Implementing large-scale and long-term functional biodiversity research: The Biodiversity Exploratories

2010 | journal article

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​Implementing large-scale and long-term functional biodiversity research: The Biodiversity Exploratories​
Fischer, M.; Bossdorf, O.; Gockel, S.; Hänsel, F.; Hemp, A.; Hessenmöller, D. & Korte, G. et al.​ (2010) 
Basic and Applied Ecology11(6) pp. 473​-485​.​ DOI: 

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Fischer, Markus; Bossdorf, Oliver; Gockel, Sonja; Hänsel, Falk; Hemp, Andreas; Hessenmöller, Dominik; Korte, Gunnar; Nieschulze, Jens ; Pfeiffer, Simone ; Prati, Daniel; Renner, Swen C.; Schöning, Ingo; Schumacher, Uta; Wells, Konstans; Buscot, François; Kalko, Elisabeth K.V.; Linsenmair, Karl Eduard; Schulze, Ernst-Detlef; Weisser, Wolfgang W.
Functional biodiversity research explores drivers and functional consequences of biodiversity changes. Land use change is a major driver of changes of biodiversity and of biogeochemical and biological ecosystem processes and services. However, land use effects on genetic and species diversity are well documented only for a few taxa and trophic networks. We hardly know how different components of biodiversity and their responses to land use change are interrelated and very little about the simultaneous, and interacting, effects of land use on multiple ecosystem processes and services. Moreover, we do not know to what extent land use effects on ecosystem processes and services are mediated by biodiversity change. Thus, overall goals are on the one hand to understand the effects of land use on biodiversity, and on the other to understand the modifying role of biodiversity change for land-use effects on ecosystem processes, including biogeochemical cycles. To comprehensively address these important questions, we recently established a new large-scale and long-term project for functional biodiversity, the Biodiversity Exploratories ( They comprise a hierarchical set of standardized field plots in three different regions of Germany covering manifold management types and intensities in grasslands and forests. They serve as a joint research platform for currently 40 projects involving over 300 people studying various aspects of the relationships between land use, biodiversity and ecosystem processes through monitoring, comparative observation and experiments. We introduce guiding questions, concept and design of the Biodiversity Exploratories – including main aspects of selection and implementation of field plots and project structure – and we discuss the significance of this approach for further functional biodiversity research. This includes the crucial relevance of a common study design encompassing variation in both drivers and outcomes of biodiversity change and ecosystem processes, the interdisciplinary integration of biodiversity and ecosystem researchers, the training of a new generation of integrative biodiversity researchers, and the stimulation of functional biodiversity research in real landscape contexts, in Germany and elsewhere.
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Basic and Applied Ecology 



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