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Species diversity

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We research the diversity of plants and animals, especially in the forests and mountains, and examine the factors that affect species composition. We run national data centres for lichen and fungi, thereby providing the basis for the protection of these two species groups.

 

Species diversity is a measure of the variety of plants, animals, fungi and lichen found within a particular habitat or geographical area. It is an important aspect of biodiversity. Species diversity is often equated with biodiversity, as it is the most obvious form of biodiversity and easier to study than genetic diversity or habitat diversity.

When species become extinct within an ecosystem, there are shifts or failures in ecosystem services. It is often not possible to predict whether the disappearance of a particular species will bring about significant or minor changes. It is therefore important to protect the full variety of species as effectively as possible, not only for ethical and legal reasons, but as a preventive measure.

Species composition is changing

We examine the factors that affect the diversity of plants, animals, fungi and lichen, especially in the forests and mountains. We are particularly interested in the dynamics of this: how do species compositions change in time and space? What impact does climate change have on species diversity? Using statistical models, we can predict the species diversity for different groups of organisms within an area and show under which land use and environmental conditions species diversity is particularly rich. Our work provides the scientific basis for monitoring and maintaining species diversity in Switzerland.

Our work forms the basis of practical species protection. We advise federal and cantonal authorities and the public about assistance measures for biodiversity and compile Red Lists for different groups of organisms. We document the spatial and temporal distribution of fungi and lichens through the two data centres SwissFungi (Swiss data and information centre for fungi) and SwissLichens (Swiss data and information centre for lichens).

 

Topics

Fungi

Fungi perform important functions in the forest habitat. We examine their ecology and gather data on their distribution.

Lichens

Lichens exist in a large variety of forms and colours. We research their ecology and collect data about their distribution.

Microorganisms

Soil bacteria play an important role in global nutrient cycles. We investigate the effects of soil disturbances on microorganisms living in soil.

Bats

We can recognize bat species by their echolocation calls. This allows us to analyse their habitat needs.

 

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