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Nonnweiler, Germany

The river valleys of the Nahe and the Moselle in Rhineland-Palatinate are situated in the rain shadow of the Hunsrück and the Eifel. They exhibit xerothermic, poor sites with several extraordinary animal and plant species. Great rock faces are forming the undercut slopes of both rivers and carry plant species of Mediterranean and Pontic provenance. The mosaic display of vineyards, abandoned vineyards, arid grasslands, dry shrubberies, forests and - in case of the Nahe - near-natural river banks causes an amazing biodiversity. These valleys are well-known for a huge amount of relict species as the mountain Apollo (Parnassius apollo vinningensis), the western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata), the saddle-backed bush cricket (Ephippiger ephippiger vitium) and the dice snake (Natrix tessellata). © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

The semi-arid grasslands in the Muschelkalk areas of the Saarland are embedded in the cultural landscapes of the Bliesgau biosphere reserve and the nature park Saar-Hunsrück. The number of thermophilic species with a (sub-) Mediterranean center of dispersion is remarkably high in these habitats. The arid grasslands on the Jurassic limes near the city of Metz (Lorraine) actually have a strong Mediterranean character. They document that the Moselle valley is a good passageway from the south to the stratified terraced landscape of the Saarland and Lorraine. The diversity of orchids, butterflies and grasshoppers is amazing in these territories. Some of the Mediterranean species are currently expanding into new areas. © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

The gravel ponds in the alluvial plain of the Moselle in the border area of Luxembourg and the Saarland serve as a significant breeding habitat and stopover site of water birds. Many thermophilic species of dragonflies can also be watched in the "Haff Reimech" nature reserve in Luxembourg. Some wild bees typical of floodplains have found compensatory habitats on sandy slopes. Further north, on both sides of the Sure, there is a landscape rich in woodlands with deep chasms and great sandstone rock formations (Lower Jurassic) in the border area of Luxembourg and Rhineland- Palatinate. A cool and humid microclimate deep in the valleys and chasms promotes plant species of the Atlantic climate region. Especially Luxembourg's Little Switzerland is characterized by a great species-richness of mosses. © 2014 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Neophytes in Central Europe - Success stories of invasive alien plant species Since the 17th century, the introduction of alien plant species has been increasing constantly. They have been introduced intentionally (for example as ornamental garden plants) or accidentally. More than 430 alien species are permanent wild plants in Germany by now, mainly growing in anthropogenic, ruderal habitats without causing any problems. However, some of them build up large, monodominant stands in near-natural sites. They cause negative impacts on native species diversity, ecosystems or even human health. These species are considered as invasive. They are tough to manage because of their high regenerative capacity and intensive reproduction. Climate change will probably produce more favourable conditions for many of them. Thus preventive action against their further dispersal and against new invasions is of particular importance. © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

After westerly gales, there is a good chance to find amber at the North Sea beach of St. Peter-Ording, located on the pensinsula Eiderstedt in the German state Schleswig-Holstein. Depending on weather conditions and the time of the year, a great variety of marine animals and their remains are washed on to the sandy beaches (12 kilometers long). The coastal landscape of this location also contains tidal flat, salt marshes and dunes. It is very similar to the landscape of the barrier islands such as Sylt and Amrum because of the related post-glacial history of origin. Especially the highly near-natural salt marshes and some areas of the dunes show a very interesting vegetation with many endangered plant species. © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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