Dr. Sebastian T. Meyer
Chair for Terrestrial Ecology
Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management
Technische Universität München
|Habilitation thesis „Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships and their drivers in natural and anthropogenic systems with an emphasis on species interactions”|
|2009-||2011||Postdoc Friedrich Schiller University Jena|
|2008-||2009||Postdoc University of Kaiserslautern|
|2008||Doctoral degree (summa cum laude) University of Kaiserslautern|
|2004-||2008||Doctoral project “Ecosystem engineering in fragmented forests: Edge-mediated hyper-abundance of leaf-cutting ants and resulting impacts on forest structure, microclimate, and regeneration” University of Kaiserslautern and University of Recife, Brazil|
|2004||Diploma Biology University of Kaiserslautern|
|2003-||2004||Diploma project “Herbivory and Drought Stress - Interactive effects of plant stress and feeding by leaf-cutting ants” University of Kaiserslautern|
|2003||Research internship “Drought resistance of tropical tree seedling” (DAAD Fellowship) Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI); Panama|
|2002-||2003||Research assistant in Case-study on the radioactive contamination of wild boars. Forschungsanstalt für Waldökologie und Forstwirtschaft, Trippstadt, Germany|
|2001-||2004||Studying Biology University of Kaiserslautern|
|2000-||2001||Studying Biochemisty, Molecular Biology and Genetics University of Wales, College Cardiff; UK|
|2000||Vordiplom Biology Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz|
My research focuses on the question of how species-rich ecosystems differ from species-poor systems in their properties and functioning. I am especially interested in plant-animal and animal-animal interactions, and I investigate the reciprocal effects among herbivores, their natural enemies, and plant diversity. More applied aspects of my research study how these interactions, and ecosystem functions in general, are altered by human activities including forest fragmentation, land-use, and species introductions.
The Jena Experiment (www.the-jena-experiment.de)
The Jena Experiment is one of the largest and longest-running biodiversity experiments worldwide. Grasslands of controlled plant species richness that form a diversity gradient from monocultures over combinations of 2, 4, 8, and 16 species up to communities with 60 different plant species are investigated since the year 2002. I analyse how plant diversity changes functions and properties ranging from abiotic conditions to species interactions, from above- to belowground, and from plants to top predators. These analyses are based on a large pool of data collected during the last 18 years by members of the research unit and are currently continued within the doctoral thesis of Laura Argens. In addition, I measure rates of herbivory and predation investigating their relationship to plant diversity and plant traits as changes in the community of aboveground consumers together with Anne Ebeling (FSU Jena) in Subproject 5: Plant-consumer interactions as cause and consequence of long-term BEF relationships of the new research unit.
Rapid measurements of ecosystem functions (REFA)
Quantifying ecosystem functioning is important for both fundamental and applied ecological research. However, there is currently a gap between the data available and the data needed to address topical questions, such as the drivers of functioning in different ecosystems under global change or the best management to sustain provisioning of ecosystem functions and services. To close the identified ecosystem functioning data gap, I research low-tech, easy to use, repeatable, and cost-efficient methods than can be used to measure proxies of ecosystem functions. The collection of these methods for important ecosystem functions I named Rapid Ecosystem Function Assessment (REFA). Using REFA enables standardised and comparable measurements of proxies for ecosystem functions on a large scale within and across studies. A review introducing REFA has been published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution. A handbook of field protocols with detailed descriptions of the methods has been published at MediaTUM.
Urban biodiversity in Munich
Rural land use is threatening biodiversity and cities have been suggested as an alternative habitat for wildlife with a potential for species conservation. However, urbanisation increases worldwide due to the migration of humans into cities. Resulting densification within cities and sprawl of cities into the surrounding landscapes contribute to the loss of wildlife habitat. Currently, it remains unclear which properties of urban spaces have the strongest effects on urban wildlife and how to integrate these properties into city planning. We investigate these questions using public squares in the city of Munich as a model system. Investigated squares are a representative sample of all squares in Munich, which span gradients in size, distance to the city centre, and greenness on and in the surrounding of the squares. We monitor the abundance and diversity of various animal groups to investigate the effects of square properties on urban biodiversity. We demonstrate positive effects of an increasing greenness (proportion of grassy surface area, number of trees, shrub volume) on the abundance and diversity of various taxa. Also, we are conducting a rooftop experiment investigating how green roofs can be modified to improve their value as habitat for flora and fauna.
Biodiversity and ecosystem function in future Bavaria
How are ecosystem services and biodiversity developing in Bavaria? The interdisciplinary joint project BLIZ (Blick in die Zukunft: Wechselwirkungen zwischen Gesellschaft, Landnutzung, Ökosystemleistungen und Biodiversität in Bayern bis 2100) takes a look into the future and develops new scenarios for a sustainable management of ecosystems in Bavaria. In this joint research project, we investigate the effects of climate change on ecological systems (ecosystem services and biodiversity) and socio-economic systems (land use development) and their interactions. With the help of computer-based simulation models, we investigate which adaptation strategies lead to a stabilisation of these systems and under which circumstances drastic ecological degradation or socio-economic changes (so-called tipping points) can occur. Together with Prof. Anja Rammig (Land Surface-Atmosphere Interactions at TUM) we lead the subproject 1: Effects of land-use and climate change on terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity and investigate in the doctoral project of Sven Rubanschi how biotopes and biodiversity in Bavaria are distributed currently and in future.
Degradation of South Brazilian grasslands
Natural grasslands in south Brazil have at a large scale been converted into tree plantations or agricultural land or been severely degraded. This project, which is a cooperation between the groups for restoration ecology and terrestrial ecology at TUM, investigates the biotic composition and the ability to perform ecosystem functions at grassland sites spanning a degradation gradient. Also, the potential of these sites for ecological restoration and suitable techniques are assessed.