Conservation Biology

Metapopulation dynamics and population biology of Armeria maritima

Birgit Seifert, Markus Fischer
Because of increasing habitat fragmentation, many plant species now occur in small and isolated populations. On a landscape scale, species can survive if there is a balance between extinction and re-colonization of suitable habitats. We study Armeria maritima, a flagship species of dry grasslands in Brandenburg. In three regions of 30 km2, we mapped all existing populations and suitable habitats, and we study extinction and (both natural and experimental) re-colonisation. The aim of this study is to build a comprehensive demographic model that will inform conservation efforts for this species.

Metapopulation dynamics and population biology of Armeria maritima

Birgit Seifert, Markus Fischer
Because of increasing habitat fragmentation, many plant species now occur in small and isolated populations. On a landscape scale, species can survive if there is a balance between extinction and re-colonization of suitable habitats. We study Armeria maritima, a flagship species of dry grasslands in Brandenburg. In three regions of 30 km2, we mapped all existing populations and suitable habitats, and we study extinction and (both natural and experimental) re-colonisation. The aim of this study is to build a comprehensive demographic model that will inform conservation efforts for this species.

Applied biogeography and population biology of endangered plant species in Switzerland

Christophe Bornand, Markus Fischer
In the framework of the next revision of the Red List of vascular plants in Switzerland, we develop data analyzing tools and field sampling methods in order to obtain reliable and replicable assessments of extinction risk using the IUCN Red List Criteria. Our subprojects focus on 1) the factors affecting commonness and rarity of species in the Swiss flora (relative influence of functional traits, niche breadth and habitat availability) and 2) the reproducibility of assessments of plant abundance with particular emphasis on the influence of detection probability.
(funded by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment; in collaboration with Antoine Guisan (University of Lausanne), Ariel Bergamini and Michael Nobis (WSL))

Fitness and adaptation of ex-situ cultivated plants

Christine Heiniger, Markus Fischer
Ex situ cultivation in botanical gardens has a great potential to contribute to the conservation of rare plants. However, we know little about the microevolutionary effects of this ex situ cultivation. We grow several rare alpine plant species, together with more common relatives, in the Alpine Botanical Garden at the Schynige Platte, and under future climatic conditions in the Botanical Garden in Bern, to examine fitness consequences of this ex situ cultivation and the adaptation potential of rare vs. common species.

Grassland management: designing tomorrow's farmland for biodiversity

Aline Andrey*, Pierrick Buri*, Jean-Yves Humbert*, Markus Fischer, Raphael Arlettaz*
Restoration of species-rich grasslands is one of the most important goals in nature conservation. However, it is still not clear what kind of management provides the greatest benefit for biodiversity. At 12 study sites across the Swiss Plateau, we experimentally test the effects of different mowing regimes on various plant and animal taxa, at different spatial scales (field, farm and landscape).
(funded by SNF; *Institute of Ecology & Evolution, University of Bern)

Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP)

Markus Fischer
The overall aim of this EU-project is to assess the current status and trends of pollinators in Europe, quantify the relative importance of various drivers and impacts of change, identify relevant mitigation strategies and policy instruments, and disseminate this to a wide range of stakeholders. Our specific objective is to assess the impact of changes in the abundance, diversity, and composition of pollinators on the genetic diversity of wild plants.
(funded by the EU FP7; in collaboration with 19 European partners, http://step-project.net/)