Completed Projects

of the Research Group Applied Landscape Ecology and Ecological Planning

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Effects of historical land-use change on species richness and community composition in fragmented and newly created habitats

Historical land-use change may have considerable influence on current communities of species. For example, previous land use may have had long-lasting effects on site conditions and “old” species may persist in the community or in the soil seed bank. At landscape scale, land-use change may lead to drastic changes of the area and connectivity of habitats. Strong changes of landscape structure may affect species richness and composition of today’s communities.

In the frame of the DFG priority programme Biodiversity Exploratories, we study effects of historical land use between 1850 and 2010 on current communities of plants and arthropods in grasslands. For this purpose, the historical land use will be reconstructed from digitalised maps (e.g. Prussian “Urmesstischblätter”) in GIS.

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Permeability and gap crossing: modelling landscape resistances for different functional groups of arthropods and plants

Landscapes can impede dispersal of species to various degrees. Resistances of landscapes also depends on species’ dispersal abilities. We model landscape resistance for different functional groups of species based on circuit theory (Circuitscape).
We use the software Circuitscape for calculations of landscape resistances and assess local resistance values of land-use and land-cover types based on empirical data (e.g. similarity indices of sample plots).


Climate change, soil degradation and the need of alternative energy sources are main challenges at the beginning of the 21st century. Exotic plant species are introduced on purpose for wood production, CO2 sequestration and soil amelioration. Some of these exotics spread out without control and are able to facilitate their invasion into native ecosystems by altering habitat properties. These so-called “invasive ecosystem engineers” can become a threat to biodiversity, ecosystem function and human health. The processes of biological invasions, their impacts on native ecosystems on different temporal and spatial scales, and the invasibility of different ecosystems are still not well understood. The aim of the INvasive SPecies Evaluation, ConTrol & EDucation.NETwork (INSPECTED.NET) is to set up a multi-skilled, international group of experts in biological invasions that will add on to existing programmes like the European-based DAISIE or the global invasive species programme (GISP). As a model, we will examine the invasion by the ecosystem engineer Acacia longifolia applying the latest methods in vegetation ecology including stable isotope analysis and remote sensing.

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Exotic invasive species represent a major threat to earths biodiversity, since they substantially alter biogeochemical cycles of ecosystems with large impacts on ecosystem functioning. However, to date, explicitly quantifying such impacts remains challenging. One reason is the lack of adequate methodology to capture the spatial dimension of ecosystem changes associated with biological invasion. Conventional ecophysiological approaches are largely restricted to comparing neighbouring plant individuals and tend to neglect the spatial dimension. Landscape ecology, although operating on larger spatial scales, is typically limited to measurements of patterns and processes above the organism level, such as species distribution and propagation speed. The central aim of this project is to link ecophysiology with landscape ecology, thus moving towards an integrated understanding of the spatial aspect of plant invasions, enabling the quantification of exotic species impacts across spatial scales. A highly suitable technology to address this purpose is hyperspectral remote sensing, which allows for quantifying alterations in native species biochemistry on the leaf level using spectral measurements while allowing to scale up to the landscape level using aerial images. Utilizing the case study of the N2-fixing leguminous tree Acacia longifolia, a problematic invader in coastal regions of Portugal and many ecosystems worldwide, we will develop new methodology for quantifying changes in ecosystem functioning after plant invasion from the leaf to the landscape scale.

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Netzwerk Grüne Grenze: Natur ohne Grenzen zwischen Nordrhein-Westfalen und den Niederlanden

Only available in german language.

Westfälisches Naturerbe kennen und erleben

Only available in german language.