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Featured publications

The foundation of the conceptual framework

Harmonizing Biodiversity Conservation and Productivity in the Context of Increasing Demands on Landscapes.

Seppelt R, Beckmann M, Ceauşu S, et al (2016): BioScience.

Biodiversity conservation and agricultural production are often seen as mutually exclusive objectives. We discuss that harmonization between biodiversity conservation and crop production can be improved and provide a general conceptual framework that links biodiversity and agricultural production.
doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw004

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Index of natural potentials for the expansion of cropland

Addressing future trade-offs between biodiversity and cropland expansion to improve food security.

Delzeit, R., Zabel, F., Meyer, C., Václavík, T. (2016): Reg. Envir. Chang.

This study addresses trade‐offs between providing sufficient food in the future and sustaining biodiversity by investigating (1) how global expansion of cropland might affect food production and prices, (2) where environmental conditions favor cropland expansion under changing climate, and (3) whether potential conversion to cropland would affect areas of high biodiversity or conservation importance.
doi: 10.1007/s10113‐016‐0927‐1

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Work flow of the analyses

Mapping pollination typeswith remote sensing.

Feilhauer, H., Doktor, D., Schmidtlein, S., Skidmore, A. K., (2016): J. Veg.Sci.

Pollination is an ecosystem function that varies at local spatial scales. We sampled vascular plant species composition (100 plots) and used hyperspectral remotely sensed data together with machine learning techniques to quantify and map the resulting patterns for a better understanding of ecosystem functioning. Pollination types and optical traits (LAI, dry matter content) were significantly correlated up to R2=0.813. The spatial distribution of pollination types could be statistically modelled with a RMSE < 10.5%. The results show that pollination types are indeed related to canopy reflectance in a way that allows their mapping using remote sensing but transferability to other ecosystem has still to be tested.
doi: 10.1111/jvs.12421

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Potential distribution and connectivity of the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) in the city of Cologne.

Coupling Satellite Data with Species Distribution and Connectivity Models as a Tool for Environmental Management and Planning in Matrix-Sensitive Species.

Rödder, D., Nekum, S., Cord, A.F. & Engler, J.O. (2016): Environmental Management

While anthropogenic habitat fragmentation increasingly disrupts connectivity in many species, potential habitats acting as inter-population connectivity corridors are mostly ignored in the common practice of environmental planning. In this study, we use fine-scale potential connectivity models (PCMs) derived from multispectral satellite data for the quantification of spatially explicit habitat corridors for matrix-sensitive species of conservation concern. We illustrate our approach using the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis L.) in the metropolitan area of Cologne, Germany, as a case study.
doi: 10.1007/s00267-016-0698-y

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Study area with localities of geocaches and aggregated land cover data from the Urban Atlas project

Geocaching data as an indicator for recreational ecosystem services in urban areas: exploring spatial gradients, preferences and motivations.

A.F. Cord, F. Roeßiger, N. Schwarz (2015): Landscape and Urban Planning

In this paper, we focused on the recreational activity of ‘geocaching’ (, a worldwide outdoor game in which the participants use a GPS receiver to hide and seek containers. We used Leipzig as a case study and analyzed georeferenced localities of geocaches together with quantitative results of an online survey. We found that, while geocachers may have quite different motivations to participate in the activity, geocaching is indeed a type of local recreation and an indicator for urban ecosystem services, as green areas and experiences in nature are important.
doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.08.015

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Assessing ecosystem services for informing land-use decisions: a problem-oriented approach.

Förster, J., J. Barkmann, R. Fricke, S. Hotes, M. Kleyer, S. Kobbe, D. Kübler, C. Rumbaur, M. Siegmund-Schultze, R. Seppelt, J. Settele, J. Spangenberg, V. Tekken, T. Václavík, H. Wittmer (2015): Ecology & Society

The GLUES-team has synthesised lessons learned from ecosystem service assessments for informing land use decisions. Together with the projects SuLaMa, LEGATO, INNOVATE and SuMaRiO of the BMBF-financed Sustainable Land Management Programme, we published the paper in a Special Feature of the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), which is part of Future Earth
doi: 10.5751/ES-07804-200331

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Cover Journal of Applied Ecology

Effects of land use on plant diversity – A global meta-analysis

K. Gerstner, C. F. Dormann, A. Stein, A. Manceur, R. Seppelt (2014): Journal of Applied Ecology

Plant diversity is globally threatened by anthropogenic land use while at regional and local scales evidence for declining species diversity is mixed. Our meta-analysis on land-use effects on plant species richness revealed that direct and indirect effects of land use are quite variable and can lead to both local decreases and increases. Further, we found important covariables of specific land-use classes and strong evidence that land-use effects are moderated by biomes suggesting that effects generally depend on species pool size.

doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12329

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Cover: Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Separating the effects of changes in land cover and climate: a hydro-meteorological analysis of the past 60 yr in Saxony, Germany.

Renner, M., K. Brust, K. Schwärzel, M. Volk & C. Bernhofer (2014): Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

In this paper, a separation and attribution method based on a Budyko framework is illustrated. The analyses show significant effects of global warming on evaporation and the water balance of entire Saxony. However, the main reason for the changes of the water balance was industrial air pollution - it has been proven that the air pollution driven tree damages have been the crucial factor in the higher forested basins.

doi: 10.5194/hess-18-389-2014

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Typical strip-pattern of cultivated and fallowed fields; note the erosion marks on the fallows

Impacts of agricultural land-use dynamics on erosion risks and options for land and water management in Northern Mongolia.

J. A. Priess, C. Schweitzer, O. Batkhishig, T. Koschitzki, D. Wurbs (2014): Environ Earth Sci.

In Mongolia, nomadic herders have successfully been grazing livestock for more than a millennium. However, for recent years, we estimated that i Northern Mongolia erosion risks under current land use sum up to approximately 2–4 Mg ha-1 year-1 for steppe and 4–9 Mg ha-1 year-1 for cropland. Scenario calculations indicate that land use and climate change can either reduce (-30 %) or aggravate erosion risks up to sevenfold and contribute to the challenges in water and soil management.

doi: 10.1007/s12665-014-3380-9

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Accounting for geographical variation in species–area relationships improves the prediction of plant species richness at the global scale.

Gerstner, K., Dormann, C.F., Václavík, T., Kreft, H., Seppelt, R., (2013): Journal of Biogeography

The species–area relationship (SAR) is a prominent concept for predicting species richness and biodiversity loss. A key step in defining SARs is to accurately estimate the slope of the relationship, but researchers typically apply only one global (canonical) slope which is overly simplistic. We show that predictions of global species richness patterns can be considerably improved by accounting for variation due to biomes.

doi: 10.1111/jbi.12213

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Mapping global land system archetypes.

Václavík, T., Lautenbach, S., Kuemmerle, T., Seppelt, R. (2013): Global Environmental Change.

Mapping global land system archetypes provides a new representation of global land systems based on more than 30 high-resolution datasets on land-use intensity, environmental conditions and socioeconomic indicators. This approach advances our under-standing of the global patterns of human-environment interactions and of the environmental and social conditions associated with different types of land use.

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Identifying trade-offs between ecosystem services, land use, and biodiversity: a plea for combining scenario analysis and optimization on different spatial scales

Seppelt, R., Lautenbach, S., Volk, M., (2013): Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.

The publication provides perspectives on the application of exploratory modelling, esp. optimization for a quantitative analysis of trade-off of different types of land use in multifunctional landscape. We also discuss the integration of these as well as scenario analysis for solving regional as well as global aspect of land use conflicts.
doi: 10.1016/j.cosust.2013.05.002

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The impact of Best Management Practices on simulated streamflow and sediment load in a Central Brazilian catchment:

Strauch, M., Lima, J.E.F.W. , Volk, M., Lorz, C., Makeschin, F., (2013): J. Environ. Manage.

In several Brazilian river basins Best Management Practices, such as terraces or sediment retention basins, are supported by 'Payments for Environmental Services'. By means of process-based scenario simulations, this study quantified the cost-effectiveness of such measures regarding sediment retention and water yield.


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Global map of pollination benefits

A new multi-scale approach for monitoring vegetation using remote sensing-based indicators in laboratory, field and landscape

Lausch, A. et al. (2012) Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.

Remote sensing is an important tool for studying patterns in surface processes on different spatiotemporal scales. However, differences in the spatiospectral and temporal resolution of remote sensing data as well as sensor-specific surveying characteristics very often hinder comparative analyses and effective up- and downscaling analyses. This paper presents a new methodical framework for combining hyperspectral remote sensing data on different spatial and temporal scales using the “One Sensor at Different Scales” (OSADIS) approach for the laboratory (plot), field (local), and landscape (regional) scales. doi:10.1007//s10661-012-2627-8

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Global map of pollination benefits

Spatial and temporal trends of global pollination benefit

Lautenbach, S. et al. (2012) PlosONE e35954.

Based on global data on land use and time series for production quantities and production prices of pollination dependent crops, an global increase in pollination benefits was shown and regional hotspots of pollination benefits were identified.

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Map of analysed cities with thermal climatic zones by the FAO

Exploring indicators for quantifying surface urban heat islands of European cities with MODIS land surface temperatures

Schwarz, N. et al. (2011) Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 3175-3186.

This European wide analysis of urban heat island on the base of remote sensing data based on 263 cities revealed the variation of classical urban heat island indicators and identified the need to comparatively quantify several indicators of urban heat islands in parallel to foster comparability.

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Methodology flowchart

Using precipitation data ensemble for uncertainty analysis in SWAT streamflow simulation

Strauch, M., Bernhofer, C., Koide, S., Volk, M., Lorz, C., Makeschin, F. (2012) Journal of Hydrology 414-415, 413-424.

The study shows that ensemble modeling with multiple precipitation inputs can considerably increase the level of confidence in hydrological simulation results, particularly in data-poor regions: doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.11.014

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