The division of conservation biology investigates the mechanisms involved in the degradation of ecosystems and in the decline of threatened species with the aim to propose sound conservation guidance for stopping biodiversity erosion, restoring wildlife populations and reinstating functional ecological communities and key ecological services. Our research activities are conceived with the underlying objective to bridge the long-identified gap that exists between research and practice in nature protection and biodiversity conservation. To that endeavour we mostly carry out use-inspired, i.e. practice-oriented and solution-driven research. A major focus is on threatened biodiversity of farmland, forest, river and mountain ecosystems. More recently, we have also started to work on mitigating the impacts of new energy technologies on wildlife, and on the effects of environmental change on Alpine biodiversity. The human dimensions of both biodiversity conservation and natural resources use remain key components of our research, which therefore covers a great variety of topics, from population biology of emblematic species of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates through community ecology of grasslands, forests and rivers, to ecosystem services and socio-economic aspects of biodiversity conservation and restoration. Various modern methods are applied to extract the essential information, such as resource selection functions, spatial modelling, population dynamical studies, genetic analyses, online questionnaires, etc. Controlled experiments are conducted under real natural conditions, for instance when testing the effects of different management options at the field scale. Results lead to tangible guidelines for conservation management. Joint ventures with practitioners guarantee that the recommendations drawn from our research are effectively implemented to promote biodiversity, which certainly makes this division standing out from other conventional academic research units.
Climate change drives mountain hares to higher altitudes
A warming climate will shrink and fragment mountain hare habitat in the Swiss Alps. Populations are likely to decline as a result, concludes an international study led by the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL).