Major projects

Biodiversity Exploratories

Biodiversity comprises the variety of different ecosystems, their species, and their genetic diversity. Land use and management regimes strongly influence biodiversity in today’s landscape and changes in biodiversity may affect many ecological processes. The research program Biodiversity Exploratories investigates both the causes of biodiversity change and its consequences for many ecosystem processes, including important ecosystem services.

Central questions

  • How does land use intensity affect the genetic diversity, species richness and diversity of interactions of different organisms?
  • Which interdependencies exist between different organisms, for example does the diversity of soil organisms account for those of plants?
  • What is the role of biodiversity for ecosystem processes (e.g. carbon cycling and pollination), which provide important ecosystem services for humans?


Botaniker bei der Arbeit

Study regions

Field research is conducted in three large regions, the so-called Exploratories. One is located in the biosphere reserve Schorfheide Chorin in Brandenburg, another in the national park Hainich (Thuringia) and its surrounding area, and a third in the biosphere reserve Schwäbische Alb in Baden-Württemberg. Each region comprises forests and grasslands of different management intensity.

In 2006, 100 study plots, 50 in forest and 50 in grassland, were established in each of the three regions.

These plots, which continue to be managed as usual, serve for comparative studies and for experimentation among gradients of management intensity in forest and grassland.

Originality of the project

For the very first time, scientists covering all facets of biodiversity and of ecosystem processes, including botanists, microbiologists, zoologists, geneticists, ecophysiologists, ecosystem researchers, remote sensing specialists and forest scientists, are collaborating on exactly the same research plots and on common research questions.

The range of organisms studied is as comprehensive as possible. It reaches from soil bacteria and fungi to higher plants, bryophytes, algae, lichens and to arthropods, other invertebrates, birds, bats and other mammals.

To allow the synthesis of results from all these researchers, the Exploratories have been pursuing a standardization of methodologies from the very start.

Project structure

The Biodiversity Exploratories program comprises 49 projects, 10 providing infrastructure and basic data, and 39 dedicated to more specific research questions. Field work in each Exploratory is managed by a local management team, which collaborates closely with local authorities, land owners, land users, farmers, foresters, hunters and the general public.

The Biodiversity Exploratories (central coordination) office BEO is located at the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung in Frankfurt. It provides smooth academic coordination and administration, organises events, and oversees public relations, communication and outreach.

An internal web-based data base of the Biodiversity Exploratories, hosted by the University of Jena, facilitates exchange of information and data between projects, and enables internal communication.


Christiane Fischer SBiKF
Dr. Christiane Fischer
Scientific Coordination Biodiversity Exploratories

Seit 15.04.2012

Wissenschaftliche Koordinatorin des DFG Schwerpunktprogramms 1374 „Exploratories for Large -­‐scale and Long -­‐term Functional Biodiversity Research“, Universitä t Potsdam / seit 01.01.2013 Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt 02.2011-­‐04.2012 PostDoc im Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik der Georg -­‐August-­‐Universität Göttingen, Abteilung „Genomische und Angewandte Mikrobiologie“. Forschungsschwerpunkt: Metagenom -­‐ und Metatranskriptomanalysen von unterschiedlichen Bodenproben der Biodiversitäts-­‐Exploratorien aus Wald und Grünland.


Promotion am Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik der Georg -­‐August-­‐Universität Göttingen, Abteilung „Genomische und Angewandte Mikrobiologie“. Thema der Dissertation: „Assessment of the functional diversity of soil microbial communities in the German Biodiversity Exploratories by metagenomics“.


Wissenschaftliche Mita rbeiterin im Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik der Georg -­‐August-­‐ Universität Göttingen, Abteilung „Genomische und Angewandte Mikrobiologie“. Forschungsthema: „Identifizierung von Zucker -­‐ Isomerasen zur Tagatoseproduktion“


Studium der Biologie an der Georg -­‐August-­‐Universität Göttingen Abschluss: Diplom -­‐Biologin, Hauptfach: Mikrobiologie, Nebenfächer: Botanik, Phytomedizin Thema der Diplomarbeit: „Charakterisierung von neuartigen Genen und Genprodukten aus unkultivierten Mikroorgani smen, die 4-­‐Hydroxybutyrat-­‐ Verwertung vermitteln“


Veröffentlichungen als Erstautor

Heiko Nacke, Christiane Fischer , Andrea Thürmer, Peter Meinicke, Rolf Daniel (2014). „Land Use Type Significantly Affects Microbial Gene Transcription in Soil Microbial Ecology.” Zur Veröffentlichung eingereicht bei Microbial Ecology, geringfügige Änderungen.

Heiko Nacke, Christiane Will, Sarah Herzog, Boris Nowka, Martin Engelhaupt, Rolf Daniel (2011). „Identification of novel lipolytic genes and gene families by screening of metagenomic libraries derived from soil samples of the German Biodiversity Exploratories.” FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Vol. 78(1), S. 188-­‐201.

Christiane Will, Andrea Thürmer, Antje Wollherr, Heiko Nacke, Nadine Herold, Marion Schrumpf, Jessica Gutknecht, Tesfaye Wubet, François Buscot, Rolf Daniel (2010). „Horizon -­‐specific bacterial community composition of German grassland soils as revealed by pyrosequencing-­‐based analysis of 16S rRNA genes.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology , Vol. 76(20), S. 6751 –6759.

Christiane Will, Heiko Nacke, Andrea Thürmer, Rolf Daniel (2010). „Schlaglicht Biodiversität -­‐ Charakterisierung und Nutzung der bakteriellen Diversität in Bodenmetagenomen.“ GENOMXPRESS 1.10: S. 9 -­‐11.

Veröffentlichungen als Koautor

Eric Allan, Oliver Bossdorf, Carsten F. Dormann, Daniel Prati, Martin M. Gossner, Teja Tscharntke, Nico Blüthgen, Michaela Bellach, Klaus Birkhofer, Steffen Boch, Stefan Böhm, Carmen Börschig, Antonis Chatzinotas, Sabina Christ, Rolf Daniel, Tim Diekötter, Christiane Fischer, Thomas Friedl, Karin Glaser, Christine Hallmann, Ladislav Hodac, Norbert Hölzel, Kirsten Jung, Alexandra Maria Klein, Valentin H. Klaus, Till Kleinebecker, Jochen Krauss, Markus Lange, E. Kathryn Morris, Jörg Müller, Heiko Nacke, Esther Pašalic, Matthias C. Rillig, Christoph Rothenwöhrer, Peter Schall, Christoph Scherber, Waltraud Schulze, Stephanie A. Socher, Juliane Steckel, Ingolf Steffan -­‐ Dewenter, Manfred Türke, Christiane N. Weiner, Michael Werner, Catrin Westphal, Volkmar Wolters, Tesfaye Wubet, Sonja Gockel, Martin Gorke, Andreas Hemp, Swen C. Renner, Ingo Schöning, Simone Pfeiffer, Birgitta König -­‐Ries, François Buscot, Karl Eduard Linsenmair, Ernst -­‐Detlef Schulze, Wolfgang W. Weisser, and Markus Fischer (2014). „Interannual variation in land -­‐use intensity enhances grassland multidiversity.” PNAS, Vol. 111(1), S. 308 -­‐313.

Klaus Birkhofer, Ingo Schöning, Fabian Alt, Nadine Herold, Bernhard Klarner, Mark Maraun,Sven Marhan, Yvonne Oelmann, Tesfaye Wubet, Andrey Yurkov, Dominik Begerow , Doreen Berner, Francois Buscot, Rolf Daniel, Tim Diekötter, Roswitha B. Ehnes, Georgia Erdmann, Christiane Fischer , Bärbel Foesel, Janine Groh, Jessica Gutknecht, Ellen Kandeler, Christa Lang, Gertrud Lohaus, Annabel Meyer, Heiko Nacke, Astrid Näther, Jö rg Overmann, Andrea Polle, Melanie M. Pollierer, Stefan Scheu, Michael Schloter, Ernst -­‐Detlef Schulze, Waltraud Schulze, Jan Weinert, Wolfgang W. Weisser, Volkmar Wolters, Marion Schrumpf (2012). „General relationships between abiotic soil properties and soil biota across spatial scales and different land -­‐use types.” PLoS ONE , Vol. 7(8): e43292.

Philip Pallmann, Frank Schaarschmidt, Ludwig A Hothorn, Christiane Fischer, Heiko Nacke, Kai U Priesnitz, Nicholas J Schork (2012). „Assessing group differences in biodiversity by simultaneously testing a user -­‐defined selection of diversity indices.” Molecular Ecology Resources , Vol. 12(6), S. 1068-­‐1078.

Dirk Krüger, Danuta Kapturska, Christiane Fischer , Rolf Daniel, Tesfaye Wubet (2012). „Diversity Measures in Environmental Sequences Are Highly Dependent on Alignment Qualities -­‐ Data from ITS and New LSU Primers Targeting Basidiomycetes.” PLoS ONE, Vol. 7(2): e32139.

Heiko Nacke, Martin Engelhaupt, Silja Brady, Christiane Fischer , Janine Tautzt, Rolf Daniel (2011). „Identification and characterization of novel cellulolytic and hemicellulolytic genes and enzymes derived from German grassland soil metagenomes.” Biotechnology Letters, Vol. 34(4), S. 663-­‐675.

Heiko Nacke, Andrea Thürmer, Antje Wollherr, Christiane Will, Ladislav Hodac, Nadine Herold, Ingo Schöning, Marion Schrumpf, Rolf Daniel (2011). „Assessment of bacterial community structure along different managem ent types in German forest and grassland soils by pyrosequencing-­‐based analysis of 16S rRNA genes.” PLoS ONE , Vol. 6(2): e17000.

Jennifer Emenegger
Scientific Coordination and Public Outreach Biodiversity Exploratories
Anja Hoeck
Scientific Coordination and Public Outreach Biodiversity Exploratories