Institute of Landscape Ecology

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Yellow-breasted Bunting: uplisted to Critically Endangered, consumption and trade go on, but there is hope

Illegally trapped Yellow-breasted bunting in China
© Huang Qiusheng

Yellow-breasted Bunting, once a superabundant songbird species, has declined by 85-95% since the early 1980s, with heavy, illegal persecution in China being an important driver. The species' status has recently been updated to Critically Endangered on IUCN's international Red List, based on a quantitative assessment of the decline led by Johannes Kamp of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group.

However, birds are still caught and sold in larger numbers, even on eBay-like platforms in China. A price of 15-30 USD per bird suggests high demand. Good news is that conservation organizations along the flyway are raising awareness, see e.g. this excellent video from Hongkong. Also, the Chinese law has been changed, and hunting and consumption are now criminal offences.
More research is underway to shed light on the year-round distribution and flyways of the species. Data on migration routes have been retrieved from geolocator devices by Wieland Heim. This will help us to identify key areas for conservation of the species, and learn more about potential additional drivers of the decline, such as land-use change and agricultural intensification on the wintering grounds.

New Publications at the ILÖK

  • Quichimbo, P., Jiménez, L., Veintimilla, D., Tischer, A., Günter, S., Mosandl, R., Hamer, U. (2017): Forest Site Classification in the Southern Andean Region of Ecuador: A Case Study of Pine Plantations to Collect a Base of Soil Attributes. Forests 8, 473. doi: 10.3390/f8120473
  • Oldeland, J.; Große-Stoltenberg, A.; Naftal, L.; Strohbach, BJ (2017): The Potential of UAV Derived Image Features for Discriminating Savannah Tree Species. In Diaz-Delgado R.; Lucas R.; Hurford C (Eds.): The Roles of Remote Sensing in Nature Conservation (pp. 183-201). Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-64332-8_10
  • Schmidt, J.; & Hauck, J. (2017): Implementing green infrastructure policy in agricultural landscapes—scenarios for Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Reg Environ Change. doi: 10.1007/s10113-017-1241-2
  • Meira-Neto, J.A.A.; Nunes Alves da Silva, M.C.; Soares Tolentino, G.; Gastauer, M; Buttschardt, T.K.; Ulm, F.; Máguas, C. (2017): Shading, nitrogen and soil texture rule a sandy savanna: does facilitation rule its patchy physiognomy as well? Flora. doi: 10.1016/j.flora.2017.11.007
  • Klaus, V. H.; Hoever, C. J.; Fischer, M.; Hamer, U.; Kleinebecker, T.; Mertens, D.; Schäfer, D.; Prati, D.; Hölzel, N. (2017): Contribution of the soil seed bank to the restoration of temperate grasslands by mechanical sward disturbance. Restoration Ecology. doi: 10.1111/rec.12626
  • Ivanova, L.; Yudina, P.; Ronzhina, D.; Ivanov, L.; Hölzel, N. (2017, in press): Quantitative mesophyll parameters rather than whole-leaf traits predict response of C3 steppe plants to aridity. New Phytologist doi: 10.1111/nph.14840

further Publications: ILÖK, Arbeitsgruppen, Mitarbeiter

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Prof. Dr. Tillmann Buttschardt

Klaus-Holger Knorr has qualified as a professor

© K.-H. Knorr

Dr. rer. nat. Klaus-Holger Knorr (Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry Research Group)was awarded the Venia legendi for Biogeochemistry by the Department of Geosciences on 29.11.2017 with a cumulative thesis on the topic:"Using organic matte quality, stable isotopes, and electron transfer processes as tools to understand mechanisms of element cycling in wetlands". Congratulations!

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Dr. Klaus-Holger Knorr

The Ecohydrology & Biogeochemistry group in the EGU Imaggeo blog

The Ecohydrology & Biogeochemistry group in the EGU Imaggeo blog
© K.-H. Knorr

A photograph of one of the field sites of the Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry Group was selected for the Imaggeo-blog of the EGU (European Geosciences Union). Here, scientists provide insights into their ongoing work using selected photographs and in a language also accessible for the broad public audience.


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Prof. Dr. Buttschardt

IALE-D yearly conference on water and landscape in Münster

© AG Ökologische Planung

From the 20th to 22nd of September the Research Group Applied Landscape Ecology and Ecological Planning hosted the annual conference of the German Region of the International Association for Landscape Ecology with an overlying topic on water and landscape (Wasser.Landschaft).

About 80 people from all over Germany participated in the conference containing manifold topics. The presentations and posters covered a variety of themes from hydronumeric simulation of model conform replacing structures; microplastics; renaturation and maintenance practices of waters; to issues of water culture or ecosystem services. ...read further.

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AG Klimatologie

Publication about pollution measurements on the roadside

© AG Klimatologie

In May / June 2016 three students of the working group climatology performed highresolution measurements on pollutants on the roadside. The measurement was setup next to the busy street "Bült" in Münster. The exhaust plumes of the passing traffic fleet were analysed by the amount of nitrogen oxides. The results show that the real-world vehicle emissions exceed the legal limits by far. More projects like this are planned, for example there might be measurments in combination with an automatic detection of the license plates to assign the individual exhaust plumes to the respective types of vehicle. Recently the results were published in the research article "Real-world vehicle emissions as measured by in situ analysis of exhaust plumes" which is freely available. The article is released in the scientific mgazine "Environmental Science and Pollution Research". Press release of the University Münster (german)

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Prof. Dr. Buttschardt

New Publication about modelling invader impact in dune ecosystems

© Hellmann et al. (2017)


A new study about modelling the impact of the invasive, nitrogen (N)-fixing shrub Acacia longifolia on N cycling in a nutrient-poor dune ecosystem was published by André Große-Stoltenberg and Dr. Jan Thiele of the research group Ecological Planning within the projects DeInVader (funded by EUFAR) and QUEEN (DFG) in the journal “Scientific Reports”. The team presents a new approach. Read further... The university paper published a short article Link.

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Prof. Dr. Buttschardt

IALE-D 2017 in Münster

© Jan Lehmann

Water is one of the shaping elements of many landscapes. Beyond the visible range, water is indispensable for all processes of life. In landscapes it can function as component, dissolver, carrier of energy, or material fluxes or has regulative functions. Many current problems and challenges are related to this topic, be it questions about climatic regulation or flood protection, the pollution of groundwater or the supply of the growing human population with resources like food and drinking water. In landscape ecology the topic water is mostly handled impilcitly. Thus it is interesting to focus on water and the dependence and interactions at the landscape level. Many initiatives, concepts, legal regulations and normative discussions around water mark the current development in science and society. The annual conference is therefore focussing on this topic in the field of landscape ecology.
Within the last years the research community in Münster developed a strong focus on the topic water. There is a strong cooperation between different faculties of the Münster University and the University of Applied Sciences. IALE-D 2017 website

New research project: Investigation of historical land use in the Biodiversity Exploratories

In the current phase of the DFG priority programme 1374 'Exploratories for large-scale and long-term functional biodiversity research' (2017-2020), Dr. Jan Thiele (Research Group Applied Landscape Ecology and Ecological Planning) got a grant for a project on effects of historical land use on species communities in grasslands (HiLUCC) that will be carried out in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Weisser, TU Munich. In this project, previous land use - dating back to ca. 1850 - around study plots (1-km radius) will be digitalised from historical maps. We will study if the land-use history of grassland plots as well as the historical landscape structure continue to have an effect on today's species communities. For example, fragments of previously large grassland areas may have an extinction debt. On new grassland parcels, species richness might depend on the presence of larger grassland areas and, thus, large species pools in the past. There will be possibilities to conduct MSc. theses in the frame of this projcet, e.g. on landscape change in the study areas Schorfheide-Chorin and Schwäbische Alb.
The HiLUCC project is situated in the research topic "Detection of landscape changes" of the Research Group Applied Landscape Ecology and Ecological Planning.

Further Links

  • Research at the Institute of Landscape Ecology
  • Staff of the Institute of Landscape Ecology