Evaluation of universal patterns of biodiversity and carbon storage responses to land use change: a comparative study with temperate and Mediterranean ecosystems

carbon flux

Human land-use change results in disturbance of landscapes and ecosystems on large areas of the Earth, thus affecting environmental resources and ecosystem services. Human land use is the main factor for loss of biodiversity on a global scale. To date, most effects of land use on plant communities and ecosystem services have been tested under distinct disturbance regimes in a single biogeographical region. Comparing various types of land use under different degrees of intensity across biomes might reveal universal patterns of ecosystem responses that are unknown so far. This project that jointly investigates land-use impacts on plant communities, biodiversity and C storage in Germany and Israel using data from field plots in both countries analyzed by a statistical habitat model. The main objective of this project is to find universal patterns of responses to change in land use, and to predict consequences for plant biodiversity and ecosystem C storage across land-use types and biogeographical regions. Verifying a functional relation between sets of biological attributes, environmental resources and land management allows predicting biodiversity for a wide range of systems and landscapes by knowing land use and resource regimes. Relationships between C stocks and plant traits, resources and management also enable us to find the sources for changes in C storage following land-use change, a causal connection that is unknown in most cases. Results from this study add new insights on the generality of responses of vegetation and C cycling to environmental changes.


Dirks I, Navon Y, Kanas D, Dumbur R and Grünzweig JM. 2010. Atmospheric water vapor as driver of litter decomposition in Mediterranean shrubland and grassland during rainless seasons. Global Change Biology 16, 2799-2812.

Michael Kleyer, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany

Inga Dirks (PhD student)

Partner organizations:
State of Lower-Saxony and the Volkswagen Foundation, Hannover, Germany