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17 November 2017

European forests might not be realizing their full potential ...

14 November 2017

Partnertausch als Überlebensstrategie – Flechten passen sich durch Algenwechsel an neues Klima an ...

20 October 2017

Shallow soils promote savannas in South America...

07 September 2017

Rising winter temperatures contributed to the decline of the brown bear in Europe...

03 July 2017

Elevational range limits of alpine trees not solely determined by climate...

30 June 2017

Areas affected by fire are decreasing globally...

13 June 2017

Global hotspots for alien species are island and coastals regions...

31 May 2017

Downsizing in animal communities leads to functional decay in tropical forests...

24 May 2017

Zebras follow their memory when migrating ...

11 May 2017

Picky birds are most flexible...

09 May 2017

Open Day at Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre...

27 April 2017

Auf dem Gipfel der Evolution – Flechten bei der Artbildung zugeschaut...

19 April 2017

Bears breed across species borders...

30 March 2017

Ground water depletion due to international trade threathens food supply world-wide...

27 March 2017

Methan emissions from cows could rise by 70 per cent until 2050...

27 February 2017

New insights into the mechanisms into how ungulates got bigger in the Neogene...

20 February 2017

More warm-dwelling Animals and Plants as a Result of Climate Change ...

15 February 2017

Alien species on the rise worldwide...

02 February 2017

Partnerwahl bei Flechten – Warmes Klima macht wählerisch...

17 January 2017

Spiel mit dem Feuer – wie Eiszeitjäger das Landschaftsbild Europas prägten...

11 January 2017

How far do invasive species travel?...

04 January 2017

Domino effect: The loss of plant species triggers the extinction of animals...

Press Releases

European forests might not be realizing their full potential

Frankfurt/ Germany, November 17th 2017. European forest managers can have their cake and eat it, because according to a new study maximizing timber production in a forest does not necessarily have to come at a cost of reduced species diversity or the capacity to regulate climate change by the same forest. However, as the international research team, among them scientists from Senckenberg and the University of Leipzig, point out, most European forests fall well below their possible maximum levels of these three capacities. The study was published recently in “Ecology Letters”.

Throughout Europe forests are usually managed with one or two major objectives. These are typically timber production, climate regulation or conservation. But this focused approach might not be necessary as trade-offs among different ecosystem processes that contribute to achieving these major three forest management objectives are relatively rare, a newly published study an international research team shows.

“One might think there is a conflict between timber production and biodiversity conservation. For example, in some cases planting trees very densely to increase timber yields might lessen understorey plant diversity or bird diversity, both important components of biodiversity conservation” explains Dr. Peter Manning, part of the research team from the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre. “However overall, we found that this is the exception, not the rule; such winner-loser games are not what is really happening.”

To find out what goes on in European forests the researchers measured and correlated 28 ecosystem services and processes that underpin timber production, climate regulation and species diversity in six regions including Finland, Poland, German, Romania and Italy. They are all part of FunDivEurope, a large-scale project examining the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functions in forests. The group also analyzed data from national forest inventories across Europe, making the study one of the most comprehensive analyses of forest ecosystem functioning at this scale to date.

“The results show that there are synergies between ecosystem processes. For example, if the forest fares well for timber production this also means the forest makes a positive contribution to climate regulation, as tree growth also means more carbon stored” says Dr. Fons van der Plas, a researcher at University of Leipzig, who conducted the study whilst working at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre. Additionally, the researchers found, that if a forest does a good job of producing timber and regulating the climate, then this combination may go hand in hand with high levels of species diversity in the same forest.

But the potential for these newly found synergies is not capitalized on by forest managers. Currently there only a few spots throughout Europe where researchers could find simultaneous high levels of all the ecosystem processes that contribute to timber production, climate regulation and biodiversity conservation. Compared to these sites, most forests meet only half of this potential.

In light of this the researchers call for changes in forest management strategies in order to maximize ecosystem processes and thus maximize the benefits of European forests. But those new strategies have yet to be identified, as Manning quickly points out:  “The next step would be to have a closer look at the few spots with a high amount of synergies between different ecosystems services to see how this works and might be transferred to other sites”.

Contact

Dr. Peter Manning
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre
Phone +49 (0)69- 7542 1913
peter.manning@senckenberg.de

Sabine Wendler
Press officer
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre
Phone +49 (0)69- 7542 1818
pressestelle@senckenberg.de

Publication

van der Plas, F., Ratcliffe, S., Ruiz-Benito, P. et al. (2017): Continental mapping of forest ecosystem functions reveals a high but unrealized potential for forest multifunctionality. Ecology Letters. doi 10.1111/ele.12868

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To study and understand nature with its limitless diversity of living creatures and to preserve and manage it in a sustainable fashion as the basis of life for future generations – this has been the goal of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (Senckenberg Nature Research Society) for 200 years. This integrative “geobiodiversity research” and the dissemination of research and science are among Senckenberg’s main tasks. Three nature museums in Frankfurt, Görlitz and Dresden display the diversity of life and the earth’s development over millions of years. The Senckenberg Nature Research Society is a member of the Leibniz Association. The Senckenberg Nature Museum in Frankfurt am Main is supported by the City of Frankfurt am Main as well as numerous other partners. Additional information can be found at www.senckenberg.de

200 years of Senckenberg! 2017 marks Senckenberg’s anniversary year. For 200 years, the society, which was founded in 1817, has dedicated itself to nature research with curiosity, passion and involvement. Senckenberg will celebrate its 200-year success story with a colorful program consisting of numerous events, specially designed exhibitions and a grand museum party in the fall. Of course, the program also involves the presentation of current research and future projects. Additional information can be found at: www.200jahresenckenberg.