Biodiversity and stability

• in managed landscapes protection of traditional processes of sustainable management must not be forgotten;

• hot spots require particular protection.

Decision-makers in politics and industry responsible for the implementation of protective measures and concepts always ask for data and numbers. Therefore, steps must be taken to establish the data on biodiversity. It is relatively easy to do this at the level of the species, even if in many habitats (tropics) and for taxonomic groups (e.g. mosses, lichens) there are still enormous difficulties. However, even if these difficulties have been solved, the indices designed by scientists must be tested for practical application. Knowledge is only useful if functions can be linked to the number of species. An enormous challenge for ecologists is to quantify functions of ecosystems dependent on diversity, as well as working out the connection between species and structures influencing the functioning of ecosystems. For obvious reasons this would mean in the first instance working with species and communities of the macroflora and macrofauna. However, the interactions at the microbial level should not be overlooked. There are important tasks for ecologists in the future.

It will become problematic at higher levels of aggregation. Is it possible to count communities or ecosystems? If yes, how can we count the rarity, the economic significance, or the aesthetic impression? Ecology must not shy away from normative approaches and must take a position in the problems of evaluation. This must happen soon, because the scientific protection of natural habitats puts plant ecology, as no other scientific discipline, under an enormous time pressure.

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