One of the main objectives of our project is to analyse interactions between honey bees and wild bees (and other wild pollinators) in urban habitats. Of particular interest is the question of whether there is food competition between honey and wild bees and which role environmental conditions – such as amount of flowering plants – play. We are currently conducting experiments to answer this question.
We are launching a new research project to analyse wild boar effects on habitats, plant and insect biodiversity and sand lizard populations. This project is funded by Stiftung Naturschutz Berlin and will start in September 2019.
Implementing the Berlin Bee Strategy for conservation of bees and other pollinators in Berlin by optimising the protection of wild bees (funded bei Senatsverwaltung für Umwelt, Verkehr und Klimaschutz Berlin) – more info coming soon.
„Urbanisation modulates plant-pollinator interactions in invasive vs. native plant species“ has been published in Scientific Reports. The article is open access.
In this article, we show that invasive black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is a “pollinator-friendly” tree and attracts not only honey bees but also wild bees and other wild pollinators. However, we also found that attractiveness of black locust decreases with increasing urbanisation.
Recently, Märkische Entomologische Nachrichten has published two faunistic papers. The first one in on Carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of dry grasslands in Berlin (and Brandenburg). At 52 dry grassland sites in Berlin and Brandenburg we sampled 106 species including a new record for Berlin and numerous endangered species. The second one,
Wild bees of dry grasslands in Berlin, summarises bee data from 49 dry grasslands in Berlin. Both papers highlight the importance of urban sites as secondary habitats for rare and endangered invertebrates.
Tree cover mediates the effect of ALAN on urban bats has been published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. For Download, please go to the Frontiers Webpage.
Abstract: With urban areas growing worldwide, so does artificial light at night (ALAN) which negatively affects many nocturnal animals, including bats. The response of bats to ALAN ranges from some opportunistic species taking advantage of insect aggregations around street lamps, particularly those emitting ultraviolet (UV) light, to others avoiding lit areas at all. Tree cover has been suggested to mitigate the negative effects of ALAN on bats by shielding areas against light scatter. Here, we investigated the effect of tree cover on the relationship between ALAN and bats in Berlin, Germany. In particular, we asked if this interaction varies with the UV light spectrum of street lamps and also across urban bat species. We expected trees next to street lamps to block ALAN, making the adjacent habitat more suitable for all species, irrespective of the wavelength spectrum of the light source. Additionally, we expected UV emitting lights next to trees to attract insects and thus, opportunistic bats. In summer 2017, we recorded bat activity at 22 green open spaces in Berlin using automated ultrasonic detectors. We analyzed bat activity patterns and landscape variables (number of street lamps with and without UV light emission, an estimate of light pollution, and tree cover density around each recording site within different spatial scales) using generalized linear mixed-effects models with a negative binomial distribution. We found a species-specific response of bats to street lamps with and without UV light, providing a more detailed picture of ALAN impacts than simply total light radiance. Moreover, we found that dense tree cover dampened the negative effect of street lamps without UV for open-space foraging bats of the genera Nyctalus, Eptesicus, and Vespertilio, yet it amplified the already existing negative or positive effect of street lamps with or without UV on Pipistrellus pipistrellus, P. pygmaeus, and Myotis spp. Our study underpins the importance of minimizing artificial light at night close to vegetation, particularly for bats adapted to spatial complexity in the environment (i.e., clutter-adapted species), and to increase dense vegetation in urban landscape to provide, besides roosting opportunities, protection against ALAN for open-space foraging bats in city landscapes.
I have been interviewed by Radio 1 within the science broadcast Die Profis. I talked about my work as urban ecologist in Berlin …
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.
Conference talk in Braunschweig
The German Society of general and applied Entomology (DGaaE) and the German Scientific Society for Plant Protection and Plant Health (DPG) organised a conference on insect diversity in cities (III. Urbane Pflanzen Conferenz). I contributed a talk on habitat function of urban meadows for wild bees with emphasis on urbanisation effects (see Abstract in German). Due to a very diverse audience with many relevant stakeholders and decision-makers (e.g. scientists, gardeners, landscape planners, landscape architects, authorities and NGOs) it was possible to elaborate this topic from different perspectives. At the end we had very interesting – sometimes controverse – discussions to develop recommendations how to make cities more insect friendly and to comment on the new white book „Grün in der Stadt“ which was recently send out for preview. The official presentation of the white book will be in May 2017.
Biological richness of a large urban cemetery in Berlin. Results of a multi-taxon approach has been published in the Biodiversity Data Journal.
Urban green spaces can harbor a considerable species richness of plants and animals. A few studies on single species groups indicate important habitat functions of cemeteries, but this land use type is clearly understudied compared to parks. Such data are important as they (i) illustrate habitat functions of a specific, but ubiquitous urban land-use type and (ii)
may serve as a basis for management approaches. We sampled different groups of plants and animals in the Weißensee Jewish Cemetery in Berlin (WJC) which is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe. With a total of 608 species of plants and animals, this first multi-taxon survey revealed a considerable biological richness in the WJC. In all, 363 wild-growing vascular plant, 72 lichen and 26 bryophyte taxa were recorded. The sampling also yielded 34 bird and 5 bat species as well as 39 ground beetle, 5 harvestman and 64 spider species. Some species are new records for Berlin.