Local and landscape scale effects on biodiversity

In Europe the most important driver of land use change is the intensification of agricultural food production at different spatial scales. At the landscape scale land-cover changes include landscape modification, fragmentation, and loss of natural and semi-natural habitats due to expansion of arable fields. At the local scale, management intensity has been intensified by using high levels of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, as well as increasing mechanization. This agricultural intensification affects the abundance of plant and animal species, species richness, and community composition. At the same time, species interactions, food web structure and ecosystem functioning are changing as well. As a response to this severe changes of biodiversity patterns in agricultural landscapes agri-environmental schemes (AES) were developed. These conservation measures provide compensations for loss of income to farmers through and an environmentally friendly and sustainable farming.

My research focuses on the causal relationships between the drivers of land use change in terms of agricultural intensification at local and landscape scales, the value of AES, related farmland biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning. In the long run, I aim to find trade-offs between human needs and ecological sustainability in terms of biodiversity and habitat conservation. Therefore, I’m studying a wide range of terrestrial taxa, including, arable plants, small and medium sized mammals, birds, pollinators and other arthropods and related ecosystem functions, such as seed predation and seed dispersal, biological control, pollination. I’m using a variety of monitoring methods, such as capture-mark-recapture-approaches, radio-tracking, observational, and experimental studies.

Projects and cooperation partners

The impact of sown wildflower fields/ strips for nature conservation (2018/19)

East-West Project (2013/14)

  • Responsible for the “Weed seed predation experiment”
  • Ecosystem services and disservices of small mammals and arthropods in small- vs. large-scaled agricultural landscapes
  • Together with: PD Dr. P. Batáry (Landscape and Conservation Ecology, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Hungary)

Faunistic evaluation of wildflower fields (2013)

The Hedge-project (2008 – 2010)

  • Studies on the impacts of habitat fragmentation on the diversity and functionality of hedges and forest edges in agricultural landscapes
  • Together with: PD Dr. P. Batáry (Landscape and Conservation Ecology, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Hungary), Dr. H. Schlinkert (Federal Agency for Nature Conservation), Dr. A. Kovács-Hostyánszki (MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary)

EU-project Agripopes (AGRIcultural Policy-Induced landscasPe changes: effects on biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) (2007 – 2010)

  • Studies on the impacts of agricultural intensification on farmland biodiversity and biological control
  • Together with researchers from following countries: Sweden, The Netherlands, Ireland, France, Estonia, Germany, Poland, Spain e.g. Prof. T. Tscharntke, Dr. C. Thies (Agroecology, Georg-August University Göttingen)


Martin, E. et al. (2019) The interplay of landscape composition and configuration: new pathways to manage functional biodiversity and agro-ecosystem services across Europe. Ecology Letters. 22, 1083-1094. DOI: 10.1111/ele.13265

Gayer, C., Kurucz, K., Fischer, C., Tscharntke, T. & Batáry, P. (2019) Agricultural intensification at local and landscape scales impairs farmland birds, but not Skylarks (Alauda arvensis). Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment. 277, 21-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.03.006

Fischer, C., Gayer, C., Kurucz, K., Riesch, F., Tscharntke T. & Batáry, P. (2018) Ecosystem services and disservices provided by small rodents in arable fields: effects of local and landscape management. Journal of Applied Ecology. 55, 548–558. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13016

Batáry, P., Gallé, R., Riesch, F., Fischer, C., Dormann, C.F., Mußhoff, O., Császár, P., Fusaro, S., Gayer, C., Happe, A.-K., Kurucz, K., Molnár, D., Rösch, V., Wietzke, A. & Tscharntke, T. (2017) The former iron curtain still drives biodiversity-profit trade-offs in German agriculture. Nature Ecology and Evolution.1, 1279–1284. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0272-x

Fischer, C. & Türke, M. (2016) Seed preferences by rodents in the agri-environment and implications for biological weed control. Ecology and Evolution. 6, 5796–5807. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2329

Schlinkert, H., Ludwig, M., Batáry, P., Holzschuh, A., Kovács-Hostyánszki, A., Tscharntke, T. & Fischer, C. (2016) Forest specialist and generalist small mammals in forest edges and hedges. Wildlife Biology. 22, 86-94. DOI: 10.1111/wlb.00176

Fischer, C. & Wagner, C. (2016) Can agri-environmental schemes enhance non-target species? Effects of sown wildflower fields on the common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) at local and landscape scales. Biological Conservation. 194, 168–175. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.12.021

Gagic, V., Bartomeus, I., Jonsson, T., Taylor, A., Winqvist, C., Fischer, C., Slade, E.M., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Emmerson, M., Potts, S.G., Tscharntke, T., Weisser W. & Bommarco, R. (2015) Functional identity and diversity of animals predict ecosystem functioning better than species-based indices. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 282. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2620

Habel, J.C., Braun, J., Fischer, C., Weisser, W.W. & Gossner, M. M. (2015) Population restoration of the nocturnal bird Athene noctua in Western Europe: an example of evidence based species conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation, 24, 1743-1753. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-015-0893-9

Sutcliffe, L. et al. (2015) Harnessing the biodiversity value of Central and Eastern European farmland. Diversity and Distributions, 21, 722-730. DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12288

Winqvist, C., Bengtsson, J., Öckinger, E., Aavik, T., Berendse, F., Clement, L.W., Fischer, C., Flohre, A., Geiger, F., Liira, J., Thies, C., Tscharntke, T., Weisser, W.W. & Bommarco, R. (2014) Species’ traits influence ground beetle responses to farm and landscape level agricultural intensification in Europe. Journal of Insect Conservation, 18, 837-846. DOI: 10.1007/s10841-014-9690-0

Fischer, C., Schröder, B. (2014) Predicting spatial and temporal habitat use of rodents in a highly intensive agricultural area. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 189, 145-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2014.03.039