Bachelor and Master Theses

Effect of traditional management methods on heathland arthropod community

Master or Bachelor thesis


Cultivated landscapes such as dwarf shrub-dominated heath areas provide outstanding ecosystem services (e. g. long-term carbon and nitrogen storage, high-quality groundwater recharge, socio-economic services) and host a large number of today increasingly vulnerable and for nutrient-poor sites characteristic animal species. Such nutrient-poor habitats have been steadily declining for some decades and are listed in both the annexes of the habitats directive and red lists of threatened biotopes. Current and future threat factor include in particular atmospheric inputs, especially nitrogen. So far, it is completely unclear whether and how the environmental conditions produced by nutrient-poor cultural landscapes can be secured in the long term under changing global environmental conditions. The importance of classical management methods (mowing, burning, and schoppering) for the compensation of atmospheric nutrient inputs into such ecosystems has been well investigated (Härdtle et al. 2006) but a clear understanding of their effect in particular over time on arthropods community is still mostly lacking.


As part of the Ökokult research project ( an experimental design aiming at investigating the effect of traditional management measures has been established since April 2019 and arthropods are currently been sampled by mean of pitfall traps. Spiders (Araneae) and ground beetles (Carabidae) have been recognized as two of the most species-rich groups in heathland habitat. Furthermore, both are suitable as an indicator group due to their response to various management practice (Usher 1992; Schirmel and Buchholz 2011). Various research questions stemming from such a broad topic could be considered as the scope for the thesis.


Strong commitment and motivation at learning identification of the chosen taxonomic group. Contribution to field work (mainly trap collecting) possible but will not be mandatory.


Estève Boutaud:



Härdtle W, Niemeyer M, Niemeyer T, et al (2006) Can management compensate for atmospheric nutrient deposition in heathland ecosystems? J Appl Ecol 43:759–769. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2006.01195.x

Schirmel J, Buchholz S (2011) Response of carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and spiders (Araneae) to coastal heathland succession. Biodivers Conserv 20:1469. doi: 10.1007/s10531-011-0038-8

Usher MB (1992) Management and diversity of arthropods in Calluna heathland. Biodivers Conserv 1:63–79. doi: 10.1007/BF00731035