Aphid mummy

Research in the working group Animal Ecology and multitrophic Interactions

The focus of our research is to analyse which animals use the landscapematrix and how these animals interact with eachother and their environment.

Our aims:

  • Ecological research
  • action proposals for biodiversity conservation
  • research in agricultural land, grasland and forests
  • studies on arthropods and vertebrates
  • Combining traditional research methods with current molecular methods
  • research and Germany and Europe

Did we raise your interest? Then, read more about our current research projects.


Beech forest
© Michael Meyer

In this project, we want to get a better overview on insect diversity in forests of North Rhine-Westphalia based on existing literature but also newly installed monitoring programs. We include both near-natural and commercial forests. We want to identify key components for insect diversity and give recommendations for forest management. The project is a cooperation between Animal Ecology Group and Wald und Holz NRW.

Image film

In 2020, there is the possibility to write your Bachelor’s or Master’s Thesis or do a Forschungsprojekt. If you are interested, please contact:

Contact: Michael Meyer, Christoph Scherber

  • Theses

    Kira Kowalski (2019): Effects of deadwood in beech forests of different age classes on insects in the natural forest area "Hellerberg" (Arnsberger Wald, Sauerland); Einfluss von Totholz in verschiedenen Buchenwaldaltersklassen auf das Insektenvorkommen in der Naturwaldzelle "Hellerberg" (Arnsberger Wald, Sauerland) (Bachelor’s Thesis

A long-term crop-rotation experiment

Field trail Harste
© Michael Meyer

Effects of temporal diversitfication on arthropd Communities

A long-term crop-rotation experiment

The project is conducted in cooperation with the Institute of Sugar Beet Research in Göttingen. We investigate, in a long term crop-rotation experiment, how diversification over time and different crop types affect invertebrate communities and process rates. In the last years, we focused on soil-associated processes, particularly the activity of extracellular enzymes. This is done in cooperation with the group Soil Ecology and Land Use.

Contact: Michael Meyer, Christoph Scherber, Ute Hamer

  • Publications

    Meyer, M., Ott, D., Götze, P., Koch, H.-J. & C. Scherber (2019): Crop identity and memory effects on aboveground arthropods in a long‐term crop rotation experiment, Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 9, Issue 12, 7307-7323, https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5302

    Scherber, C., Reininghaus, H., Brandmeier, J., Everwand, G., Gagic, V., Greiwe, T., Kormann, U.G., Meyer, M., Nagelsdiek, S., Rösch, V., Sobek-Swant, S., Thies, C. & D. Ott (2019): Insektenvielfalt und ökologische Prozesse in Agrar -und Waldlandschaften, Natur und Landschaft, 6/7, 245-254


    Meyer, M., Koch, H-J. & C. Scherber (2017): Influence of temporal diversification on invertebrate communities in a long-term crop-rotation experiment, Ecology across borders, Joint meeting of BES, GfÖ, NecoV and EEF, Gent, Belgien

    Meyer, M., Koch, H-J. & C. Scherber (2017): Influence of temporal diversification on invertebrate communities in a long-term crop-rotation experiment, 1st International Conference on Community Ecology, Budapest, Ungarn


    Meyer, M., Ott, D. & C. Scherber (2019): Influence of temporal diversification on aboveground arthropods. European Conference on Crop Diversification, Budapest, Ungarn

    Hamer, U., Meyer, U.-N., Meyer, M. & C. Scherber (2019): Soil microbial indicators for the assessment of temporal diversification in agroecosystems, Jahrestagung der GfÖ, Münster, Deutschland

    Meyer, M., Koch, H-J. & C. Scherber (2018): Functional groups are differentially sensitive to temporal diversification in agricultural landscapes, Jahrestagung der GfÖ, Wien, Österreich

    Meyer, M. (2017): Einfluss zeitlicher Diversifikation auf Arthropodencommunities sowie mikrobielle Aktivität und Streuzersetzung in einem Langzeit-Fruchtfolgeexperiment, Institutsseminar, Institut für Zuckerrübenforschung, Göttingen

  • Theses

    Maren Smiatek (2016): Effects of temporal diversification on litter decomposition, microbial respiration and soil mesofauna in a long-term crop rotation experiment, Masterarbeit

    Research project or Master thesis about "Influence of temporal diversification in agricultural systems" here

The EU-Project DIVERSify

Field trail at the JKI in Gievenbeck
© Jan Lehmann

Effect of spatial diversification on arthropod communities and ecological process rates

The DIVERSify project is funded in the EU framework programme Horizon 2020. The aim is to improve both productivity and sustainability of European agriculture.  In Münster, we establied field trails in the years 2017 to 2019. We tested which plant teams could be used to replace monocultures in conventional or low-input agriculture. Therefore, we measured plant traits, e.g. yield, and key components of biodiversity (such as arthropods or weed diversity).

Contact: Jana Brandmeier, Silvia Pappagallo, Christoph Scherber

  • Publication

    Poster GfÖ 2019 Münster:
    Brandmeier et al. 20-P11 Effects of crop diversity ad managment on pollinators in an intercropping experiment
    Pappagallo 20-P6 Network thinking in agroecosystem functioning and productivity

Changes in Small Mammal Trophic Interactions (SMaTI) in response to land-use intensity

Common vole Microtus arvalis in grassland
© Christoph Scherber

Small mammals play a crucial role in many ecosystem processes in natural and managed ecosystems, such as seed predation, herbivory and the predation of invertebrates. The aim of the SMaTI project is to assess the impact of land use intensity of grassland and forest on the food choice of mice, voles and shrews. Detailed insights into the resource use of small mammals will be gained by metabarcoding of stomach contents and the analysis of stable isotopes in muscle tissue and supplemented by camera-observed predation experiments. The SMaTI project closely collaborates with the JKI Münster and is integrated into the framework of the Biodiversity Exploratories.

Contact: Julia Tiede, Christoph Scherber

Seed Predation and Diversity of Arthropod Communities in Response to land-use Intensity (SPRINT)

Invertebrate consumers play an important role in shaping plant community composition and ecosystem functions in grasslans, e.g, by exhibiting feeding pressure on plant seeds. The SPRINT project aims to study the impact of anthropogenic land-use intensity on consumer communities, and process rates in a unique setting of observational and manipulative grassland biodiveristy experiement embedded in the framework of the Biodiversity Exploratories.

Contact: David Ott

KennArt - Development of a training system to increase species knowledge

© Hannah Reininghaus

Die Zahl der Artenkennerinnen und Artenkenner nimmt seit einigen Jahren immer weiter ab. Mit dem Verbundprojekt „KennArt – Eine bundesweite Initiative zur Ausbildung von Artenkenner*innen“ möchten die NABU-Naturschutzstation Münsterland und die Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (ILÖK-AG Tierökologie) dem Abwärtstrend entgegenwirken. In den kommenden sechs Jahren soll ein mehrstufiges Schulungssystem mit Grund-, Aufbau- und Expertenkursen für verschiedene Organismengruppen mit einem Schwerpunkt auf Insekten entwickelt und bundesweit erprobt werden. Das Projekt wird gefördert durch das Bundesamt für Naturschutz mit Mitteln des Bundesministeriums für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit.
Link zur Pressemitteilung