The ten pilot sites of GlobDiversity span four major terrestrial biomes and vary in size from 20 to 20,000 Km2. The sites are representative of a wide range of climate zones, altitude and latitude from tropical via temperate to sub-arctic, as well as a diversity of plant and animal life. Although not strictly a biome, wetlands play a major role in the regulation of other terrestrial ecosystems, providing connectivity with freshwater and marine environments
Name Area (Km2) Location Biome
Kytalyk 16,000 Siberia, Russia Boreal Taiga and Arctic Tundra
Toolik Lake 20 Alaska, USA Boreal Taiga and Arctic Tundra
La Camargue 1,930 France Wetlands
Aldabra 155 Seychelles Wetlands
Bavarian National Park 242 Germany Temperate/ Mediterranean forests
Laegern 10 Switzerland Temperate/ Mediterranean forests
Danum Valley 438 Borneo Tropical/ sub-tropical rain forests
Lambir 70 Borneo Tropical/ sub-tropical rain forests
Kruger National Park 19,485 South Africa Tropical/ sub-tropical savannah, shrublands
Udzungwa Mountains National Park 1,990 Tanzania Tropical / sub-tropical dry forest

Tropical/sub-tropical

Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania

credits: Francesco Rovero 


Udzungwa is the largest and most biodiverse of a chain of a dozen large forest-swathed mountains known collectively as the Eastern Arc Mountains. It is also unique within Tanzania in that its closed-canopy forest spans altitudes of 250 metres to above 2,000 metres asl. Udzungwa is known for its rich avian diversity of more than 400 species, of which four species are endemic. Of six primate species recorded, the Iringa red colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey both occur nowhere else in the world – the latter, only discovered in 1979. Udzungwa is the only African site of the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network and is administered through the field site at the Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre, both run by the Trento Museum (University Trento). Researchers at the field station work collaboratively with the Tanzania National Parks Agency and the Tanzania Forest Service.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

credits: ITC, T.Wang


The Kruger National Park is the oldest national park in Africa, established in 1898, and one of the 10 largest national parks in the world. The park is South Africa’s flagship conservation area and is regarded as one the best managed national parks in Africa. Stretching 350 km from north to south, and at most 60km in width, the Kruger National Park is located to the northeast of South Africa and is bordered to the east by Mozambique and to the north by Zimbabwe. The park is known for its diverse range of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Among the mammal species present in the park are the big five – lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino.

Lambir, Borneo, Malaysia

credits: Fabian Schneider (UZH) 


The Lambir site is located within Lambir Hills National Park in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo, at 150-465 metres asl. This national park is largely composed of mixed dipterocarp forest, with some small areas of heath forest. Several research institutes have worked on long-term studies on this site, and contributed to its current infrastructure: Lambir has a series of tree towers, a canopy walkway and a canopy crane that researchers use to gain access to different parts of the forest's vertical structure. Tree census data exists over a 52-hectare plot in this area, called the Lambir Hills Forest Dynamics Plot, which found as many as 1175 different tree species.

Danum Valley, Borneo, Malaysia

Credits: UZH


The Danum Valley Conservation Area is one of the best-protected areas of pristine lowland forest remaining in South East Asia. It hosts species such as the rare East Sumatran rhinoceros, Bornean orangutans as well as over 200 bird species. The region has no clear seasonality with an annual rainfall greater than 3000 mm. Within this area is the Sabah Biodiversity Experiment, which is a long-term field study aiming at understanding the relationship between tree species diversity and the functioning of lowland dipterocarp rainforest during restoration following selective logging (Hector et al 2011). The site is run by the Danum Valley Management Committee, which is overseen by Yayasan Sabah.

Temperate / Mediterranean forest

Laegern, Switzerland

credits: Fabian Schneider (UZH) 


The Laegern site is a mixed deciduous mountain forest located at approximately 680 metres asl, which is dominated by common beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Norway spruce (Picea abies). This site hosts numerous research activities from UZH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape research (WSL), and thus benefits from a wealth of ready available ancillary data. Aside from the eddy-flux tower (FLUXNET site Laegeren) and PhenoCam available, this site is also an Aeronet station, Europe-LTER, as well as SpecNet and PhenoNet. Soil and vegetation parameters (leaf biochemistry, genetic microsatellite markers, leaf optical properties) are regularly sampled by the UZH Research Priority Program on Global Change and Biodiversity (www.gcb.uzh.ch). Furthermore, Laegern served as showcase for the ESA 3DVegetationLab project (http://www.geo.uzh.ch/microsite/3dveglab/) and data are still being collected for this site.

Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany

 

credits: ITC and T.Wang


The geology of the Bavarian Forest National Park site is dominated by gneiss and granite, and the soils weathered from these parent materials are naturally acid and low in nutrients. The main soil types are brown soils, loose brown soils, and podsol brown soils. The park’s elevation ranges from 600 m to 1453 metres asl. The climate is temperate with a total annual precipitation between 1200 mm and 1800 mm and a mean annual temperature of 5.1°C in the valleys, 5.8°C on hillsides, and 3.8°C in the higher montane zones (Heurich et al 2010). The dominant forest species are Norway spruce (Picea abies; 67 %) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica; 24.5 %), with some white fir (Abies alba; 2.6 %), sycamore maples (Acer psudoplatanus; 1.2 %), and mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia; 3.1 %).

Wetland

Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

credits: M. Schaepman (UZH)


Aldabra Atoll is the second-largest raised limestone atoll in the world, with on average only 6–8 metres above sea level. It is managed by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF), listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site and its only human population is a permanently manned research station. The climate is subtropical with distinct dry and wet seasons. The vegetation is a mosaic of open grassland, low-canopy mixed scrub, and dense Pemphis scrub. Mangrove forests fringe the large central lagoon. Aldabra is home to 100.000 giant tortoises, making it the world’s last ecosystem where the dominant vertebrate is a reptile. These animals exert strong pressure on the vegetation and their presence shapes the structure of plant communities on the atoll. In 2011, the Zurich–Aldabra Research Platform (ZARP) was launched by a small group of researchers, together with the SIF, as an interdisciplinary long-term research partnership to study the terrestrial ecology of Aldabra Atoll and to provide scientific guidance on the management of its biodiversity.
La Camargue, France

The Camargue Biosphere Reserve in the Rhône delta is a Ramsar site that covers natural habitats such as lagoons, brackish/freshwater marshes with emergent or aquatic vegetation, as well as halophilous scrubs and steppes. These ecosystems are intermingled with agro-systems dominated by rice, an irrigated crop. The Camargue hosts a richness of species typical for Mediterranean wetlands, including 1200 plant species, 43 mammal species, 370 bird species, 10 amphibian species, 19 reptile species, 70 fish species. The total number of insect species is unknown, but 1652 beetle species, 52 butterflies and 43 dragonfly species have been identified (Blondel et al 2013). Wetland ecosystems of the Camargue are important for a range of ecosystem services such as climate regulation, flood mitigation, water purification, nutrient cycling,
agriculture, fishing, cattle grazing, wildfowl hunting and bird watching. The functional biodiversity and habitats of the Camargue are predominantly influenced by the quantity and quality of water that is available year round and large parts naturally dry up during the summer period. Ongoing research and existing long-term biodiversity observation dataset focus on the monitoring of the state of wetlands within a global change context, integrating feedback processes occurring at local scale through stakeholder management.

Boreal Taiga and Artic Tundra

Toolik Lake, Alaska, USA

credits: Marcel Buchhorn


Toolik Lake is a low-Arctic tundra site located near the western boundary of the Alaskan Upper Kuparuk River region. The site is underlain by continuous permafrost. Overall 14 physiognomic vegetation units (mainly tussock sedge, dwarf-shrub, moss tundra and non-tussock sedge, dwarf-shrub, moss tundra) can be found on the site. The site includes a core 1.2 km² study area (Toolik grid) which is under permanent research since 1989, and encloses a 20-km² area surrounding Toolik Lake that stretches from the Dalton Highway on the east to Jade Mountain on the west. Research in this area started in 1975 and is supported by the Toolik Field Station, which is operated and managed by the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in cooperation with the Division of Polar Programs, Directorate for Geosciences at the National Science
Foundation. Research topics are wide-ranging and dynamic. Currently they currently include the structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic tundra ecosystems, the effects of climate change in these regions as well as feedbacks to climate through gas and hydrological fluxes. Historic and on-going research data are available and allow the interpretation and validation of RS-EBVs in the context of ecosystems responses to climate change.

Kytalyk, Siberia, Russia

credits: Fabian Schneider (UZH) 


Kytalyk is a low-Arctic tundra site is located in the Indigirka lowlands within a nature reserve, about 170 km south of the East Siberian Sea coast. The site is underlain by continuous, ice-rich permafrost of several hundred-meter depth. On the circumpolar Arctic vegetation map, the Kytalyk field site is located at the border between tussock sedge, dwarf shrub, moss tundra and low shrub tundra. Six different tundra vegetation types can be found on the site. On-going research on this site focuses on the carbon and energy budgets as well as on shrub encroachment and climate change impacts on biodiversity. This site features required calibration/validation infrastructure and serves as Sentinel-2 calibration/validation site for the CEOS LPV subgroup.