Research of the Research Group Applied Landscape Ecology and Ecological Planning

© AFO - Andreas Wessendorf

ILÖK Researchers win Citizen Science Award 2022

Urban gardening in the village and health promotion in the city district - these are the winning projects of the WWU Foundation's Citizen Science Competition 2022. They were now presented at the event "Mitdenken - Mitmachen - Mitforschen. An evening for civic engagement in science and research". The winners can look forward to a grant of 7,500 euros each.
After the successful student project "Monitoring of modern agroforestry ecosystems" in 2020, the CS Prize once again goes to researchers from the Institute of Landscape Ecology.
The artists' village Schöppingen is the focus of the winning project "Transformations in Münsterland". The community garden, kitchen, workshop, library, gallery and exhibition hall are understood as places of learning and knowledge for the citizens. What contribution can the village make as a socio-ecologically oriented actor for sustainable regional development? To this end, artists exchange ideas with students of landscape ecology and sociology on the significance of urban gardens for community building. Prof. Dr. Matthias Grundmann from the Institute of Sociology, Dr. Cornelia Steinhäuser from the Institute of Landscape Ecology and Julia Haarmann from the Foundation Künstlerdorf Schöppingen are leading the project.


© B. Kupilas

Benjamin Kupilas gave a talk on 27.09.2022 about some of his research activities in Oslo at the 12th Water Research Horizon Conference in Essen. An interesting and interdisciplinary program! He focused on the restoration of streams in the urbanised Oslo Fjord area.

Oslo is not only Norways capital but also one of Europes fastest growing major cities and a region in constant growth and transformation where large parts are undergoing redevelopment to provide more residential areas by replacing previously industrialized areas.

No doubt that Oslo is beautifully located between the fjord and the forested upland areas surrounding the city center!
But did you know that Oslo also has 10 main rivers connecting the forest with the fjord - comprising a total of ca. 350 km? These waterways have been partly driving the growth of Oslo in the past. At the same time they were considered problematic and as obstacles for urban development. So large sections of waterways were put in pipes or culverts up until the 80’s.
Today the city takes the opposite approach and decided to reopen and restore its waterways as an integral part of its climate change adaptation plan.

Ideally, the restored rivers contribute to climate change adaptation, support biodiversity and improve livability.
But how can we design optimal (nature-based) solutions? How can we maximize their multifunctionality through design and strategic placement when space is limited?


On 09/29/2021 Benjamin Kupilas had a talk on "Multiple Benefits of Forest buffers in river catchments under pressure gehalten" at CIENS frokostseminar 29. september – Klimakamp på naturens premisser.

Research on sustainability of rural systems (September 11, 2021)
Cornelia Steinhäuser has become a member of the Steering Committee of the Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems (CSRS) of the International Geographical Union (IGU). Through its national committees and thematic commissions, the IGU has set itself the goal of promoting and engaging in geographic research worldwide. As one of these thematic commissions, the CSRS organizes a colloquium each year on different continents, in which both paper sessions and fieldwork take place. The research topics of the CSRS include: the social construction and analysis of ‘sustainability in rural systems’; transformations in rural systems through natural, political, cultural, social and economic driving processes; and interactions between rural and urban systems. We share these topics in our working group: agroecology; conservation of biodiversity and natural resources; and management of protected areas are among the main human-environment relationships we do research about.

Manuscript accepted in the Geographical Review (April 9, 2021)
"Young People's Visions for Life in the Countryside in Latin America" by A. Cristina De La Vega-Leinert, Julia Kieslinger, Marcela Jiménez-Moreno and Cornelia Steinhäuser
The research brings together perspectives from four independently conducted studies in rural Latin America, namely Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Mexico. We use participatory methods to explore questions about how young people perceive their lives in rural places; what motivates them to leave and/or stay; and how their choices affect their families, communities, and landscapes. Despite the diverse regional contexts, we identify key commonalities in our participants' visions that reveal a dynamic continuum of multiple forms of merging rural and urban life. The findings of our case studies are applicable to studies of young people's sustainability strategies, their visions, needs, and demands for fulfilling lives, and the vitality of livelihoods in rural areas.

Publication accepted (13.01.2013)
A new publication from our Limnolab was accepted.

Popescu, C.; Pavelescu, O.M.; Dinu, V.; Cazacu, C.; Burdon, F.J.; Forio, M.A.E.; Kupilas, B.; Friberg, N.; Goethals, P.; McKie, B.G.; Rîșnoveanu, G. (2021): Riparian Vegetation Structure Influences Terrestrial Invertebrate Communities in an Agricultural Landscape. Water 2021, 13, x.

Stream and terrestrial ecosystems are intimately connected by riparian zones that support high biodiversity but are also vulnerable to human impacts. Landscape disturbances, overgrazing, and diffuse pollution of agrochemicals threaten riparian biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. We assessed how terrestrial invertebrate communities respond to changes in riparian vegetation in Romanian agricultural catchments, with a focus on the role of forested riparian buffers. Riparian invertebrates were sampled in 10 paired sites, with each pair consisting of an unbuffered upstream reach and a downstream reach buffered with woody riparian vegetation. Our results revealed distinct invertebrate community structures in the two site types. Out of 33 invertebrate families, 13 were unique to either forested (6) or unbuffered (7) sites. Thomisidae, Clubionidae, Tetragnathidae, Curculionidae, Culicidae, and Cicadidae were associated with forested buffers, while Lycosidae, Chrysomelidae, Staphylinidae, Coccinellidae, Tettigoniidae, Formicidae, and Eutichuridae were more abundant in unbuffered sites. Despite statistically equivocal results, invertebrate diversity was generally higher in forested riparian buffers. Local riparian attributes significantly influenced patterns in invertebrate community composition. Our findings highlight the importance of local woody riparian buffers in maintaining terrestrial invertebrate diversity and their potential contribution as a multifunctional management tool in agricultural landscapes.

Publication accepted (05.01.2021)
We are pleased to inform that your manuscript, "New tools for old problems – comparing drone and field-based assessments of a problematic plant species", has been accepted for publication in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Authors are Jens Oldeland, Rasmus Revermann, Jona Luther Mosebach, Jan Lehman und Tillmann Buttschardt.

Research proposal submitted (04.01.2021)
Cornelia Steinhäuser has submitted a research proposal entitled "Participation of young adults in the transition to agroecology in the highly productive Pampa region of Argentina - visions, practices and transformation" to the German Research Foundation (DFG). The research project aims to gain insights for a transition to agroecology following the  Agenda 2030 while focusing on the perspective of young adults. An essential aspect of the project is to foster the South-North knowledge exchange and to contribute to the transformation of the agri-food system.

Lecture in the AG-Kolloquium of the ILÖK (03.12.2020)
Zuwena Kikoti presented her research approach and field of work in a lecture at the Graduateutenkolloquium on 03.12.2020: Humans, Livestock and Landscape interaction: A case of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania East Africa. There were more than 45 listeners present.

Paper accepted  (26.10.2020)
in the Special Issue Ecosystem Functioning in Rivers and Riparian Zones of th Journal Water:
"Small patches of riparian woody vegetation enhance biodiversity of invertebrates"
Patches of riparian woody vegetation potentially help mitigate environmental impacts of agriculture and safeguard biodiversity. We investigated the effects of riparian forest on invertebrate diversity in coupled stream-riparian networks using a case study in the Zwalm river basin (Flanders, Belgium). Agriculture is one of the main pressures in the basin and riparian forest is limited to a number of isolated patches. Our 32 study sites comprised nine unshaded “unbuffered” sites which were paired with nine shaded “buffered” sites on the same stream reach, along with five ‘least-disturbed’ sites, and nine downstream sites. We sampled water chemistry, habitat characteristics, and stream and riparian invertebrates (carabid beetles, spiders) at each site. Three methods were used to quantify riparian attributes at different spatial scales: a visually-assessed qualitative index, quantitative estimates of habitat categories in 6 rectangular plots (10 × 5 m) and GIS-derived land cover data. We investigated relationships between invertebrates and riparian attributes at different scales with linear regression and redundancy analyses. Spiders and carabids were most associated with local riparian attributes. In contrast, aquatic macroinvertebrates were strongly influenced by the extent of riparian vegetation in a riparian band upstream (100-300 m). These findings demonstrate the value of quantifying GIS-based metrics of riparian cover over larger spatial scales into assessments of the efficacy of riparian management, as a complement to more detailed local scale riparian assessments in situ. Our findings highlight the value of even small patches of riparian vegetation in an otherwise extensively disturbed landscape in supporting biodiversity of both terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates and emphasize the need to consider multiple spatial scales in riparian management strategies which aim to mitigate human impacts on biodiversity in stream-riparian networks.

Paper submitted (21.08.2020)
We have submitted a research article titled “Young People’s Visions for Life in the Countryside in Latin America”, written by Cristina de la Vega-Leinert, Julia Kieslinger, Marcela Jiménez-Moreno and Cornelia Steinhäuser. The article discusses insights of four case studies that -while done independently in four countries of Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico)- applied qualitative participatory methods sharing common principles of research practice to grasp, analyze and understand the perceptions of young people about leaving and/or staying in “the countryside”. Despite the different regional contexts and conceptual framings, we identified many coincidences on our participants’ visions and hope that our work will contribute to foster a greater involvement of young people in future research on sustainability pathways.

GfOe COnference 2020 (30.04.2020)
We just got the news that our session entitled "Nature conservation on military sites" was accepted by the program committee. After that, we were informed taht the whole 50th anniversary conference was postponed to 2021. It will take place in Braunschweig from August 30th to September 3rd, 2021.

Article published (02.03.2020)
The project "Pathways to Diversity - Lifelines on Sand" has set itself the goal to preserve and connect nutrient-poor sandy habitats. They are the common characteristic in the hotspot 22 region southern Emsland and northern Westphalian Lowland.  Over a period of 6 years, renaturation, flower strip programmes and maintenance concepts for roadsides were implemented, as well as innovative public relations work and stakeholder participation. The AG Ökologische Planung, represented by Prof. Dr. Tillmann Buttschardt and Dipl.-Lök. Witold Arndt was responsible for the monitoring of the project. read more

Research workshop on Mixed-Methods in spatial research (28.02.2020)
Cornelia Steinhäuser participated in the two-day research workshop "Mixed-Methods - Many methods spoil the broth?" at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL). The lectures, discussions and examples of work dealt with the questions: What is the reason for the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods? Which epistemologies underlie mixed methods? What are the strengths of integrating qualitative and quantitative research results? And at what points in the research process can such an integration take place? In a pitch, Cornelia Steinhäuser raised the question of the integration of social-ecological research data for discussion.

Publication accepted
Kupilas et al. “Stable isotope analysis indicates positive effects of river restoration on aquatic-terrestrial linkages“ ,
Journal: ecological indicators.


Session submitted to GfÖ 2020 (50. Annual Meeting)  in Brundswick
Tillmann Buttschardt and Harald Grote submitted a session with the title "Nature conservation on military sites". Military areas are subject to various restrictions in their use on the one hand, but on the other hand they are also subject to specific pressures which have led to the development of special and significant habitats not only in the past. Due to access restrictions, they are also well controlled and can fulfil specific nature conservation objectives. Special management regimes, including fire, are also able to simulate long gone land use practices. In addition, the wolf is currently returning to Germany and there is an option to develop these areas as core habitats for the growing wolf population. In this session, the current state of nature conservation research on military areas and the properties resulting from the conversion will be compiled in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Defence. In addition, the role of military sites for effective nature conservation will be discussed.

Abstract submitted to the 28th Colloquium of the International Geographical Union Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems (IGU-CSRS) (10.02.2020)
César Pedrosa Soares, Cornelia Steinhäuser and Tillmann Buttschardt have submitted an abstract for the above mentioned conference. The conference will be held under the motto "Rural on the Move: Transitions, Transformations, Mobilities and Resistance" from 23-28 August 2020 in Zagreb, Croatia.  The title of the work is "Kūmara, Maís and Cassava: socio-environmental inequalities and the rural transition transformation in New Zealand, Argentina, and Brazil".
Read more about the conference. (2020-02-10)

Abstract for  EURAF 2020 submitted (15.0.2020)
Ana Lucia Cadena and Tillmann Buttschardt have submitted an abstract for the 5th European Agroforestry Conference in May 2020 in Nuoro, Sardinia (IT). The title is "Raising awareness among stakeholders concerning Agroforestry systems and benefits of native species cultivated in these systems".
Read more about the project.

Voluntary commitment to refrain from short-haul business flights “I won’t do it under 1,000 km”
An initiative of the Scientists for Future, supported by the ZIN of the WWu: Prof. Buttschardt signed the voluntary commitment.

Prof. Dr. Jens Dauber at the ILÖK Colloquium (17.12.2019)
The AG Ökoplan invited Prof. Dr. Jens Dauber from the Thuenen Institute for Biodiversity, Braunschweig, Germany, to give a lecture on the topic: Landscape Laboratories - A way to introduce agro-ecological principles in European agriculture. The event was very well attended and the lecture was discussed in a multifaceted way. A nice conclusion of the academic year 2019.

Agroecology in the periurban area of Buenos Aires (22. 11. 2019)
In La Plata, Buenos Aires, Cornelia Steinhäuser visited IPAF, the research and consulting institute that advises small farmers on the conversion to agroecology. A farm was visited which, every three months, holds a public meeting with consumers to discuss the vegetables to be grown and agricultural practices.

Lectures and talk at ISARA Lyon (25.11.-28.11.2019)
Prof. Buttschardt gives a compact course on CAP and Agroenvironmental measures in the module Management of agro-ecosystems at ISARA and a speach entitled: Are perennial wild plant mixtures for biogas production a solution to link food-energy-water nexus with biodiversity conservation?

Publication submitted (24.11.2019)
Together with Gustavo Heringer from the UFLA (Universidade Federal de Lavras) and our colleagues from Thünen Istitute and ther UFV the artile "Habitat degradation and road networks increase landscape permeability for Acacia invasion in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest" by Heringer, Gustavo; Thiele, Jan; Amaral, Cibele; Meira-Neto, Joao; Matos, Fabio; Lehmann, Jan; Buttschardt, Tillmann; Neri, Andreza was submitted to Applied Vegetation Science.

Application submitted (21.11.2019)
Together with the BIOLAND Beratungs GmbH a research proposal was submitted under the funding priority of the BÖLN (Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau) with the title: Suitability and optimisation of beneficial strips in ecological and sustainably oriented outdoor vegetable cultivation using the example of the leaf vegetable Lactuca sativa, taking into account the influence of value-giving landscape structures and socio-economic farming practices.

Lecture at the colloquium WasserWissen (20.11.2019)
Saskia Rohrer and Johanna Buss reported on the EUfMAa project in the colloquium of the Münster Water Network. The lecture had the title: 172 km² Diversity in Münsterland - hydrochemical and biological investigation in the catchment area of the Münster Aa - to the project

Animal Welfare Center of WWU (15.11.2019)
T. Buttschardt and V. Krone presented the idea of a "killing-free insect monitoring" at the 2nd fireside chats of the rectorate of the WWU in the Landhaus Rothenberge of the University of Münster in Wettringen. Participants were among others the rector Johannes Wessels, the initiator of the Animal Welfare Center Stefan Schlatt but also colleagues from Behavioural Research, the ZIN, Philosophy and Protestant Theology.

Professional work (06.11.2019)
T. Buttschardt was elected spokesman of the German Association for Vocational Nature Conservation (Bundesverband Beruflicher Naturschutz - Regionalgruppe NRW).