„Wild bees in urban grasslands: Urbanisation, functional diversity and species traits“ has been published in Landscape and Urban Planning. We found that urbanisation was not related to neither taxonomic nor functional diversity in bee communities of urban grasslands. However, endangered bee species responded negatively to the isolation of grasslands but positively to flower coverage. Urbanisation, previous restoration efforts and site type filtered the functional composition of bee communities in terms of species traits related to diet and nesting. Our results substantiate the role of urban habitats for functionally diverse bee communities, including rare and endangered species, and indicate pathways towards enhancing habitat functions of urban grasslands for wild bees by improving the connectivity of urban grassland patches within the urban matrix, and more locally by adjusting management to maintain flower coverage in grasslands.
Pilot project started …
… with Johannes Müller from Museum für Naturkunde Berlin on urban ecology and phenotypic expressions in different Berlin populations of the sand lizard Lacerta agilis, including field 3D photogrammetry. In particular, we are keen to detect possible intra-specific trait variations in sand lizard populations along rural-urban gradients.
Plants, plant traits and ground-dwelling arthropods
Unfortunately, spring was very cold and rainy but however, we ‚bravely‘ started our field work for the BIBS project some weeks ago. Currently, our team is doing the plant diversity assessments and also pitfall traps are exposed. Moreover, we are measuring plant traits to analyse intraspecific trait variations along the urbanisation gradient – we are going to run these analyses for invertebrate taxa and hopefully sand lizard populations as well – wait and see. In addition, some students are observing phenology of plant species at 30 sites – very labour-intensive. Today I emptied our pitfall traps for the first time and I can’t wait to study our samples in the lab.
Grasshopper diversity of urban wastelands is primarily boosted by habitat factors has been published in Insect Diversity and Conservation.
Authors Eckert S, Möller M & Buchholz S
Abstract Urban wastelands are considered to be valuable habitats for biodiversity conservation, but empirical evidence for several poorly investigated taxa such as grasshoppers is still pending – although urgently required for reasonable habitat management and urban planning. For the first time, we analysed grasshopper diversity of urban wastelands at different diversity levels, namely, alpha and functional diversity. In 2014, we selected 24 urban wastelands in the city of Berlin (Germany).
We analysed the relationships between local and landscape factors and different measurements of diversity (species richness, Simpson diversity, functional dispersion, functional evenness and functional divergence). We sampled 21 species, which represented about 45% of the entire grasshopper fauna of Berlin and numerous species of conservation interest were present at the investigated sites. Grasshopper diversity was best explained by local factors, with herb cover having a positive effect on alpha and functional diversity. Human impact and accessibility increased the conservation value of urban wasteland sites.
Late successional stages are very important for a high grasshopper diversity in general but early stages are mandatory to promote species of conservation concern. Urban wastelands can be turned into most promising transition zones for city-dwellers that fulfil the needs of conservationists and specialised species at the same time. To achieve this goal we recommend minimum requirements for successful habitat management.
Conference talk in Greifswald
Last weekend the conference of the German Arachnological Society took place in Greifswald. I gave a talk on trait-based approaches and functional diversity in arachnology and presented progresses and perspectives within this research topic (see slides). Trait-environmental relationships and functional diversity are very important components within biodiversity research and several studies have successfully applied these concepts to spiders. Unfortunately, a consensus how to select appropriate morpho-physiological, phenological and ecological traits and to define trait categories is missing yet. Therefore, my talk intended to encourage the development of a standardised and expert-based open-access trait database for spiders. It was great to have some fruitful discussions afterwards. We agreed on organising an expert workshop soon to work out a first proposal for a meaningful trait selection.
New research project on urban ecology
Back in Berlin, I am now working as scientist in the new research project „Bridging in Biodiversity Science (BIBS)“ which is established at the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB) and the TU Berlin. Rapid transitions in land use patterns are often very conspicuous in the process of urbanization: within the central European landscape, large urban areas have emerged within the past two centuries. By ignoring them as islands of unnatural, novel landscapes, traditional research on ecology and biodiversity did not predict that numerous mammalian wildlife species would invade, stay and flourish within urban areas, or that cities would emerge as biodiversity hotspots. Since I am now responsible for the work package „Rural-urban coupling“ I am going to work on the following research topics:
- understanding the effect and spatial reach of matrix heterogeneity and configuration,
- measuring the temporal dynamics of urban landscapes to reveal effects of landuse legacy, historical connectivity and current land use,
- identifying key functional traits of successful species that meet the challenges created by urban environments, and
- exploring the consequences of increased contact for both people and wildlife