Our research largely focuses on the causes and consequences of functional connectivity in terrestrial wildlife species. Our work combines novel landscape genetics approaches with methods and concepts from movement ecology, and makes strong use of spatial modelling and individual-based simulations. Consequently, our research amalgamates various data types (relocations obtained from satellite-telemetry, genetic and environmental data), spans multiple spatio-temporal scales (meters to km, days to decades), and addresses questions related to different levels of biodiversity (from individuals to populations, from genes to ecosystems). Specifically, we currently conduct connectivity research at the level of…
We use and develop sophisticated methods to quantify individual behaviours from movement tracks derived from satellite-telemetry data. We have, for example, developed an R package for in-depth home range analysis, provided guidance for choosing appropriate methods for path-segmentation, and developed a new semivariance approach for understanding environmental impacts on movement.
combine telemetry data, landscape genetics and spatial modelling to
understand environmental effects on movement and gene flow among
populations in fragmented habitats. For example, we have developed a
corridor model for Belize, predicted hotspots for future
human-elephant conflicts in the borderlands area between Kenya and
Tanzania, and are evaluating meta-population connectivity in red deer
across Germany. Understanding population connectivity is also
important for understanding local adaptation, and for conserving the
adaptive capacity and evolutionary potential of wildlife populations
in heterogeneous and changing environments. Landscape genomics
methods are increasingly used in this context.
Movement behaviour of one species may also have consequences for other species. For example, we are trying to understand how landscape structure influences movements of meso-predators in fragmented landscapes, and how this affects predation rates of an endangered, ground-breeding bird, the grey partridge.
Animal movements can also impact important ecosystem processes, because animals act as “mobile links” within the ecosystems. For example, we are studying the impacts of space-use behaviour in herbivores on vegetation dynamics in open grasslands. Similarly, we are interested in the role of small mammals as seed predators and dispersers in different forest ecosystems.
Based on our findings form these various projects, we develop recommendations for wildlife research, conservation and management.