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ConFoBi researchers in GfÖ Annual Meeting!

During the second week of September, the Institute for Landscape Ecology at the University of Münster organized the 49th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

It was hosted in Münster, a city famous for its university and bicycle culture. Two researchers of our team, Sara Klingenfuß (B2 Project) and myself (D2 Project), attended the meeting.

During the conference, Sara and I got the opportunity to meet young researchers like us, senior researchers, high-level researchers and some old friends and colleagues from other institutions.  We attended oral presentations, poster expositions, and keynote presentations. It was through these presentations that we got to know people´s work and ideas. However, the exchange just started there! During the coffee breaks, ice-breaking sessions, and the conference dinner, we got the chance to meet the real “persons” behind the research and work.  We got to know inspiring stories about ecology, research, and life in science.

We went all our way to Münster in pursue of knowledge, inspiration, and new ideas. And we found them! It is very encouraging to meet researchers not only working on similar topics but also facing similar challenges.

From my side, I discovered how ecologists all around Germany are using meta-analysis of huge datasets to address ecological questions. I felt personally inspired by the results of the Biodiversity Exploratories project and the approaches they are using. There are several methods and ideas to try in my PhD research.

One of the ideas was the area-heterogeneity trade-off effect over biodiversity. This theory supports the idea of a trade-off effect between area and habitat heterogeneity (given a certain patch) over the biodiversity (of the given patch). Later, I was able to discuss this idea with my supervisor and we were able to test it on one of my previous research datasets of bird biodiversity. Based on the results, we were able to submit an abstract to the British Ecological Society annual meeting.

For Sara, the event was an enlightening experience as well. She was able to contact people working on the same topic: understory herbaceous biodiversity. For her, it was surprising to see how her field of research remains partially unexplored and full of opportunities. She was able to contact people with the same objectives as her and share with them a beer or two 😉. This new-formed network is already working in the research of understory biodiversity!

We also found that there is way more research going on than we had been aware of. There are so many approaches, topics, and exciting areas yet to be discovered and explored! The new ongoing topics are not the only attraction in the park. Innovative and new data analyses are being developed and tested, allowing us to address classic questions in new and exciting ways.

We also saw how susceptible to critique research can be. I think this was a dark and yet important aspect of pure experience. It can be really easy to question and doubt a new topic or result, even more so if you have only 10 minutes to defend it to the public. However, making science is about questioning, and the ability to sustain our own work against skeptical colleagues is a key skill to develop. This includes the skill to be open to feedback and suggestions.

Together we left for Münster in the pursue of inspiration and we found it. We gained new ideas, contacts, and made new friends. Now we are back in our home institute, full of motivation and determination. We can only be thankful and happy for having such an experience.  Soon, we will be able to share the outputs of this journey through our own research.

We are looking forward to the next adventures coming up!


by Carlos Miguel Landivar (D2)