Thesis subject

Biodiversity and land use

The Environmental Systems Analysis Group provides the possibility for students to do their thesis in collaboration with our group. This is one of many possible thesis subjects. Please feel free to contact Dr Steinmann (right) for more information.

Biodiversity is declining rapidly and under threat from multiple sides. Climate change is shifting favourable home ranges of plants and animals faster than they can migrate. At the same time, modern society with its need for food, fuels, minerals, water storage, roads, housing and other infrastructure puts an enormous pressure on the available land. Land demands are so high that primary forests still disappear rapidly, even in an age where reforestation is seen as one way to combat climate change.

One solution to spare biodiversity-rich areas, like primary rainforest, is to use current agricultural and built-up land more efficiently. Intensive (high-input) agriculture has the advantage of high and more reliable yields but it comes with the downside of being detrimental to local biodiversity and the climate. More extensive forms of land use are better for local biodiversity but run the risk of resulting in unwanted land conversion elsewhere. The question of what the “best” land use in a specific area is, is not easily answered and must be explored from different perspectives. Spatially-explicit modelling is required to determine (potential) yields and biodiversity impacts.