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Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Biogeography

Research profile

The Conservation Biogeography Lab seeks to better understand dynamics in coupled human-natural systems, and how these dynamics affect species and communities – from landscape to global scales. Our research aims at identifying ways to balance human resource use with the conservation of biodiversity, and is strongly motivated by providing solutions to real-world conservation problems. The group develops and applies approaches grounded in spatial ecology, quantitative geography, conservation planning, spatial statistics, econometric modeling, and remote sensing. We work in strong collaboration with researchers and science institutions worldwide, and we are active contributors to science networks such as the Global Land Project and Diversitas.

Our research can be broadly grouped into three research areas:

Land system dynamics
This research area explores the questions of where land use and land cover is changing, and what the drivers of these change are. Research foci include assessing patterns and quantifying changes in land use intensity, studying the effect of shock events (e.g., revolutions, warfare, or economic crises) on land systems, and identifying archetypical patterns and pathways of land system change.

Land use effects on biodiversity
This research area focuses on understanding the outcome of land change on species and communities. At the species level, we assess past and potential future changes in habitat distribution and connectivity, and explore land use effects on population dynamics, often with a focus on range-wide analyses. At the community level, we assess how broad-scale drivers, such as climate and land use change, restructure communities and how alternative future pathways may affect biodiversity patterns.

Sustainable land systems
This research field asks what characterizes sustainable land systems that harmonize human resource use with the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity that ultimately underpin these resources. We assess the effectiveness of conservation, quantify the trade-offs and synergies between biodiversity conservation and land use, and explore the biodiversity outcomes of alternative management options (e.g., land expansion vs. intensification). A focus in this research field also lies in conservation planning in order to align competing goals.

We work in many different places and systems, but current geographic focus areas of our research are in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Sub-Amazonia South America.