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For biodiversity research, we established three large long-term study areas in Germany in 2006-2008, thanks to funding from the DFG as part of the Initiative for Biodiversity Research. They are called Biodiversity Exploratories instead of descriptive observatories.

Objectives

Analysing the dynamic feedback loops between land use, the diversity of genetics and species, and biological interactions and ecosystem service in real landscapes is the overarching goal of our research platform. To this end, we use a variety of methods: monitoring approaches as well as measurements of functional diversity in experiments. A new and innovative challenge of the project is to integrate social science studies that are linked with natural science results to map the entire nature-society relationship (see figure).

Image: The graphic shows the conceptual framework and basis of the Biodiversity Exploratories. Three pairs of two circular areas each are shown, representing different areas. The first pair of circles is located at the top centre of the diagram. One circle of these represents community composition, the other biodiversity. The second pair of circles is placed at the bottom left of the diagram. One circle stands for anthropogenic and environmental drivers of land use, the other for land use. The third pair of circles is arranged in the diagram at the bottom right. The first circle of these stands for ecosystem processes and functioning, the other for ecosystem services and disservices and nature's contributions to people. Between some of the circles there are connections by arrows: From the circle for land use, an arrow goes to the circle for biodiversity and another arrow to the circle for ecosystem processes and functioning. From the circle for ecosystem services and disservices and for nature's contributions to people, an arrow goes to the circle for anthropogenic and environmental factors of land use.
Conceptual framework and basis of biodiversity exploratories.

Background

That changes in land use and its intensity can have a negative impact on biodiversity has been proven by the World Biodiversity Council (IPBES). For some groups of organisms, the effects of land use are already well studied, but for others they are still insufficiently researched. In particular, the interaction of the diversities of individual groups with each other and the response of the respective genetic diversities to land use changes is incomplete. The functional significance of biodiversity for natural systems is also unclear, as various management strategies overlap the effects. We have therefore set ourselves the task of gaining scientific knowledge on this and have developed a special research design for this purpose.

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