Press release: Organic farming or flower strips – which is better for bees? (18.05.2022)
Research team including Göttingen University assess the efficiency of agri-environmental measures from different perspectives
How effective environmental measures in agriculture are for biodiversity and wild bee populations depends on various factors and your perspective. This is shown by agroecologists from the University of Göttingen, Germany and the Centre for Ecological Research in Vácrátót, Hungary. The research team found that when assessing the effectiveness of different measures, whether in the field (organic farming) or next to the field (flower strips in conventional farming), biodiversity benefits should be evaluated differently. Like-for-like comparisons of environmental measures could easily be misleading, according to the scientists. The research was published in the journal Basic and Applied Ecology.
Original publication: Péter Batáry & Teja Tscharntke: Scale-dependent effectiveness of on-field vs. off-field agri-environmental measures for wild bees. 2022, Basic and Applied Ecology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2022.05.001
Press release: Research and art connect for sustainability (08.03.2022)
Festival in Indonesia and exhibition in Forum Wissen Göttingen
Keeping the environment unspoilt, promoting social equality and strengthening sustainability – this is what connects researchers from the University of Göttingen and the university in Jambi on Sumatra with artists from Indonesia and documenta fifteen. Together, they are organising a festival in Permatang Kabau, a village on the island of Sumatra, as part of a collaboration for the contemporary art exhibition documenta, which will be held this year for the fifteenth time. The festival of Semah Bumi (balancing, serving, seeding) will feature concerts, art exhibitions and theatre performances from 12 to 13 March 2022. Starting with the question "What do we want our village to look like in twenty years?", the participants will formulate their wishes for the future and develop common goals from the perspective of sustainability in the region.
The results will be on display at an exhibition at the Forum Wissen Göttingen from June 2022. In parallel to documenta fifteen, visitors will be able to experience the social and ecological dimensions of research in Indonesia from different perspectives.
For further information, see the festival's Instagram account www.instagram.com/semahbumi/, or find out more about the Collaborative Research Centre EFForTS: https://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/310995.html
Press release: How robust are ecosystems? Three key indicators hold the clues (23.09.2021)
Göttingen University research team involved in global study on conditions and capacity to adapt
Ecosystems provide a wide range of services to people. These services depend on basic ecosystem functions, which are shaped by natural conditions like climate, the mix of species and by human intervention. A research team including the University of Göttingen has identified three key indicators that describe the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems: the capacity to maximise primary productivity; the efficiency of using water; and the efficiency of using carbon. Monitoring these three indicators will make it possible to assess how adaptable an ecosystem is to climate and environmental changes and how it can evolve under certain conditions. The research was published in Nature.
Original publication: Mirco Migliavacca et al. The three major axes of terrestrial ecosystem function (2021) Nature DOI 10.1038/s41586-021-03939-9: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03939-9
Press release: Bird communities threatened by urbanization (24.08.2021)
Urbanization is one of the most drastic forms of land-use change, and its negative consequences on biodiversity have been studied extensively in temperate countries such as Germany. However, less research has been conducted in tropical regions from the Global South, where most of the ongoing and future urbanization hotspots are located, and little is known about its effects on agricultural biodiversity and associated ecosystems. A research team from the University of Göttingen and the University of Hohenheim, in collaboration with the University of Agricultural Sciences of Bangalore in India, investigated the effects of urbanization on farmland bird communities in and around Bangalore, a city of over 10 million inhabitants in South India. They found that urbanization homogenizes farmland bird communities, filtering out species with certain functional traits, such as insect-eating birds, which are important for pest control. The results were published in Global Change Biology.
Press release: Promoting biodiversity-friendly landscapes - beyond organic farming (04.08.2021)
Is organic farming the only alternative to conventional agriculture to promote biodiversity in agricultural landscapes? An international research team led by the University of Göttingen questions this. According to the authors, a landscape mosaic of natural habitats and small-scale and diverse cultivated areas is the key to promoting biodiversity on a large scale in both conventional and organic agriculture. They state that political decision-makers will have to recognise this in order to achieve a corresponding paradigm shift in agriculture. The statement was published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
Press release: Good food in a nice setting: wild bees need diverse agricultural landscapes (29.06.2021)
Mass-flowering crops such as oilseed rape or faba bean (also known as broad bean) provide valuable sources of food for bees, which, in turn, contribute to the pollination of both the crops and nearby wild plants when they visit. But not every arable crop that produces flowers is visited by the same bees. A team from the University of Göttingen and the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) in Braunschweig has investigated how the habitat diversity of the agricultural landscape and the cultivation of different mass-flowering crops affect wild bees. The research shows that diverse agricultural landscapes increase the species richness of wild bees. Flowering arable crops with different flower shapes support different wild bee species. The results of the study have been published in Landscape Ecology.
Press release: Sacred natural sites protect biodiversity in Iran (15.06.2021)
How much do traditional practices contribute to the protection of local biodiversity? Why and how are sacred groves locally valued and protected, and how can this be promoted and harnessed for environmental protection? Working together with the University of Kurdistan, researchers of the University of Göttingen and the University of Kassel have examined the backgrounds of this form of local environmental protection in Baneh County, Iran.
“Around the world, local communities are voluntarily protecting certain parts of their surroundings due to religious reasons – be it in Ethiopia, Morocco, Italy, China or India”, reports Professor Tobias Plieninger, head of the section Social-ecological Interactions in Agricultural Systems at the universities of Kassel and Göttingen. Sacred natural sites are places where traditional myths and stories meet local ecological knowledge and environmental protection. Beyond state-based protection programs, these form a network of informal nature reserves.
Press release: Reduced plant species richness means insects at risk (17.05.2021)
Joint project including Göttingen University observes reduced plant species richness and declining diversity of associated insects
Where plant species diversity decreases, insect diversity decreases too and with it biodiversity as a whole. From the intensively managed meadows and pastures to dense and dark beech forests, insects that specialise in just a few plant species are disappearing: the plants that provide their food no longer grow there. This is shown by an international study with the participation of the University of Göttingen. The results were published in the journal Science Advances.
Press release: Revealing the secret cocoa pollinators (03.05.2021)
The importance of pollinators to ensure successful harvests and thus global food security is widely acknowledged. However, the specific pollinators for even major crops – such as cocoa – haven’t yet been identified and there remain many questions about sustainability, conservation and plantation management to enhance their populations and, thereby, pollination services. Now an international research team based in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia and led by the University of Göttingen has found that in fact ants and flies – but not ceratopogonid midges as was previously thought – appear to have a crucial role to play. In addition, they found that promoting biodiversity friendly landscapes, leaf-litter and trees providing shade in agroforestry systems were important to enhance tiny cocoa pollinators. The research was published in Biological Conservation.
Press release: Forests of the world in 3D (04.02.2021)
Primeval forests are of great importance for biodiversity and global carbon and water cycling. The three-dimensional structure of forests plays an important role here because it influences processes of gas and energy exchange with the atmosphere, whilst also providing habitats for numerous species. An international research team led by the University of Göttingen has investigated the variety of different complex structures that can be found in the world's forests, as well as the factors that explain this diversity. The results have been published in Nature Communications.