Lara Hoffmann

Short Bio

I am a PhD-Student at Environmental Campus Birkenfeld (UCB) where I started 2013 as a student. With a Bachelor´s degree in "Renewable Energies" and a Master´s degree in "Business Administration and Engineering" I decided to start a scientific career in 2020.
With the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, the foundation of the green party in Germany, I got funding, which enables me to do my doctorate on a topic of my choice and and to be my own project manager for its duration. This was an exciting prospect that requires a lot of organiszational and planning skills but gives me a lot of flexibility, too. I finalized my research topic together with three professors from UCB and immediately started. 
As a person being aware of our environment and as a former student at UCB, it was clear for me to work on solutions for an urgent environmental problem and to dedicate my three years of working time to such a topic.
As a PhD-Student combining the two topics "Ecology" and "Renewable Energy Production" I am currently investigating insects in poplar coppices (short rotation coppices). I am embedded in a working group "Interdisziplinary environmental conservation" which is led by Prof. Dr. Stefan Stoll. I am part of a young research team working on new strategies in biodiversity protection. Our research results finally have the potential of being included in political policy processes and management strategies.


From my research, recommendations for policy action are derived that relate to nature conservation measures in agriculture. Furthermore, farmers who cultivate short rotation coppices will receive advice for the biodiversity-optimized cultivation of their plantations. The aim of my research is to investigate whether there are synergies between biomass cultivation and biodiversity protection in the agricultural landscape.

"When you have finished your field work, the samples you collected over summer are in the lab and everything went as you imagined - that´s great!"


Short rotation coppices (SRC) are fast-growing tree species, such as poplar, grown by farmers for the purpose of energy production. The trees are harvested after about 8 - 10 years and processed into wood chips. In spring, they sprout out again from the stumps. In terms of energy transition, biomass is needed to meet the growing energy demand. From a sustainability perspective, it is important that this energy production has no bad impacts on species living in the agricultural landscape. Therefore, my focus of research is on investigating the impacts of cropping practices on insect diversity, because the number of insects is declining dramatically since 1980s and is closely related to changes of land use.
The aim of my phD project is to investigate species communities in short rotation coppices in order to assess if it is a nature-based climate protection measure. In addition, I gain knowledge about nature-compatible management forms which aim to strengthen ecosystem services provided by insects. For this purpose, I am catching insects in SRC using different trap types, e.g. canopy malaise traps, caterpillar traps, pan traps or pitfall traps. Insect samples are analyzed in the ecology lab of UCB. Butterflies, hoverflies and caterpillars are identified and counted and samples are sent to DNA metabarcoding for further analyses. I then compare the samples from the coppices with those from the surrounding area of other land use (e.g. intensive agriculture, forest) and examine succession patterns of insect communities in short rotation coppices of different ages. 

Because of field work, lab work and analyses in the office my work has many exciting facets.


Lara Hoffmann
Lara Hoffmann, M.Sc.
Doktorandin FB Umweltplanung/Umwelttechnik


+49 6782 17-1934


Birkenfeld | Building 9925 | Room 112


Montag - Freitag, 09:00 Uhr -17:00 Uhr
  • Scholarship holder of the Heinrich Böll Foundation (since 2020), Bürkle Prize of the "Dr. Wolfgang and Anita Bürkle Foundation".
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