to the Working Group Ecosystem Research

The Working Group Ecosystem Research is part of the Institute of Landscape Ecology (ILÖK) of the University of Münster. We study the structure, function and change of terrestrial ecosystems by using soil and vegetation as integrative key features in landscape ecology. We offer a broad range of courses in vegetation science and physical geography that addresses Bachelor, Master and Diploma students in landscape ecology as well as studens of other disciplines of geosciences.


Addition to the family

We warmly concratulate Verena Möllenbeck and Norbert Hölzel to the birth of little Marie, Kristin and Lennart Gilhaus to the birth of little Lukas, and Daniela Plaumann and Sebastian Schmidt to the birth of little Enno! All are  doing well and we rejoice with the families!!

Theses in the Project "Fit for Climate Change"

[24.02.2015] For the upcoming year several Bachelor and Master Theses within the Project "Fit for Climate Change" will be offered. The project aims at the development and monitoring of intervention types for a sustainable and near-natural adaptation of humid forests to climatic changes in the Munsterland.

DBU grant for research on establishment of hummock peat mosses in rewetted cutover bogs

from left: Frau Hirse (DBU), Ludwig Voss, Dr. Reinhard Stock, Josef Gramann (Gramoflor), Gabriela Gramann (Stiftung Lebensraum Moor), Dr. Klaus-Holger Knorr, Prof. Dr. Christian Blodau, Prof. Dr. Norbert Hölz and Dr. Till Kleinebecker (ILÖK)

[27.10.2014] From january 2015 on, the working groups Hydrology and Ecosystem Research from ILÖK together with the project partners Gramoflor and Stiftung Lebensraum Moor can conduct their research on the establishment of hummock peat mosses in rewetted cutover bogs with financial support from Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU).
more about the project

New Volkswagen grant boosts research in Kazakhstan

steppe in Kazakhstan

[27.10.2014] We are very pleased that the Vokswagen Foundation will fund a new 3-year-project in Kazakhstan headed up by the Working Group Ecosystem Research. Together with our Kazakhstani partners at the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK) and Karaganda university, as well as German partners at HU Berlin and IAMO Halle we will implement a three-year research project entitled ‘Balancing trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in the steppes of Kazakhstan (BALTRAK)’. Within the project, we will analyze agricultural and restoration potentials on abandoned arable land, the distribution of key steppe grassland biodiversity (small mammals, birds and plants), and biodiversity responses to changing agricultural use and wildfires. Ultimately, we aim to develop strategies to reconcile agriculture and biodiversity, and contribute to the development of protected areas in Central Asia. Contact: Johannes Kamp
project homepage

Successful modelling workshop

modelling workshop

[27.10.2014] Within the framework of ongoing collaborations, members of the Ecosystem Research Group, the RSPB Centre of Conservation Science and ACBK (BirdLife partner in Kazakhstan) came together in Münster for a one week workshop on species distribution modelling. Data collected in several conservation and research projects in Kazakhstan during the last 5 years were analyzed to predict bird species distributions and patterns of species richness in Central Asia. The results will allow to identify priority areas for future survey work.

Working Group at SER Europe 2014

Ser2014-photo[11.08.2014] The 9th SER European Conference on Ecological Restoration took place from 3rd to 8th of August 2014 in Oulu, Finland. Together wit nearly 400 participants from 35 countrys, 8 members of the Working Group Ecosystem Research enjoyed interresting presentations, field trips and and face-to-face discussions with colleages under the focus of "Restoration, Ecosystem Services and Land Use Planning".

Sounds of the Siberian Swamps

2014 Sp600 Warten Auf Den Sonnenuntergang 160[05.06.2014] Within the SASCHA project, biodiversity surveys in Western Siberia started again, with members of the Working Group Ecoystem Research working day and night. The surveys concentrate mainly on the large fen and bog areas north of Tyumen, this year. Point counts are conducted in May and June to survey the bird communities of marsh and mire habitat. As the wetland birds are mostly nocturnal, counting starts at dusk and is usually done when the new day dawns – relying entirely on aural skills when identifying species.
Further information, photos and sound recordings on the SASCHA blog

DFG is funding two new research projects at ILÖK

biodiversity exploratories[17.04.2014] Within the Priority Programm 1374 "Exploratories for large-scale and long-term functional biodiversity research", the German Science Foundation (DFG) is founding two new projects at the Institute of Landscape Ecology.
In the project ESCAPE „Effects of disturbance and seed addition on plant community assembly and ecosystem functions” under the lead of Norbert Hölzel, Ute Hamer and Till Kleinebecker, Postdoc Valentin Klaus will analyze effekts of land-use intensity, plant diversity, the seed bank and seed addition on the resilience of ecosystem functions after a massive disturbance event.
The project STOICHIO „Land-use effects on plant–herbivore stoichiometry: micro- and macronutrients”, a joint project of Till Kleinebecker together with Nico Blüthgen and Karsten Mody (TU Darmstadt), deals with the stoichiometric variability of plant and animal populations across the land-use gradient. In Münster the PhD student Verena Busch will focus on soil-plant stoichiometric relationships.

Czech Post-Docs visiting ILÖK

Ondrej Jakub Norbert[20.03.2014] Two Post-Docs from Czech Republic are currently staying at the Working Group Ecosystem Research. Jakub Těšitel from the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice prepares an application for a Marie-Curie-fellowship during his one-week stay at ILÖK. Ondřej Mudrák coming from the Institute of Botany of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Třeboň stays with an EU-fellowship for two months at ILÖK. He takes advantage of the modern lab capacities for plant analyses at the GEOI building and conducts data analyses together with the colleagues from Münster.

now published

Little investment in sexual reproduction proves fatal to species - Phosphorus threatens existence of endangered plants

Das Fleischfarbene Knabenkraut ist eine typische Orchidee phosphorlimitierter Moorwiesen und Kalkflachmoore. Foto: Norbert Hölzel[18.11.2013] Plant species that persist in areas with low availability of phosphorus invest little in sexual reproduction. Due to the increase of phosphorus in their habitats and the fragmentation of low-phosphorus areas, these plant species, which already are on the ‘red list’, are under threat of going extinct. This issue was raised by a group of researchers, amongst them Prof. Norbert Hölzel from the Institute of Landscape Ecology and lead by Prof. Martin Wassen from Utrecht University, in their publication in Nature this week. 
upm press release (de)
press release Utrecht University (en)
publication: Fujita Y, Olde Venterink H, van Bodegom PM, Douma JC, Heil GW, Hölzel N, Jabłońska E, Kotowski W, Okruszko T, Pawlikowski P, de Ruiter PC, Wassen MJ (2013) Low investment in sexual reproduction threatens plants adapted to phosphorus limitation. Nature [doi:10.1038/nature12733]

Drastic decline: Red List reclassification of the Yellow-breasted Bunting

Weidenammer Male Female 160[01.10.2013] The Yellow-breasted Bunting was once one of the commonest Siberian birds breeding over vast territories from European Russia to the Pacific. However, massive declines were reported during the last years. This years field season was used by teams of the Institute of Landscape Ecology to shed light on numbers and habitat use of the species: the ornithologists of project SASCHA did not find a single bird in Western Siberia's Tyumen province, where the species was widespread just 10 years ago. In a study area at the Amur River (Russian Far East), Kolja Wolanska recorded more than 100 breeding pairs during fieldwork for his BSc thesis (Working Groups Ecosystem Research and Community Ecology), indicating a significant population but also suggesting drastic declines when compared to earlier surveys. Kolja's work was embedded in the Amur Bird Project, which is likely to continue surveys during the following years. The reasons for the strong decrease are still unclear, but perhaps related to large-scale trade and consumption of buntings caught at their Chinese migration stopover sites.
The data collected by the members of the Institute of Landscape Ecology have significantly contributed to a re-evaluation of the threat status by BirdLife International: The next IUCN Red List update will see a reclassification of the species as Endangered (was Vulnerable).
Photo (male above, female below): Ulrich Schuster, Amur area, June 2013.
Link: www.birdlife.org; Further information: Dr Johannes Kamp