Conservation & animal movement
The “biodiversity and conservation science” research group tries to link human modification of landscapes caused by e.g. agriculture, silviculture, and climate change to biodiversity and ecosystem services. An important part of that work is to understand how animals with different traits, e.g. different mobility, are affected by spatio-temporal variation in resources and fragmentation of habitats. Using a landscape ecological approach, we thus try to understand how not only local factors, but also the surrounding landscape, affect the persistence of animal populations.
An example of our approach is the studies of central place foraging bees that focus on how the interaction between traits such as mobility, body size and colony size affects different species’ ability to persist in agricultural landscapes in which critical food resources have become fragmented and where their temporal variation has increased. These studies range from relating patterns of biodiversity to spatially explicit information on land use to focal studies of the movement of foraging bees in real landscapes.
Another example is our studies of how farmland birds are affected by spatial separation of critical resources, in which the scale at which birds can utilize these resources becomes critical. We have therefore studied movements of birds such as the white stork, the common starling and the house sparrow, with contrasting scales of movement. Fragmentation of habitat, e.g. caused by agricultural intensification and loss of semi-natural habitat, may affect the ability of populations to persist. We explicitly study how the landscape, e.g. through the preservation of linear habitats, affects the connectivity of landscapes and thus the dispersal ability of e.g. butterflies and beetles. In this way we try to understand the mechanism why isolated but flower-rich semi-natural pastures demonstrate low diversity in butterflies. All the studies above depend on our ability to track the movement of animals in real landscapes, either directly or indirectly. Interacting with the CANMOVE technical lab we develop such methods.