EWRS working group Weeds and Biodiversity
Where do we come from?

Bärbel Gerowitt, University of Rostock, Germany, WG coordinator Weeds and Biodiversity 2005-2014

The working group Weeds and Biodiversity was under this name founded in 2002 based on a proposal of Jon Marshall, UK to EWRS SciCom and board. Looking more back in EWRS-history the working group has ancestors: From about 1984 until 1992 (to my knowledge) a working group (WG) Weeds-Insects-Diseases-Interactions was active under the coordination of Rudolf Heitefuss, Germany. These days it was new and innovative to investigate how weeds interact with other organisms, with both positive and negative implications. Field margins as suitable sites for these interactions were in focus from the very beginning of the work. Thus it was only rational to concentrate on this subject under the next coordinator, Jon Marshall. Jon was engaged in the WG Field Margins from around 1994 until 2000. Activities and output during this period was extremely favored via a parallel EU-project “Field Margin Ecology” (1994-98).

From 2002 to 2005 the “new” WG Weeds and Biodiversity had a strong focus on activities in the UK. In 2005 Bärbel Gerowitt followed Jon Marshall as working group coordinator. At the EWRS Symposium 2005 in Bari/Italy >20 participants expressed their interests to contribute to this WG and common points of interests were derived. These points were further concentrated on the meeting 2007 in Salem/Germany. There, three major areas of interest and activities were identified: (1) diversity, (rare) species, communities, assemblages, (2) biodiversity, arable management, ecosystem services and (3) Conservation, programs, politics.

The working group regularly contributed to EWRS-symposia in sessions which were either organized by the WG (Hamar 2008) or jointly with other working groups (Kaposvar 2010, Weed mapping, Samsun 2013, Site-specific weed management).

The working group held conference-style meetings in Lleida, Spain 2009 and in Dijon, France, 2011. Both meetings included keynote addresses from the US (Matt Liebman, Jonathan Lundgren, Adam Davis) and Europe (Bruno Chauvel, Horst-Henning Steinmann) covering the WG interests in: arable management, food webs, seed predation, diversity management and politics and programs. In addition to these keynotes and presentation of WG-members, all meetings included interactive parts. In 2009 a focus group discussion on views of biodiversity revealed differences between members coming from South Europe, North America, Western or Eastern Europe. Some members of the WG had already experienced these differences on a pre-conference workshop at the IWSC 2008 in Vancouver. In 2011 a training day on field methods to measure weed seed predation brought together 16 young and elder scientists – all profited in on-going or starting research from this way of exchange. However, the attempt to establish an own working group on Weed seed predation was not supported by the EWRS-board. Thus, weed seed predation remained as a branch in the WG.

As last reported activity two training courses in multivariate statistics in vegetation science were organized by the WG in Rostock, Germany in early 2014. They were attended by young scientists working with weed communities from nine different countries.

The major focus areas of the WG continuously adapted to the scope of the members and are in 2014 best described with (1) Diversity, (rare) species, communities, sampling; (2) Weed diversity and arable management and (3) Weed seed predation, food chains / webs.