Managing biodiversity – University of Copenhagen

CMEC > Research > Managing biodiversity

The rapid loss of species and degradation of ecosystems and the concomitant loss of their services, threatens human societies. We combine biological and human behavioural data to study what factors influence cooperation and support to conservation of habitats, species and biodiversity across borders. Our studies are valuable in informing conservation policy.

Our overall research questions

By combining socio-economic data and analyses with biological data and knowledge on what governs the distribution and persistence of species, we will address the following overall questions:

  1. How do changes in anthropogenic stressors affect species distributions and abundances across geographical scales?
  2. How does willingness to support international conservation relate to spatial and temporal dependence of biodiversity movement?
  3. How do cultural similarity, trust, and policy mechanisms affect cooperation?

Some of our research projects within Biodiversity Management are described below.

Global conservation and policy frameworks

We work to preserve biodiversity by predicting global stressors to biodiversity, explore extinction scenarios, and increase our understanding of the need, potentials, and constraints in global and trans-national collaboration. Specific projects include:

Human behaviour and global conservation

We use economic laboratory and field experiments with human subjects to explore elicit preferences for conservation under different institutional settings.

Professor Bo Jellesmark Thorsen:
Professor Niels Strange:

Continued development of The Planetary Boundaries Framework

The project focuses on improving the existing Planetary Boundaries (PB) Framework, which is a concept of nine Earth system processes that have boundaries. Now, we seek to quantify interactions between the identified PB and human activities. 

Professor Katherine Richardson:

Managing global nature in the 21st century

International policy and agreements help define regional (EU and Nordic) and national policies and laws, affecting nature on the ground.  We are interested in how decisions made at international level affect conservation delivery (for example in protected area networks, the prevention of extinction of species, the sustainable use of nature, or the establishment of community managed reserves).  The current international framework for nature conservation (defined by the Convention of Biological Diversity in 2010) will end in 2020.  There are many opportunities to influence the post-2020 nature agreement using good science that shows how progress has been made, where there are gaps and challenges, and how these challenges can be addressed and solved by a new and ambitious agreement for Nature.

Professor Neil Burgess:

The extinction scenarios 

We will use our existing species distributions data for 20,000 species of vertebrates, together with our data on their phylogenetic relationships, to develop realistic extinction scenarios for the 21st century. Our analyses will be based on novel methodologies that combine IUCN-level extinction risk assessments with the next generation of scenarios of climate and land use change for the end of the century.

Professor Carsten Rahbek:
Professor Miguel Araujo:

Modelling the future

(text is coming)

Professor Katherine Richardson:


In order to provide a holistic framework for achieving sustainable outcomes, we need to understand and quantify the relations between the human environment and the biophysical environment of nature areas. We explore planning approaches in Denmark and around the world that facilitate decision-making and the valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Our projects include: 

Mapping ecosystem services

We apply a spatial multi-criteria decision model to designate a robust and interconnected network of natural areas in Denmark to map ecosystem services. The project also models the welfare economic benefits from ecosystem services and determines the opportunity cost of setting aside forest and agricultural land for nature protection.

Associate professor Thomas H. Lundhede:
Professor Niels Strange:

No Net Loss of biodiversity

In this project, we seek to have no net loss of biodiversity alongside development. The project explores how biodiversity losses from development are measured, and active conservation interventions are implemented to compensate for the loss. Further, the project addresses the challenges of achieving No Net Loss of biodiversity (NNL), when ecological and social dynamics are taken into account.

Dr. Joseph William Bull:
Professor Niels Strange:

Recreational preference & value

We use economic analysis to explore the welfare economics aspects of biodiversity management. Our projects include:

  • People's preference for forest structures in relation to outdoor recreation across three different European contexts.
Professor Niels Strange:
Associate professor Thomas H. Lundhede:
  •  The recreational values of conserving coral reefs.
Associate professor Thomas H. Lundhede:

Habitat and species management

Conservation Science, including habitat and species management, is a broad biological discipline that covers all aspects of understanding how species, habitats and ecosystem services are changing in a world increasingly dominated by humans.

Tracking Golden Eagles

In this project, we track golden eagles with GPS technology to understand their movement patterns, habitat requirements and general use of non-breeding. The technology provides the possibility to explore their habitat use and home ranges across the annual cycle. The project also aims to determine the source population to the Danish breeding birds and investigate genetic relationship within the Danish population. Read more about the Golden Eagles.

Associate Professor Anders P. Tøttrup:

The Danish wolf

We study how and why the wolf population is growing and spreading across Europe. Based on this knowledge and data on population and occurrences, we make models to predict wolf dispersal and the number of wolves we can expect in each part of Europe, including Denmark. Read more about Ulve i Danmark (Wolves in Denmark).

Professor Carsten Rahbek:

Conserving biodiversity in the Danish forests (FINISHED)

This project sheds light on what forest areas in Denmark should be given priority in a cost-effective effort for the conservation of biodiversity in the Danish forests. It also examines what such efforts will cost, and what it may mean for the provision of other ecosystem services from the forests. Download the final report.

Professor Carsten Rahbek:
Special Consultant Anders Højgaard Petersen:

Management and biodiversity of Danish beech forest

We combine experimental approaches to create deadwood and veteran trees with investigations of existing mature beech stands to understand the links between management, habitat diversity and biodiversity in Danish beech forests. The project has a multi-taxa approach (fungi, lichens, bryophytes, vascular plants, insects, birds) and include economic valuation with the aim to develop cost-effective evidence-based management tools for forest biodiversity.

Associate Professor Jacob Heilmann-Clausen:
Professor Carsten Rahbek: