Stop species loss through structurally rich forest landscapes

2022-07-15 A new DFG research group on "Increasing structural diversity between forest stands to improve multi-diversity and multifunctionality in production forests" is investigating approaches to multifunctional and sustainable forest use.

How can the progressive loss of biodiversity in our managed forests be reversed by improving spatial structural heterogeneity? This is the question that an interdisciplinary team of national and international scientists will be investigating over the next few years as part of a DFG-funded research group led by Prof Dr Jörg Müller, University of Würzburg. In addition, the research team is investigating numerous ecosystem functions, such as the production of biomass, the decomposition of organic material or carbon storage. The aim of the project is to better understand biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships at the level of forest landscapes in order to derive evidence-based management recommendations.

Numerous species need structurally rich landscapes to survive. However, such landscapes are now scarce in many places. For example, many forested areas in Central Europe today are very homogeneous and thus characterised by low habitat diversity. Against this backdrop, the eight-year project, which will cost millions, will for the first time experimentally investigate in real forest landscapes how the spatial coexistence of differently structured forest stands affects the diversity of various species groups and their functions in a forest landscape. A particularly exciting question is what role beta diversity plays here; i.e. the part of biodiversity that comes about through the increase in spatial structural heterogeneity in a landscape.

PD Dr. Andreas Fichtner and Dr. Benjamin Delory from the Institute of Ecology, together with their cooperation partner Prof. Goddert von Oheimb (TU Dresden), want to better understand how the structural complexity between individual forest stands influences the beta diversity of forest floor plants and deadwood-dwelling mosses and lichens. In addition, they will investigate biodiversity-function relationships in forest floor plant communities in their subproject.

In addition to Fichtner and Delory, scientists at research institutions in Bayreuth, Dresden, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Göttingen, Leipzig, Munich and Würzburg, as well as the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Halle-Jena-Leipzig, are involved in the DFG research group.