Senckenberg Research

1-min poster flash talks
Poster presentations (Mon, Oct. 2nd, 15:30-16:00):

1-minute poster flash talks in plenary


1) S1,P1: Ecological interactions between humans and woolly mammoths during the early Upper Palaeolithic in Europe
Dorothée G. Drucker1, Christoph Wißing2, Susanne C. Münzel3, Britt M. Starkovich1, Sibylle Wolf1, Nicholas J. Conard4, Hervé Bocherens4

1 Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment Tübingen
2 Paläobiologie, Biogeologie, Universität Tübingen
3 Institute for Archaeological Science, Archaeozoology, University of Tübingen
4 Universität Tübingen, Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment

 The exploitation of woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) by early Upper Paleolithic humans in Europe has been abundantly documented. While the use of mammoth bone and ivory as raw material is attested by tools, ornaments and art objects, the consumption of mammoth flesh can be more challenging to decipher. Direct tracking of diet through stable isotopes in fossil bones can shed some light, since the contribution of mammoth meat in human and animal predator diet can be detected when considering carbon and nitrogen stable isotope composition in bone collagen. Here we review evidences of mammoth meat consumption in Central and Western Europe during the Early Upper Palaeolithic through isotopic measurements of human bone collagen. This study shows the dietary exploitation of mammoth was more systematic than previously suspected, which leads to the question of the potential human impact on the demography of this slow rate breeder in addition to climatic influence.


2) S1,P3: Coupling models to assess the use of water sources in Southern Africa
Lukas Drees1, Stefan Liehr1, Robert Lütkemeier1

1 Water Resources and Land Use, ISOE - Institute for Social-Ecological Research and Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)

Most households in the Cuvelai-Basin (NA/AO) rely on the local availability of natural water sources. Thus, they are extremely vulnerable to droughts and the impending effects of climate change. In some areas, (fee-based) modern water sources can supply drinking water for some of the needs to substitute or relieve traditional water sources. Besides environmental factors, the household’s socio-economic status and the behaviour of neighbours also influence the decision making.
A modelling approach that is able to handle the given complexity has to consider environmental as well as socio-economic variables. A Bayesian network for decision making is coupled with an agent-based model to capture interactions between different households and GIS to create a spatially explicit model.
The coupled model depicts the importance of environmental and socio-economic conditions and bears the potential to introduce societal dynamics into broader modelling approaches on environmental-human interactions.


3) S1,P5: The GloNAF-initiative: new insights into the global biogeography and macroecology of global plant species invasions
Franz Essl1, Wayne Dawson2, Holger Kreft3, Jan Pergl4, Petr Pysek4, Mark van Kleunen5, Patrick Weigelt3, Hanno Seebens6, Stefan Dullinger7, Bernd Lenzner7, Thomas Mang7, Noelie Maurel5, Dietmar Moser7, Anke Stein5, GloNAF data providers & contributors, Marten Winter8

1 University Vienna & Umweltbundesamt Austria
2 Durham University
3 University of Göttingen
4 The Czech Academy of Sciences
5 University of Konstanz
6 Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)
7 University Vienna
8 German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)

Biological invasions have become a defining feature of global environmental change. However, until recently no comprehensive standardized global database of alien plant species distributions has been available.
Here, we present the Global Naturalized Alien Flora (GloNAF) initiative (, the most comprehensive resource for alien plant species distributions (van Kleunen et al. 2015). We will present key insights that have emerged from this database. In particular, we will highlight i) fundamental patterns of global alien plant species richness, ii) the temporal dynamics of historic alien plant species accumulation, iii) and highlight how environmental and anthropogenic pressures and biogeographic context interact in driving plant invasions.
Finally, we will provide an outlook on on-going analyses based on this global database, and we will outline avenues for further research.
Reference: van Kleunen M. et al. (2015) Global exchange and accumulation of non-native plants. Nature 525: 100–103.


4) S2,P01: Isotopic tracking of the past to save the present
Hervé Bocherens1, Dorothée Drucker2

1 Geowissenschaften, Universität Tübingen
2 Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, Tübingen

Numerous extant animal species are threatened with extinction and species conservation has become a major societal issue and scientific challenge. To optimize conservation strategies, we need to define the whole range of natural habitats suitable to threatened species beyond the refugias where they survive. Moreover, climate change will modify these habitats in the near future. Therefore, we need ecological information about endangered species before the industrial era under current climatic conditions and in a context of significant climatic variations such as during the Pleistocene. Stable isotopic tracking using carbon, nitrogen and oxygen stable isotopes in bones and teeth from extant and ancient representatives of endangered species can be used to monitor changes in diet and habitat. Case studies with species classified as vulnerable (European Bison) or as critically endangered (Saiga antelope) on the IUCN red list will illustrate this new approach of conservation paleobiology.


5) S2,P05: Quaternary perspectives on the Central European of land snail assemblages record
Tivadar Gaudenyi1

1 Dept. of Physical Geography, Geographical Institute "Jovan Cvijic" SASA

The Central European Quaternary land snail assemblages exhibit gradients in diversity which are linked to local differences in temperature and moisture, although other non-climatic factors may be involved. Such diversity patterns have been described for the modern land snail faunas of Central Europe.
The quantitative analysis of continental record in case of reconstruction of Quaternary environments  needs a detailed analysis sedimentary/geological record, numeric age datings of lithological units of the analyzed exposures, good taxonomical identification of land snails, familiar with taphonomy and the modern environmental requirements of identified species and able to make an interpretation of the sampled assemblage.
The regional reconstruction of the past environment dynamics is only possible by a network of analyzed local exposures with a well preserved malacological record. In the interpretation of results should be consult the existing databases in public Quaternary malacological collections and publications also.


6) S2,P06: The Pleistocene Mammoth steppe – Searching for a lost ecosystem in the plant fossil record and modern relic steppes of northern Siberia
Jennifer Reinecke1, Kseniia Ashastina2, Karsten Wesche2, Frank Kienast2

1 Phanerogamen I, Senckenberg Görlitz
2 Senckenberg Weimar

The Mammoth steppe ecosystem with its unique biodiversity has long attracted interest in science and society. We combined paleoecology and modern vegetation science, to gain insights on the relative role of large herbivore extinction and climate change for the disappearance of this ecosystem. Using plant macrofossils from a permafrost outcrop in NE-Siberia, we reconstructed the composition and change of paleovegetation. The Mammoth steppe has no direct analogue today, but occurs on isolated outposts there. We studied their distribution, composition and functional changes along a macroclimatic gradient, and the effects of herbivore grazing. Plant remains indicate that the climate was more continental during the last cold stage. Modern relic steppes resemble species-poor variants of Central Asian steppes, but are confined to S-exposed slopes. Our results suggest that mosaics of steppe and larch stands prevailed in the Pleistocene and grazing and fires played a role in the last interglacial.


7) S2,P13: Bridging Ecology and Evolution: Biodiversity under a Mechanistic and Interdisciplinary Perspective
Oskar Hagen1, Loïc Pellissier2

1 Department of Environmental Systems Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ
2 Landscape Ecology, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL

Despite the general agreement that biodiversity is the result of millions of years of diversification, global spatial biodiversity gradients are most frequently associated to contemporary biotic and abiotic factors such as species interactions, climate and productivity. This is partially because the effects of ancient earth processes on life are more difficult to quantify and keep track off. In order to understand and predict biodiversity patterns, we are developing a macroevolutionary mechanistic model that infers biodiversity patterns from historical range dynamics. The project integrates reconstructions of paleo-habitats (e.g. plate tectonics and Quaternary glaciations) as background habitat information for the model. Case studies will include tree assemblages (e.g. within the Fagaceae family), marine system and alpine plant assemblages. Ultimately, the model will inform on the ecosystem responses to global changes, and especially the loss of diversification potential for biodiversity.


8) S2,P14: Climate-biomes, pedo-biomes or pyro-biomes: which world view explains the tropical forest–savanna boundary in South America?
Liam Langan1, Higgins Steven2, Scheiter Simon1

1 Senckenberg Biodiversität und Klima Forschunsgzentrums
2 Lehrstuhl für Plfanzenökologie, Universität Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany

The geosphere affects the evolution of biotic communities. Yet, incorporating the complex interactions between the geosphere and biosphere into predictive models has proven difficult. Process based Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs) represent a valuable tool to investigate geosphere-biosphere interactions.
We examine how interactions between precipitation, the pedosphere via constraints on plant rooting depth and fire, affect savanna and forest biome distributionsand plant traits in South America. We use a novel DGVM, aDGVM2, which allows plant trait spectra, constrained by trade-offs between traits, to evolve in response to abiotic and biotic conditions.
We show that across much of South America the biome state is not determined by climate alone. Interactions between the depth to which trees can root, fire and precipitation affect the probability of observing a given biome state. Further, such interactions affect the emergent traits of plant communities and trait diversity.


9) S2,P15: Inferring spatial biodiversity patterns across environmental gradient using high spatial and temporal resolution multispectral remote sensing observations
Xuanlong Ma1, Miguel Mahecha2, Mirco Migliavacca3

1 German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
2 Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
3 Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

A key challenge for studying biodiversity is the lack of consistent biodiversity measures across space and time. This challenge may be addressed by exploring the potentials provided by remote sensing. By continuously observation broad-scale patterns of vegetation parameters, remote sensing can complement the restricted coverage afforded by field measurements. Here we developed methods to infer spatial biodiversity patterns from ESA’s novel Sentinel sensors, which offer multi-spectral and multi-temporal measurements at 10 m spatial resolution. We tested biodiversity surrogates derived from both spectral and temporal domains. We applied our approach over a wide range of ecosystem types and environment gradient within the Mediterranean region. We found biodiversity surrogates derived from remote sensing to represent ground biodiversity patterns well and there is a significant variation in biodiversity among different sites that situated along the environmental gradient.


10) S3,P1: speciesgeocodeR and sampbias: new tools for detecting erroneous coordinates and accessibility bias in biological collection data
Alexander Zizka1, Alexandre Antonelli1

1 University of Gothenburg

The public availability of large-scale species distribution data has increased dramatically over the last ten years. In particular, the digitalization of collections from museums and herbaria and the aggregation of information in public databases, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) have contributed significantly to this development. However, the use of these data for ecological and biogeographic research as well as conservation planning is often hampered by issues regarding data quality. Two major issues are 1) erroneous geographical information due to imprecise or erroneous geographic coordinates and 2) unspecified geographic sampling bias due to differences in collection effort. Here we present two new software packages to address these problems: speciesgeocodeR automatically identifies potential errors in geographic coordinates common to biological collections, including among others invalid, sea or zero coordinates, coordinates assigned to country or province centroids, coordinates assigned to the location of biodiversity institutions and datasets including rasterized or rounded coordinates. The second package, SampBias quantifies the effect of geographic accessibility on sampling effort in datasets of species distribution records, based on distance distributions and by estimating a standardized bias function. speciesgeocodeR and SampBias are available as R-package or shiny app from and www.


11) S3,P2: LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics – Linking genomic biodiversity research and genomics-based products and applications
Steffen Pauls1, Markus Pfenninger1, Axel Janke1

1 Senckenberg

A broad genomic inventory of life is lacking. This limits the study and bioressource use of biodiversity. The Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Justus-Liebig University Gießen and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology established the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE-TBG) to make biodiversity better accessible for basic and applied research. LOEWE-TBG will

  • establish a representative collection of genomes from taxa across the tree of life as an example for innovative digital and specimen-based museum collections
  • comparatively study these genomes to gain a better understanding of the origin and functions of biological diversity from genes to ecosystems
  • make genomic resources accessible for societal-demand-driven applied research.

We will outline the structure and objectives of LOEWE-TBG, and highlight the crucial role of biodiversity genomics for developing museum collections in the 21st century.


12) S3,P3: The Planetary Biodiversity Mission

Dirk Steinke1
Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph

Since its activation in 2003, DNA barcoding has gained substantial momentum delivering an ever-accelerating capacity to monitor and know life. In fact, this approach makes possible the automation of both specimen identification and species discovery, a paradigm shift with broad scientific and societal implications.
The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project achieved its primary scientific goal of delivering DNA barcode records for 500,000 species in mid-2015, reflecting the investment of $150 million by research organizations in 25 nations. Building on this success, the iBOL consortium is now working toward activation of the Planetary Biodiversity Mission (PBM) by 2020, a research initiative that will deliver a comprehensive understanding of multi-cellular life by 2040.


13) S3,P4: Less is more! Reducing formalin boosts the value and utility of voucher specimens
Sebastian Lotzkat1, Gunther Köhler1

1 Herpetology, Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut Frankfurt

Voucher specimens in scientific collections are the essential foundations of taxonomy and, depending on their preservation state, can offer deep insights into the respective organisms' biology. Most collectors of amphibians and reptiles fix specimens submerging them in an aqueous solution of "10% formalin" (in quotation marks because in fact, "absolute" formalin diluted 1:9 has 3.6–4.0% formaldehyde). Besides stiffening specimens, this fixative causes drastic discoloration, renders the recovery of DNA difficult, and poses a major health risk to anyone exposed to it. Herpetologists at Senckenberg Frankfurt employ a different fixation routine: Animals are injected with a solution of 5 mL "absolute" formalin per liter of absolute ethanol (i.e., an ethylic solution of < 0.2% formaldehyde) and, after hardening shortly, stored in 70% ethanol. This great decrease in formalin yields more flexible specimens that maintain their coloration far better. Moreover, DNA can be recovered even after decades, and anyone handling them will benefit from reduced formalin exposure. Thus, we highly recommend this routine to all colleagues producing voucher specimens.


14) S3,P6: Geographic mosaics of (co)evolution in pines and nutcrackers
Eike Lena Neuschulz1, Stefan Abrahamczyk2, Till Töpfer3, Katrin Böhning-Gaese1, Matthias Schleuning1

1 Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Reserach Centre
2 Nees-Institut für Biodiversität der Pflanzen
3 Zoologische Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig

The 'Geographic Mosaic Theory' by John N. Thompson predicts that (co)evolutionary dynamics are spatially structured in a matrix of (co)evolutionary hotspots and coldspots. We seek to test whether (co)evolutionary dynamics differ among environments by studying interactions between nutcrackers (Nucifraga caryocatactes) and pines (Pinus) across Eurasia. Nutcrackers cover a wide Eurasian distribution. Subspecies differ in beak morphology and depend on different pines as main food source, whereas pine species vary in their dependence on avian dispersal. We will study how beak as well as cone and seed morphology co-vary in space by conducting a large-scale survey of bird and plant specimens from museum collections with 3D scans. We expect that (i) trait variation of birds and pines co-varies in (co)evolutionary hotspots where interaction partners have co-occurred for a long time and that (ii) avian trait variation increases at range margins where pines are replaced by other food plants.


15) S4,P3: Sponge communities of the Antarctic Peninsula: influence of environmental variables on species composition and richness
Dorte Janussen1, Daniel Kersken, Barbara Feldmeyer2

1 Marine Zoology, Senckenberg Frankfurt a. M.
2 BIK-F, Senckenberg

Sponge communities on the Antarctic continental shelf currently represent one of the most extensive sponge grounds in the world. Our main objective was to investigate which environmental variable best explains species composition and species richness of Southern Ocean sponge communities across the Antarctic Peninsula.Sponge material originated from 25 AGT catches and was sampled during the expedition ANT-XXIX/3 of RV Polarstern. Two hundred and sixty-three sponge samples were analyzed, and 81 species of 33 genera from all Porifera classes were identified. A DCA and a backward-stepwise model selection were performed to investigate whether species composition and richness were significantly influenced by environmental variables (depth (m), light transm. (%), O2 (lmol/kg), salinity, sea-ice cover (%) and bottom temp. (oC)). The analyses revealed that none of these variables significantly influenced species composition but that species richness was significantly influenced by (1) temperature and (2) the combination of temperature and depth.Results of this study are of crucial importance for development, performance and assessment of future protection strategies in case of ongoing climatic changes at the Antarctic Peninsula.


16) S4,P5: Sexuality, clonality and dispersal in two Antarctic lichens
Elisa Lagostina1, Andreev Mikhail2, Christian Printzen1

1 Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt
2 Komarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences

The ability to separate similar species is of crucial importance for studies in population and conservation genetics. Lichens, symbioses between fungi and one or more photosynthetic organisms, are the most important primary producers in Antarctic terrestrial habitats. The two common lichens Usnea antarctica and U. aurantiacoatra have traditionally been separated based on their reproductive mode: U. antarctica forms soredia containing both symbiotic partners while U. aurantiacoatra displays sexual reproduction. Previous molecular analysis based on ITS and RPB1 genes did not find evidence to reliably split the two taxa. It has thus been suggested to treat them as a single species. As part of ongoing projects on the population structure of Antarctic lichens we present here evidence from microsatellite data clearly supporting the distinction between both species. These findings have an impact on sampling design for population genetic studies and the development of conservation strategies.


17) S4,P6: The forest advance into tundra may potentially feedback to slow down methane emissions in a warming climate in the Siberian North?
Svetlana Evgrafova1, Elena Parfenova1, Leonid Krivobokov1, Evgeny Shvetsov1, Liudmila Mukhortova1, Nadejda Tchebakova1

1 V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest FIC SB RAS

Methane is one of the most important greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change. Expanding wetlands were found to increase the wetland-to-forest ratio and landscape methane emissions. Our goal was to model feedbacks of a decreasing wetland-to-forest ratio for methane emissions as the forest deeply advances into tundra in a warming climate in Central Siberia. We designed a climate-based tundra vegetation model and mapped tundra types by coupling this model with climates and permafrost in current and future climates. We used outcomes of twenty global climate models (CMIP5) for two scenarios rcp 2.6 and rcp 8.5 to characterize climates by the 2080s. Vegetation zones should shift far northwards in the future. Tundra and forest-tundra would 2.5 times shrink. Tundra would nearly disappear in the rcp 8.5 scenario and left some percent in the rcp 2.6 scenario by the 2080s. A feedback of the decreasing wetland-to-forest ratio would be a notable decline of landscape CH4 emissions.


18) S4,P7: Biodiversity scenarios for a 1.5°C warmer world: assessing interactions between climate and land-use change
Christian Hof1, Alke Voskamp1, Matthias Biber1, Aidin Niamir1, Katrin Böhning-Gaese1, Thomas Hickler1

1 Senckenberg Biodiversity & Climate Research Centre

Climate change has now been identified as one of the major threats for global biodiversity. However, anthropogenic land-use change continues to threaten species and ecosystems as well. Especially the ambitious political goal of reducing the global average temperature increase to a level of 1.5 degrees Celsius may generate complex interacting impacts of land-use and climate change: One of the measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels is the massive expansion of renewable energies, among which bioenergy crops are an important component. Hence, while meeting the 1.5°C target may reduce direct climate change impacts, it will lead to a great increase in the area needed for the growing biofuel demand. Here, we will evaluate the potential future impacts of climate and land-use change for global biodiversity under an average temperature increase of 1.5°C. We will set a particular focus on the interaction between potential effects from changes in climatic conditions and from varying increases of the cultivation area for bioenergy crops under different climate change scenarios.


19) S4,P9: Exploring links between agricultural trade and biodiversity change
Thomas Kastner1

1 Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)

Around the world, agriculture is supplying human societies with food, feed and fiber. At the same time, agriculture is a major driver of biodiversity loss. Trade flows of agricultural products have been increasing rapidly during recent decades, linking demand in one region to land-use practices in another, seemingly unrelated, region. Increasingly, agricultural systems and land-use decisions have to be studied in a global context. A better understanding of these distant interconnections is urgently needed for effective policies, addressing biodiversity loss related to agriculture and food consumption. We will outline conceptual and methodological considerations necessary when accounting for biodiversity impacts of consumer demand along complex international supply chains. In addition, we present results of first attempts for such an accounting framework based on species-area relationships and give an outlook on the most relevant research needs in the field.