WP 4 - Ecosystems of the Future

The objective of our work in WP 4 is to assess future functional composition of natural communities shaped by responses to climate change, land use change, invasion, and altered species interaction. Through this knowledge we aim to identify potential environmental and community structures that provides desired functions.

Description of work

Grafik WP 4 We investigate species spatiotemporal dynamics and composition of future ecosystems under (combined) effects of climate change, land use change or biological invasions from regional up to continental scale. Assuming a long-term perspective we account for ecosystem development along different trajectories leading to alternative future community structure and functioning. Combining statistical and spatially explicit dynamic modelling we track mechanisms of community assembly under environmental change. Gained process understanding can be used to inform the development of long-term management strategies, i. e. alternative policy recommendations, conservation actions, long-term recommendations for national strategies (e. g. biodiversity strategy, climate strategy) as well as EU legislation such as the Habitats Directive, the Water Framework Directive, REACH, or the Common Agricultural Policy) to assist community development and ensure related Ecosystem Services (ESS). We will focus in particular on mutualistic and antagonistic species interactions.

Main research questions

1. How do different biotic processes and environmental drivers affect the functional compositions and diversity of communities and species re-assemblages under global change?

  • How important are environmental drivers for species range shifts?
  • What impacts do dispersal and inter-specific interactions have for species ranges?
  • What is the impact of environmental drivers on plant and insect pollinator assemblages and pollination services in Europe and Germany?
  • What is the role of biotic facilitation on the invasion success and the change in functional composition of communities? How is this mediated by environmental factors?
  • Which species traits affect the assembly of current communities and how will this translate to the organisation of future communities?
  • Which landscape structures are critical for range shifting?

2. How reliable are future species projections?

  • How can uncertainty of projections be quantified and communicated?
  • How can we calibrate dynamic species range models, integrate abiotic niche requirements and dynamic biotic processes (dispersal and inter-specific interactions)?
  • Which data are required? How do uncertainties propagate?


  • Strategic dynamic simulation models to project response of a variety of community modules; variation of interspecific interactions and species interaction strenth, abiotic niche conditions, species traits, landscape structure; sensitivity analysis to identify circumstances and processes that affect community response to change
  • Species distribution models, species richness models, trait distribution models
  • Specific spatially explicit dynamic species distribution models calibrated with presence/absence data from pollinators; assessment of calibration methods; uncertainty analysis at different time horizons for future projections; analysis of drivers of uncertainty


Dr. Oliver Schweiger
Department of Community Ecology
UFZ Halle

Dr. Oliver Schweiger