• Home
  • Christian Levers
Christian Levers

Christian Levers
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ & University of British Columbia · Computational Landscape Ecology (CLE) & Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES) & School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA)

Dr.

About

58
Publications
32,137
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
2,820
Citations
Introduction
I am concerned about the speed and intensity of how we transform our natural environment in human-dominated areas. I am concerned that we do not alter our consumption habits, although we have the knowledge where our current customs will lead us to. My motivation is to contribute a little piece to the progress of realising sustainable land use practices in the face of a growing world population.
Additional affiliations
May 2016 - present
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Position
  • PostDoc Position
May 2011 - April 2016
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Position
  • PhD Student
Description
  • http://www.volante-project.eu
October 2009 - September 2010
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
October 2007 - July 2009
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Field of study
  • Geography
October 2003 - June 2006
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Field of study
  • Geography

Publications

Publications (58)
Article
Full-text available
Agriculture plays a central role in achieving most Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable intensification (SI) of agriculture has been proposed as a promising concept for safeguarding global food security, while simultaneously protecting the environment and promoting good quality of life. However, SI often leads to context-specific susta...
Article
Full-text available
It has been shown that the COVID-19 pandemic affected some agricultural systems more than others, and even within geographic regions, not all farms were affected to the same extent. To build resilience of agricultural systems to future shocks, it is key to understand which farms were affected and why. In this study, we examined farmers' perceived r...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural expansion into tropical and subtropical forests often leads to major social-ecological trade-offs. Yet, despite ever-more detailed information on where deforestation occurs, how agriculture expands into forests remains unclear, which is hampered by a lackof spatially and temporally detailed reconstruction of agricultural expansion. Her...
Article
Full-text available
A range of intensifying pressures is making the future of European agriculture dynamic and contested. Insights into these pressures are needed to inform debates about the future of the sector. In this study, we use a foresight approach to identify, quantify and map megatrends. Megatrends are long-term driving forces which are observable today and w...
Article
Full-text available
Extreme events, such as those caused by climate change, economic or geopolitical shocks, and pest or disease epidemics, threaten global food security. The complexity of causation, as well as the myriad ways that an event, or a sequence of events, creates cascading and systemic impacts, poses significant challenges to food systems research and polic...
Article
Hunting is a widespread but often overlooked land-use activity, providing major benefits to society. Hunting takes place in most landscapes, yet it remains unclear which types of landscapes foster or dampen hunting-related services, and how hunting relates to other land uses. A better understanding of these relationships is key for sustainable land...
Article
Full-text available
The surging demand for commodity crops has led to rapid and severe agricultural frontier expansion globally and has put producing regions increasingly under pressure. However, knowledge about spatial patterns of agricultural frontier dynamics, their leading spatial determinants, and socio-ecological trade-offs is often lacking, hindering contextual...
Preprint
Agricultural expansion into tropical and subtropical forests often leads to major social-ecological trade-offs. Yet, despite ever-more detailed information on where deforestation occurs, how agriculture expands into forests remains unclear. Here, we developed and mapped a novel set of metrics that quantify agricultural frontier processes at unprece...
Article
Significance Millions of people globally rely on forest-based resources for their livelihoods, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. Deforestation is often hypothesized to diminish forest-dependent communities’ resource base and to push them toward more-marginal environments, but such ecological marginalization has rarely been quantified. We...
Article
Full-text available
Archetype analysis is a key tool in landscape and sustainability research to organize social-ecological complexity and to identify social-ecological systems (SESs). While inductive archetype analysis can characterize the diversity of SESs within a region, deductively derived archetypes have greater interpretative power to compare across regions. He...
Article
Agriculture is a major threat to global biodiversity. A common claim is that large‐scale agro‐industrial farming is mainly responsible for the biodiversity decline, while smaller family farms are more wildlife friendly. Here we leverage a natural experiment along the former inner German border to estimate the causal impact of farm size on biodivers...
Article
Strong trade-offs between agriculture and the environment occur in deforestation frontiers, particularly in the world's rapidly disappearing tropical and subtropical dry forests. Pathways to mitigate these trade-offs are often unclear, as well as how deforestation or different policies alter the option space of available pathways. Using a spatial o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Strong trade-offs between agriculture and the environment occur in deforestation frontiers, particularly in the world’s rapidly disappearing tropical and subtropical dry forests. Pathways to mitigate these trade-offs are often unclear, as well as how deforestation or different policies alter the option space of available pathways. Using a spatial o...
Article
Full-text available
Big data and mobile technology are widely claimed to be global disruptive forces in agriculture that benefit small-scale farmers. Yet the access of small-scale farmers to this technology is poorly understood. We show that only 24–37% of farms of <1 ha in size are served by third generation (3G) or 4G services, compared to 74–80% of farms of >200 ha...
Article
Full-text available
Where agriculture expands into tropical and subtropical forests, social‐ecological impacts are typically strong. However, where and how frontier development impacts on ecosystem functioning and services is often unclear, including which services trade off against agricultural production. This constitutes a major barrier towards planning for more su...
Article
Full-text available
Habitat destruction and overexploitation are the main threats to biodiversity and where they co-occur, their combined impact is often larger than their individual one. Yet, detailed knowledge of the spatial footprints of these threats is lacking, including where they overlap and how they change over time. These knowledge gaps are real barriers for...
Article
The increasing number of wind farms for energy production raises concerns about their effects on wildlife and particularly on birds. To date it is unclear whether models that combine data on wind turbine densities and habitat suitability can explain the actual spatial occurrence of collision fatalities and how well these models perform in compariso...
Article
Full-text available
World‐wide, tropical savannas and dry forests are under increasing pressure from land use. The environmental impacts of agricultural expansion into these ecosystems have received much attention, yet subtler changes in natural vegetation remain severely understudied. We explored how bird communities vary along gradients of woody vegetation in the So...
Chapter
Full-text available
The globalisation of agriculture is evident in the rising volumes and values of internationally traded agricultural products. Export growth has led to increasingly commercialised agricultural production, particularly in regions where a large share of produce is exported. However, the increasing share of exports in global agriculture has led to adve...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural expansion threatens biodiversity due to habitat loss and fragmentation. In the Gran Chaco, a global deforestation hotspot, rampant cropland and pasture expansion raise concerns about the sustainability of these land-use changes. Zoning policies were recently enacted in the Argentine Chaco to balance agriculture and conservation, yet th...
Article
Tropical dry forests and savannas provide important ecosystem services and harbor high biodiversity, yet are globally under pressure from land-use change. Mapping changes in the condition of dry forests and savannas is therefore critical. This can be challenging given that these ecosystems are characterized by continuous gradients of tree and shrub...
Article
Full-text available
Context Understanding habitat selection can be challenging for species surviving in small populations, but is needed for landscape-scale conservation planning. Objectives We assessed how European bison (Bison bonasus) habitat selection, and particularly forest use, varies across subpopulations and spatial scales. Methods We gathered the most comp...
Article
Agricultural abandonment is widespread and growing in many regions worldwide, often because of agricultural intensification on productive lands, conservation policies, or the spatial decoupling of agricultural production from consumption. Abandonment has major environmental and social impacts, which differ starkly depending on the geographical cont...
Article
Full-text available
The world's grasslands, both natural and managed, provide food and many non-provisioning ecosystem services. Although most grasslands today are used for livestock grazing or fodder production, little is known about the spatial patterns of grassland management intensity, especially at broad geographic scales. Using the European Union as a case study...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Primary forests have high conservation value but are rare in Europe due to historic land use. Yet many primary forest patches remain unmapped, and it is unclear to what extent they are effectively protected. Our aim was to (1) compile the most comprehensive European‐scale map of currently known primary forests, (2) analyse the spatial determina...
Article
Full-text available
A growing human population and shifting consumption patterns increase the pressure on agricultural production systems. Reservoir-based irrigation has generally boosted agricultural production through higher cropping frequencies, whereas the magnitude of this effect varies significantly across the globe. Technological, biophysical and socio-economic...
Article
Cultural landscapes are valued for their landscape character and cultural heritage. Yet, these often low-intensity, multifunctional landscapes are at risk of disappearance. Understanding how cultural landscapes might change under alternative futures is important for identifying where to target actions towards persistence of cultural landscapes. Thi...
Article
Full-text available
Explorations of future land use change are important to understand potential conflicts between competing land uses, trade-offs associated with particular land change trajectories, and the effectiveness of policies to steer land systems into desirable states. Most model-based explorations and scenario studies focused on conversions in broad land use...
Article
Full-text available
Assessments of land-system change have dominantly focused on conversions among broad land-use categories, whereas intensity changes within these categories have received less attention. Considering that both modes of land change typically result in diverse patterns and trajectories of land-system change, there is a need to develop approaches to red...
Article
Full-text available
Land-use change is considered a major threat to biodiversity. Species–area relationships (SARs), which are often used to assess biodiversity changes, assume that land use leads to the loss of natural habitats. Yet, in regions with long land-use histories, such as Europe, many species have persisted in, or even depend on, landscapes heavily influenc...
Article
The global demand for agricultural products will increase in the 21st century, unless major transformations in consumptive behaviour occur. To a large extent, production increases in agriculture will depend on intensifying existing agricultural systems. Yet, our understanding of what determines the spatial patterns of agricultural intensity and cha...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, we define, conceptualize, and exemplify competition for ecosystem services derived from land. Competition for land-based ecosystem services arises when utilization of an ecosystem service by one actor reduces the possibility of other actors to use the same or other ecosystem services. Therefore, we focus on trade-offs and synergies...
Article
Full-text available
Assessing changes in the extent and management intensity of land use is crucial to understanding land-system dynamics and their environmental and social outcomes. Yet, changes in the spatial patterns of land management intensity, and thus how they might relate to changes in the extent of land uses, remains unclear for many world regions. We compile...
Thesis
Die Nutzung von terrestrischen Ökosystemen zur Befriedigung der Grundbedürfnisse der Menschheit hat tiefgreifende Auswirkungen auf das Erdsystem und führte zur Ausprägung von anthropogen dominierten Landsystemen. Diese sind von hoher Komplexität, da sie aus einer Vielzahl von unterschiedlichsten Einflussfaktoren angetriebenen Landnutzungsveränderun...
Article
Full-text available
Global agricultural production will likely need to increase in the future due to population growth, changing diets, and the rising importance of bioenergy. Intensifying already existing cropland is often considered more sustainable than converting more natural areas. Unfortunately, our understanding of cropping patterns and intensity is weak, espec...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural abandonment (AA) is a significant land use process in the European Union (EU) and modeling its driving factors has great scientific and policy interest. Past studies of drivers of AA in Europe have been limited by their restricted geographic regions and their use of traditional statistical methods, which fail to consider the spatial va...
Data
#################################################################################### THIS DATA PACKAGE ACCOMPANIES: Verkerk PJ, Levers C, Kuemmerle T, Lindner M, Valbuena R, Verburg PH, Zudin S (2015) Mapping wood production in European forests. Forest Ecology and Management 357:228-238. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2015.08.007 Please...
Article
Wood production is an important forest use, impacting a range of other ecosystem services. However, information on the spatial patterns in wood production is limited and often available only for larger administrative units. In this study, we developed high-resolution wood production maps for European forests. We collected wood production statistics...
Article
Full-text available
AimLand-use change is the single biggest cause of biodiversity loss. With a rising demand for resources, understanding how and where agriculture threatens biodiversity is of increasing importance. Agricultural expansion has received much attention, but where high agricultural land-use intensity (LUI) threatens biodiversity remains unclear. We addre...
Article
Full-text available
We compared the effectiveness of environmental variables, and in particular of land-use indicators, to explain species richness patterns across taxonomic groups and biogeographical scales (i.e. overall pan-Europe and ecoregions within pan-Europe). Using boosted regression trees that handle non-linear relationships, we compared the relative influenc...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding patterns, dynamics, and drivers of land use is crucial for improving our ability to cope with sustainability challenges. The human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) framework provides a set of integrated socio-ecological indicators that quantify how land use alters energy flows in ecosystems via land conversions and biom...
Article
Full-text available
Scattered trees support high levels of farmland biodiversity and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes, but they are threatened by agricultural intensification, urbanization, and land abandonment. This study aimed to map and quantify the decline of orchard meadows (scattered fruit trees of high nature conservation value) for a region in Sou...
Article
Subsurface flow and heat transport near Freienbrink, NE Germany, was simulated in order to study groundwater–surface water exchange between a floodplains aquifer and a section of the lowland River Spree and an adjacent oxbow. Groundwater exfiltration was the dominant process, and only fast surface water level rises resulted in temporary infiltratio...
Article
Full-text available
Future increases in land-based production will need to focus more on sustainably intensifying existing production systems. Unfortunately, our understanding of the global patterns of land use intensity is weak, partly because land use intensity is a complex, multidimensional term, and partly because we lack appropriate datasets to assess land use in...
Article
Full-text available
Historic increase in urban population numbers in the face of shrinking urban economies and declining social services has meant that a large proportion of the urban population lives in precarious urban conditions, which provide the grounds for high urban health risks in low income countries. This study aims to identify, investigate, and contrast the...
Article
Full-text available
Water exchange processes in the floodplain of a lowland groundwater-surface water system are studied on the basis of a study site near Freienbrink, NE Germany. The surface water boundaries of this site are formed by an oxbow and the current bed of the river Spree, section Müggelspree. Surface and ground water levels and water temperatures were coll...

Network

Cited By

Projects

Projects (3)
Project
Focusing on the part of the Argentine Chaco within the five provinces of Salta, Formosa, Santiago del Estero, and Chaco, PASANOA will 1. provide new insights into the trade-offs and synergies between agricultural production, ES provisioning and biodiversity 2. explore drivers of land use decisions and how they vary across land systems 3. assess how trade-offs between production and conservation land uses may vary across a set of plausible future land-use scenarios 4. identify optimal landscape patterns that mitigate trade-offs along with guidance on how to implement such landscapes
Project
http://www.volante-project.eu/