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Photos by Iwona Dembicz, Jurgen Dengler and Jalil Noroozi

Talk Grasslands!

EDGG organized online talks to offer grassland researchers an opportunity to be engaged in the latest grassland research and conservation studies, exchange ideas and hear inspiring talks. In 2020-2021 winter, we had three talks and welcome three distinguished scientists to talk on different aspects of grassland ecology, biodiversity and conservation:

  • Drivers of insect decline in grasslands: mechanisms and solutions by Nadja Simons, 8 December 2020 Tuesday 14.00 (CET)
  • Recent developments of the EUNIS classification of European habitats By Milan Chytrý, 12 January 2021 Tuesday 14:00 (CET)
  • Grasslands: ancient and modern by Honor C Prentice, 4 February 2021 Thursday 14.00 (CET)

Please find the abstracts of the talks and short introductory information about the invited speakers under the Program below. The links of the videos are available in the program. Please contact organisers if you have any questions: Didem Ambarlı (, Alla Aleksanyan ( and Stephen Venn (Stephen.Venn@Helsinki.Fi).


Talk Grasslands! 2020-2021 Winter Program

Drivers of insect decline in grasslands: mechanisms and solutions

By Nadja Simons (08 December 2020)

(Please click the title to watch the talk)

Insects are the most diverse animal group on the planet, can be found in all ecosystems, and play a major role in almost all ecosystem process. Despite their importance for healthy ecosystems and many ecosystem services, their numbers and diversity is declining rapidly and to worrying extend. In this talk, Nadja guided us to take a closer look at the insect (and spider) communities on managed grasslands in Germany. She highlighted the current trend of insect diversity, discussed the effect of management type and intensity on insect diversity as well as the underlying mechanisms. Moreover,  she provided insights into possible solutions for biodiversity-friendly grassland management.

Nadja Simons

Nadja Simons is a brilliant young researcher working on the interactions between land use, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Her special focus is arthropods. She is interested in how management decisions affect the functional diversity of arthropod communities at different spatial and temporal scales and how those translate to changes in the provisioning of ecosystem functions. Her work contributes to the development of grassland management that minimises conflicts between production and conservation both on individual grasslands and at the landscape scale. Since December 2018 she is a postdoctoral researcher at Ecological Networks Lab of the Technical University of Darmstadt.


Recording of this talk is available here.


Recent developments of the EUNIS classification of European habitats

By Milan Chytrý (12 Jan 2021)

(Please click the title to watch the talk)

The EUNIS Habitat Classification, managed by the European Environment Agency, is a widely used reference framework for natural, semi-natural and man-made habitat types in Europe. Recently, this classification was extensively revised and updated. One of the main problems of the earlier EUNIS versions was the lack of clear definitions of individual habitat types that would enable a reliable assignment of each site to a habitat type.

Milan Chytrý

Therefore, an expert group including MilanChytrý from the IAVS Working Group European Vegetation Survey has been working since 2012 for the European Environment Agency on improvements of EUNIS. They proposed more meaningful concepts of many habitat types, developed their unequivocal definitions and delivered characteristics of individual habitat types based on reliable data. They developed the expert system called EUNIS-ESy for automatic classification of European vegetation plots to EUNIS habitats. They have used this expert system to classify approximately 1.3 million vegetation plots from the European Vegetation Archive. Then they used these plots to produce statistically derived characteristic species combinations and distribution maps for more than 200 EUNIS habitat types. In his presentation, Milan Chytrý summarized the main features of the revised EUNIS classification and demonstrate how to use the EUNIS-ESy expert system. See also

Milan Chytrý is one of the leading plant community ecologists of Europe. He is interested in vegetation survey and classification, vegetation-plot databases, broad-scale patterns of plant species diversity, palaeoecology, plant invasions and habitat conservation. His work spans across Palearctic region. He is a chief editor of the Journal of Vegetation Science and Applied Vegetation Science, a Secretary of the IAVS Working Group European Vegetation Survey, and a coordinator of the European Vegetation Archive. More information can be found on his webpage:


Recording of this talk is available here.

Ancient and modern grasslands: plant communities as bioassays

By Honor C Prentice

04 February 2021 Thursday 14.00 (CET)


Much of Honor’s research on grassland ecology and plant population genetics is carried out on the Baltic island of Öland. She is interested in the mechanisms that shape and maintain patterns of variation and levels of biodiversity – both within species and within plant communities, and on different spatial scales. One thread of her ongoing research includes genetic and genomic studies of fine-scale local adaptation in Festuca ovina. Another thread has a focus on processes of community assembly and on species’ habitat-preferences within long-term arable-to-pasture successions. Honor is passionate about the wonderful complexity of grassland communities and about the need to conserve grassland ecosystems. More information can be found at

Honor C Prentice

In her talk, Honor showed different ways in which plant community composition can be used as a tool to investigate ecological and population-genetic questions. She gave examples from the grasslands and “alvar” heaths on the Great Alvar of Öland where her team characterized the ages of the grassland fragments (using historical maps, aerial photos and satellite scenes) and explored different aspects of plant community assembly as well as the historical and edaphic factors that are associated with the occurrence of individual species.

Recording of her talk is available here.