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A truly general understanding of ecological systems requires a broad perspective and thus the synthesis of knowledge across taxa, ecological processes, as well as spatial and temporal scales. This multi-disciplinary approach to ecosystems is at the very core of the Biodiversity Exploratories. The project was set up to coordinate research efforts so that multiple data are collected in a common study design and can therefore be directly linked and compared. The aim of the synthesis core project is to ensure that these ecological syntheses are realised.

Core synthesis spreads synthesis thinking to provide general and mechanistic answers to the guiding questions of the Exploratories. We do this by generating ideas from exemplary synthesis and workshops and by spreading and developing tools for synthesis in terms of statistical methods and synthesis data.

In the next phase, the Synthesis Core Group will contribute to the functioning of the Biodiversity Exploratories according to the following goals:

  1. To answer general questions about the connections between land-use intensification, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Particularly, considering ecosystem responses at multiple temporal and spatial scales, including complementary dimensions of biodiversity (i.e. functional, phylogenetic) and focusing on the social component of agricultural landscapes.
  2. To catalyse synthesis efforts of other groups by creating synthesis datasets and by spreading the concepts and statistical methods for synthesis across the entire Biodiversity Exploratories. The synthesis project will create synergies and true added value across projects, in accordance with the main guiding questions of the Biodiversity Exploratories.
  3. To foster the outreach and to disseminate the results and culture of Biodiversity Exploratories through the organisation of special workshops and thematic sessions within and outside of the project, and through the collaboration with other biodiversity projects worldwide.

The Synthesis Core Group work follows four main lines of action:

  1. Dataset management in close collaboration with BEXIS. Specifically, the creation of Biodiversity Exploratories Synthesis datasets, which are made available to all participants. These datasets include information about different biodiversity components and ecosystem functions and services across all plots. We also develop scripts and methods to ease the management and analysis of this information.
  2. Comprehensive and exemplary synthesis. The analysis of multiple ecosystem variables requires the application of state-of-the-art analytical tools including Structural Equation Modelling, complex Generalised Mixed Effects models, Non-linear regressions and Network approaches. These methodologies are in constant update with specific courses following the necessities of the participants in the project.
  3. Synthesis help desk. To support synthesis in other core and contributing projects, we provide personalised synthesis advice to explorers. Most of the many contributing synthesis activities request advice, usually in the form of support on how to use the synthesis datasets, in the form of refining their research questions or in-depth recommendations for statistical analysis.
  4. Methods development. In some cases, the tools for synthesis may not yet exist and in this case the Core Synthesis project is active in developing new methods that can be used to facilitate synthesis activities within the Biodiversity Exploratories (and outside) (e.g., Manning et al. 2018, Schneider et al 2019, van der Plas et al. 2019).

In the next phase we will conduct a series of comprehensive ecological syntheses that address the central questions of the Biodiversity Exploratories based on the findings from the previous phases:

  1. Land use intensification affects ecosystem biodiversity, particularly reducing above-ground species richness and leading to the multitrophic community homogenisation (e.g., Allan et al. 2014, Gossner et al 2016, Penone et al. 2019). In the next phase, we aim to expand these findings to other biodiversity dimensions (i.e. functional traits, phylogeny) and biotic interactions.
  2. Land-use intensity affects ecosystem functioning and services both directly and indirectly through its effect on multitrophic biodiversity (e.g., Allan et al. 2015, Soliveres et al 2016, van der Plas et al. 2016, Felipe-Lucia et al. 2018). In the next phase we will focus on the effect of temporal and spatial scales on the land use-biodiversity-ecosystem functioning and the contribution of the social dimension in the agricultural landscapes.
  3. The Biodiversity Exploratories provide a unique set of relevant ecological findings, but it is necessary to move beyond the project to develop a general ecological theory and apply the results to the real world. In the next phase previous findings will be compared with those from other biodiversity experiments, and will be used to foster scientifically-based tools (i.e. indicator species) to help agricultural landscape management.

Allan E. et al. 2014. Interannual variation in land-use intensity enhances grassland multidiversity. PNAS, 111:308–313.  www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1312213111

Allan E. et al. 2015. Land use intensification alters ecosystem multifunctionality via loss of biodiversity and changes to functional composition. Ecol Lett 18:834–843. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Felipe-Lucia et al. 2018. Multiple forest attributes underpin the supply of multiple ecosystem services. Nature Communications 9:4839.

Gossner et al. 2016. Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenization of grassland communities. Nature 540:266–269.

Manning et al. 2018. Redefining ecosystem multifunctionality. Nat Ecol Evol 2:427–436.

Penone et al. 2019. Specialisation and diversity of multiple trophic groups are promoted by different forest features. Ecol Lett 22:170–180.

Schneider et al. 2019. Towards an ecological trait‐data standard. Methods Ecol Evol. 10: 2006– 2019. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13288

Soliveres S. et al.  2016. Locally rare species influence grassland ecosystem multifunctionality. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B 371: 20150269. http://dx.doi.org

Soliveres S. et al. 2016. Biodiversity at multiple trophic levels is needed for ecosystem multifunctionality. Nature 536, 456–459. http://www.nature.com

van der Plas et al. (2016): Biotic homogenization can decrease landscape-scale forest multifunctionality. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 113, S. 3557–3562.

van der Plas et al. 2019. Towards the development of general rules describing landscape heterogeneity–multifunctionality relationships. J Appl Ecol 56.


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Le Provost G., Thiele J., Westphal C., Penone C., Allan E., Neyret M., van der Plas F., Ayasse M., Bardgett R., Birkhofer K., Boch S., Bonkowski M., Buscot F., Feldhaar H., Gaulton R., Goldmann K., Gossner M. M., Klaus V., Kleinebecker T., Krauss J., Renner S., Scherreiks P., Sikorski J., Baulechner D., Blüthgen N., Bolliger R., Börschig C., Busch V., Chisté M., Fiore-Donno A. M., Fischer M., Arndt H., Hoelzel N., Jung K., Lange M., Marzini C., Overmann J., Paŝalić E., Perović D., Prati D., Schäfer D., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Sonnemann I., Steffan-Dewenter I., Tschapka M., Türke M., Vogt J., Wehner K., Weiner C., Weisser W. W., Wells K., Werner M., Wolters V., Wubet T., Wurst S., Zaitsev A. S., Manning P. (2021): Contrasting responses of above- and belowground diversity to multiple components of land-use intensity. Nature Communications 12:3918. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-23931-1
More information:  doi.org
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Jochum M., Fischer M., Isbell F., Roscher C., van der Plas F., Boch S., Boenisch G., Buchmann N., Catford J. A., Cavender-Bares J., Ebeling A., Eisenhauer N., Gleixner G., Hölzel N., Kattge J., Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Lange M., Le Provost G., Meyer S. T., Molina-Venegas R., Mommer L, Oelmann Y., Penone C., Prati D., Reich P. B., Rindisbacher A., Schäfer D., Scheu S., Schmid B., Tilman D., Tscharntke T., Vogel A., Wagg C., Weigelt A., Weisser W. W., Wilcke W., Manning P. (2020): The results of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning experiments are realistic. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4, 1485–1494. doi: /10.1038/s41559-020-1280-9
More information:  doi.org
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Felipe-Lucia M. R., Soliveres S., Penone C., Fischer M., Ammer C., Boch S., Boeddinghaus R., Bonkowski M., Buscot F., Fiore-Donno A. M., Frank K., Goldmann K., Gossner M. M., Hölzel N., Jochum M., Kandeler E., Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Leimer S., Manning P., Oelmann Y., Saiz H., Schall P., Schloter M. , Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Solly E. F., Stempfhuber B., Weisser W. W., Wilcke W., Wubet T., Allan E. (2020): Land-use intensity alters networks between biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and services. PNAS 117 (45), 28140-28149. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2016210117
More information:  doi.org
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Offenberger M. (2020): Ökosystemforschung: Pfanzenvielfalt fördert Stabilität von Nahrungsnetzen. Anliegen Natur 42 (1), 91-98
More information:  www.anl.bayern.de
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Forstinventuren zeigen wie multifunktional wirtschaftlich genutzte Wälder sind
Simons N. K., Felipe-Lucia M. R., Schall P., Ammer C., Bauhus J., Blüthgen N., Boch S., Buscot F., Fischer M., Goldmann K., Gossner M. M., Hänsel F., Jung K., Manning P., Nauss T., Oelmann Y., Pena R., Polle A., Renner S. C., Schloter M., Schöning I., Schulze E.-D., Solly E., Sorkau E., Stempfhuber B., Wubet T., Müller J., Seibold S., Weisser W. W. (2021): National Forest Inventories capture the multifunctionality of managed forests in Germany. Forest Ecosystems 8, 5. doi: 10.1186/s40663-021-00280-5
More information:  doi.org
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Manzanedo R. D., Schanz F. R., Fischer M., Allan E. (2018): Fagus sylvatica seedlings show provenance differentiation rather than adaptation to soil in a transplant experiment. BMC Ecology 18 (1): 42. doi: 10.1186/s12898-018-0197-5
More information:  doi.org
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Schneider F. D., Fichtmüller D., Gossner M. M., Güntsch A., Jochum M., König-Ries B., Le Provost G., Manning P., Ostrowski A., Penone C., Simons N. K. (2019): Towards an Ecological Trait-data Standard. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 10 (12), 2006-2019. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.13288
More information:  doi.org
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Soliveres S., Lehmann A., Boch S., Altermatt F., Carrara F., Crowther T. W., Delgado‐Baquerizo M., Kempel A., Maynard D. S., Rillig M. C., Singh B. K., Trivedi P., Allan E. (2018): Intransitive competition is common across five major taxonomic groups and is driven by productivity, competitive rank and functional traits. Journal of Ecology 106 (3), 852–864. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12959
More information:  doi.org
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Penone C., Allan E., Soliveres S., Felipe Lucia M., Gossner M. M., Seibold S., Simons N. K., Schall P., van der Plas F., Manning P., Manzanedo R. D., Boch S., Prati D., Ammer C., Bauhus J., Buscot B., Ehbrecht M., Goldmann K., Jung K., Müller J., Müller J. C., Pena R., Polle A., Renner S., Ruess L., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Solly E., Tschapka M., Weisser W. W., Wubet T., Fischer M. (2019): Specialisation and diversity of multiple trophic groups are promoted by different forest features. Ecology Letters 22 (1), 170-180. doi: 10.1111/ele.13182
More information:  doi.org
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Neue Ergebnisse aus den Biodiversitäts-Exploratorien
Fischer M., Boch S., Allan E. (2014): Neue Ergebnisse aus den Biodiversitäts-Exploratorien. Senckenberg Natur · Forschung · Museum 144 (3/4), 98-101
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Verschiedene Eigenschaften von Waldbeständen unterstützen das Angebot multipler Ökosystemleistungen
Felipe-Lucia M. R., Soliveres S., Penone C., Manning P., van der Plas F., Boch S., Prati D., Ammer C., Schall P., Gossner M. M., Bauhus J., Buscot F., Blaser S., Blüthgen N., de Frutos A., Ehbrecht M., Frank K., Goldmann K., Hänsel F., Jung K., Kahl T., Nauss T., Oelmann Y., Pena R., Polle A., Renner S., Schloter M., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Schulze E.-D., Solly E., Sorkau E., Stempfhuber B., Tschapka M., Weisser W. W., Wubet T., Fischer M., Allan E. (2018): Multiple forest attributes underpin the supply of multiple ecosystem services. Nature Communications 9:4839. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07082-4
More information:  doi.org
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Entwicklung allgemeiner Regeln zur Beschreibung von Verhältnissen zwischen Heterogenität und Landschaft Multifunktionalität
van der Plas F., Allan E., Fischer M., Alt F., Arndt H., Binkenstein J., Blaser S., Blüthgen N., Böhm S., Hölzel N., Klaus V. H., Kleinbecker T., Morris K., Oelmann Y., Prati D., Renner S. C., Rillig M. C., Schäfer M., Schloter M., Schmitt B., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Solly E., Sorkau E., Steckel J., Steffen-Dewenter I., Stempfhuber B., Tschapka M., Weiner C. N., Weisser W. W., Werner M., Westphal C., Wilcke W., Manning P. (2019): Towards the development of general rules describing landscape heterogeneity-multifunctionality relationships. Journal of Applied Ecology 56 (1), 168-179. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13260
More information:  doi.org
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Soliveres S., van der Plas F., Manning P., Prati D., Gossner M. M., Renner S. C., Alt F., Arndt H., Baumgartner V., Binkenstein J., Birkhofer K., Blaser S., Blüthgen N., Boch S., Böhm S., Börschig C., Buscot F., Diekötter T., Heinze J., Hölzel N., Jung K., Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Klemmer S., Krauss J., Lange M., Morris K. E., Müller J., Oelmann Y., Overmann J., Pašalić E., Rillig M. C., Schäfer M., Schloter M., Schmitt B., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Sikorski J., Socher S. A., Solly E., Sonnemann I., Sorkau I., Steckel J., Steffen-Dewenter I., Stempfhuber B., Tschapka M., Türke M., Venter P., Weiner C., Weisser W. W., Werner M., Westphal C., Wilcke W., Wolters V., Wubet T., Wurst S., Fischer M., Allan E. (2016): Biodiversity at multiple trophic levels is needed for ecosystem multifunctionality. Nature 536, 456–459. doi: 10.1038/nature19092
More information:  doi.org
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Soliveres S., Manning P., Prati D., Gossner M. M., Alt F., Arndt H., Baumgartner V., Binkenstein J., Birkhofer K., Blaser S., Blüthgen N., Boch S., Böhm S., Börschig C., Buscot F., Diekötter T., Heinze J., Hölzel N., Jung K., Klaus V. H., Klein A.-M., Kleinebecker T., Klemmer S., Krauss J., Lange M., Morris K. E., Müller J., Oelmann Y., Overmann J., Pašalić E., Renner S. C., Rillig M. C., Schäfer M., Schloter M., Schmitt B., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Sikorski J., Socher S. A., Solly E., Sonnemann I., Sorkau E., Steckel J., Steffen-Dewenter I., Stempfhuber B., Tschapka M., Türke M., Venter P., Weiner C. N., Weisser W. W., Werner M., Westphal C., Wilcke W., Wolters V., Wubet T., Wurst S., Fischer M., Allan E. (2016): Locally rare species influence grassland ecosystem multifunctionality. Phylosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 371(1694):20150269. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0269
More information:  doi.org
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Intensive Landnutzung schwächt die Zusammenhänge zwischen den Artenvielfalten verschiedener Tier- und Pflanzengruppen
Manning P., Gossner M. M., Bossdorf O., Allan E., Zhang Y.-Y., Prati D., Blüthgen N., Boch S., Böhm S., Börschig C., Hölzel N., Jung K., Klaus V. H., Klein A. M., Kleinbecker T., Krauss J., Lange M., Müller J., Pašalić E., Socher S. A., Tschapka M., Türke M., Weiner C., Werner M., Gockel S., Hemp A., Renner S. C., Wells C., Buscot F., Kalko E. K. V., Linsenmair K.-E., Weisser W. W., Fischer M. (2015): Grassland management intensification weakens the associations among the diversities of multiple plant and animal taxa. Ecology Manning P., Gossner M. M., Bossdorf O., Allan E., Zhang Y.-Y., Prati D., Blüthgen N., Boch S., Böhm S., Börschig C., Hölzel N., Jung K., Klaus V. H., Klein A. M., Kleinbecker T., Krauss J., Lange M., Müller J., Pašalić E., Socher S. A., Tschapka M., Türke M., Weiner C., Werner M., Gockel S., Hemp A., Renner S. C., Wells C., Buscot F., Kalko E. K. V., Linsenmair K.-E., Weisser W. W., Fischer M. (2014): Grassland management intensification weakens the associations among the diversities of multiple plant and animal taxa. Ecology 96 (6), 1492–1501. doi: 10.1890/14-1307.1
More information:  doi.org
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Soliveres S., Maestre F. T., Ulrich W., Manning P., Boch S., Bowker M., Prati D., Delgado-Baquerizo M., Quero J. L., Schöning I., Gallardo A., Weisser W. W., Müller J., García-Gómez M., Ochoa V., Schulze E.-D., Fischer M., Allan E. (2015): Intransitive competition is widespread in plant communities and maintains their species richness. Ecology Letters 18 (8), 790–798. doi: 10.1111/ele.12456
More information:  doi.org
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Allan E., Manning P., Alt F., Binkenstein J., Blaser S., Blüthgen N., Böhm S., Grassein F., Hölzel N., Klaus V., Kleinebecker T., Morris K. E., Oelmann Y., Prati D., Renner S. C., Rillig M. C., Schäfer M., Schloter M., Schmitt B., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Solly E., Sorkau E., Steckel J., Steffen-Dewenter I., Stempfhuber B., Tschapka M., Weiner C. N., Weisser W. W., Werner M., Westphal C., Wilcke W., Fischer M. (2015): Land use intensification alters ecosystem multifunctionality via loss of biodiversity and changes to functional composition. Ecology Letters 18 (8), 834–843. doi: 10.1111/ele.12469
More information:  doi.org
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Regelmäßige Änderungen in der Landnutzung erhöhen die Biodiversität im Grünland
Allan E., Bossdorf O., Dormann C. F., Prati D., Gossner M. M., Tscharntke T., Blüthgen N., Bellach M., Birkhofer K., Boch S., Böhm S., Börschig C., Chatzinotas A., Christ S., Daniel R., Diekötter T., Fischer C., Friedl T., Glaser K., Hallmann C., Hodac L., Hölzel N., Jung K., Klein A. M., Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Krauss J., Lange M., Morris K. E., Müller J., Nacke H., Pasalic E., Rillig M. C., Rothenwöhrer C., Schall P., Scherber C., Schulze W., Socher S. A., Steckel J., Steffan-Dewenter I., Türke M., Weiner C. N., Werner M., Westphal C., Wolters V., Wubet T., Gockel S., Gorke M., Hemp A., Renner S. C., Schöning I., Pfeiffer S., König-Ries B., Buscot F., Linsenmair K. E., Schulze E. D., Weisser W. W., Fischer M. (2014): Interannual variation in land-use intensity enhances grassland multidiversity. PNAS 111, 308–313. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1312213111
More information:  doi.org

The so-called core projects of the BE emerged from the site selection project and the establishment of the exploratories (2006-2008). Since 2008, they have been providing the infrastructure and collecting important basic information on land use, diversity and ecosystem processes (long-term monitoring) for all projects. In addition, they coordinate project-wide activities such as various large-scale experiments.

Project in other funding periods

Synthesis (Core project)
#Theory, Modeling & Upscaling  #2017 – 2020  #Biodiversity […]

Scientific assistants

Prof. Dr. Eric Allan
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Eric Allan
Universität Bern
Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer
Universität Bern
Dr. Caterina Penone
Employee
Dr. Caterina Penone
Universität Bern
Dr. Hugo Saiz
Employee
Dr. Hugo Saiz
Universität Bern
Dr. Peter Manning
Employee
Dr. Peter Manning
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung
Dr. Margot Neyret
Employee
Dr. Margot Neyret
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung
Abiel Rindisbacher
Employee
Abiel Rindisbacher
Universität Bern
Noëlle Schenk
Employee
Noëlle Schenk
Universität Bern
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