Date: 21.07.2020

Europe-wide study reveals rapid changes in local biodiversity

Results of a unique compilation of 161 multidecadal biodiversity time series covering 6,200 marine, terrestrial, and freshwater species from 21 European countries were published in a July issue of Nature Communications.

Fig.: The noctuid moth (Phragmatiphila nexa) reported reliably in Bohemia only from the Vrbenské rybníky wetland complex near České Budějovice, Czech Republic (photo Karel Spitzer)

This international research, led by a team from the Senckenberg Research Institute, shows that local trends in biodiversity often deviate significantly from the global patterns. Particularly striking is the common pattern of extensive changes in species communities at the local level, which frequently differ from the global trends of decreasing abundance and biodiversity. For example, the analyses show increasing trends in species numbers in Northern Europe that are likely driven by climate warming, while the overall abundances and species richness in many areas of Southern and Central Europe have not changed.

Most of the study sites belong to the global network “Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER),” an international association for long-term interdisciplinary environmental observation. Institute of Entomology contributed to this study by the recently digitized long-term time series of nocturnal Lepidoptera, collected by the late Karel Spitzer and Josef Jaroš and curated by David Boukal at the Laboratory of Aquatic Insects and Relict Ecosystems.

Finally yet importantly, this study highlights the immense value of long-term ecological data. It shows that LTER sites and other sources of long-term biodiversity time series deserve systemic support, even if they do not always generate short-term output often required by grant calls.

Pilotto et al. (2020): Meta-analysis of multidecadal biodiversity trends in Europe. Nature Communications,

Original press release from the Senckenberg Research Institute:




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