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Doctoral candidate successfully completed her dissertation

Lisa Freudenberger is already the second doctoral student to obtain her doctoral degree of the graduate program. The successful defence of her dissertation on ecosystem-based adaptation of priority-setting in nature conservation to global change was celebrated in Potsdam on the 6th of November 2013. The defense was attended by the members of the exam comission as well as several colleagues from the University of Potsdam and the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development.

Foto: Lisa Freudenberger and the exam commission (from the left: T. Heineken, H. Wiggering, W. Cramer, F. Jeltsch, A. Walz, L. Freudenberger, A. Kupfer, P. Ibisch, R. Tiedemann, J. Joshi)

Nicola Dolgener completed her doctoral thesis already last year. The topic of her thesis was aiming at the population analysis of the endangered fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) in Brandenburg. Apart from that she analysed the importance of different environmental factors for the distribution of the fire-bellied toad and its genetic diversity today and in the future und climate change scenarios.

Measuring road disturbance - A new index for wilderness conservation planning

Roads and traffic have been shown to have multiple negative effects on ecosystems for example through traffic noise, road kills of animals, isolation of populations and loss of habitat. These negative impacts are however difficult to quantify. A paper just published in Landscape Ecology presents a new methodology for the assessment of disturbance through roads and traffic. The so-called SPatial ROAd Disturbance Index, short SPROADI, is based on a spatial assessment of road density and corresponding landscape fragmentation as well as traffic intensity.

Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg, Germany: A major motorway from Berlin to the Baltic Sea cuts through the largest area of close-to-nature beech forest in European lowlands (photograph: Pierre Ibisch).

The methodology is applied to a case study region, the Federal State of Brandenburg in northern Germany, which has a relatively high density of roads and traffic: The study led by a team from the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development and Writtle College in the UK, was carried out as part of the ‘Roadless areas initiative’ of the Europe Section of the Society for Conservation Biology. The conservation of roadless and traffic-poor areas is an important strategy for safeguarding the functioning of ecosystems, which, in turn, maintains resilience in the face of climate change and secures the long-term provision of ecosystem services. “Ecosystems that have a higher level of disturbance are generally less capable of dealing with perturbations and to adapt to environmental change,” says Professor Ibisch, senior author of the study and Professor for Nature Conservation at the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development in Germany.

A new global map displays the functionality of ecosystems

A new study explores which continental areas have the highest functionality. These are of major relevance for the sustainability of the biosphere and they are areas, which supply most services to humanity. Especially with regard to climate change these exceptionally functional areas deserve particular protection.

Ecosystems absorb solar energy and convert it to ecosystem services usable by humans. For example they provide biomass, which can serve as food, construction material or energy resource, or they regulate the climate and store water. Basic functions such as photosynthesis and the maintenance of nutrient circles are crucial for the provision of ecosystem services. The ability of Earth´s surface to absorb, transform and store energy is a result of ecosystem processes. In this respect, some ecosystems are more efficient than others. According to current theories and outcomes, this is a result of the complexity and diversity of ecosystems with higher functionality leading to a diversification of pathways for energy storage and dissipation. Furthermore, the amount of living and dead biomass is of high significance. Ecosystems with higher functionality are more resilient towards disturbances such as fluctuations in temperature and precipitation. Functional ecosystems have a special importance for mankind because they also regulate the adaptability of nature to climate change.

Book about Nature Conservation and Climate Change in Brandenburg

As part of a project funded by the European Social Fund and also involved doctoral candidates of the cooperative graduate programme "Adaptive Nature Conservation under Climate Change" a book has been released with the title "Regionale Anpassung des Naturschutzes an den Klimawandel: Strategien und methodische Ansätze zur Erhaltung der Biodiversität und Ökosystemdienstleistungen in Brandenburg" (Regional Adaptation of Nature Conservation to Climate Change: Strategies and Methodological Approaches for the Protection of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). The book has been released with a circulation of 1000 at the beginning of August 2012 and can be downloaded here (only in German, but including an English executive summary). A flyer informing about the book can be downloaded here. Printing copies are available as well - Contact: Stefan Kreft, stefan.kreft@hnee.de.

Insensa-GIS, a new software for GIS data analysis, index development, sensitivity analysis and environmental assessments, has been released

On Wednesday, 23rd of November, Insensa-GIS, a new open-source software tool was presented in a workshop at the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (Germany) by Dennis Biber, the developer of the software, and Lisa Freudenberger. The software has been recently released as a beta-version and can be downloaded from http://www.insensa.org.

Insensa-GIS has been initially designed for spatial index development and sensitivity analysis but provides many other functions for statistical analysis of geographical data in different formats. Furthermore, it allows displaying maps, graphs and statistical outputs.

In the workshop, different staff members from Eberswalde University were invited to take the first steps to working with Insensa-GIS. While some of the participants had already worked intensively with GIS data, others were less experienced. Despite their different knowledge states, all of them were able to work with the software independently within a very short time.

The clearly arranged graphical interface and the intuitive handling of the software make it a very easy to work with geographical data in Insensa-GIS. The software is designed as open-source software and allows a user-friendly integration of plugins. This makes it very easy to extend the functionality of the software and to adapt it for individual needs and purposes. The homepage also offers a forum for developers and users to exchange ideas and make suggestions for further functions that could be useful and integrated in Insensa-GIS.

The cooperative Graduate Programme at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society

Doctoral candidates and professors of the cooperative graduate programme Adaptive Nature Conservation under climate change presented their results within the context of two symposia at the 41st annual meeting of the Ecological Society in Oldenburg.

The Ecological Society is launching a conference for researchers and its members from Germany, Austria and Switzerland every year. Every year the newest results from ecological science are presented at symposia with a specific thematic focus. This year’s conference was held from the 5th to 9th September in Oldenburg. Chaired by Pierre Ibisch, Vera Luthardt (Professors at the University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde (HNEE-FH) and Florian Jeltsch (Professor at the Potsdam University) two symposia were launched where members of the graduate programme presented their results from the past two years. Additionally researchers from the junior research group “Regional Adaptation to Climate Change – Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity” and other institutions took part in the symposia.

The Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management offered a workshop on the Globio methodology given by Wilbert van Rooij (Aidenvironment)

On June 22nd the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management launched a workshop on global modelling with the Globio3 Modelling Framework. Doctoral candidates were participating in the workshop as well as other master students and international colleagues.

Ceremonial opening of the Center for Econics and Ecosystem Management

The 8th of June 2011 marked the launch of a new collaborative initiative between the Faculty of Forest and Environment at Eberswalde University for
Sustainable Development, Germany and Writtle College, a partnership institute with Essex University, UK.

A ceremony, hosted by Eberswalde University, inaugurating the official opening of a new academic centre – the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management was attended by staff and students from the host institute, representatives from local press and media, as well as two key-note speakers from affiliated conservation organisations, Ilke Tilders (European Co-ordinator, Foundations of Success) and Sascha Mueller-Kraenner (Executive Director, Nature Conservancy Europe).

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding. President Prof. Vahrson (Eberswalde) together with the founding directors, Dr. Hobson (left) and Prof. Ibisch (right).

Published article: Current models broadly neglect specific needs of biodiversity conservation in protected areas under climate change

Sieck, M., Ibisch, P. L., Moloney, K. A., Jeltsch, F. (2011) Current models broadly neglect specific needs of biodiversity conservation in protected areas under climate change. BMC Ecology, 11:12

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6785/11/12

Published article: Classification of climate-change-induced stresses onbiological diversity

Recently a paper on climate-change-induced stresses on biological diversity was published in Conservation Biology by members of the graduate research programme Adaptive Nature Conservation under Global Change:

Geyer, J., Kiefer, I., Kreft, S., Chavez, V., Salafsky, N., Jeltsch, F. and Ibisch, P. L. (2011), Classification of Climate-Change-Induced Stresses on Biological Diversity. Conservation Biology, 25: no. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01676.x

It is already available online in early view format: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01676.x/abstract.

Conservation actions need to account for and be adapted to address changes that will occur under global climate change. The identification of stresses on biological diversity (as defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity) is key in the process of adaptive conservation management. We applied a systemic approach and a hierarchical framework to develop a comprehensive classification of stresses to biological diversity that are caused directly by global climate change. We grouped the identified stresses according to 3 levels of biological diversity: stresses that affect individuals and populations, stresses that affect biological communities, and stresses that affect ecosystem structure and function. Our classification may be used to identify key climate-change-related stresses to biological diversity and may assist in the development of appropriate conservation strategies.

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