Ecological Research

The ecological research component aims to analyse the ecological success of various restoration measures in Germany. In each of the three model regions, 40 restored grassland sites will be compared with 10 non-degraded ‘positive reference sites’ in good ecological condition and 10 degraded ‘negative reference sites’ to analyse differences in biodiversity and their ecological functions and services.

Model Region North
Iserlowland, Southern heath
Model Region Centre
Biosphere Reserve Karts landscape, Southern Harz
Model Region South
Donau-Isar lowland, Lower Bavaria
Restored sites
Positive reference sites
Negative reference sites

The restored sites in each model region have been selected to provide a wide range of initial conditions, for example in terms of age of grassland (time since restoration), methods of species transfer and grassland types. This should allow transferability of results. In addition, a gradient of restoration success should be mapped across the sites to learn from both successes and failures.

In order to enable the most comprehensive comparison of biodiversity, ecosystem functions (ESF) and ecosystem services (ESS) between the sites, several parameters were analysed on a total of 180 sites on 200 m × 5 m transects: Vegetation, wild bees & butterflies, soil, and landscape connectivity. The sites were divided over a period of two years (2022 and 2023). The relevant parameters and their analysis are described in more detail in the following:

The data collected in the field is supplemented with existing data from stakeholders and converted into biodiversity indices. In addition, functional traits and functional diversity at the community level will be quantified using different approaches and existing trait databases, which in turn will serve as indicators of ecosystem functions (ESF) and ecosystem services (ESS). The ecological restoration success determined in this way will then be incorporated into the overall analysis, together with socio-ecological, socio-economic and policy data.

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