A new initiative in biodiversity research

DFG establishes the first exploratories in Germany

In order to promote ecological research in Germany, the DFG has announced the establishment of the first three large-scale research platforms, so-called biodiversity exploratories, in Germany. The main aim of this research is to study the relationship between changes in biodiversity and the intensity of land use, and the consequences of these changes on processes within the ecosystem. The exploratories will be located in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve (Brandenburg), the Hainich National Park (Thuringia) and in the designated Schwäbische Alb Biosphere Reserve (Baden-Württemberg). The DFG will provide approximately 8 million euros to the project for an initial funding period of three years.

The exploratories are intended to concentrate the research activities of various ecological disciplines and to verify and expand upon the findings of model experiments on the field scale. The project primarily combines research into biodiversity and ecosystems, thus making it possible to investigate issues relating to the functional significance of the diversity of species and communities in the context of their original environment. The exploratories being established in Germany are similar to current projects in the US and elsewhere in Europe in terms of the range of topics they cover, but differ significantly in their highly experimental approach.

Each of the planned exploratories will consist of 1000 research areas covering a total area of 100 square kilometres. One hundred of these areas in each exploratory will be used for high intensity research and will be supplemented by experiment areas. In forested territory these areas are at least 30 by 30 meters, and in grassland they are at least 4 by 4 meters in size. The areas are equipped with measuring devices designed to record as much data about the ecosystem functions as possible. They will be distributed between grassland and woodland in such a way as to cover a broad a range of land use scenarios, ranging from semi-natural to intensively used land. Although the experiments will initially concentrate on selected groups of species and processes in the ecosystem, it is planned that further experiments will be added over the course of the project. It is hoped that in future it will be possible to study biodiversity functions in a coordinated manner on the basis of the data obtained in the exploratories.

For further information from the DFG, please contact Dr. Roswitha Schönwitz, Tel.: 49-0-228-885-2362, e-mail: Roswitha.Schoenwitz@dfg.de

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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