Centre for Ecological Research

Institute of Ecology and Botany 

"Lendület" Landscape and Conservation Ecology

News - 2023

Conference: The Doctoral School of Biology of the Eötvös University organized a conference in Budapest for their PhD students, where Ágota and Tamás gave talks on their studies, and Péter presented an invited keynote lecture. December 2023

Seminar talks: Edina and Riho gave invited seminar talks at Széchenyi István University, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences in Mosonmagyaróvár, Hungary. Edina presented an introduction to pollination and pollination ecology, while Riho presented results from his Marie Skłodowska-Curie project. December 2023.

Scientific visit and a seminar talk: Edina and Riho visited the secondment group of Riho's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, led by Prof. Thomas Frank (Institute of Zoology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), in Vienna). Edina presented a seminar talk entitled "Invasion and fragmentation effects on pollinator communities in the sandy forest-steppe habitat". November 2023

Publication: Dorota's paper has been published in Journal of Ecology with the title: "Spatial scale matters for predicting plant invasions along roads". We found that considering multiple factors and spatial scales is needed to understand the complexity of invasion processes and thus to better predict current and future plant invasions. December 2023. 

Publication: Our paper with Kata's first authorship has been published in Landscape and Urban Planning with the title: ’The zone cube model – A tool to operationalise green infrastructure prioritisation’. In the paper, we presented a five step conceptual framework with a three-dimensional zone cube model developed for green infrastructure assessment and development at the national scale. December 2023

Meeting: Dávid and Péter, together with Flóra and András from the Ecosystem Services Research Group, organized the Annual General Meeting of the Showcase project in Budapest with three days of scientific presentations and discussions. We also organized an excursion day to the Kiskunság National Park, where we visited the Hungarian study areas to learn about extensive grassland management and restoration, and enjoyed a superb birding (great bustard, imperial eagle, etc.) with a smaller team in the chilly, but sunny weather. November 2023

Publication: Péter’s co-authored paper has been published in Journal for Nature Conservation: “A systematic review on the effectiveness of crop architecture-related in-field measures for promoting ground-breeding farmland birds”. The few existing studies suggest, that there is a high potential for crop architecture-related infield measures to promote ground-breeding farmland birds, and thus bring them back as ‘agricultural byproducts’. November 2023

Fieldwork: Winter is coming, therefore, it is time to start sampling! We are studying the winter arthropod diversity of hay meadows with the help of the Fertő-Hanság National Park and solar parks with the help of stakeholders. November 2023. 

Retreat: Our group organized a retreat in Tokaj, where we discussed the Frontline and all other projects of the group with presentations from all group members. Besides, we visited the scenic wood pastures of Zemplén mountain, climbed to the top of Tokaj hill, enjoyed a vine cellar visit and learned about native fishes and aquatic wildlife at Lake Tisza. November 2023

Conference: Niki, Csaba Szinetár and Robi organised the XXII. Annual Meeting of Hungarian Arachnologists with more than 25 participants. Robi gave a presentation about the role of microhabitat heterogeneity shaping spider diversity. November 2023. 

Publication: Péter’s co-authored paper has been published in Communications Biology: “Meta-analysis identifies native priority as a mechanism that supports the restoration of invasion-resistant plant communities”. Our findings highlighted the need to integrate research across geographical regions, global invasive species and potential resistance mechanisms. November 2023

Publication: Kata and Péter  co-authored a paper, which has been published in Global Ecology and Conservation: “Grazing and boundaries favour weedy plants with functional traits beneficial for pollinators”. We concluded that for designing new agri-environment schemes for low-intensity grazing systems, understanding the complex functional relationships is crucial to maintaining and restoring farmland biodiversity. November 2023

Publication: András and Kinga, from our sister group, have published in a book chapter in Advances in Ecological Research with Péter as a co-author: “Roadmap for transformative agriculture: From research through policy towards a liveable future in Europe”. October 2023

Team member: We would welcome Tomáš Hamřík from the Czech Republic as a young scientist to our group. He studies spider ecology in managed forests and grasslands. He will work in a project, where we study the effects of solar parks on biodiversity. Happy sciencing! October 2023. 

Visiting scientist: We would welcome Corrado Alessandrini from University of Milan as an Erasmus PhD student to our group. He studies birds and pollinating insects in intensive apple orchards under the supervision of Mattia Brambilla. Happy sciencing! October 2023

Event: Péter, together with over 150 people from the alumni, colleagues and friends, celebrated the 30 year's anniversary of Agroecology group along with the impressive career of Teja Tscharntke in the frame of a symposium in Göttingen, Germany. We also published a book as a gift for Teja (Defining Agroecology – A Festschrift for Teja Tscharntke), where Péter wrote a chapter (What did we learn from meta-analyses about farmland arthropod conservation?) with Riho and colleagues. Congratulations, Teja, for your terrific career and thanks very much for the continuous support and inspiration! October 2023. 

Publication: Maxime’s, our former guest, paper has been published in Journal of Applied Ecology with Péter as a co-author: “Synthesis of highbush blueberry pollination research reveals region-specific differences in the contributions of honeybees and wild bees”. Our finding that both honeybees and wild bees enhance pollination highlights the possibility of adopting different management strategies that utilize honeybees, wild bees or both depending on the specific context and region. October 2023

Conference: Niki, Tomás and Robi gave a workshop on dry grassland spiders at the Eurasian Grassland Conference in Szarvas, Hungary. September 2023 

Conference: Kata, Dávid, Tamás, Robi and Péter participated at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland in Leipzig, Germany. We co-organized a session, and presented six talks and four posters. September 2023

Publication: Péter’s co-authored paper has been published in Nature Food with the title: “Agricultural diversification promotes sustainable and resilient global rice production”. Our results show that agricultural diversification can substantially increase biodiversity, improve economy and reduce crop damage, while promoting win–win scenarios between yield and other ecosystem services in most cases. September 2023

Publication: Riho's co-authored article has been published in Wetlands with the title: "Small Space but High Diversity: Spatial and Temporal Habitat Use by Endangered Eurasian Curlew at Wintering Sites Throughout Europe". The study results show that Eurasian curlews' were very faithful to their wintering sites throughout the winter as well their wintering areas home ranges. September 2023. 

Publication: Tomas' paper has been published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management with the title: “Effects of land use and climate on web-building spiders and their prey in dry dipterocarp forests”. Our results indicate that the predation by web-building spiders in dry dipterocarps is most threatened by changes in rainfall pattern and by agricultural intensification at the landscape scale. September 2023

Publication: Our paper with Csaba Tölgyesi’s first authorship and Péter and Robi as coauthors has been published in the journal Biological Consecration with the title: “Ecovoltaics: Framework and future research directions to reconcile land-based solar power development with ecosystem conservation”. We summarize our opinion about the creation and management of ecovoltaic solar parks that may represent a win-win situation for all stakeholders. August 2023.

Publication: Our paper with Robi’s first authorship has been published in the journal Science of the Total Environment with the title: “Plant invasion and fragmentation indirectly and contrastingly affect native plants and grassland arthropods”. We showed that the invasive milkweed affect arthropods mainly indirectly by altering microclimate, vegetation and habitat structure favouring generalist species. Fragment size has a less pronounced role, but it may alter the effect of milkweed. August 2023.

Publication: Christine's paper has been published in Science of the Total Environment with the title: "Floral resources and ground covers promote natural enemies but not pest insects in apple orchards: A global meta-analysis". Our results demonstrate that more floral resources and ground covers in apple orchards can reduce pesticide use while maintaining fruit quality. August 2023

Conference: Edina, Niki, Riho, Robi and Péter participated and presented talks at the International Congress for Conservation Biology in Kigali, Rwanda. They also enjoyed a bit safari at Akagera National Park, and got to know the country a bit. August 2023

Field visit: Péter and Tamás visited the sampling sites of the Frontline project in Transylvania, Romania. They visited study villages around Târgu Mures (Marosvásárhely) and Cluj Napoca (Kolozsvár), which were surveyed lats year, and city parks and city edges surveyed this year. During the trip, they had the opportunity to meet the project partners, Zoltán László (Babes-Bolyai Univ.) and Istán Urák (Sapientia Univ.) for a dinner and discussion. July 2023.

Publication: Penelope, Péter’s former MSc student, published her thesis in Journal of Applied Ecology with the title: “Transition to organic farming negatively affects bat activity”. Our findings highlight the crucial need to consider the time since transition to organic farming when assessing potential benefits of organic management on biodiversity. July 2023

Publication: Péter’s co-authored paper has been published in Nature Communication with the title: “Global meta-analysis shows reduced quality of food crops under inadequate animal pollination”. Our results show that pollinators strongly improve several commercially important attributes related to appearance and shelf life of fruits and vegetables, whereas they have smaller effects on nutritional value. July 2023.  

Congress: Riho gave an oral presentation with the title "Landscape structure and flowering plant species richness co-effect bumblebees’ behaviour and navigation capacity" about his Maria Skłodowska-Curie fellowship at The International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) congress in Nairobi, Kenya. July 2023. 


Publication: Dávid’s paper has been published in Insect Conservation and Diversity with the title: “Small grassland fragments and connectivity support high arthropod functional diversity in highly modified landscapes”. Our results show that connected grassland networks incorporating small fragments are needed within human-dominated landscapes to promote functionally diverse arthropod communities. July 2023.


Publication: Balázs' review paper, with Robi and Péter as co-authors, has been published in Conservation Biology with the title: “Contribution of cultural heritage values to steppe conservation on ancient burial mounds of Eurasia”. Our results suggest that an integrative socio-ecological approach in conservation might support the positive synergistic effects of conservational, landscape, and cultural values. July 2023

Field work: In a new project project, we study the effects of solar parks on the flora and fauna at local and landscape scale by comparing them to reference semi-natural grasslands. June 2023.

Field work: In the Showcase EU project, we study the effects of birds and bats in biological pest control in vineyards at the scenic Balaton Uplands Vine Region. June 2023.

Field work: In the frame of the Frontline research excellence project, we study the effects of urbanization on plants, arthropods and birds in ten cities of the Carpathian basin with the help of six collaborating research groups. June 2023

Publication: Péter co-authered a paper published in PLOS ONE with the title: “AgroEcoList 1.0: A checklist to improve reporting standards in ecological research in agriculture”. Reporting guidelines can improve reporting standards and therefore the application of research to practice, and we recommend that they are adopted more widely in agriculture and ecology. June 2023

Guest scientist: Ondřej Košulič from Mendel University in Brno, supervisor of Tomáš visited our group, we discussed about further collaborations, and visited some sites in Kiskunság. June 2023. 

Publication: Tomáš’ paper has been published in Forest Ecology and Management with the title: “Opening the canopy to restore spider biodiversity in protected oakwoods”. We showed that canopy opening resulted in a significant spider biodiversity increase. June 2023.

Award: Péter has been elected to be a member of the Academia Europaea. June 2023.  

Publication: Niki's paper has been published in Zoosytematics and Evolution with the title "A review of the genus Sernokorba Kamura, 1992 (Araneae, Gnaphosidae)". We described Sernokorba betyar sp. nov. from the forest steppe vegetation in southern Hungary in Central Europe and we compiled an identification key, too. June 2023. 

Publication: Riho's co-authored article has been published in Journal of Environmental Management with the title: "Behavioral responses to offshore windfarms during migration of a declining shorebird species revealed by GPS-telemetry". The study results clearly show Eurasian curlews' strong small-scale avoidance responses, which are likely to reduce collision risk, but simultaneously highlight the substantial barrier effect of offshore windfarms for migrating species. May 2023. 

Publication: Nathalie’s paper has been published in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment with the title: “Weak evidence for biocontrol spillover from both flower strips and grassy field margins in conventional cereals”. We concluded that the presence of perennial vegetation at field margins is more important for biocontrol in conventional crops than the margin management as either agri-environment flower strips or simply grassy strips. May 2023

Publication: Teja and Péter wrote an invited letter in PNAS with the title "Agriculture, urbanization, climate, and forest change drive bird declines". Here we support the results of the analyses of Rigal et al. for urgently needed changes in the European agricultural policy, with more emphasis on biodiversity-friendly and sustainable measures when balancing socioeconomic and ecological goods. May 2023. 

Symposium: Péter gave a talk about conservation biological control at the Agroecology Symposium for the memory of Gusztáv Szelényi, at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. May 2023

Publication: Kata’s paper has been published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution with the title: “Connectivity and fragment size drive plant dispersal and persistence traits in forest steppe fragments”. We showed that both fragment size and landscape-scale connectivity were important in shaping the trait composition of the vegetation related to local persistence and propagule dispersal, and these processes could be supported by the preservation of large fragments, increase of habitat connectivity combined with targeted management of exotic species. May 2023.

Event: Edina, Viktor, Niki, and Gabi participated in an interactive exhibition booth at the Garden on the Cube event in the National Botanical Garden in Vácrátót, Hungary, where they simulated the impact of invasive flowering plants on pollinator communities through scientific games. May 2023. 

Earth Day Event: Kata and Edina co-organised the Earth Day programme on 22 April at the National Botanical Garden in Vácrátót, where they demonstrated the close relationship between pollinators and flowers through interactive games and also built insect hotels. April 2023. 

Publication: The second theoretical paper has been published from the FunProd Biodiversa project with Péter and Robi as co-authors in Agricultural Systems with the title "From functional diversity to human well-being: A conceptual framework for agroecosystem sustainability". Here we proposed a conceptual framework to understand functional diversity-human health pathways. April 2023

Conference: Ágota and Tamás attended the 23rd Biologist Days in Cluj-Napoca. Ágota gave a presentation on the effect of milkweed invasion on arthropod communities and their functional traits. Tamás presented the first results of a joint project on bird communities of grassland fragments in Hungary and South Africa. April 2023. 

Publication: Edina as a co-author published a paper in Insect Conservation and Diversity with the title of "Trait-based effects of plant invasion on floral resources, hoverflies and bees". We analyzed the differences in floral traits between invasive and native plants, functional diversity, and trait distributions of flower and pollinator communities between the invaded and control sites. April 2023.  

Conference: Niki, Attila and Robi participated in the Synzoological Symposium in Tihany and Robi gave an invited comment on the usefulness of individual traits in community ecology. April 2023.  

Guest scientist: We welcome Christina Fischer, guest scientist, Péter's collaborating colleague, from Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Germany. Christina held talks at the AE Budapest Knowledge Hub and in our institutional seminar, and spent two days in our institute. March 2023

Conference organisation: Péter co-organized a special session about "Frontlines of Urban Conservation and Restoration" in the frame of Academia Europaea Budapest Knowledge Hub at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. March 2023

Publication: Tomáš’s paper has been published in Insect Conservation and Diversity with the title: “Effect of landscape structure depends on habitat type in shaping spider communities of a natural mosaic of Eurasian forest-steppe”. We showed that habitat type plays a more important role in shaping spider diversity of natural forest-steppe patches than landscape structure.  March 2023. 

Publication: Riho's co-authered article has been published in the Journal of Applied Ecology with the title: "Afforestation and abandonment of semi-natural grasslands lead to biodiversity loss and a decline in ecosystem services and functions". We showed that both grassland degradation due to abandonment, as well as grassland afforestation, have significant negative impacts on biodiversity, on the supply of multiple important ecosystem services and on the ecosystem multifunctionality. March 2023. 

PhD defense and institute visit: Péter participated in the successful PhD defense of Frederik Gerits as external reviewer at the Gent University, Budapest, Belgium, and gave a seminar talk at Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO). March 2023

Institute visit: Péter visited the Agricultural Landscape Research Institute (ZALF) in Müncheberg, Germany, where he gave a seminar talk, and got to know the patchCROP project. March 2023

Event: We celebrated the World Pollinator Day this year too, on the 10th of March, by highlighting the importance of pollinator protection to primary school children and showing how to build self-made bee hotels at the National Botanic Garden. March 2023

Project meetings: Our group became part of the Sustainable Development and Technologies National Programme  of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for studying sustanaible cities, which discussed with colleagues from the centre in Erdőtarcsa. Besides, we organized a meeting with collaboration partners in our Frontline project in Debrecen to show first results on our village studies, and discuss the new surveys in city parks. February-March 2023. 

Award and conference: Dávid received the junior degree of Gusztáv Szelényi Memorial Medal and gave a presentation at the 69th Plant Protection Science Days conference in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Congratulations! February 2023

Publication: Robi and Niki co-authored an article in the Journal of Insect Conservation with the title “Heather (Calluna vulgaris) supports spider diversity of oligotrophic peat bogs”.  Our study shows that microhabitat heterogeneity increase spider diversity in the endangered peat bogs of the Carpathians. February 2023.

Publication: Robi co-authored an article in Scientific Reports with the title “Agricultural spider decline: long-term trends under constant management conditions”. This long-term study revealed the severe decline of spider abundances in alfalfa fields and their margins. February 2023.

Publication: Robi’s co-authored paper has been published in Basic and Applied Ecology with the title: “Can rare arable plants benefit biological pest control potential of cereal aphids in croplands?” We showed that rare arable plant cover can reduce the total number of aphids in agricultural fields. January 2023.

Publication: Péter co-authored a letter in PNAS with the title "Testing the potential benefits of small fields for biocontrol needs a landscape perspective". January 2023