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Nadja K. Simons
 Research profile      

I work on the influence of land-use practices on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning with a focus on arthropods. On the one hand, I am interested in how management decisions affect the functional diversity of species’ communities at different spatial and temporal scales and how those translate to changes in the provisioning of ecosystem functions. On the other hand, I am also interested in how biodiversity and ecosystem services are considered in management decisions and planning and how they can be integrated into decision-making processes.


My research focuses on forest and grassland systems as both systems face similar conflicts between management and conservation. Grasslands and forests have a large potential for integrative management strategies as they are relatively stable systems even under management and therefore important refuge habitats for biodiversity. Managers of forests and grasslands are faced with an increased public sensitivity and demand for insect conservation within those systems. By applying basic ecological methods in contexts and experiments relevant for managers and decision makers, my research helps make informed management decisions and communicate those effectively with the public.



Since May 2023, I am Juniorprofessor for Applied Biodiversity Science at the University of Würzburg.

You can find my new contact details here:



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Dec. 2018 - April 2023

Postdoctoral researcher at EcoNetLab


Postdoctoral researcher within the BioHolz project at the TU München


PhD student at the TU München 

Effects of land-use intensity on arthropod diversity and community structure in grassland


Master of Science Biology at JLU Giessen

Impact of elevated CO2 on phenology, community structure and pollinators in a permanent grassland



Bachelor of Science Biology at University Oldenburg 

Lightfleck-usage by epiphytes and terrestrial plants in a tropical understorey

EDGG Grassland talks!

Winter 2020/2021


Online talk on insect declines in grasslands

Click on the preview below to watch on Youtube

 Current research projects      


Walddiskurs: Nachhaltiger Waldnaturschutz – nachhaltige Waldkommunikation

Sustainable Forest Conservation - Sustainable Forest Communication


Ein Projekt im Rahmen des Förderprogramms "Nachhaltiger Waldnaturschutz" des BMEL.  In diesem interdisziplinären Verbundvorhaben leite ich das Teilprojekt „Ökosystem Wald – Analyse und Modellierung potenzieller Konflikte zwischen CO2-Speicherung und Biodiversitätsschutz durch Waldbewirtschaftung“. Forschungsschwerpunkte sind die Beschreibung, Analyse und Modellierung von Zielkonflikten und Synergien zwischen Klima- und Biodiversitätsschutz in bewirtschafteten Wäldern. Hierzu sollen statistische Modelle entwickelt und für unterschiedliche Szenarien angewandt werden, sowie empirische Studien zum Zusammenhang zwischen Holzmasse und Biodiversität durchgeführt werden. Im Verbundprojekt besteht eine enge Zusammenarbeit mit Mitarbeiter_innen aus den Fächern Politikwissenschaft und Linguistik, um Diskurse und Bewirtschaftungspraktiken in Landesforsten zu erfassen und Handlungsempfehlungen für die Praxis zu erstellen.

BioDivKultur: Biodiversitätskulturen in Stadt und Land - Integrative Forschung zur Förderung der Insektenviefalt auf Grünflächen

Biodiversity cultures in urban and rural areas – Integrative research to support insect diversity in green spaces and grasslands

Ein Projekt im Rahmen der FONA „Forschungsinitiative zum Erhalt der Artenvielfalt“ zum Thema Wertschätzung und Sicherung von Biodiversität in Politik, Wirtschaft und


Weitere Infos auf der Projekt-Homepage:

Special Issue on Insect Decline

I am one of three guest editors for a Special Issue on Insect Decline in Biology Letters. This special issue is dedicated to increase our knowledge of potential causes and consequences of insect decline. Rather than focusing on additional evidence for insect population declines, we aim to provide a better mechanistic understanding of the causes for and consequences of insect decline. Our approaches include linking insect population trends to species’ functional traits and investigating the spatial variation in population trends. 

The special issue includes 12 original publications spanning different geographic regions, a wide range of taxonomic groups and some of the most important drivers of insect decline.



Staab M., M.M. Gossner, N.K. Simons, R. Achury, D. Ambarli, S. Bae, P. Schall, W.W. Weisser & N. Blüthgen (2023): Insect decline in forests depends on species’ traits and may be mitigated by management. Communications Biology. 6:338 Link

Gossner, M.M., F. Menzel & N.K. Simons (2023): Less overall, but more of the same: drivers of insect population trends lead to community homogenization. Biology Letters. 19:20230007 Link

Wehner, K., M. Brandt, A. Hilpert, N.K. Simons & N. Blüthgen (2023): Little evidence for land-use filters on intraspecific trait variation in three arthropod groups. Web Ecology. 23(1):35–49. Link


Scherreiks P., M.M. Gossner, D. Ambarlı, M. Ayasse, N. Blüthgen, M. Fischer, V.H. Klaus, T. Kleinebecker, F. Neff, D. Prati, S. Seibold, N.K. Simons, W.W. Weisser, K. Wells, C. Westphal & J. Thiele (2022): Present and historical landscape structure shapes current species richness in Central European grasslands. Landscape Ecology. 37 (745-762). Link



Neyret M., M. Fischer, E. Allan, N. Hölzel, V.H. Klaus, T. Kleinebecker, J. Krauss, G. Le Provost, S. Peter, N. Schenk, N.K. Simons, F. van der Plas, J. Binkenstein, C. Börschig, K. Jung, D. Prati, M. Schäfer, D. Schäfer, I. Schöning, M. Schrumpf, M. Tschapka, C. Westphal & P. Manning (2021): Assessing the impact of grassland management on landscape multifunctionality. Ecosystem Services. 52:101366. First published under bioRxiv. 208199. Link

Wehner, K., N.K. Simons, N. Blüthgen & M. Heethoff (2021): Drought, windthrow and forest operations strongly affect oribatid mite communities in different microhabitats. Global Ecology and Conservation 30:e01757. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01757 Link


Neff, F., M. Brändle, D. Ambarlı, C. Ammer, J. Bauhus, S. Boch, N. Hölzel, V.H. Klaus, T. Kleinebecker, D. Prati, P. Schall, D. Schäfer, E.-D. Schulze, S. Seibold, N.K. Simons, W.W. Weisser, L. Pellissier & M.M. Gossner (2021): Changes in plant-herbivore network structure and robustness along land-use intensity gradients in grasslands and forests. Science Advances 7(20):eabf3985. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abf3985 Link

Wehner, K., R. Schuster, N.K. Simons, R.A. Norton, N. Blüthgen & M. Heethoff (2021): How land-use intensity affects sexual and parthenogenetic oribatid mites in temperate forests and grasslands in Germany. Experimental & Applied Acarology (online first). doi:10.1007/s10493-020-00586-z Link

Wehner, K., C. Renker, N.K. Simons, W.W. Weisser & N. Blüthgen (2021): Narrow environmental niches predict land-use responses and vulnerability of land snail assemblages. BMC Ecology & Evolution 21(15). doi:10.1186/s12862-020-01741-1 Link

N.K. Simons, M.R. Felipe-Lucia, P. Schall, C. Ammer, J. Bauhus, N. Blüthgen, S. Boch, F. Buscot, M. Fischer, K. Goldmann, M.M. Gossner, F. Hänsel, K. Jung, P. Manning, T. Nauss, Y. Oelmann, R. Pena, A. Polle, S.C. Renner, M. Schloter, I. Schöning, E.-D. Schulze, E.F. Solly, E. Sorkau, B. Stempfhuber, T. Wubet, J. Müller, S. Seibold, W.W. Weisser (2021): National Forest Inventories capture the multifunctionality of managed forests in Germany. Forest Ecosystems 8(5). doi:10.1186/s40663-021-00280-5 Link

Seibold, S., T. Hothorn, M.M. Gossner, N.K. Simons, N. Blüthgen, J. Müller, D. Ambarlı, C. Ammer, J. Bauhus, M. Fischer, J.C. Habel, C. Penone, P. Schall, E.‐D. Schulze, W.W. Weisser (2021): ​Insights from regional and short‐term biodiversity monitoring datasets are valuable: a reply to Daskalova et al. 2021. Insect Conservation and Diversity Link



Ambarlı, D., N.K. Simons, K. Wehner, W. Kämper, M.M. Gossner, T. Nauss, F. Neff, S. Seibold, W.W. Weisser & N. Blüthgen (2020): ​Animal-mediated ecosystem process rates in forests and grasslands are affected by climatic conditions and land-use intensity. Ecosystems Link

Heidrich, L., S. Bae, S. Levick, S. Seibold, W. Weisser, P. Krzystek, P. Magdon, T. Nauss, P. Schall, A. Serebryanyk, S. Wöllauer, C. Ammer, C. Bässler, I. Doerfler, M- Fischer, M. M. Gossner, M. Heurich, T. Hothorn, K. Jung, H. Kreft, E.-D. Schulze,  N.K. Simons, S. Thorn & J. Müller (2020): Heterogeneity–diversity relationships differ between and within trophic levels in temperate forests. Nature Ecology & Evolution. Link

Mody, K., D. Lerch, A.-K. Müller, N.K. Simons, N. Blüthgen & M. Harnisch (2020): Flower power in the city: Replacing roadside shrubs by wildflower meadows increases insect numbers and reduces maintenance costs. PLOS ONE 15(6): e0234327. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0234327 Link



Seibold, S., M.M. Gossner, N.K. Simons, N. Blüthgen, J. Müller, D. Ambarli, C. Ammer, J. Bauhus, M. Fischer, J.C. Habel, K.E. Linsenmair, T. Nauss, C. Penone, D. Prati, P. Schall, E.-D. Schulze, J. Vogt, S. Wöllauer & W.W. Weisser (2019): Arthropod decline in grasslands and forests is associated with landscape-level drivers. Nature. 574:671–674. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1684-3 Link

Vogt, J., V.H. Klaus, S. Both, C. Fürstenau, S. Gockel, M. M. Gossner, J. Heinze, A. Hemp, N. Hölzel, K. Jung, K. Till, R. Lauterbach, K. Lorenzen, A. Ostrowski, N. Otto, D. Prati, S. Renner, U. Schumacher, S. Seibold, N.K. Simons, I. Steitz, M. Teuscher, J. Thiele, S. Weithmann, K. Wells, K. Wiesner, M. Ayasse, N. Blüthgen, M. Fischer, W.W. Weisser (2019): Eleven years’ data of grassland management data in Germany. Biodiversity Data Journal. 7: e36387. doi:10.3897/BDJ.7.e36387 Link

Hotes, S., J. Hagge, F. Härtl, P. Sacher, N.K. Simons (2019): Biodiversitätsstrategien in Wäldern: Das BioHolz-Projekt. AFZ-DerWald. 16:16-20. 

Schneider F.D., M. Jochum, G. Le Provost, A. Ostrowski, C. Penone, D. Fichtmüller, A. Güntsch, M.M. Gossner, B. König-Ries, P. Manning & N.K. Simons (2019): Towards an ecological trait‐data standard. Methods in Ecololgy & Evolution. 00:1-14. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.13288 Link

Neff, F., N. Blüthgen, M.N. Chisté, N.K. Simons, J. Steckel, W.W. Weisser, C. Westphal. L. Pellissier, M.M. Gossner (2019): Cross-scale effects of land use on the functional composition of herbivorous insect communities. Landscape Ecology. doi:10.1007/s10980-019-00872-1 Link

Wehner, K., C. Renker, A. Brückner, N.K. Simons, W.W. Weisser, N. Blüthgen (2019): Land‐use in Europe affects land snail assemblages directly and indirectly by modulating abiotic and biotic drivers. Ecosphere. doi:10.1002/ecs2.2726 Link

Heinze J., N.K. Simons, S. Seibold, A. Wacker, G. Weithoff, M.M. Gossner, D. Prati, T.M. Bezemer & J. Joshi (2019): The relative importance of plant-soil feedbacks for plant-species performance increases with decreasing intensity of herbivory. Oecologia. 190(3):651–664. doi:10.1007/s00442-019-04442-9 Link

Penone C., E. Allan, S. Soliveres, M.R. Felipe‐Lucia, M.M. Gossner, S. Seibold, N.K. Simons, P. Schall, F. van der Plas, P. Manning, R.D. Manzanedo, S. Boch, D. Prati, C. Ammer, J. Bauhus, F. Buscot, M. Ehbrecht, K. Goldmann, K. Jung, J. Müller, J.C. Müller, R. Pena, A. Polle, S.C. Renner, L. Ruess, I. Schönig, M. Schrumpf, E.F. Solly M. Tschapka, W.W. Weisser, T. Wubet, M. Fischer (2019): Specialisation and diversity of multiple trophic groups are promoted by different forest features. Ecology Letters. 22:170-180. doi:10.1111/ele.13782 Link


Schneider F.D., M. Jochum, G. Le Provost, A. Ostrowski, C. Penone, D. Fichtmüller, A. Güntsch, M.M. Gossner, B. König-Ries, P. Manning & N.K. Simons (2018): Towards an Ecological Trait-data Standard. bioRxiv 328302. doi:10.1101/328302 Link


Ebeling A., J. Hines, L.R. Hertzog, M. Lange, S.T. Meyer, N.K. Simons & W.W. Weisser. (2017): Plant diversity effects on arthropods and arthropod-dependent ecosystem functions in a biodiversity experiment. Basic and Applied Ecology. 26:50-63. doi:10.1016/j.baae.2017.09.014 Link


Simons N.K. & W.W. Weisser(2017): Agricultural intensification without biodiversity loss is possible in grassland landscapes. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1:1136-1145. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0227-2 Link

Simons N.K., T. Lewinsohn, N. Blüthgen, F. Buscot, S. Boch, R. Daniel, M.M. Gossner, K. Jung, K. Kaiser, J. Müller, D. Prati, S.C. Renner, S.A. Socher, I. Sonnemann, C.N. Weiner, M. Werner, T. Wubet, S. Wurst & W.W. Weisser (2017): Contrasting effects of grassland management modes on species-abundance distributions of multiple groups. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 237:143-153. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2016.12.022 Link


Chisté M.N., K. Mody, M.M. Gossner, N.K. Simons, G. Köhler, W.W. Weisser & N. Blüthgen (2016): Losers, winners, and opportunists: How grassland land-use intensity affects orthopteran communities. Ecosphere 7:e01545. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1545 Link

Simons N.K., W.W. Weisser & M.M. Gossner(2016): Multi-taxa approach shows consistent shifts in arthropod functional traits along grassland land-use intensity gradient. Ecology 97(3):754-764. doi:10.1890/15-0616.1 Link

Blüthgen N., N.K. Simons, K. Jung, D. Prati, S.C. Renner, S. Boch, M. Fischer, N. Hölzel, V.H. Klaus, T. Kleinebecker, M. Tschapka, W.W. Weisser & M.M. Gossner. (2016): Land use imperils plant and animal community stability through changes in asynchrony ratherthan diversity. Nature Communications 7:10697. doi:10.1038/ncomms10697 Link


Gámez-Virués S., D.J. Perovic, M.M. Gossner, C. Borschig, N. Blüthgen, H. de Jong, N.K. Simons, A.-M. Klein, J. Krauss, G. Maier, C. Scherber, J. Steckel, C. Rothenwöhrer, I. Steffan-Dewenter, C.N. Weiner, W.W. Weisser, M. Werner, T. Tscharntke & C. Westphal (2015): Landscape simplification filters species traits and drives biotic homogenization. Nature Communications 6:8568. doi:10.1038/ncomms9568 Link

Gossner M.M., N.K. Simons, R. Achtziger, T. Blick, W.H.O. Dorow, F. Dziock, F. Köhler, W. Rabitsch & W.W. Weisser (2015): A summary of eight traits of Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera and Araneae, occurring in grasslands in Germany. Scientific Data 2:150013. doi:10.1038/sdata.2015.13 Link

Gossner M.M., N.K. Simons, L. Höck L & W.W. Weisser(2015): Morphometric measures of Heteroptera sampled in grasslands across three regions of Germany: Ecological Archives E096-102. Ecology 96(4):1154. doi:10.1890/14-2159.1 Link

Simons N.K., M.M. Gossner, T.M. Lewinsohn, M. Lange, M. Türke & W.W. Weisser(2015): Effects of land-use intensity on arthropod species abundance distributions in grasslands. Journal of Animal Ecology 84:143–154. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12278 Link


Simons N.K., M.M. Gossner, T.M. Lewinsohn, S. Boch, M. Lange, J. Müller, E. Pašalic, S.A. Socher, M. Türke, M. Fischer & W. W. Weisser(2014): Resource-mediated indirect effects of grassland management on arthropod diversity. PLoS ONE 9(9):e107033. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107033 Link

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