Bruntje Lüdtke, PhD student

Bruntje Lüdtke Bruntje Lüdtke, PhD student
University Freiburg, Biology I
Hauptstrasse 1
D-79104 Freiburg
Phone: ++49 / 761 / 203 - 2531


Forest structure is altered by humans for long times (Bramanti et al. 2009). The long lasting modification of forests pursuant to human demands modified the living conditions for birds as well as for many other animals. This included changes in resource availability (e.g., food, foraging, nesting sites) and changes of interspecific interactions, e.g., parasitism and predation (Knoke et al. 2009; Ellis et al. 2012). Also species compositions and the survivability of populations and even species are affected. The loss of foraging sites and suitable places for reproduction, the limitation of mobility due to fragmented habitats and the disturbances by humans itself may lead to more stressed individuals and less optimal living conditions. In certain cases species are not able to deal with the modified requirements and their populations will shrink and even vanish. Depending on the intensity of management and the remaining forest structure, biodiversity is more or less endangered.

Especially in systems of two or more strongly connected taxa changing conditions that affect at least one part may subsequently affect the other, too. One system of interspecific “communities” that recently attracted the attention of biologists includes birds, blood parasites (haemosporidians) and their transmitting vectors. For instance, avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) represents the reason for extreme declines in the avifauna of Hawaii since the introduction of respective vectors (e.g. Culicidae) during the 20th century (van Riper et al. 1986, Woodworth et al. 2005). With the current knowledge of this topic we are not able to predict if such incidences could also occur in Germany. All in all, different management strategies and intensity of forest management may influence the network of birds, vectors and blood parasites and change biodiversity.

To elucidate this ecological complex, and to understand the interactions of the triad of songbirds as vertebrate hosts, dipteran vectors and haemosporidians within changing local conditions, I intend to collect data on the three taxa in differently managed forest areas, the given forest structure and the climatic conditions. I will try to explain the role of abiotic factors on infection dynamics, in detail the role of forest management intensity. Data acquisition takes place at three spatially divided locations: inside the Biodiversity Exploratory Schwäbische Alb, at the Mooswald in Freiburg, and inside the Schwarzwald.



Bramanti B, Thomas MG, Haak W, Unterlaender M, Jores P, Tambets K, Antanaitis-Jacobs I, Haidle MN, Jankauskas R, Kind C-J, Lueth F, Terberger T, Hiller J, Matsumura S, Forster P, Burger J (2009). Genetic discontinuity between local hunter-gatherers and central Europe’s first farmers. Science, 326:137-140

Ellis RD, McWorther TJ, Maron M (2012). Integrating landscape ecology and conservation physiology. Landscape Ecology, 27:1-12

Knoke T, Ammer C, Stimm B, Mosandl R (2008). Admixing broadleaved to coniferous tree species: a review on yield, ecological stability and economics. European Journal of Forest Research, 127:89-101

Van Riper C, Van Riper SG, Goff ML, Laird M (1986). The epizootiology and ecological significance of Malaria in Hawaiian land birds. Ecological Monographs, 56:327-344

Woodworth BL, Atkinson CT, LaPointe DA, Hart PJ, Spiegel CS, Tweed EJ, Henneman C, LeBrun J, Denette T, DeMots R, Kozar KL, Triglia D, Lease D, Gregor A, Smith T, Duffy D (2005). Host population persistence in the face of introduced vector-borne diseases: Hawaii amakihi and avian malaria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 102:1531-1536


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