RobustNature research network analyzes link between chemical use and biodiversity loss and provides recommendations for action, LOEWE-TBG is involved

Pesticides in agriculture contribute to the loss of biodiversity.
© Markus Bernards
Pesticides in agriculture contribute to the loss of biodiversity.

The decline in biodiversity is threatening the very basis of human life. The links between species loss on the one hand and habitat loss, the invasion of non-native species and climate change on the other have already been intensively researched. What the use of chemicals means for biodiversity, on the other hand, has been considered too little in the past. A team of 40 scientists from the RobustNature research network, of which the LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE-TBG) is a member, shows this in a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The scientists:extensively analyzed the scientific literature from 1990 to 2021 and found that research on the environmental impact of chemicals very rarely examined the effects on biodiversity. "This suggests a strong encapsulation of the field and contrasts strongly with publication behavior when it comes to other causes of global biodiversity loss," says Henner Hollert of LOEWE-TBG. "To date, research on the environmental impact of chemicals has been mostly detached from the assessment of biodiversity loss." 

The scientists provide recommendations for action on how to close this research gap. First and foremost, they call for a stronger interdisciplinary orientation of research activities and, with their demands, also take industry to task for publishing relevant data, for example. 

The science network is dedicated to the topic of robustness and resilience of nature-society systems in the evolving Anthropocene and specifically the interaction of chemical stress and biodiversity loss. With partners at home and abroad, RobustNature has developed an interdisciplinary collaboration to address important questions about human-ecosystem dynamics.


  • Goethe University Frankfurt (Coordination; Faculty of Biological Sciences (15) with the faculties of Law (1), Economics & Business (2), Social Sciences (3), Educational Sciences (4), Geosciences & Geography (11), Computer Science & Mathematics (12), Medicine (16) and the profile area Sustainability & Biodiversity)
  • Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE)
  • Senckenberg – Leibniz Institution for Biodiversity and Earth System Research (SGN)
  • LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE TBG)
  • Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig
  • Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE, Frankfurt
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME), Schmallenberg
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Stockholm University, Sweden