Disturbances in Ecosystems

Disturbances generate a spatiotemporal pattern of successional stages in a disturbed landscape. The intermediate disturbance hypothesis predicts that biodiversity is only high at intermediate disturbances.

Many ecosystems are influenced by disturbances such as e.g. land-use, fire, floods or stroms. Despite the fundamental relevance of these disturbances for the dynamics, structure, diversity and functioning of these ecosystems we still lack a comprehensive understanding how vulnerable and sensitive disturbed ecosystems are to changes in their disturbance regime. In particular the interaction of different disturbances and between disturbances and other stress factors (such as fragmentation or habitat loss) is not yet well understood and studied. However, alterations or combinations of disturbances are highly relevant in the face of climate change. The last decades have shown that many species up to communities and ecosystems are not able to cope with such changes. In addition, it has been shown that different ecological communities are impacted in different ways and with different, positive or negative, consequences. Our modelling approaches address these issues both on a theoretical and an applied level. This is the basis for nature conservation, risk assessment and the development of possible management strategies and policy advice for disturbed landscapes. The aim is to maintain the functioning and services of those species communities and ecosystems relying on disturbance impacts.

Disturbances generate a spatiotemporal pattern of successional stages in a disturbed landscape. The intermediate disturbance hypothesis predicts that biodiversity is only high at intermediate disturbances.

Selected Publications

  • Banitz, T., Huth, A., Grimm, V., Johst, K. (2008):
    Clumped versus scattered: how does the spatial correlation of disturbance events affect biodiversity?
    Theoretical Ecology 1 (4), 231-240
    Abstract
  • Zinck, R. D., Grimm, V. (2008):
    More realistic than anticipated: a classical forest-fire model from statistical physics captures real fire shapes
    The Open Ecology Journal 1, 8-13
    Abstract
  • Peña, T. S., Johst, K., Grimm, V., Arntz, W., Tarazona, J. (2005):
    Population dynamics of a polychaete during three El Niño events: disentangling biotic and abiotic factors
    Oikos 111 (2), 253-258
    Abstract
  • Johst, K., Huth, A. (2005):
    Testing the intermediate disturbance hypothesis: when will there be two peaks of diversity?
    Diversity Distrib. 11 (1), 111-120
    Abstract
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Call

Joint SESYNC-UFZ-sDiv Call for Synthesis Proposals on “Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services”

More Information:
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Contact:
karin.frank@ufz.de