EU-H2020 Project on diversification of European Agriculture

PhD students: Silvia Pappagallo, Jana Brandmeier

The Horizon 2020-funded DIVERSify project aims to optimise the performance of crop species mixtures (‘plant teams’) as a means to improve yield stability, reduce pest and disease damage, and enhance stress resilience in agricultural systems.

The multi-actor consortium of European and international scientists, stakeholders and industry partners will work together to gain an understanding of the benefits associated with cropping plant teams, and to identify the crop traits and agronomic practices promoting these benefits. Innovative tools, knowledge and scientific evidence will be developed to support the adoption of plant teams in agriculture across Europe and globally.

Effects of hedgerows on crop yield

PhD student: Larissa Raatz
BSc student (finished): Nina Bacchi

We have measured effects of different types of field margins on yield of crops (oilseed rape, wheat). We tested the hypothesis that field margin type influences yield, e.g. via enhanced biological control or altered microclimate.

In contrast to previous studies, we harvested whole plants and collected seeds using threshing machines and seed cleaning machinery. This allows insights into yield components that are relevant from a farmer´s perspective.

Brassicogethes aeneusOilseed rape (canola) field and wheat fieldMeasuring crop yieldWheat harvest

 Recent publications:

How much do we really lose? - Yield losses in the proximity of natural landscape elements in agricultural landscapes

by Raatz L, Bacchi N, Pirhofer-Walzl K, Glemnitz M, Müller MEH, Joshi J*, Scherber C* (2019)

Ecology and Evolution (published online)

*shared senior authorship

Biodiversity monitoring and multitrophic interactions in agricultural landscapes

PhD students: David Gladbach, Urs Kormann, Tatiane Beduschi
MSc students: Marie Zahnert, Sarah Lenze, Marieke Neßmann

Since 2006, we are studying multitrophic interactions in agricultural landscapes using a variety of approaches and experimental designs. Projects involved are the EU-funded project "Agripopes", the Helmholtz funded project "BESS" and the DFG-RTG 1644 "Scaling problems in statistics".

lanscapeYellow pan trap in a wheat field

A grid-based sampling approach for landscape-wide biodiversity

We have developed new approaches to study lanscape-wide changes in biodiversity of different organism groups. Using replicated landscapes, we show that biodiversity dynamics in space and time can best be understood when all available habitats are sampled (rather than focusing just on managed or seminatural areas).

Image classification mapSampling grid for one 1x1-km landscape

Image recognition software
(ENVI EX) was used for landscape-wide habitat classification based on false-colour infrared images from the RapidEye satellite. In each of 10 landscapes (size 1x1 km), we then established regular sampling grids with 25 sampling locations. At each sampling location, we measured parameters such as vegetation composition, herbivorous beetle abundance and pollinator abundance.

Recent publications:

Novel approaches to sampling pollinators in whole landscapes: A lesson for landscape-wide biodiversity monitoring

by Scherber C, Beduschi T, Tscharntke T (2018).

Landscape Ecology (published online)

Measuring landscape context using grid sampling rather than concentric circles

Traditionally, landscape context has been measured using a "concentric circles" approach. Such an approach is inadequate in many cases. A grid-based sampling, shown on the right, allows sampling all habitats occurring in a landscape (modified from Scherber et al. 2012)



Research on butterflies, plants and leafhopper communities in calcareous grasslands

In collaboration with the Naturpark Meißner-Kaufunger Wald, we study plants, butterflies and leafhopper communities and how they are affected by land-use intensity. Using transect approaches, we study gradients ranging from the centre of each calcareous grassland out into other surrounding habitat types.

Calcareous grassland (Kalkmagerrasen) near Rosbach (Hessen)Maculinea arion (Large Blue) on Onobrychis viciifolia


Most recent publications:

Connectedness of habitat fragments boosts conservation benefits for butterflies, but only in landscapes with little cropland

by Kormann U, Scherber C, Batáry P, Tscharntke T, Rösch V (2019)

Landscape Ecology (published online) 


NewstarLandscape composition, connectivity and fragment size drive effects of grassland fragmentation on insect communities

by Rösch V, Tscharntke T, Scherber C, Batáry P (2013) Landscape composition, connectivity and fragment size drive effects of grassland fragmentation on insect communities.

Journal of Applied Ecology50:387–394.


Landscape moderation of biodiversity patterns and processes - eight hypotheses

by Tscharntke T, Tylianakis J, Rand T, Didham R, Fahrig L, Batary P, Bengtsson J, Clough Y, Crist T, Dormann C, Ewers R, Holt R, Holzschuh A, Klein A, Kremen C, Landis D, Laurance W, Lindenmayer D, Scherber C, Sodhi N, Steffan-Dewenter I, Thies C, van der Putten W, Westphal C (2012)

Biological Reviews (published online 24th January 2012)

Faculty of 1000

Scale effects in biodiversity and biological control: methods and statistical analysis

by Scherber C, Lavandero B, Meyer KM, Perovic D, Visser U, Wiegand K, Tscharntke T (2012).

pp. 123-138 in: Biodiversity and Insect Pests: Key Issues for Sustainable Management, First Edition. Edited by Geoff M. Gurr, Steve D. Wratten, William E. Snyder, Donna M.Y. Read. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Published 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. (published online 15 May 2012).


Landscape-moderated bird nest predation in hedges and forest edges

by Ludwig M, Schlinkert H, Holzschuh A, Fischer C, Scherber C, Trnka A, Tscharntke T, Batáry P (2012).

Acta Oecologica 45: 50–56.


Agricultural intensification and cereal aphid–parasitoid– hyperparasitoid food webs: network complexity, temporal variability and parasitism rates

by Gagic V, Hänke S, Thies C, Scherber C, Tomanovic Z, Tscharntke T (2012)

Oecologia (published online May 2012).


The relationship between agricultural intensification and biological control: experimental tests across Europe

by Thies C, Haenke S, Scherber C, Bengtsson J, Bommarco R, Clement LW, Ceryngier P, Dennis C, Emmerson M, Gagic V, Hawro V, Liira J, Weisser WW, Winqvist C, Tscharntke T (2011).

Ecological Applications 21: 2187-2196


Crop-noncrop spillover: arable fields affect trophic interactions on wild plants in surrounding habitats

by Gladbach DJ, Holzschuh A, Scherber C, Thies C, Dormann CF, Tscharntke T (2011)

Oecologia 166:433-41 (published online 13th December 2010).Open Access