Extended Job Description

(Information for Applicants of Post 2406)

Background: We aim at understanding how landscapes could be managed optimally to obtain resources and preserve biodiversity and ecosystem functions. To do so, we seek to develop integrated simulation models, which provide an understanding of the interactions of human resource use (ecosystem services) in landscapes [1,2]. Such models encompass water and matter dynamics, species distribution, biodiversity facets and aggregated representation of species interaction such as pollination and pest control.

There are only a limited number of quantitative approaches available, which derive biodiversity facets based on first principles and can relate abiotic variables (such as climate, and landscape-scale environmental conditions) to biodiversity patterns (such as trait diversity or species richness). Stemming from ecology and biodiversity research, current models are available that provide coarser scale information of biodiversity, e.g. MADINGLEY [3–5], but lack the incorporation of anthropogenic influence, as well as feedback of biodiversity to resource provisioning needed to derive resources appropriated by humans.

Your Task: In cooperation with the other groups in the Department (as well as UFZ, iDiv) you utilize available regional-scale data to improve process-based biodiversity models (such as MADINGLEY) to incorporate human disturbance, appropriation of resources etc. Based on this you design various modelling experiments that help to better understand the interactions, trade-offs or nexuses between human intervention and today’s biodiversity patten. This provides information on how far today’s biodiversity in landscapes has diverged from close to natural conditions. Research questions and simulation experiments can focus on the following research questions but are not limited to

  • Along a continuous gradient of land-use intensification, is there is a tipping point after which some key facets of biodiversity are unavoidably lost, resulting in diminished and potentially unstable production for resources?
  • Assuming a drastic decline of certain species guilds or traits (such as insect decline), how do trophic networks adapt and what does this mean to resource provisioning?
  • Are there trade-offs identifiable in the distribution of species traits, modifying the size of protected areas compared to the intensity of land use?

Further Reading / Cited References

  1. Seppelt, R. et al. (2020) Deciphering the biodiversity-production mutualism in the global food security debate. Trends Ecol. Evol. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2020.06.012
  2. Seppelt, R. et al. (2016) Harmonizing Biodiversity Conservation and Productivity in the Context of Increasing Demands on Landscapes. BioScience 66, 890–896
  3. Harfoot, M. et al. (2014) Integrated assessment models for ecologists: The present and the future. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 23, 124–143
  4. Harfoot, M.B.J. et al. (2014) Emergent Global Patterns of Ecosystem Structure and Function from a Mechanistic General Ecosystem Model. PLoS Biol. 12, e1001841
  5. Hoeks, S. et al. (2021) MadingleyR: An R package for mechanistic ecosystem modelling. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 30, 1922–1933