for sustainable development

Biodiversity and Climate: Social-Ecological Biodiversity Research

Together with the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F) the ISOE is investigating the impact of reduced biodiversity on the provision of society with ecosystem services. The research unit Transdisciplinary Methods and Concepts is coordinating the cooperation with SBiK-F.

Research approach

With its work based on the natural sciences, the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F) follows the geo-biodiversity approach which combines the classification and recording of biodiversity with the significance of biodiversity within the system earth. ISOE’s transdisciplinary contributions are supporting this research approach by social-ecological analyses of interactions between biosphere and geosphere and by integrating the societal requirements for knowledge into research, application and communication. Inter- and transdisciplinary concepts and methods are being developed that enable a dialogue on biodiversity and ecosystem services as well as on the effects of human interventions on ecosystems and the role of climate change.

Ecosystem services as integrative concept

The concept of ecosystem services captures values (economic, ecologic, cultural and social) that ecosystems provide for society. By also integrating the societal perspective of these values into the observation and management of social-ecological systems, not only can the knowledge gained from natural sciences be linked to socio-scientific findings but scientific and non-scientific expertise can be joined as well. The aim is to integrate ecosystem services into an approach of social-ecological systems in a way that the provision of society with ecosystem services can be presented and analysed. Therefore, these services are being further developed as an integrative concept. Currently, the focus of research is on the question of how human well-being that is expected by the use of ecosystem services can be theoretically and conceptually captured. The aim is to develop the concept in such a manner that the complexity of the provision of benefits as well as the values and assessments can be described in an adequate way.

Communication and transfer of biodiversity knowledge

The integrative methods of a social-ecological biodiversity research require a transdisciplinary dialogue on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the effects of societal activities on ecosystems. The according research is situated an area of various overlapping scientific disciplines as well as at the interfaces between science and society (inter- and transdisciplinarity). From this, the necessity of a knowledge transfer arises between the scientific disciplines and between science and society. The aim is to develop the scientific bases for this knowledge transfer and to examine and generalize the methods used therefor. In this context, knowledge transfer is not just understood as the communication of results but mainly as joint learning that is part of the problem orientated research process.

Social-ecological biodiversity research at the ISOE

The research unit Transdisciplinary Methods and Concepts coordinates the Research Activity “Ecosystem Services and Climate” within BiK-F with Dr. Thomas Jahn as one of the spokespersons. At the ISOE other projects are dealt with within the framework of this cooperation:

  • Ecosystem Services in the Context of Social-Ecological Systems
  • West African Savannahs as Social-Ecological Supply Systems

Project partners

  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN), Frankfurt am Main (lead)
  • Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main


As of January 1st, 2015:

  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN)
  • Own project of ISOE

2008–2014: Hessian initiative for scientific and economic excellence (LOEWE)

Project duration