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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 Biodiversity Synthesis Core Project catalyses and fosters synthesis work both by Explorers and Teams of Explorers and international scientists to realise the huge added value of this large integrated and interdisciplinary program.


The overall goal of the Core Project Biodiversity Synthesis is to realise synergy within and beyond the Exploratories via synthesis service and by research tackling the guiding questions of the project. We do this in two main ways:

  • By directly catalysing synthesis activities within the Exploratories through promoting the synthesis-proposal mechanism, organising and teaching courses, assembling and curating datasets, and by providing a help desk to assist the Explorers with synthesis, statistical or dataset questions.
  • By setting up and supporting a Synthesis Program composed of nine targeted working groups (so-called Synthesis Teams) connecting Explorers with international researchers and projects. The Synthesis Team Program concentrates on topical scientific issues to produce highly visible synthesis with two main objectives: 1) to conduct large, comprehensive analyses to gain general insights and promote collaboration within and beyond the Exploratories; 2) to link to international researchers and projects using the Exploratories to test key ideas/approaches, thus increasing the Exploratories’ visibility and enhancing international collaboration.
The Core Project Biodiversity Synthesis spreads synthesis thinking to provide general and mechanistic answers to the guiding questions of the Exploratories. We do this by providing and developing tools for synthesis and by setting up and supporting a Synthesis Team Program.

1. Promoting and catalysing synthesis within the Exploratories

We promote and catalyse synthesis activities by further Explorers using the following tools:

  • Synthesis proposals serve the purpose of promoting synthesis work and avoiding overlap within the project. We promote and facilitate new synthesis proposals by encouraging Explorers to address synthesis questions, pointing out knowledge gaps and synergy options, and by giving practical advice on how to initiate and write a synthesis proposal.
  • We organise courses, covering topics and tools around synthesis research, by taking into account the needs of Explorers.
  • Synthesis datasets are harmonised datasets assembling data from numerous research projects and are essential for synthesis analyses. We collaborate with the BExIS team and the data owners to create and update synthesis datasets.
  • We provide customised assistance in formulating hypotheses or handling and analysing large datasets, we offer a statistical help-desk in the form of individual meetings and group workshops.

2. Synthesis Team Program

We organise and support a Synthesis Program with up to nine targeted Synthesis Teams, connecting Explorers with international researchers and projects:

  • Theory of land-use effects on biodiversity
  • Multi-site experiments
  • Social-ecological synthesis
  • Consensus on knowledge generated by the Biodiversity Exploratories
  • Across large-scale observational platforms
  • Lessons for long-term ecological research
  • Three further synthesis Teams with open topics emerging during the new phase.

In the previous phases of the Biodiversity Exploratories, the Biodiversity Synthesis Core project has facilitated synthesis in the Exploratories and there are now over 70 synthesis proposals (Fig 1). Over the years we organised several courses, mostly on statistics but also on other topics such as community assembly or trait analyses. We have supported more than 100 researchers, mostly early-career, via our help desk service. Finally, we have assembled synthesis datasets on forests and grasslands, from observational and experimental data, which are used in the majority of synthesis proposals.

Fig. 1 Top: cumulative number of synthesis paper proposals across years. Synthesis paper proposals (red) can be initiated by any member of the Exploratories, of those, Core paper proposals (blue) were submitted by Core Project10 Synthesis. Of the 70 synthesis proposals, 28 already gave rise to published papers (grey), and 35 are still going on, while 7 were merged with others. Bottom: the numbers on each arrow indicate the number of synthesis proposals addressing facets of the guiding questions of the Exploratories (data from 2021)

We have generated knowledge on the main guiding questions of the Exploratories. We have found that land-use intensification decreases the diversity of multiple groups (Allan et al. 2014), changes their interrelationships (Manning et al. 2015) and homogenises communities (Gossner et al. 2016) in grasslands, and that the picture in forests is much more complex because of the multidimensionality of forest management (Penone et al. 2019). We have found that rare species and functional diversity are important for functioning (Allan et al. 2015, Soliveres et al. 2016) and that biodiversity at multiple trophic levels drives multifunctionality in grasslands and forests (Soliveres et al. 2016b, Felipe-Lucia et al. 2020). Ultimately, grassland management and forest features are key to ecosystem functioning (Allan et al. 2015, Felipe-Lucia et al. 2018). We have also developed various methods (Schneider et al. 2019), concepts (Manning et al. 2018) and explored fine-scale mechanisms (Soliveres et al. 2015, Godoy et al. 2022 unpublished).

We will continue to support the Biodiversity Exploratories with tools and knowledge to catalyse scientific synthesis within and beyond the consortium.

 


Prof. Dr. Eric AllanUniversity of Berneric.allan[et]unibe.ch
Prof. Dr. Pete ManningUniversity of Bergenpeter.manning[et]uib.no
Dr. Andrea Larissa BoesingSenckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F)alboesing[et]senckenberg.de
Dr. Gaëtane Le ProvostFrench National Institute for Agriculture Food and Environment (INRAE)gaetane.le-provost[et]inrae.fr
Dr. Caterina Penone University of Berncaterina.penone[et]unibe.ch

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Le Provost G., Schenk N. V., Penone C., Thiele J., Westphal C., Allan E., Ayasse M., Binkenstein J., Blüthgen N., Boeddinghaus R., Boesing A. L., Bolliger R., Busch V., Fischer M., Frank K., Gossner M. M., Hoelzel N., Jung K., Kandeler E., Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Klötzing T., Leimer S., Marhan S., Morris K., Müller S., Neff F., Neyret M., Oelmann Y., Perović D., Prati D., Rillig M. C., Saiz H., Schäfer D., Schäfer M., Scherer-Lorenzen M., Schloter M., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Steckel J., , Steffan-Dewenter I., Stempfhuber B., Trumbore S., Tschapka M., Vogt J., Weiner C., Weisser W. W., Wells K., Werner M., Wilcke W., Manning P. (2023): The supply of multiple ecosystem services requires biodiversity across spatial scales. Nature, Ecology & Evolution 7, 236–249. doi: 10.1038/s41559-022-01918-5
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Neyret M., Peter S., Le Provost G., Boch S., Boesing A. L., Bullock J., Hölzel N., Klaus V. K., Kleinebecker T., Krauss J., Müller J., Müller S., Ammer C., Buscot F., Ehbrecht M., Fischer M., Goldmann K., Jung K., Mehring M., Müller T., Renner S. C., Schall P., Scherer-Lorenzen M., Westphal C., Wubet T., Manning P. (2023): Landscape management strategies for multifunctionality and social equity. Nature Sustainability 6, 391–403. doi: 10.1038/s41893-022-01045-w
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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
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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
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Neyret M., Fischer M., Allan E., Hölzel N., Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Krauss J., Le Provost G., Peter. S, Schenk N., Simons N.K., van der Plas F., Binkenstein J., Börshig C., Jung K., Prati D., Schäfer M., Schäfer D., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Tschapka M., Westphal C., Manning P. (2021): Assessing the impact of grassland management on landscape multifunctionality. Ecosystem Services 52: 101366. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2021.101366
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Multifunktionalität Ökosystemen
Manning P., van der Plas F., Soliveres S., Allan E., Maestre F. T., Mace G., Whittingham M. J., Fischer M. (2018): Redefining ecosystem multifunctionality. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2, 427-436. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0461-7
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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
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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
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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
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Gossner M. M., Lewinsohn T., Kahl T., Grassein F., Boch S., Prati D., Birkhofer K., Renner S. C., Sikorski J., Wubet T., Arndt H., Baumgartner V., Blaser S., Blüthgen N., Börschig C., Buscot F., Diekötter T., Jorge L. R., Jung K., Keyel A. C., Klein A.-M., Klemmer S., Krauss J., Lange M., Müller J., Overmann J., Pašalić E., Penone C., Perović D. J., Purschke O., Schall P., Socher S. A., Sonnemann I., Tschapka M., Tscharntke T., Türke M., Venter P. C., Weiner C. N., Werner M., Wolters V., Wurst S., Westphal C., Fischer M., Weisser W. W., Allan E. (2016): Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenisation of grassland communities. Nature 540 (7632), 266–269. doi: 10.1038/nature20575
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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
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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
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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
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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 96 (6), 1492–1501. doi: 10.1890/14-1307.1
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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
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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

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.

Scientific assistants

Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer
Universität Bern
Dr. Bruno Pinho
Employee
Dr. Bruno Pinho
Universität Bern
Abiel Rindisbacher
Employee
Abiel Rindisbacher
Universität Bern
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