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.
„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.
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.
Biodiversity assessments at full blast
My last post belongs to the past by now – anyway, that means that I moved to my outdoor workplace. We are mapping sand lizard populations and sampling pollinators, moths (and recording bats at the same time) and still ground-dwelling arthropods. We also running an experiments to measure seed predation along urban gradients. Hopefully we are able to start another experiment on pollinator visitation rates soon – so long as the weather is co-operating.
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.
Conference talk (in German) in Berlin
„Die Zauneidechse mag es urban. Was bedeutet das für den Artenschutz und die Stadtplanung?“. Meeting of the Brandenburg Berlin herpetologists in Berlin – more information. If you are interested in our studies on urban effects on sand lizard populations, please read our article „The sand lizard moves downtown – habitat analogues for an endangered species in a metropolitan area“ in Urban Ecosystems.
Treffen der Brandenburg-Berliner Feldherpetologen am 18.02.2017 in Berlin, Herzberge (Informationen und Programm).
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.