Understanding the accumulated impact of historical landscape processes on the structuring and levels of biodiversity has been limited by a lack of data on the past structure of the landscape.
To what extent are patterns of allelic differentiation and species occurrence, and levels of genetic and species diversity explained by properties of the present and past landscape?
The Jordtorp area on the Baltic island of Öland provides a spatiotemporal arena for investigating the determinants of present-day biodiversity within a local landscape. With the help of historical maps, aerial photographs and satellite scenes, we have produced land-cover maps ranging back to the early 1700s. This unique study arena now allows the analysis of species diversity and gene diversity, on different spatial scales, in terms of both present-day environmental variables and the structure and properties of the past and present landscape.
The Jordtorp project involves researchers from the Department of Biology and the Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis at Lund University (Honor C. Prentice, Karin Hall, Barbara Schmid, Thomas Möckel, Jonas Dalmayne and Oskar Löfgren), the University of Regensburg (Peter Poschlod), Tallin University (Triin Reitalu) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig (Oliver Purschke).
Earlier PhD projects (Triin Reitalu, Lotten J. Johansson) explored changes in land-cover and relationships between species richness/diversity and past and present landscape and environmental variables within the study area. Oliver Purschke's PhD project had a focus on the relationships between functional, phylogenetic and taxonomic diversity in grassland communities, and landscape and environmental variables. Barbara Schmid's PhD project deals with long-term grassland succession and the relationships between temporal variation in nutrient status and species diversity/species density. The PhD projects of Thomas Möckel and Jonas Dalmayne focus on the use of remote-sensing as a tool for assessing and monitoring grassland habitat heterogeneity, species diversity and management intensity.
Alumni associated with the project: Martin T. Sykes (Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis), Lotten J. Johansson (Malmö stad), Margareta Ihse, Merit Kindström and Marie Vandewalle (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig).
Prentice, H.C. et al. 2007. Acta Phytogeographica Suecica 88:83-94.