The scientific part of the NaPA project is carried out by a team of the Center for Biodiversity Monitoring (ZBM) under the direction of Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherber. One doctoral thesis and several student theses deal with topics related to biodiversity and soil health in agroecosystems.
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About the ZBM
The Center for Biodiversity Monitoring is one of the research centers under the umbrella of the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB). Established in 2021, LIB is the result of a merger between the Center for Natural History (CeNak) at the University of Hamburg and the Zoological Research Museum Alexander König - Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity in Bonn. The primary mission of LIB is to collaborate on research into global biodiversity change, and disseminate findings to the broader community. The funding for LIB is provided by a variety of sources, including the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Leibniz Research Museums Action Plan, the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Authority for Science, Research, Equality, and Districts in Hamburg.
Tasks of the ZBM in the project
The ZBM's responsibilities include planning and overseeing field trials in the project's 19 sites. The trials involve examining agricultural areas with and without flower strips to assess their animal biodiversity. While the main focus is on monitoring insects and other small organisms such as spiders and mites, the project also records data on birds, soil nutrients, soil organic matter, and other relevant parameters.
Year-round insect monitoring
The NaPA project monitors arthropod diversity using a variety of technologies. They place vane traps year-round in agricultural fields and flowering strips to catch flying insects such as bees, beetles, and flies. Participating farms empty the trap containers weekly from April to October, providing a detailed picture of insect occurrence and activity throughout the year.
Scientists and farmers install barber traps or pitfall traps every 8 weeks on agricultural and flowering areas to capture ground beetles and spiders. The traps are then removed after a few days to study and record the captured species. By monitoring the populations of these animals, scientists can draw conclusions about the dynamics of insect and arachnid communities in agricultural lands.
MacFadyen soil cores
MacFadyen soil sampling helps us understand the impact of our measures on soil organisms. We conduct this sampling concurrently with the user of pitfall traps, allowing us to study the composition and abundance of organisms such as mites and springtails in the soil.
Sample processing and analysis
Every year, researchers at the ZBM process and analyze thousands of samples produced by the NaPA project. They use conventional entomological determinations as well as new methods of eDNA analysis. Moreover, the project tests different sensor systems, which are currently in pilot and development phases, and compares them with established classical methodologies. Thus, the NaPA project contributes to expanding the data pool of species diversity on agricultural land, addressing questions about the influence of flower strips and crop rotation elements, and linking practical agriculture, the agricultural industry, and science.
Internships, bachelor and master theses available!
For students, the research team offers internships as well as courses leading to a thesis.