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Biodiversity Erosion in European medicinal Plants

Project description

A predictive model of species extinction for European mountain tea

The over-exploitation of land, in combination with climate change, is taking its toll on Europe’s biodiversity and affecting the functioning of ecosystems. Wild populations in danger of extinction include plants widely used for their medicinal properties. Despite monitoring and conservation efforts, mitigation of the extinction risk remains limited, due to the high cost of technologies and the lack of interdisciplinarity and interaction between research and practice. The EU-funded BEEP project will provide an applied predictive model of species extinction risk for use by environmental institutions. The model will focus on endemic European mountain tea species that are highly threatened. BEEP will combine advanced sequencing technologies with satellite observations to quantify species genomic erosion in response to land-use and climate change.


Environmental degradation due to land-use, over-exploitation and climate change rapidly erodes Europe’s unique biodiversity, resulting in irreversible loss of valuable resources both for ecosystem functions and for human well-being. However, despite the numerous monitoring and conservation efforts, our ability to predict and mitigate the extinction risk of wild populations remains limited. Assessing the temporal variation in genetic diversity and its environmental drivers represents a powerful approach to address this challenge, but incorporating it into conservation planning has been hindered by i) lack of affordable technology, ii) lack of interdisciplinarity, and iii) disconnection between fundamental research and applied conservation. BEEP will address these gaps by combining modern sequencing technologies for quantifying species temporal genomic erosion, with satellite observations of the earth for assessing the corresponding environmental change. By bridging diverse technological fields and scientific principles, BEEP will provide an applied predictive framework for species extinction risk in response to human pressure that can be directly utilised by major environmental organisations (IUCN, EEA, IPBES). I will showcase the power and importance of this approach using the European endemic and highly threatened mountain tea species (Ironwort), that are of significant conservation interest due to their traditional and emerging medicinal properties. I will achieve BEEP's objectives at SBiK-F (Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre), a world-class centre in interdisciplinary biodiversity research, ranging from earth observations from space to species evolutionary genomics.The proposed project will provide new research and training opportunities that will bring me in a very competitive position in order to successfully establish myself as a leading and interdisciplinary European researcher in the fields of biodiversity research and conservation.



Net EU contribution
€ 174 806,40
60325 Frankfurt

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Hessen Darmstadt Frankfurt am Main, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Total cost
€ 174 806,40