Research Groups at the Institute of Landscape Ecology

Applied Landscape Ecology and Ecological Planning

An unfinished boardwalk leads through a bog.
© AG Ökologische Planung

The Applied Landscape Ecology/Ecological Planning working group (AG Buttschardt) researches the effects of human ways of life and land use on the natural and landscape environments and how these can be designed to achieve a regenerative development of landscapes.  We assume that landscapes are the spatial representation of socio-ecological systems that can only be fully understood in an interdisciplinary approach. In order to take into account the applied aspect of ecological planning, our research is increasingly transdisciplinary and explicitly includes the noosphere. We therefore cooperate with interdisciplinary centres (e.g. the ZIN or the Brazil Centre), other Universities (e.g. Münster University of Applied Sciences) and practitioners. Our work focuses on Integrated Natural Resources ManagementLimnology/River restauration and Agroecology.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research

Species-rich wetlands in the Upper Rhine area
© D. Rupprecht

The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research group studies the structure, function and change of terrestrial ecosystems by using plants, vegetation and soil as integrative key features in landscape ecology. We investigate processes of global change, in particular climate and land use change, as well as changes in biogeochemical cycles with regard to their significance for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources. Another focus is the restoration of endangered ecosystems, in particular peatlands, floodplains and species-rich grassland.

Biosphere-Atmosphere Interaction

Landscapes of the Australian Alps
© mana.gharun

The Biosphere-Atmosphere Interaction group's mission is to bring forward the mechanistic understanding of how terrestrial ecosystems interact with changes in the climate, by understnading carbon, water, and energy exchange processes. In particular, we are interested in the effect of extreme events such as drought, heatwave, bushfire (and their compounds) on gas exchange processes that directly affect climate change. Our research is predominantly based on field observations collected at a range of spatial scales (from individual plants to whole ecosystems) using state-of-the art measurement techniques, and we combine observations with a range of modelling approaches to answer our research questions.

Soil Ecology and Land Use

Soil profile of an Australian acid sulfate soil.
© Ute Hamer

The Soil Ecology and Land Use group deals with the effects of land use, management and environmental influences on the quality of soil as a georesource.

Remote Sensing and Spatial Modelling

© Hanna Meyer

The Remote Sensing and Spatial Modelling group studies and teaches the acquisition and analysis of spatio-temporal environmental dynamics in a board spectrum of landscape-ecological topics. We combine multi-scale remote sensing data with methods of spatial modelling in order to obtain continuous spatio-temporal information from limited ecological field samples.
The complexity of environmental systems requires the use of modelling strategies that take complex relationships into account. For this reason, we focus on the application of machine learning methods. In addition to their application for research questions in the context of landscape ecology, we also develop new modelling strategies for spatial and spatio-temporal data.


A tower surrounded by reeds with measuring instruments in Guandu.
© AG Klimatologie

The climatology group deals with the atmospheric boundary layer and the exchange of energy, gases (e.g. CO2, H2O) and aerosol particles (including fog) between the atmosphere and ecosystems. Further focal points are the chemical analysis of atmospheric environmental samples to identify the origin of air pollutants and studies on urban climate (e.g. particulate matter).

Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry

A jetty in a lake with floating measurement setup.
© AG Ökohydrologie und Stoffkreisläufe

The research group focuses on interactions between hydrological processes and elemental cycling and transformations in wetlands and surface waters. To this end we quantify elemental fluxes and identify and characterize biogeochemical and geochemical processes with chemical-analytical techniques. Mathematical Simulation models and statistical tools are applied in a supportive way to characterize system dynamics and to analyze the interaction of physical, chemical and biological processes. The derived knowledge is used to elucidate the effect of environmental change on wetlands and surface waters on different spatial and temporal scales.

Rhizosphere Biogeochemistry

© P. Müller

The Rhizosphere Biogeochemistry group works to advance the mechanistic understanding of biosphere-climate feedbacks by investigating the carbon cycle of rhizospheres. Our core interest in this regard are plant-soil microbe interactions in wetland ecosystems, global hotspots for carbon sequestration and greenhouse-gas exchange.

Animal Ecology

Bumblebee visiting a flower
© Katharina Blankenhaus

Our group investigates spatial and temporal changes in biodiversity considering a broad spectrum of different species groups. We analyse effects of different global change drivers on biodiversity, biotic interactions and ecosystem functions. We also consider novel ecosystems (for example cities) with stressors such as light and noise pollution or biological invasions. Related to this are our studies on intra- and interspecific adaptations of animal species to global change. It is fundamentally important to us to have a clear link to practice, for example by providing scientific support for evidence-based species protection or implementing long-term monitoring in order to develop scenarios and strategies for solving the biodiversity crisis.