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Prediction of species occurrences and dynamics
in heterogeneous landscapes


The Landscape Ecology Group studies the occurrence and survival of animal and plant species in landscapes. We are interested in functional reactions to environmental changes and focus on heterogenous landscapes with habitat quality varying in space and time (i.e. mosaic cycles; MOSAIK, TEMPO). Moreover, we are developing tools to predict species composition of plant communities in relation to abiotic parameters and management (e.g. matt-grass communities). In the context of habitat modelling we expand model approaches dealing with issues of transferability and reliability.
Spatio-temporal variations are of major interest in the analysis of population dynamics and survival of animals (Spatial Insect Dynamics) and plants (MOSAIK). Little is known about spatiotemporal scales of disturbance rates in landscapes, as these can only be expressed with regard to species: some species are able to store reproductive capacity during disturbance events, whereas others become locally extinct and have to re-immigrate from surrounding habitats (storage effects).

Our main focus is:

Quantification of abiotic processes explaining habitat quality
Realised niches of species in successional series
Functional reaction of species
Spatial population dynamics of animal and plant species
 

Quantification of abiotic processes explaining habitat quality

Landscapes consist of a spatially and temporally heterogeneous mosaic of patches, controlled by water and nutrient regimes as well as disturbances. Basing on digital terrain analysis and soil-landscape modelling we describe the abiotic processes and conditions on landscape scale determining habitat quality for plants and animals. We see the abiotic pattern of a landscape as the basis for a quantitative landscape ecology dealing with complex interactions between environment, plants and animals (scenario generator, landscape model in MOSAIK, also part of the multimedia teaching project GIMOLUS).
 

Realised niches of species in successional stages

To quantify realised niches, we use habitat models. The statistical methods allow the prediction of the probability of the occurence of species in an abiotically characterised mosaic. We are advancing the methodology in order to apply it on large species pools.
 

Functional reaction of species

In spatially and temporally heterogeneous landscapes (e.g. mosaic cycles), the population biology of species has to be considered in addition to the more static habitat modelling approach. Due to logistic constraints, the demography of only a few species and their fate in the mosaic cycle may be investigated and modelled (MOSAIK). Another way is to determine a simple set of biological traits of persistence, regeneration and dispersal for many species. By statistical analysis we detect those traits that are functional for a certain stage in the mosaic cycle (MOSAIK, TEMPO, storage effects). As a reference for the distribution of traits of large species pools databases are built (BIOPOP, LEDA). Subsequently more mechanistic models may be developed to determine the survival ability of a species type (ETOMDAR). Moreover, ecosystem services may be derived of the species' traits (VISTA).
 

Spatial population dynamics of animal and plant species

Our research is focused on the spatially explicit analysis and modelling of ecological processes on regional and geographic scales. We are interested in the analysis and modelling of spatial population structure (Spatial Insect Dynamics, MOSAIK, TEMPO) and spatial population dynamics (Spatial Insect Dynamics). The understanding of spatial processes is fundamental for the prediction of distribution and survival of species in landscapes and the assessment of the effects of land use or climate changes.
Landqsl0jeco-Webmaste6sjr (helga.lptkchokf0fcts@uo9lil.demk) (Changed: 2020-01-23)