Urban ecosystems are becoming increasingly important for conserving biodiversity, providing access to fresh food, and improving global sustainability. Understanding how ecosystems such as gardens function is therefore of paramount importance to science and society. Our research addresses the ecological and social dimensions of urban (agricultural) ecosystems. Our goal is to deepen understanding, inform management, and promote multifunctional, climate-resilient landscapes.
What drives us
- To understand and strengthen synergies between biodiversity conservation, food access, and human well-being in cities.
- To fill the knowledge gap(s) about how urban (agricultural) ecosystems function
- Create management knowledge appropriate for dynamic urban environments to best support ecosystem services
- Improve the sustainability of urban agriculture for people and the environment
- Engage residents in ecological research
Ongoing projects and topics
Here are some of the main projects we are working on.
Biodiversity in urban gardens
A (functional) ecological understanding of urban plants and animals is of growing importance, especially with regard to biodiversity conservation, maintenance of ecosystem services, and effective conservation programs. We work in the growing field of urban biodiversity ecology and conservation.
Bees, Pollination, and Citizen Science in Urban Gardens.
How can urban gardens contribute to wild bee conservation? How can gardeners and urban planners support wild bees and their pollination effects in community gardens? In a citizen science project, we are investigating these questions together with Berlin and Munich gardeners from about 30 community gardens. Our goal is to use an inter- and transdisciplinary approach to understand the biodiversity, ecology and conservation of wild bees in urban gardens not only from a scientific perspective, but also to contribute to the social understanding of wild bees in Berlin and Munich. Combining urban ecological research and citizen science, measures in gardening practice will be developed in comparative sub-projects in Berlin and Munich. The results will be published and disseminated as recommendations for gardeners, politicians, urban planners and nature conservationists. Scientific and societal understanding is crucial for the conservation of biodiversity in our cities worldwide.
This project for 2021 builds on the work in Berlin's gardens in 2020 and is funded by the Heidehof Foundation.
Social dimensions of urban ecosystems
It is important to study and understand people's management decisions, perceptions and values - especially in cities. These social factors influence the ecology and sustainability of the system. We study how people manage urban (agricultural) ecosystems, values around urban ecosystems, and the well-being benefits that result from urban gardening. We explore how urban agriculture can be a public health strategy and a nature-based solution, and how sociocultural factors of residents influence benefits, values, and management.
The importance of gardening during COVID-19
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people garden? How has the pandemic changed the importance of gardening to health and well-being? We examine how COVID-19 is affecting gardeners and garden management worldwide. We are exploring what motivates gardeners during the pandemic, whether gardeners' use of the garden has changed, and what additional support would be beneficial to gardeners. Ultimately, this type of knowledge will help us better prepare gardeners and green space management for future crises.