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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 80 | 14. Dezember 2015
Priority Programme „Exploratories for Large-scale and Long-term Functional Biodiversity Research“ (SPP 1374)

In the framework of the Priority Programme „Exploratories for Large-scale and Long-term Functional Biodiversity Research“, established in 2006, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) invites the submission of research grant proposals.

Research in the Biodiversity Exploratories encompasses comparative, experimental and theoretical approaches, as well as scientific syntheses, and addresses the following issues:

  • relationships of land use and land use intensity with all facets of biodiversity, from the genetic to the community level;
  • consequences of land use and biodiversity changes for the functioning of ecosystems, communities, populations and for ecosystem services.

Hence, this call is addressing research groups with expertise in the investigation of land-use effects on biodiversity, and of the functional consequences of biodiversity changes. The DFG will fund empirical projects addressing these topics using comparative or experimental approaches. Other projects, including theoretical ones, can be funded, too, if they clearly relate to and use Exploratories data, and if they aim at advancing the conceptual and mechanistic understanding of the above relationships. All proposals, both for new Exploratories projects and for continuation of existing Exploratories projects, must clearly describe how they will contribute to a mechanistic understanding of the studied processes, and how the planned research fits into the Exploratories framework, uses the common design, and complements the existing research.

It is essential that research projects use all three Exploratories (see www.biodiversity-exploratories.de). In each Exploratory, 500 plots in forests and 500 plots in grasslands were initially surveyed, and their land use, soil, and vegetation were inventoried. Out of these 3000 plots, 50 forest plots and 50 grassland plots were selected in each Exploratory (150 grassland plots and 150 forest plots overall) and established for intensive research. These so-called experimental plots represent the gradient of land-use intensities in the study regions. Proposed research projects must use all of the experimental plots in the grasslands, the forests, or in both. For particularly labour-intensive investigations, the use of a predefined subset of plots (3 x 25 or 3 x 9 of the 150 grassland or forest plots; see website) may be planned. In particular, cases, the proposed research can also use all of the initially inventoried 3000 plots.

Experiments need, in principle, to be replicated in many plots, and they need to address consequences of diversity changes for the functioning of populations, communities or ecosystems. This can be achieved either by integration into existing larger manipulative experiments, or by establishing additional experiments on all experimental plots or one of the above-mentioned subsets. Before submitting a proposal, investigators should consult Fischer et al. (2010), Basic and Applied Ecology, 11: 473–485, for a detailed description of the rationale and the design of the Exploratories, and www.biodiversity-exploratories.de for further information.

Interested researchers are invited to submit proposals for research grants, in English, by 17 April 2016 to the DFG. For the investigation of complex research topics, please consider that besides forming relatively large consortia within projects, there is also the possibility that clearly focussed individual projects may refer to each other.

In addition, we ask you to send a short summary of the proposed research (applicant(s), preliminary title, plus a maximum of 5 lines of text) no later than 20 January 2016 by email to the speaker and the scientific coordinator of the Biodiversity Exploratories (see below). These short summaries will be uploaded to the project website, to allow for mutual information and coordination of applicants.

The starting date proposed for all new projects should be 1 March 2017. The duration of the projects should be 36 months, and cannot exceed this period.

Successful applicants and their team members are expected to collaborate according to the rules of procedure of the Biodiversity Exploratories, to attend the annual assembly, and to actively participate in workshops.

Further information

Further information about research infrastructure and current activities in the Biodiversity Exploratories Schorfheide-Chorin, Hainich and Schwäbische Alb can be found at:

Please submit proposals electronically through:

When writing the grant proposal, please consult the guidelines for DFG Priority Programmes (DFG form 50.05 [07/15]) and follow the instructions for the preparations of project proposals (DFG form 54.01 [06/14]). To facilitate the work of reviewers, please name PDF documents as described on the last page of these instructions. The forms can be downloaded at:

Questions with regard to scientific contents should be directed to the speaker and scientific coordinator of the Biodiversity Exploratories:

At the DFG the Biodiversity Exploratories are overseen by: