The Department of Ecology was founded in 1993 an is part of the Institute of Environmental Sciences in Faculty 2 Environment and Natural Sciences at BTU.

Research at the Department focuses on the impact of anthropogenic (e.g. climate and land-use change) and natural disturbances (e.g. wildfires) on biodiversity, biotic interactions and ecosystem processes. Major research fields are carcass ecology, predator-prey interactions (conservation biological control), litter decomposition and nature conservation with taxonomic emphasize on terrestrial invertebrates.

Teaching at the Department focuses on ecology lectures, seminars and excursions in Bachelor, Master and PhD courses of the international study program "Environmental and Resource Management". Additional contributions are made to the international Master program "World Heritage Studies" and the programs "Umweltingenieurwesen und Verfahrenstechnik", "Landnutzung und Wasserbewirtschaftung" and "Kultur und Technik". Emphasis of courses lies on teaching basic knowledge in ecology and biology (ecology: ecosystems, biotic interactions & nature conservation; biology: soil biology, forensics & parasitology).

Recent publications:


Arvidsson F et al. (2020) Weed species, not mulching, affect web-building spiders and their prey in organic fruit orchards in South Africa. Ecosphere 11: e03059

Cardoso P et al. (2020) Scientists’ warning to humanity on insect extinctions. Biological Conservation 242: 108426

Samways M et al. et al. (2020) Solutions for humanity on how to conserve insects. Biological Conservation 242: 108427

Tschumi M et al. (2020). Woody elements benefit bird diversity to a larger extent than semi-natural grasslands in cereal-dominated landscapes. Basic and Applied Ecology.

Wanner M et al. (2020) Tolerance of testate amoeba species to rising sea levels under laboratory conditions and in the South Pacific. Pedobiologia 79: 150610

Wanner M et al. (2020) Soil testate amoebae and diatoms as bio-indicators of an old heavy metal contaminated floodplain in Japan. Microbial Ecology 79: 123-133


Birkhofer et al. (2019) Effects of ground cover management on biotic communities, ecosystem services and disservices in organic deciduous fruit orchards in South Africa. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 3:107

Phillips HR Guerra et al. (2019). Global distribution of earthworm diversity. Science, 366(6464), 480-485.

de la Riva EG et al. (2019). Functional and phylogenetic consequences of plant invasion for coastal native communities. Journal of Vegetation Science 30: 510-520

de la Riva EG et al. (2019). The leaf economic spectrum drives leaf litter decomposition in Mediterranean forests. Plant and Soil 435: 353-366

Rodríguez-Calcerrada J. et al. (2019). Respiratory costs of producing and maintaining stem biomass in eight co-occurring tree species. Tree Physiology 39: 1838-1854

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