Links between genetic diversity, biodiversity at higher levels, and ecosystem processes and services
Most forest tree species are characterized by high levels of genetic variation. However, the significance of genetic variation of trees and other keystone species for the overall biodiversity of forest ecosystems, for ecosystem processes and for the sustainable provision of ecosystem services is largely unknown. Likewise, our knowledge on the impacts of ecosystem management and changes of land use on patterns of intraspecific diversity is very poor.
We explore the spatial dynamics of genetic structures along gradients of species diversity and management intensity for selected forest tree species. We are also interested in the temporal dynamics of genetic structures within tree populations affected by anthropogenic disturbances such as fragmentation and by silvicultural management. We aim to improve our understanding on the role of genetic diversity for ecosystem processes and for the provision of ecosystem services. Genetic implications of the manifold human impacts on forest ecosystems are a focus of our studies.

Selected ongoing or recently completed projects in this field

Selected publications
Curtu, A.L., Gailing, O., Finkeldey, R. (2007). Evidence for hybridization and introgression within a species-rich oak (Quercus spp.) community. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: 218
Curtu, A., Gailing, O., Leinemann, L., Finkeldey, R. (2007). Genetic variation and differentiation within a natural community of five oak species (Quercus spp.). Plant Biology 9: 116-126
Curtu, A.-L., Finkeldey, R., Gailing, O. (2004). Comparative sequencing of a microsatellite locus reveals size homoplasy within and between European oak species (Quercus spp.). Plant Molecular Biology Reporter 22: 339-346
Finkeldey, R. and Ziehe, M. (2004). Genetic implications of silvicultural regimes. Forest Ecology and Management 197: 231-244
Vornam, B., Decarli, N., Gailing, O. (2004) Spatial distribution of genetic variation in a natural beech stand (Fagus sylvatica L.) based on microsatellite markers. Conservation Genetics 5: 561-570