Exploring the effects of drastic institutional and socio-economic changes on land system dynamics in Germany between 1883 and 2007.
ABSTRACT: Long-term studies of land system change can help providing insights into the relative importance of underlying drivers of change. Here, we analyze land system change in Germany for the period 1883-2007 to trace the effect of drastic socio-economic and institutional changes on land system dynamics. Germany is an especially interesting case study due to fundamentally changing economic and institutional conditions: the two World Wars, the separation into East and West Germany, the accession to the European Union, and Germany's reunification. We employed the Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production (HANPP) framework to comprehensively study long-term land system dynamics in the context of these events. HANPP quantifies biomass harvests and land-use-related changes in ecosystem productivity. By comparing these flows to the potential productivity of ecosystems, HANPP allows to consistently assess land cover changes as well as changes in land use intensity. Our results show that biomass harvest steadily increased while productivity losses declined from 1883 to 2007, leading to a decline in HANPP from around 75%-65% of the potential productivity. At the same time, decreasing agricultural areas allowed for forest regrowth. Overall, land system change in Germany was surprisingly gradual, indicating high resilience to the drastic socio-economic and institutional shifts that occurred during the last 125 years. We found strikingly similar land system trajectories in East and West Germany during the time of separation (1945-1989), despite the contrasting institutional settings and economic paradigms. Conversely, the German reunification sparked a fundamental and rapid shift in former East Germany's land system, leading to altered levels of production, land use intensity and land use efficiency. Gradual and continuous land use intensification, a result of industrialization and economic optimization of land use, was the dominant trend throughout the observed period, apparently overruling socio-economic framework conditions and land use policies.
Project description:Over the past centuries, land systems in Italy experienced fundamental shifts, owing to the availability of new energy forms, population surges, and technological progress. The 20th century was characterized by massive productivity increases, accompanied by gradual land abandonment and the return of forest land. We here analyze 120 years of land system change in Italy, applying the human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) framework, a metric for socio-economic pressures on terrestrial ecosystems. HANPP allows integrating ecological with societal perspectives, by systematically quantifying (a) biomass harvest and (b) the difference between potential productivity of ecosystems and current productivity induced by land use processes, such as land conversion, or land degradation. Besides assessing national trends we calculated HANPP separately for the Italian North and South between 1934 and 2007, in order to scrutinize if high regional discrepancies in terms of natural and socio-economic preconditions translate into diverging land system trajectories. Our results show that national HANPP has been declining from 78% of natural productivity before WWII to 56% in 2007, indicating a declining land -use induced pressure on biomass flows over time. Simultaneously, biomass harvest increased by around 26% due to agricultural intensification, despite shrinking croplands. Although we found a significant difference between the Northern and Southern region in the absolute levels of several land use indicators related to biomass appropriation, the overarching trends of land system change were remarkably similar in both regions. This suggests that underlying drivers of land system change, such as policies aimed at land-use intensification and structural change were equally dominating land system trajectories in the North and South of Italy, not withstanding their socio-ecological divergences.
Project description:Global increases in population, consumption, and gross domestic product raise concerns about the sustainability of the current and future use of natural resources. The human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) provides a useful measure of human intervention into the biosphere. The productive capacity of land is appropriated by harvesting or burning biomass and by converting natural ecosystems to managed lands with lower productivity. This work analyzes trends in HANPP from 1910 to 2005 and finds that although human population has grown fourfold and economic output 17-fold, global HANPP has only doubled. Despite this increase in efficiency, HANPP has still risen from 6.9 Gt of carbon per y in 1910 to 14.8 GtC/y in 2005, i.e., from 13% to 25% of the net primary production of potential vegetation. Biomass harvested per capita and year has slightly declined despite growth in consumption because of a decline in reliance on bioenergy and higher conversion efficiencies of primary biomass to products. The rise in efficiency is overwhelmingly due to increased crop yields, albeit frequently associated with substantial ecological costs, such as fossil energy inputs, soil degradation, and biodiversity loss. If humans can maintain the past trend lines in efficiency gains, we estimate that HANPP might only grow to 27-29% by 2050, but providing large amounts of bioenergy could increase global HANPP to 44%. This result calls for caution in refocusing the energy economy on land-based resources and for strategies that foster the continuation of increases in land-use efficiency without excessively increasing ecological costs of intensification.
Project description:Human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP), the aggregate impact of land use on biomass available each year in ecosystems, is a prominent measure of the human domination of the biosphere. We present a comprehensive assessment of global HANPP based on vegetation modeling, agricultural and forestry statistics, and geographical information systems data on land use, land cover, and soil degradation that localizes human impact on ecosystems. We found an aggregate global HANPP value of 15.6 Pg C/yr or 23.8% of potential net primary productivity, of which 53% was contributed by harvest, 40% by land-use-induced productivity changes, and 7% by human-induced fires. This is a remarkable impact on the biosphere caused by just one species. We present maps quantifying human-induced changes in trophic energy flows in ecosystems that illustrate spatial patterns in the human domination of ecosystems, thus emphasizing land use as a pervasive factor of global importance. Land use transforms earth's terrestrial surface, resulting in changes in biogeochemical cycles and in the ability of ecosystems to deliver services critical to human well being. The results suggest that large-scale schemes to substitute biomass for fossil fuels should be viewed cautiously because massive additional pressures on ecosystems might result from increased biomass harvest.
Project description:Before 1990, Germany was divided for more than 40 years. While divided, significant mortality disparities between the populations of East and West Germany emerged. In the years following reunification, East German mortality improved considerably, eventually converging with West German levels. In this study, we explore changes in the gender differences in health at ages 20-59 across the eastern and western regions of Germany using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for the 1990-2013 period. We apply random-effects linear regressions to the SOEP data to identify trends in health, measured as self-assessed health satisfaction, after German reunification. The findings indicate that women were substantially less satisfied with their health than men in both West and East Germany, but that the gender gap was larger in East Germany than in West Germany. Furthermore, the results show that respondents' satisfaction with their health decreased over time, and that the decline was steeper among men - and particularly among East German men - than among women. Thus, the initial male advantage in health in East and West Germany in the years immediately after reunification diminished over time, and even reversed to become a female advantage in East Germany. One interpretation of this finding is that stress-inducing post-reunification changes in the political and social landscape of East Germany had lasting damaging consequences for men's health. Ongoing risky health behaviors and high levels of economic insecurity due to unemployment could have had long-lasting effects on the health of the working-aged population. A partial explanation for our finding that health declined more sharply among East German men than among their female counterparts could be that women have better compensatory mechanisms than men for dealing with psychosocial stress.
Project description:The sizeable mortality gap between the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the pre-unified Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) narrowed rapidly after the two states were unified. Despite extensive research, the mechanisms underlying the convergence process are still not fully understood. Significant changes to coding practices and the system of data collection introduced in East Germany shortly after reunification have further complicated the ability of researchers to interpret mortality trends. Our aim is to assess the role of German reunification in the convergence process in light of the evolution of long-term mortality trends by causes of death. Compared to previous studies, we rely on much more detailed mortality data, which we first adjust for notable distortions. We propose an upward correction of cancer mortality, as well as corrections that account for obvious changes in the items selected within the ICD chapter of circulatory diseases. We identify three distinct processes that took place in East Germany around the time of reunification: (1) a sustained reduction in mortality that started before reunification; (2) a temporary increase in mortality in 1990-1991 that was related to the abrupt social transition, as reflected by socially sensitive causes such as accidents, alcohol-related diseases, and acute myocardial infarction; and (3) a reunification-driven process of convergence that was mostly caused by the accelerated decline in mortality from cerebrovascular and chronic heart diseases. Mortality improvements observed in the GDR starting in the 1980s might be interpreted as the first signs of a cardiovascular revolution. Shifts in individual behaviour likely started before reunification, whereas the real progress in medical care occurred later with the implementation of the Western system of health care. We therefore conclude that German reunification per se did not initiate the convergence process, but rather reinforced and accelerated trends that were already apparent.
Project description:While bryophytes greatly contribute to plant diversity of semi-natural grasslands, little is known about the relationships between land-use intensity, productivity, and bryophyte diversity in these habitats. We recorded vascular plant and bryophyte vegetation in 85 agricultural used grasslands in two regions in northern and central Germany and gathered information on land-use intensity. To assess grassland productivity, we harvested aboveground vascular plant biomass and analyzed nutrient concentrations of N, P, K, Ca and Mg. Further we calculated mean Ellenberg indicator values of vascular plant vegetation. We tested for effects of land-use intensity and productivity on total bryophyte species richness and on the species richness of acrocarpous (small & erect) and pleurocarpous (creeping, including liverworts) growth forms separately. Bryophyte species were found in almost all studied grasslands, but species richness differed considerably between study regions in northern Germany (2.8 species per 16 m(2)) and central Germany (6.4 species per 16 m(2)) due environmental differences as well as land-use history. Increased fertilizer application, coinciding with high mowing frequency, reduced bryophyte species richness significantly. Accordingly, productivity estimates such as plant biomass and nitrogen concentration were strongly negatively related to bryophyte species richness, although productivity decreased only pleurocarpous species. Ellenberg indicator values for nutrients proved to be useful indicators of species richness and productivity. In conclusion, bryophyte composition was strongly dependent on productivity, with smaller bryophytes that were likely negatively affected by greater competition for light. Intensive land-use, however, can also indirectly decrease bryophyte species richness by promoting grassland productivity. Thus, increasing productivity is likely to cause a loss of bryophyte species and a decrease in species diversity.
Project description:The ongoing globalization process strengthens the connections between different geographic regions through trade. Biomass products, such as food, fiber, or bioenergy, are increasingly traded globally, thereby leading to telecouplings between distant, seemingly unrelated regions. For example, restrictions for agricultural production or changes in bioenergy demand in Europe or the United States might contribute to deforestation in Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa. One approach to analyze trade-related land-use effects of the global socioeconomic biomass metabolism is the "embodied human appropriation of net primary production" or eHANPP. eHANPP accounts allocate to any product the entire amount of the human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) that emerges throughout its supply chain. This allows consumption-based accounts to move beyond simple area-demand approaches by taking differences in natural productivity as well as in land-use intensity into account, both across land-use types as well as across world regions. In this article, we discuss the eHANPP related to the European Union's (EU) consumption of biomass products in the period 1986-2007, based on a consistent global trade data set derived from bilateral data. We find a considerable dependency of the EU on the appropriation of biological productivity outside its own boundaries, with increasing reliance on Latin America as a main supplier. By using the EU as an illustrative example, we demonstrate the usefulness of eHANPP for assessing land-use impacts caused by nations' socioeconomic activities and conclude that the eHANPP approach can provide useful information to better manage ecosystems globally in the face of an increasingly interconnected world.
Project description:Narcissism scores are higher in individualistic cultures compared with more collectivistic cultures. However, the impact of sociocultural factors on narcissism and self-esteem has not been well described. Germany was formerly divided into two different social systems, each with distinct economic, political and national cultures, and was reunified in 1989/90. Between 1949 and 1989/90, West Germany had an individualistic culture, whereas East Germany had a more collectivistic culture. The German reunification provides an exceptional opportunity to investigate the impact of sociocultural and generational differences on narcissism and self-esteem. In this study, we used an anonymous online survey to assess grandiose narcissism with the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) and the Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI) to assess grandiose and vulnerable aspects of narcissism, and self-esteem with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE) in 1,025 German individuals. Data were analyzed according to age and place of birth. Our results showed that grandiose narcissism was higher and self-esteem was lower in individuals who grew up in former West Germany compared with former East Germany. Further analyses indicated no significant differences in grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism or self-esteem in individuals that entered school after the German reunification (? 5 years of age in 1989). In the middle age cohort (6-18 years of age in 1989), significant differences in vulnerable narcissism, grandiose narcissism and self-esteem were observed. In the oldest age cohort (> 19 years of age in 1989), significant differences were only found in one of the two scales assessing grandiose narcissism (NPI). Our data provides empirical evidence that sociocultural factors are associated with differences in narcissism and self-esteem.
Project description:In the biofuel industry, land productivity is important to feedstock growers and conversion process product yield is important to the biorefinery. The crop productivity, however, may not positively correlate with bioconversion yield. Therefore, it is important to evaluate sugar yield and biomass productivity. In this study, 2-year-old poplar trees harvested in the first coppice cycle, including one low-productivity hybrid and one high-productivity hybrid, were collected from two poplar tree farms. Through steam pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis, the bioconversion yields of low- and high-productivity poplar hybrids were compared for both sites.The low-productivity hybrids had 9-19% higher sugar yields than the high-productivity hybrids, although they have the similar chemical composition. Economic calculations show the impact on the plantation and biorefinery of using the two feedstocks. Growing a high-productivity hybrid means the land owner would use 11-26% less land (which could be used for other crops) or collect $2.53-$3.46 MM/year extra revenue from the surplus feedstock. On the other side, the biorefinery would receive 5-10% additional revenue using the low-productivity hybrid.We propose a business model based on the integration of the plantation and the biorefinery. In this model, different feedstocks are assessed using a metric of product tonnage per unit land per year. Use of this new economic metric bridges the gap between feedstock growers and users to maximize the overall production efficiency.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Subnational regional mortality inequalities are large and appear to be mostly increasing within industrialized countries, although comparative studies across high-income countries are scarce. Germany is an important country to examine because it continues to experience considerable economic disparities between its federal states, in part resulting from its former division. METHODS:We analyse state-level mortality in Germany utilizing data from a newly constructed regional database based on the methodology of the Human Mortality Database. We compare time trends (1991-2015) in the German state-level standard deviation in life expectancy to that of other large, wealthy countries and examine the association between mortality and economic inequalities at the regional level. Finally, using contour-decomposition methods, we investigate the degree to which age patterns of mortality are converging across German federal states. RESULTS:Regional inequalities in life expectancy in Germany are comparatively low internationally, particularly among women, despite high state-level inequalities in economic conditions. These low regional mortality inequalities emerged 5-10?years after reunification. Mortality is converging over most ages between the longest- and shortest-living German state populations and across the former East-West political border, with the exception of an emerging East-West divergence in mortality among working-aged men. CONCLUSIONS:The German example shows that large regional economic inequalities are not necessarily paralleled with large regional mortality disparities. Future research should investigate the factors that fostered the emergence of this unusual pattern in Germany.