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Integrating movement ecology with biodiversity research - exploring new avenues to address spatiotemporal biodiversity dynamics

Florian Jeltsch12*, Dries Bonte3, Guy Pe'er4, Björn Reineking56, Peter Leimgruber7, Niko Balkenhol8, Boris Schröder1029, Carsten M Buchmann11, Thomas Mueller127, Niels Blaum1, Damaris Zurell1, Katrin Böhning-Gaese1314, Thorsten Wiegand15, Jana A Eccard162, Heribert Hofer17, Jette Reeg1, Ute Eggers1 and Silke Bauer1819

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, Intitute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Maulbeerallee 2, 14469 Potsdam, Germany

2 Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB), Berlin D-14195, Germany

3 Department of Biology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, Gent 9000, Belgium

4 Department of Conservation Biology, UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstr 15, Leipzig 04318, Germany

5 Biogeographical Modelling, BayCEER, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstr. 30, Bayreuth 95447, Germany

6 Irstea, UR EMGR Écosystèmes Montagnards, 2 rue de la Papeterie-BP 76, St-Martin-d’Hères F-38402, France

7 National Zoological Park, Smithsonian, Conservation Biology Institute, 1500 Remount Road, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA

8 Department of Forest Zoology and Forest Conservation, University of Göttingen, Buesgenweg 3, Göttingen 37077, Germany

9 Landscape Ecology, Technische Universität München, Emil-Ramann-Str. 6, 85354 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany

10 Environmental Systems Analysis, Institute of Geoecology, Technical University of Braunschweig, Langer Kamp 19c, Braunschweig 38106, Germany

11 Department of Landscape Ecology, UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstr. 15, Leipzig 04318, Germany

12 Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA

13 Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Senckenberganlage 25, Frankfurt (Main) 60325, Germany

14 Department of Biological Sciences, Goethe Universität, Max-von-Laue-Straße 9, Frankfurt (Main) 60438, Germany

15 Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Permoserstr. 15, Leipzig 04318, Germany

16 Department of Animal Ecology, Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, Universität Potsdam, Maulbeerallee 1, Potsdam 14469, Germany

17 Department of Evolutionary Ecology, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V., Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, Berlin 10315, Germany

18 Department of Animal Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), P.O. Box 50, Wageningen, AB 6700, The Netherlands

19 Swiss Ornithological Institute, Seerose 1, Sempach 6204, Switzerland

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Movement Ecology 2013, 1:6  doi:10.1186/2051-3933-1-6

Published: 5 August 2013


Movement of organisms is one of the key mechanisms shaping biodiversity, e.g. the distribution of genes, individuals and species in space and time. Recent technological and conceptual advances have improved our ability to assess the causes and consequences of individual movement, and led to the emergence of the new field of ‘movement ecology’. Here, we outline how movement ecology can contribute to the broad field of biodiversity research, i.e. the study of processes and patterns of life among and across different scales, from genes to ecosystems, and we propose a conceptual framework linking these hitherto largely separated fields of research. Our framework builds on the concept of movement ecology for individuals, and demonstrates its importance for linking individual organismal movement with biodiversity. First, organismal movements can provide ‘mobile links’ between habitats or ecosystems, thereby connecting resources, genes, and processes among otherwise separate locations. Understanding these mobile links and their impact on biodiversity will be facilitated by movement ecology, because mobile links can be created by different modes of movement (i.e., foraging, dispersal, migration) that relate to different spatiotemporal scales and have differential effects on biodiversity. Second, organismal movements can also mediate coexistence in communities, through ‘equalizing’ and ‘stabilizing’ mechanisms. This novel integrated framework provides a conceptual starting point for a better understanding of biodiversity dynamics in light of individual movement and space-use behavior across spatiotemporal scales. By illustrating this framework with examples, we argue that the integration of movement ecology and biodiversity research will also enhance our ability to conserve diversity at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels.

Mobile links; Species coexistence; Community dynamics; Biodiversity conservation; Long distance movement; Landscape genetics; Individual based modeling