Effects of climate change on diversity

We study effects of climate change on different facets of biodiversity at different spatial scales, including effects species range shifts or extinction risk. For example, we showed that species of different trophic levels responded differently due to climate warming and that high montane species are particularly at risk of becoming extinct. In other studies, we focused on the relative importance of macroclimate versus local factors. These studies allow inferences about the relevant spatial scale that matter for diversity and hence can guide conservation efforts in times of climate change. 

Box plots of shifts in the upper ranges of single species of the lineages under study between 1902–1904 and 2006–2007 along an altitude gradient in the Bavarian Forest National Park. The mean shift of each lineage is indicated by a blue line. 

We learned that the relative importance of macroclimate versus local factors differs between taxonomic groups challenging overall conservation concepts. To improve our mechanistic understanding of the species-environmental relationships, we also consider phylogenetic and trait information among species.

Selected papers

Bässler, C., Müller, J., Hothorn, T., Kneib, T., Badeck, F. & Dziock, F. (2010). Estimation of the extinction risk for high-montane species as a consequence of global warming and assessment of their suitability as cross-taxon indicators. Ecological Indicators, 10, 341–352.

Bässler, C., Hothorn, T., Brandl, R. & Müller, J. (2013). Insects overshoot the expected upslope shift caused by climate warming. PLOS ONE, 8, e65842-e65842.

Oberprieler C, Heine G, Bässler C (2015) Can divergent selection save the rare Senecio hercynicus from genetic swamping by its spreading congener S. ovatus (Compositae, Senecioneae)? Flora 210:47–59

Bässler, C., Cadotte, M.W., Beudert, B., Heibl, C., Blaschke, M. & Bradtka, J.H. Langbehn T, Werth S, Müller J. (2016). Contrasting patterns of lichen functional diversity and species richness across an elevation gradient. Ecography, 39, 689–698.

Thorn, S., Forster, B., Heibl, C., Muller, J. & Bässler, C. (2018). Influence of macroclimate and local conservation measures on taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversities of saproxylic beetles and wood-inhabiting fungi. Biodiversity Conservation, 27, 3119–3135

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Effects of forest management on biodiversity

One research focus is directed to the effects of forest management on the diversity of forest species. Study settings include protected areas like National parks and commercial forests. Here, for example, we concentrate on the role of passive management, characterized by natural disturbances and the response of rare species and functional communities.  

Phylogenetic tree of lichenous species iin the Bavarian Forest National Park Bars illustrate the shift in abundance for each species in relation to the categories undisturbed (left) and disturbed (bark beetle attack; right). Black bars indicate that the species occurred exclusively on the respective plot. Inset histogram shows the number of species with either a positive, negative or indifferent response in abundance to disturbance.

We also study logging effects on the diversity and assembly processes of forest species communities. We use a broad range of survey data, including forests characterized by regular logging and salvage logging after disturbances. Besides gathering a deeper understanding of the response of diversity to forest management, our studies intend to improve recommendations for forest managers to maintain overall forest diversity.

Selected papers

Bässler, C., Ernst, R., Cadotte, M., Heibl, C. & Müller, J. (2014). Near-to-nature logging influences fungal community assembly processes in a temperate forest. Journal of Applied Ecology, 51, 939–948.

Bässler, C., Müller, J., Cadotte, M.W., Heibl, C., Bradtka, J.H. & Thorn, S. Halbwachs H. (2016). Functional response of lignicolous fungal guilds to bark beetle deforestation. Ecological Indicators, 65, 149–160.

Thorn S, Bässler C, Bernhardt-Römermann M, Cadotte M, Heibl C, Schaefer H, Seibold S, Müller J (2016) Changes in the dominant assembly mechanism drive species loss caused by declining resources. Ecology Letters: 19:163–170.

Biedermann PHW, Müller J, Grégoire J-C, Gruppe, Axel, Hagge J, Hammerbacher A, Hofstetter RW, Kandasamy D, Kolarik M, Kostovcik M, Krokene P, Sallé A, Six DL, Turrini T, Vanderpool D, Wingfield MJ, Bässler C (2019) Bark Beetle Population Dynamics in the Anthropocene: Challenges and Solutions. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 34:914–924

Thorn S, Chao A, Bernhardt‐Römermann M, Chen Y‐H, Georgiev KB, Heibl C, Müller J, Schäfer H, Bässler C (2020) Rare species, functional groups, and evolutionary lineages drive successional trajectories in disturbed forests. Ecology 101. doi:10.1002/ecy.2949

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Experimental approach to the functioning of deadwood communities

We set up several experiments in forest ecosystems to disentangle the effects of resource availability, resource diversity, and abiotic factors like microclimate driving the structure and succession of species communities related to deadwood. These experiments provide deeper insights in the mechanisms driving communities. They also help specifying forest conservation concepts in times of climate change. Finally, we are interested in how diversity patterns are linked to important ecosystem processes like decomposition, a crucial process contributing to the forest nutrient cycle.

Wood-inhabiting beetles carry fungal material of different fungal guilds, thus dispersing propagules (mostly spores). X-axis: Number of OTUs

Selected papers

Baber K, Otto O, Kahl T, Gossner MM, Wirth C, Gminder A, Bässler C (2016) Disentangling the effects of forest-stand type and dead-wood origin of the early successional stage on the diversity of wood-inhabiting fungi. Forest Ecology and Management 377:161–169

Krah F-S, Seibold S, Brandl R, Baldrian P, Müller J, Bässler C (2018) Independent effects of host and environment on the diversity of wood-inhabiting fungi. Journal of Ecology 106:1428–1442

Seibold S, Müller J, Baldrian P, Cadotte MW, Štursová M, Biedermann PHW, Krah F-S, Bässler C (2019) Fungi associated with beetles dispersing from dead wood – Let's take the beetle bus! Fungal Ecology 39:100–108.

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Fungal conservation, functional and community ecology

Fungi are still the forgotten kingdom in conservation biology. One focus of our group, therefore, is to improve our understanding how fungal communities are structured along environmental gradients (e.g., land use and climate). Phylogenetic and trait information among species increase our understanding of the underlying processes that allow predictions on how fungal diversity changes in times of land use and climate change. 

For example, in a recent study, we learned that the fruit body size affects the global assembly of mushroom-forming fungi. Mean mushroom size across latitudes peaks at temperate biomes.

We also use phylogenetically informed analyses to improve our knowledge about the evolution of assembly relevant traits.

Selected papers

Bässler C, Heilmann-Clausen J, Karasch P, Brandl R, Halbwachs H (2015) Ectomycorrhizal fungi have larger fruit bodies than saprotrophic fungi. Fungal Ecology 17:205–212

Halbwachs H., Simmel J., Bässler C. 2016. Tales and mysteries of fungal fruiting: How morphological and physiological traits affect a pileate lifestyle. Fungal Biology Reviews 30(2): 36–61.

Krah F-S, Büntgen U, Schaefer H, Müller J, Andrew C, Boddy L, Diez J, Egli S, Freckleton R, Gange AC, Halvorsen R, Heegaard E, Heideroth A, Heibl C, Heilmann-Clausen J, Høiland K, Kar R, Kauserud H, Kirk PM, Kuyper TW, Krisai-Greilhuber I, Norden J, Papastefanou P, Senn-Irlet B, Bässler C (2019) European mushroom assemblages are darker in cold climates. Nature Communications 10:2890.

Bässler C, Brandl R, Müller J, Krah F, Reinelt A, Halbwachs H. (2021). Global analysis reveals an environmentally driven latitudinal pattern in mushroom size across fungal species. Ecology Letters accepted.

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Predicting diversity by remote sensing 

One challenge of conservation biology is the need to assess biodiversity rapidly at a larger scale. In some studies, we showed that remote sensing techniques predict fairly well different biodiversity measures. Measures used included, e.g., NATURA 2000 habitat types and the occurrence of forest fungi based on their fruit bodies.

Map illustrating modelled abundances (number of fruiting bodies/ha/year) of all fungal species in the Bavarian Forest National Park,

Selected papers

Peura M, Gonzalez RS, Müller J, Heurich M, Vierling LA, Mönkkonen M, Bässler C (2016) Mapping a 'cryptic kingdom'. Performance of lidar derived environmental variables in modelling the occurrence of forest fungi. Remote Sensing of Environment 186:428–438

Bässler C, Stadler J, Müller J, Förster B, Göttlein A, Brandl R (2011) LiDAR as a rapid tool to predict forest habitat types in Natura 2000 networks. Biodiversity and Conservation 20:465–481.

Bae S, Levick SR, Heidrich L, Magdon P, Leutner BF, Wöllauer S, Serebryanyk A, Nauss T, Krzystek P, Gossner MM, Schall P, Heibl C, Bässler C, Doerfler I, Schulze E-D, Krah F-S, Culmsee H, Jung K, Heurich M, Fischer M, Seibold S, Thorn S, Gerlach T, Hothorn T, Weisser WW, Müller J (2019) Radar vision in the mapping of forest biodiversity from space. Nature Communications 10:4757.

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Prof. Dr. Claus Bässler

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

Institute for Ecology, Evolution and Diversity

Department of Conservation Biology


Max-von-Laue-Str. 13

D-60438 Frankfurt am Main

Phone ++49 (0) 69 – 798 42136


Sprechzeiten: nach Vereinbarung