Broadly, I am interested how biodiversity of different trophic and functional groups is affected by spatial and temporal features of the urban matrix – e.g. connectivity, urbanisation, land-use legacy, historical connectivity and current land use. In addition, analysing effects of novel urban stressors such as air, light, noise and soil pollution but also behaviour of city-dwellers at species and community level is one important focus of my work. Besides biodiversity and functional diversity, I am keen on identifying key functional traits that characterise successful urban species and communities. Finally, getting a better understanding of inter- and intraspecific trait variability along rural-urban gradients and explaining how biotic interactions (granivory, herbivory, pollination, decomposition) are altered in respect of urban ecosystem function and services are key research questions.
Here I am focussed on invasion effects on invertebrates and plant-insect interactions in a broad range of ecosystems. In particular, I am interested in interactions between invasion and other global change factors such as urbanisation or climate change. Invasion effects can be negative but also neutral or even positive for native communities. Thus, I am convinced that a more balanced and value-free view enables unbiased evaluations of biological invasions and supports urban conservation policies and the controversial debate on using alien plant species, for example in urban greening.
Semi-natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes
Analysing biodiversity dynamics in semi-natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes is essential to maintain these habitats including their positive benefits on biodiversity. My focus is on peat bogs, dry grasslands and heathland but I am also working in old deciduous forests and semi-natural landscape elements in agricultural landscapes. I am especially interested in how land-use changes, succession and changes in the landscape matrix affect animal communities, and I focus on monitoring restoration and habitat management efforts.
Nature conservation and species protection
My basic aim is to derive practical implications for urban and landscape planning as well as species protection to support evidence-based and scientifically sound nature conservation. Here, incorporating urban habitats as important refugia for rare and endangered species is likewise important for assessing and modelling population structure and conservation status of species of conservation concern, e.g., species listed in the FFH directive. Finally, I am keen on finding ways to maintain cultural landscapes in a long-term.
Linked to the Nature Conservation topic, the basic aim of science-policy interfaces is to increase the impact of biodiversity research on the development of policies and management plans as well as on the public awareness of the goods and services provided by biodiversity. In addition, one of the most significant aims is to ensure a fast-track knowledge transfer from science to policy but also communicate the feedback and specific needs from policy makers and practitioners back to scientists. This can help to develop a transdisciplinary synthesis across biological, social and political sciences to provide evidence-based feedback for conservation policy and development of meaningful strategies for green future cities.
- Methodology of biodiversity assessment and related field techniques
- Spider ecology