Leibniz Biodiversity and PIK Biodiversity Expert Group

Leibniz Biodiversity and PIK Biodiversity Expert Group
Photo: Nennieinszweidrei, Pixabay

The diversity of life is valuable: It guarantees people goods and services such as clean water, food and raw materials. Biodiversity is the basis for health and a stable environment. Diverse habitats secure yields in agriculture, mitigate the effects of climate change and increase the attractiveness of locations. One of the key challenges is to reconcile the goals of national and international biodiversity agreements with the often competing objectives of climate, energy, agricultural and economic policies.

Who we are

Leibniz Biodiversity

The Leibniz Research Network Biodiversity (Leibniz Biodiversity) combines the expertise of 18 Leibniz institutions in the environmental, social, life, spatial and economic sciences as well as the humanities to develop sustainable solutions. The scientific network and its members are equally committed to scientific excellence and the transfer of biodiversity information for policy makers and the wider society. It offers reflection spaces, analyses and advice to raise social awareness of the progressive loss of biodiversity and to strengthen the appreciation of biodiversity in society. Leibniz Biodiversity settled at PIK in April 2021, when PD Dr Kirsten Thonicke became its Speaker. In October 2021 Eva Rahner became the network's central Scientific Coordinator.

In March 2022 Leibniz Biodiversity published the 10 Must Knows from Biodiversity Science 2022 (10MustKnows22), a policy report written by 45 scientists from Leibniz Biodiversity and other research partners. From PIK Dr Kirsten Thonicke, Dr Christopher Reyer, and Eva Rahner contributed as lead and co-authors respectively coordinators. The 10MustKnows22 deal with the Earth's complex systems by highlighting ten key areas which are inextricably linked to the others. The report presents facts about biodiversity in a well-founded and generally intelligible way and shows ways to stop the continued loss of species diversity and ecosystems to promote biodiversity. The underlying aim is to provide policy makers and society with scientifically validated assessments of the latest biodiversity knowledge to facilitate improved policy decisions and actions at local, regional, national and global levels, in order to conserve the diversity of life. Currently an update is being prepared for spring 2024, the 10MustKnows24 (as policy report and scientific paper).

In the follow-up of the 10MustKnows22 Leibniz Biodiversity composed a written statement about the necessity for long-term climate and biodiversity protection in German and European agriculture. Further statements on the German Future Strategy for Research and Innovation (2022) and the German Biodiversity Strategy 2030 (2023) followed.

In order to strengthen actions in the political sector, the 10MustKnows22 authors elaborated ten concrete recommendations for the negotiations at the 15th UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal 2022 (COP15), the 10 Must Dos from Biodiversity Science (10MustDos). Further to linking the recommendations to the COP15 negotiations on the Montreal-Kunming Global Biodiversity Framework, these recommendations are intended to support policy-making in Germany, the EU and globally in the short-term.

You can find Leibniz Biodiversity's official website here. 

Sign up for our quarterly newsletter to keep up to date with the latest news from Leibniz Biodiversity or have a look at our previous editions here.

Our joint publications can be found here.

PIK Biodiversity Expert Group

At PIK biodiversity scientists work together with climate scientists across all Research Departments and Future Labs. They have expertise in forest ecology, functional diversity, land-use change in agricultural landscapes, food system analysis, sustainable urban development as well as sustainable development goals, resilience of ecosystems under the conditions of climate change, on fire regimes, grassland ecosystems, and many more.

PIK's Biodiversity Expert Group is an open group for all PIK researchers who work at the interface of climate and biodiversity science and who want to jointly discuss biodiversity issues, organise cross-cutting seminars, and engage within PIK. Throughout the year its members interact through common projects and an online channel. It is coordinated by Dr Kirsten Thonicke and Eva Rahner. The members meet in a hybrid format at PIK biannually.

Discover PIK's Biodiversity Expert Group


PD Dr Kirsten Thonicke . Deputy Head RD1 "Earth System Analysis", Working Group Lead "Ecosystems in Transition", and Speaker "Leibniz Biodiversity" . #Ecosystems #Tipping Elements #Fire #Biodiversity #Europe #South America #POEM #LPJML . kirsten.thonicke@pik-potsdam.de


Eva Rahner . RD1 "Earth System Analysis" and Scientific Coordinator "Leibniz Biodiversity" . #Biodiversity #Knowledge Transfer #Communication #Arts #Leibniz Association . eva.rahner@pik-potsdam.de


Dr Robert Beyer . Senior Scientist RD2 "Climate Impacts", and Marie-Curie Research Fellow working with artificial neural networks to predict how climate change will impact global migrations flows, and the adaptation of agricultural systems to prevent migration due to climate-driven crop failure . #Biodiversity #Migration #Adaptation #Machine learning . robert.beyer@pik-potsdam.de

Maik Billing . Doctoral Researcher RD1 "Earth System Analysis" working on relations between functional diversity, plant traits, ecosystem functions and their effect on ecosystem stability. #Biodiversity #Forest #LPJmL #Machine learning . maik.billing@pik-potsdam.de


Dr Stefanie Heinicke . Postdoctoral Researcher RD3 "Transformation Pathways" with expertise in climate impact model simulations, evidence-based solutions for biodiversity conservation and the exposure of great apes to climate change impacts .  #Model Intercomparison #Climate impacts #Biodiversity #Extremes . heinicke@pik-potsdam.de


Dr Florian Humpenöder . Senior Scientist RD3 "Transformation Pathways" with expertise in Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), Paris Agreement and future scenarios of global land use. #Biodiversity #SDG #Emission reduction # land-use regulation . florian.humpenoeder@pik-potsdam.de

Nieberg (né Mahnken)

Mats Nieberg . Doctoral Researcher RD2 "Climate Resilience", with a research focus on the interactions between forest ecosystem service provisioning and forest management under ongoing climate change with transforming disturbance regimes in Europe, using process-based forest growth model simulations with "4C", exploring different management, climate and disturbance scenarios regarding future ecosystem service provisioning shifts . mats.nieberg@pik-potsdam.de


Prof Dr Alexander Popp . Senior Scientist RD3 "Transformation Pathways", Working Group Lead "Land-Use Management" with expertise in sustainable land use as well as land-use transformations and climate mitigation, and coordinator "Model of Agricultural Production and its Impacts on the Environment" (MAgPIE). #Global Commons #MAGPIE #Sustainable Development #Planetary boundaries #Policy . popp@pik-potsdam.de


Dr Christopher Reyer . Senior Scientist RD2 "Climate Resilience", and Working Group Lead "Forest and Ecosystem Resilience" with focus on climate change impacts on forests natural and the interaction between resource management and cross-sectoral climate impacts. #Adaptation # Socio-ecological systems #Model Intercomparison #4C . reyer@pik-potsdam.de

Dr Susanne Rolinski . Postdoctoral Researcher RD2 "Climate Resilience" . Working groups "Landuse and resilience" and "Ecostab", studied mathematician with many years of experience in numerical modelling; involved in LPJmL model, current focus on identification and characterisation of managed grasslands and the impact of livestock farming . rolinski@pik-potsdam.de


Dr Boris Sakchewski . Postdoctoral Researcher RD1 "Earth System Analysis" with projects related to vegetation and Earth System modeling, specially on the role of biodiversity to mitigate and adapt to global change, member of the Future Lab "Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene" (ERA), working with the resilience of the Amazon forest to global changes . #Biodiversity #Land-use #Tipping elements #LPJmL . borissa@pik-potsdam.de


Patrick von Jeetze. Research Associate RD3 "Transition Pathways" with a focus on future food systems, ecosystem services and biodiversity, soil science, and food security . #Biodiversity #Soil #Food . vjeetze@pik-potsdam.de


Stephen Wirth . Doctoral Researcher RD2 "Climate Resilience" with a focus on human impact on natural environmental systems, specially in the effect of functional diversity on forage supply, soil carbon, and biogeochemical cycles of managed grasslands as well as modeling grassland ecosystems using LPJmL . #Biodiversity #Landuse #LPJmL #Food #Agriculture . stephen.wirth@pik-potsdam.de


Highlights and Seminars

Leibniz Lunch in the German Bundestag on "130 days after the World Biodiversity Conference", stimulating exchange between science and politics

04/28/2023 At the invitation of Leibniz President Professor Martina Brockmeier and the Chairman of the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment Kai Gehring, MdB, Leibniz Biodiversity presented the latest scientific findings and important contexts relevant for the implementation of the global biodiversity framework goals in Germany 130 days after the World Biodiversity Conference. PD Dr Kirsten Thonicke (PIK), Professor Jörg Overmann (DSMZ) and PD Dr Kerstin Drastig (ATB) gave scientific presentations on climate, biocultural biodiversity, biodiversity-friendly incentives, invisible biodiversity, digital sequence information, sustainable agriculture, food and water. In a subsequent discussion moderated by Eva Rahner (PIK), the topics were discussed and deepened with the political representatives.

Talk with members of the German parliament about the "10 Must Knows from Biodiversity Science 2022"

01/06/2022    There authors of the "10 Must Knows from Biodiversity Science 2022" spoke to members of the German Bundestag. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wende from the Leibniz Institute for Ecological Spatial Development (IÖR) spoke to MdB Karlheinz Busen (FDP) about the scientific findings and policy recommendations from the 10MustKnows with a special focus on the role of agriculture. PD Dr. Kirsten Thonicke and Eva Rahner from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) talked to MdB Isabel Mackensen-Geis (SPD) about climate and biodiversity protection in the forest.

Launch of the 10 Must Knows from Biodiversity Science at the Naturkundemuseum Berlin with Steffi Lemke, German Federal Minister of the Environment.

15/03/2022     PD Dr Kisten Thonicke presented the 10 Must Knows from Biodiversity Science at the event “On the way to the World Nature Conference” ("Auf dem Weg zur Weltnaturkonferenz” in German) on 15 March 2022. The event was co-organized by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) and German Network-Forum for Biodiversity Research (NeFo).


Leibniz Research Network Biodiversity (Leibniz Biodiversity)

Leibniz Biodiversity team @ PIK:

Speaker: PD Dr Kirsten Thonicke

Scientific Coordinator: Eva Rahner


Leibniz Research Network Biodiversity (Leibniz Biodiversity), c/o Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegraphenberg A62, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

T +49 (0)331 288 2631, info@leibniz-biodiversitaet.de