prof Helge Bruelheide, spokesperson of the research group and senior author of the study. “We can now show for the first time that such relationships in the extremely species-rich subtropics and tropics follow their own dynamics. This is important to understand because these forests are of great importance for global biogeochemical cycles and for us humans.”

 

The results of the study also allow deductions for the management of forests under ever-changing environmental conditions and therefore provide important basic data. These insights were made possible by the many years of funding of biodiversity research and the project by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

 

 

Original publication:

Schuldt A, Assmann T, Brezzi M, Buscot F, Eichenberg D, Gutknecht J, Härdtle W, He JS, Klein AM, Kühn1 P Liu X, Ma KP, Niklaus PA, Pietsch KA, Purahong W, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Schmid B, Scholten T, Staab M, Tang ZY, Trogisch S, von Oheimb G, Wirth C, Wubet T, Zhu CD, Bruelheide H (2018): Biodiversity across trophic levels drives multifunctionality in highly diverse forests. Nature Communications 9, Article number: 2989 (2018). Open. Published: 31 July 2018
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05421-z
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05421-z

The study was promoted by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG FOR 891/1-3), the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion (GZ 524, 592, 698, 699, 785, and 1020) and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC 30710103907 and 584 30930005).

 

Link:

https://www.idiv.de/en/research/platforms_and_networks/bef_china.html

 

Contact:

Dr Andreas Schuldt
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49-341 9733232
Email: andreas.schuldt@idiv.de
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/schuldt_andreas.html

 

Prof Dr Helge Bruelheide
Professor for Geobotany, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Co-Director of iDiv
Phone: +49-345 5526222
Email: helge.bruelheide@botanik.uni-halle.de
Web: http://www.botanik.uni-halle.de/geobotanik/helge_bruelheide/

 

Tilo Arnhold
Media and Communications
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9733197
Web: https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/central_management/media_and_communications/contact.html

 

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TOP NEWS Media Release iDiv Members Wed, 01 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200