Cross-taxon biodiversity trends in central Europe

Ms Eva Katharina Engelhardt1, Mr Matthias Biber, Dr. Christian Hof

1Biodiversity & Global Change Lab, Terrestrial Ecology Research Group, Technical University of Munich, Germany, Freising, Germany

Changes in climate and land-use are considered to have considerable impacts on different levels of biodiversity, associated with rapid declines in many populations, range shifts, and changes in species communities. Most studies investigating such biodiversity trends are limited by a lack of reliable fine-scale, long-term field data, especially in highly heterogeneous regions. In central Europe, heterogeneous areas are affected by different human pressures acting at different scales and changing over short spatial distances, which increases the need for fine-scaled assessments of biodiversity trends. The state of Bavaria in southern Germany includes a diverse mixture of landscapes and habitats, ranging from lowland forests and floodplains to alpine environments. Therefore, Bavaria may serve as a model region for recent pressures on central European biodiversity.

Here, we present long-term trends in four ecologically and physiologically different animal taxa (birds, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers), based on survey data over the course of more than 30 years. Specifically, we provide an assessment of the biases in the data used for our analyses, and explore, after accounting for these biases, population declines and range shifts of selected taxa as well as changes in species communities in Bavaria.

Our results emphasize the need for more systematic, reliable assessments of the effects of human pressures on different levels of biodiversity, especially in areas as greatly affected by human actions as central Europe. Understanding past influences of climate and land-use change on species is the first step towards the mitigation of increasing human pressures on biodiversity in the future.


Since 2018 PhD student at the Biodiversity & Global Change Lab, Chair of Terrestrial Ecology, Technical University Munich, under the supervision of Dr. C. Hof. Topic: Development of multidimensional models integrating different scales and taxons for a better understanding and projection of the effects of climate and land use change on the bavarian fauna

2015 – 2018 M.Sc. Ecology and Evolution at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main. Master Thesis at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) under the supervision of Dr. C. Hof, Prof. K. Böhning-Gaese and Prof. T. Müller: “Direct and indirect effects of climate change on the European spotted nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes)”

2011-2015 B.Sc. Bio Sciences at Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg. Bachelor Thesis at the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) under the supervision of Prof. M. Wink and Prof. T. Braunbeck: “Revierkartierung ausgewählter Brutvogelarten des Handschuhsheimer Feldes, Heidelberg, im Frühjahr bis Frühsommer 2014” (Breeding range mapping of selected breeding birds in a cultivated area north of Heidelberg during breeding season in 2014)

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