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Coordinated Ecological Monitoring – Global Overview, Challenges and Options

Master thesis for following study programs:

GCE, Environmental Geography, Geoökologie, Biodiverstiy and Ecology

 

Topic: Coordinated Ecological Monitoring – Global Overview, Challenges and Options

 

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Carl Beierkuhnlein

 

Motivation:

Monitoring needs for various ecological traits, aspects, functions, services etc. in increasingly needed. Many structures exist ranging from local singular cases over national initiatives to continental scale monitoring of selected species. Monitoring aims are also diverse and include research on ecosystem fluxes (NEON), biodiversity (observatories in Germany), natural processes in ecosystems (LTER). At the global scale ILTER has been established. However, up to date there is no conceptual framework or global standard that would enable to yield and analyse comparable data. This is in contrast to the experimental scientific community, where coordinated experiments and experimental networks with standard protocosl have been established at the global scale in recent years (HerbDivNet, NutNet, DroughtNet). Particularly the rapid development of remote sensing and the increasing availability and accessibility of big data should now promote the establishment of coordinated monitoring. For this purpose, it is required to have an overview on the existing networks first, and to detect how these can be linked and fulfil certain roles in a global setting.

 

Aims:

This study is aiming to collect information on the extent, duration, data etc. of existing large-scale networks of ecological monitoring including all levels of biological organization from species to ecosystems. We hypothesize that common currency exists across these sites.

Based on this, suggestions for standard protocols and future directions of ecological monitoring will be derived.

 

Methods and Data:

Analyze quantitative and qualitative aspects of existing networks.

Linking in-situ information with remote sensing.

 

Required skills:

R, Statistics, Remote Sensing

 

Spatial extent / Location:

Global

 

Temporal restrictions / Begin:

Anytime

 

Apply:

Carl.beierkuhnlein@uni-bayreuth.de



Ansprechpartner: Carl Beierkuhnlein

Functional Traits of Declining Species

Master Thesis for:

Biodiversity and Ecology, Geoökologie, Environmental Geography

 

Topic:

Functional Traits of Declining Species

 

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Carl Beierkuhnlein

 

Motivation:

Species loss is a common perception across all groups of taxa and in all regions of the world due to increasing human pressures and rapid environmental changes. Evidently, habitat quality, fragmentation, pollution and many other impacts are modifying the living conditions for species in a much higher speed than it is possible for them to adapt to, or to migrate or disperse into places where new windows of opportunity may open. However, in most cases, we do not have data of changing abundance and distribution that are precise enough or complete for certain groups of species or regions. In the case of the German (Central European) Flora, this is different. Here, we know very precisely across approx. 2500 species whether their populations remained stable or declined in recent decades. Now we want to focus on those species that show a clear reduction in records and we want to understand whether there are certain functional (or morphological) traits that are common to them in order to develop protection strategies that go beyond individual cases.

 

Aims:

We expect to find out which types of species are most vulnerable.

Based on the findings of this study, general protection strategies can be derived.

 

Methods and Data:

For the Flora of Germany we do have an excellent overview of the spatial distribution of all plant species and for every single grid cell the information of the respective species have been present during the 20th century or if they declined in these grids. Species that show an extensive decline in records can be identified and their functional traits can be analyzed.

Floristic mapping at the scale of Germany (with change detection), TRY Data Base

 

Required skills:

R, GIS

 

Spatial extent / Location:

Germany

 

Temporal restrictions / Begin:

Anytime

 

Apply:

Carl.beierkuhnlein@uni-bayreuth.de



Ansprechpartner: Carl Beierkuhnlein

Global assessment of the effect of introduced herbivores on threatened island plant species

Background: Islands are generally considered more susceptible to invasive species. Especially island plant species are threatened by introduced herbivores because island plant species often lack herbivore defenses. However, these assumptions are based entirely on case studies from single islands or archipelagos or from single taxonomic groups. Using global and freely accessible databases (e.g. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Global Invasive Species Database, UNEP Global Island Database) this project aims at first comprehensive assessment addressing this topic to identify general and globally applicable patterns in island conservation and invasion biology.

 

Research object: All threatened island plant species worldwide and the invasive herbivores threatening them

 

Research question: How are IUCN Red List plant species on islands threatened by invasive herbivores distributed globally? How does endemism status affect the threat status of island plant species? Can we predict the herbivore threat of island plant species by using island features?

 

Your job:

  1. Assemble a database of all threatened island plant species threatened by introduced herbivore browsing, their threat status and endemism status (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species)
  2. Assemble a database of all major invasive herbivores on islands (Global Invasive Species Database)
  3. Assemble a database of island features (area, elevation, isolation, GDP, human population, etc.) using the UNEP Global Island Database)
  4. Develop hypotheses and analyze data using appropriate statistical methods

 

Requirements: Interest in global macroecological perspectives and conservation biogeography, database and data management skills using large databases, R skills for data analysis

 

Supervisors: Dr. Severin Irl, Raum 002 GEO II, Tel.: 0921-552299, Email: severin.irl@uni-bayreuth.de



Ansprechpartner: Severin D.H. Irl