- A method for selecting plant species for reintroduction purposes: A case-study on steppe grassland plants in Thuringia (Germany) (2014)
- Reintroductions of plant species are increasingly popular in conservation practice. Steppe grasslands contain many rare and endangered plant species that are potential objects for such reintroductions. Most reintroduction projects, however, can only target a restricted number of species, which raises the question of how species should be prioritised. Here, we present a method to select priority species for reintroduction based on species’ characteristics that are widely used in conservation practice. We first determined the local species pool containing those vascular plant species that occurred both in our target region (Thuringia, Germany) and target habitat (steppe grasslands), yielding 369 species. With the help of an a priori filter that selected currently endangered species with limited distribution, 136 potential target species were determined. These potential target species had experienced stronger decline, had a narrower phytosociological amplitude and were more likely to be species of the Festuco-Brometea class and the Festucetalia valesiacae order than non-target species. Potential target species were then ranked by a points system based on ten conservation-relevant characteristics of the species from the categories ‘threat and protection status’, ‘distribution and decline’, and ‘habitat affiliation’. In the ranking, six steppe grassland plant species (Astragalus exscapus, Bothriochloa ischaemum, Prunella laciniata, Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans, Scorzonera purpurea, and Seseli hippomarathrum) achieved the highest scores. An additional seven species not specifically characteristic for steppe grasslands also scored highly. A post hoc evaluation of these 13 highest scoring species based on additional conservation criteria left five species (Astragalus exscapus, Linum leonii, Orchis morio, Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans and Scorzonera purpurea) as species with highest priority for reintroductions and another five species as highly suitable for reintroductions. Associations between the ranking order and different ranking criteria revealed that a species’ threat and rarity in Thuringia and its protection status had the highest representation in the ranking, followed by threat in Germany, regional decline and habitat affiliation. In contrast, international threat and responsibility of Thuringia for its conservation had only low representation in the ranking, probably because these characteristics applied to only a few species. The ranking list gives a selection of species for reintroductions, which combined with additional information based on comprehensive local and floristic knowledge, allows the identification of the species with the highest priority. Our method can be transferred to other regions or habitat types.
- A prospective randomised, open-labeled, trial comparing sirolimus-containing versus mTOR-inhibitor-free immunosuppression in patients undergoing liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma (2010)
- Background: The potential anti-cancer effects of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors are being intensively studied. To date, however, few randomised clinical trials (RCT) have been performed to demonstrate anti-neoplastic effects in the pure oncology setting, and at present, no oncology endpoint-directed RCT has been reported in the high-malignancy risk population of immunosuppressed transplant recipients. Interestingly, since mTOR inhibitors have both immunosuppressive and anti-cancer effects, they have the potential to simultaneously protect against immunologic graft loss and tumour development. Therefore, we designed a prospective RCT to determine if the mTOR inhibitor sirolimus can improve hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)-free patient survival in liver transplant (LT) recipients with a pre-transplant diagnosis of HCC. Methods: The study is an open-labelled, randomised, RCT comparing sirolimus-containing versus mTOR-inhibitor-free immunosuppression in patients undergoing LT for HCC. Patients with a histologically confirmed HCC diagnosis are randomised into 2 groups within 4-6 weeks after LT; one arm is maintained on a centre-specific mTOR-inhibitor-free immunosuppressive protocol and the second arm is maintained on a centre-specific mTOR-inhibitor-free immunosuppressive protocol for the first 4-6 weeks, at which time sirolimus is initiated. A 3-year recruitment phase is planned with a 5-year follow-up, testing HCC-free survival as the primary endpoint. Our hypothesis is that sirolimus use in the second arm of the study will improve HCC-free survival. The study is a non-commercial investigator-initiated trial (IIT) sponsored by the University Hospital Regensburg and is endorsed by the European Liver and Intestine Transplant Association; 13 countries within Europe, Canada and Australia are participating. Discussion: If our hypothesis is correct that mTOR inhibition can reduce HCC tumour growth while simultaneously providing immunosuppression to protect the liver allograft from rejection, patients should experience less post-transplant problems with HCC recurrence, and therefore could expect a longer and better quality of life. A positive outcome will likely change the standard of posttransplant immunosuppressive care for LT patients with HCC. (trial registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov: NCT00355862) (EudraCT Number: 2005-005362-36)
- Biodiversity, syntaxonomy, and management – Editorial to the 7th Dry Grassland Special Feature (with a bibliometrical evaluation of the series) (2012)
- We report on the activities of the European Dry Grassland Group (EDGG) during the last year, namely the 8th European Dry Grassland Meeting in Uman’, Ukraine in June 2011, the 3rd EDGG Research Expedition in Bulgaria in August 2011, the 4th EDGG Research Expedition in Sicily in April 2012, as well as the completed and forthcoming EDGG-coordinated special features in international journals. Then we provide a brief bibliometrical analysis of the Dry Grassland Special Features in Tuexenia since 2005. The 32 contributions of the years 2005–2011 constituted approx. 17% of the overall content of Tuexenia in this period. Including this 7th Dry Grassland Special Feature, sixty-one authors from 12 countries have contributed to these Special Features, guest-edited by yearly changing teams from a total of 16 guest editors. In the years with statistically reliable data, contributions in the Dry Grassland Special Features have been cited approximately four times as much as regular Tuexenia contributions. It is likely that this fact together with the internationality of the Special Features has contributed to the final inclusion of the journal in the Web of Science in 2011. Finally, we introduce the four research articles of this 7th Dry Grassland Special Feature. Two of them are focusing on vegetation change and restoration issues of cryptogam-rich sand dunes in the Netherlands and calcareous grasslands in Bavaria (Germany), respectively. The others, dealing with siliceous grasslands in Hesse (central Germany) and the results of EDGG Research Expedition 2009 to Transylvania (Romania), focus on syntaxonomy.
- Continental dry grasslands from range margin to range centre – Editorial to the 9th Dry Grassland Special Feature (2014)
- Die Xerothermrasen-Gesellschaften des unteren Unstruttales und einige ökologische Gründe für ihre Verteilung im Raum (1999)
- Das Gebiet an der unteren Unstrut nimmt hinsichtlich seiner Vegetation und Flora eine Sonderstellung ein, da sich hier kontinental und (sub-)mediterran verbreitete Sippen mischen. In den Xerothermrasen profitieren die östlichen Sippen vom subkontinentalen Klima, während der vorherrschende Muschelkalk-Untergrund und die Sommerwärme die zahlreichen kalkliebenden südlichen Sippen begünstigen. Daneben stellt das Unstruttal ein bedeutsames Refugialgebiet reliktischer Steppen- und Mittelmeerarten dar (BECKER 2000). Alles zusammen bewirkt eine überdurchschnittlich hohe Artenvielfalt und eine hohe Zahl verschiedener Xerothermrasen-Gesellschaften. Diese Gesellschaften und die mikroklimatischen und edaphischen Gründe für ihre Verteilung im Raum zu beschreiben, ist ein Ziel der vorliegenden Arbeit (VGL. BECKER 1996; s.a. BECKER 1998a, b). Kleinere Teilgebiete des Unstruttales wurden hinsichtlich ihrer Xerothermrasen-Gesellschaften bereits untersucht, so das NSG Steinklöbe von MEUSEL (1937) sowie HÖLZEL (1997), das NSG Neue Göhle von ALTEHAGE (1951) und das NSG Tote Täler von REICHHOFF et al. (1979). Auch bei KRAUSE (1940) finden sich interessante Überlegungen zu einzelnen Arten, während HENSEN (1997), BÖTTNER et al. (1997), HENSEN & KENTRUP (1998) und HEINZ & PFEIFFER (1998) mehrere Gesellschaften im Gebiet hinsichtlich der Lebensstrategien ihrer Arten untersucht haben. Schließlich sei noch die Studie von MAHN (1965) genannt, mit der man die pflanzensoziologischen Ergebnisse in einen größeren Kontext stellen kann. Mit der Rolle von Mikroklima und Boden in herzynischen Xerothermrasen haben sich u.a. HELMECKE (1972), REICHHOFF (1979, 1980) und SCHLÜTER & BALLER (1982) befaßt. Nicht unerwähnt bleiben sollen die grundlegenden Arbeiten von VOLK (1936, 1937b), HEILIG (1931) und DÖRR (1941).
- Dry grassland of Europe: biodiversity, classification, conservation and management – Editorial to the 8th Dry Grassland Special Feature (2013)
- Dry grassland vegetation of Central Podolia (Ukraine) – a preliminary overview of its syntaxonomy, ecology and biodiversity (2014)
- We present the data of the 2nd research expedition of the European Dry Grassland Group (EDGG), which was conducted in 2010 in Central Podolia, Ukraine. The aim was to collect plot data to compare Ukrainian dry grasslands with those of other parts of Europe in terms of syntaxonomy and biodiversity. We sampled 21 nested-plot series (0.0001–100 m²) and 184 normal plots (10 m²) covering the full variety of dry grassland types occurring in the study region. For all plots, we recorded species composi-tion of terrestrial vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens, while for the 226 10-m² plots we estimated and measured percentage cover of all species, structural, topographic, soil and landuse parameters. The 10-m² plots were used for phytosociological classification based on iteratively refined TWINSPAN classification as well as for DCA ordination. Differences between the derived vegetation types with respect to environmental conditions and species richness were assessed with ANOVAs. We assigned our plots to nine association-level units but refrained from placing them into formal associations with two exceptions. In the study area, dry grasslands of the Festuco-Brometea were far more common than those of the Koelerio-Corynephoretea. Among the Festuco-Brometea, xeric Festucetalia valesiacae grasslands were more frequent and represented by the Festucion valesiacae (2 associations, including the Allio taurici-Dichanthietum ischaemi ass. nova) and the Stipion lessingianae (1) compared to the Brachypodietalia pinnati with the Agrostio vinealis-Avenulion schellianae (3). The Koelerio-Corynephoretea were represented by three associations, each from a different order and alliance: basiphilous outcrops (Alysso alyssoidis-Sedetalia: Alysso alyssoidis-Sedion?), acidophilous outcrops (Sedo-Scleranthetalia: Veronico dillenii-Sedion albi?) and mesoxeric sandy grasslands (Trifolio arvensis-Festucetalia ovinae: Agrostion vinealis). We discuss the issue of the mesoxeric order Galietalia veri placed within the Molinio-Arrhenatheretea by Ukrainian authors and conclude that the content of that order would probably be better placed in the mesoxeric orders of the Koelerio-Corynephoretea and Festuco-Brometea. Other syntaxonomic questions could not be solved with our geographically limited dataset and await a supraregional analysis, e.g. whether the Ukrainian outcrop communities should be assigned to the same alliances as known from Central Europe or rather represent new vicariant units. The analysis of the biodiversity patterns showed that at a grain size of 10 m², Podolian Koelerio-Corynephoretea communities were overall richer than Festuco-Brometea communities (46.4 vs. 40.6 species). This difference was due to the Koelerio-Corynephoretea containing twice as many bryophytes and nine times more lichens, while vascular plant species richness did not differ significantly between classes. The orders within the classes showed no real differences in species richness. The richness patterns observed in Podolia were almost the opposite of those usually found in dry grasslands, where Brachypodietalia pinnati are richer than Festucetalia valesiacae, and these richer than stands of the Koelerio-Corynpehoretea – and we do not have a good explanation for these idiosyncrasies. In conclusion, Podolian dry grasslands behave quite unexpectedly regarding biodiversity, and their syntaxonomy is still poorly understood. These knowledge gaps can only be addressed with supranational analyses based on comprehensive datasets.
- Dry grasslands: species interactions and distribution – Editorial to the Special Feature with contributions from the 6th European Dry Grassland Meeting 2009 in Halle (Saale) (2010)
- In our contribution, we report on the 6th European Dry Grassland Meeting held from 31 August to 1 September 2009 in Halle (Saale), Germany. The meeting was attended by 40 participants, who gave 15 oral and 17 poster presentations. The rapid positive development of the European Dry Grassland Group (EDGG), the organiser of this conference, is mentioned: the inclusion of the EDGG in the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS) as a working group, the establishment of two new subgroups focussing on Mediterranean and South-East European dry grasslands, respectively, and the organisation of the first EDGG research expedition in 2010 belong to the most important events. In the last part of our contribution, we give a short introduction to the six articles of this Special Feature. Two of them deal with phytosociological classification of semi-natural grassland communities, one with vegetation- environment relationships. Two papers are concerned with conservational topics, one focussing on the population structure of endangered Pulsatilla patens, the other dealing with conservation of xeric grasslands in Transylvania. The last paper examines temporal changes in calcareous grasslands with regard to species diversity.
- Einfluss der Umwelt und Landnutzung auf artenreiche Wiesen und Weiden im nordwestdeutschen Mittelgebirgsraum (2010)
- Wir untersuchten den Einfluss der Umwelt und Landnutzung auf die Vegetation artenreicher Wiesen und Weiden im nordwestdeutschen Mittelgebirgsraum in Südniedersachsen. In drei Teilgebieten (Ith, Rühler Schweiz, und Wangelnstedter Berge) wurden 152 Vegetationsaufnahmen von artenreichen Wiesen und Weiden erstellt und für jede Aufnahmefläche der pH-Wert, die Meereshöhe, Hanglage, Hangneigung, Ellenberg-Zeigerwerte für Nährstoffe, Feuchte, Reaktion und Temperatur, Nutzungswertzahlen nach Briemle sowie die aktuelle Landnutzung bestimmt. Die meisten Bestände im Ith und in den Wangelnstedter Bergen stellen magere Glatthaferwiesen des Arrhenatheretum ranunculetosum dar. In der Rühler Schweiz kommen vor allem magere Kammgrasweiden des Cynosuro-Lolietum luzuletosum vor. Magere Grasländer auf mäßig sauren Böden wurden als Borstgrasrasen des Polygalo-Nardetum sowie Rotschwingelrasen innerhalb der Arrhenatheretalia klassifiziert. Die floristischen Hauptgradienten in der Vegetation sind mit Variablen, die die Nährstoffversorgung der Standorte anzeigen, aber auch mit dem pH-Wert des Bodens und der Bodenfeuchte eng korreliert. Die Meereshöhe der Flächen (130–385 m ü. NN) hat nur einen mäßigen Einfluss auf die Variation der Vegetation, ist aber für das Vorkommen mehrerer Montanzeiger wichtig. Der Pflanzenartenreichtum der Grasländer ist positiv mit der Hangneigung der Flächen und dem pH-Wert des Bodens und negativ mit den Zeigerwerten für Nährstoffe und Feuchte korreliert. Die Nutzungswertzahlen zeigen bei Borstgrasrasen niedrige und sonst hohe Pflegebedürftigkeit. Hohe Trittzahlen der Glatthaferwiesen können auf ihre Nutzung als Extensivumtriebsweide zurückgeführt werden. Anscheinend eignet sich diese Nutzungsform in Untersuchungsgebiet zum Erhalt magerer Wiesen.
- Entorhinal denervation induces homeostatic synaptic scaling of excitatory postsynapses of dentate granule cells in mouse organotypic slice cultures (2012)
- Denervation-induced changes in excitatory synaptic strength were studied following entorhinal deafferentation of hippocampal granule cells in mature (≥3 weeks old) mouse organotypic entorhino-hippocampal slice cultures. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings revealed an increase in excitatory synaptic strength in response to denervation during the first week after denervation. By the end of the second week synaptic strength had returned to baseline. Because these adaptations occurred in response to the loss of excitatory afferents, they appeared to be in line with a homeostatic adjustment of excitatory synaptic strength. To test whether denervation-induced changes in synaptic strength exploit similar mechanisms as homeostatic synaptic scaling following pharmacological activity blockade, we treated denervated cultures at 2 days post lesion for 2 days with tetrodotoxin. In these cultures, the effects of denervation and activity blockade were not additive, suggesting that similar mechanisms are involved. Finally, we investigated whether entorhinal denervation, which removes afferents from the distal dendrites of granule cells while leaving the associational afferents to the proximal dendrites of granule cells intact, results in a global or a local up-scaling of granule cell synapses. By using computational modeling and local electrical stimulations in Strontium (Sr2+)-containing bath solution, we found evidence for a lamina-specific increase in excitatory synaptic strength in the denervated outer molecular layer at 3–4 days post lesion. Taken together, our data show that entorhinal denervation results in homeostatic functional changes of excitatory postsynapses of denervated dentate granule cells in vitro.