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Landscape, species and genes: diversity and history in fragmented grasslands ("The Jordtorp project")

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.

Earlier PhD projects (Triin Reitalu, Lotten J. Johansson) investigated 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, while Marie Vandewalle's PhD project characterized intraspecific functional diversity in grassland communities. Thomas Möckel's PhD project focussed on the use of hypersspectral remote sensing as a tool for assessing grassland species diversity, and Jonas Dalmayne's PhD project addresses the ability of remote sensing techniques to detect habitat heterogeneity at different spatial scales. Oskar Löfgren's PhD project explores relationships between remotely sensed data, temporal variation in nutrient status and the species richness of grassland habitat-specialist plants, and 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.

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