Species richness is positively related to mental health – A study for Germany

This research paper – by Joel Methorsta, Aletta Bonn, Melissa Marselle, Katrin Böhning-Gaese, and Katrin Rehdanz – has been published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.


  • National epidemiological study on relationship between biodiversity and human health.
  • Plant and bird species richness are positively related to mental health.
  • No relationship between plant nor bird species and physical health.
  • Access to local green space improves both mental and physical health.
  • Species diversity could be a salutogenic (health promoting) nature characteristic.


“Nature benefits human health. To date, however, little is known whether biodiversity relates to human health. While some local and city level studies show that species diversity, as a measure of biodiversity, can have positive effects, there is a lack of studies about the relationship between different species diversity measures and human health, especially at larger spatial scales. Here, we conduct cross-sectional analyses of the association between species diversity and human health across Germany, while controlling for socio-economic factors and other nature characteristics. As indicators for human health, we use the mental (MCS) and physical health (PCS) component scales of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP, Short Form Health Questionnaire – SF12). For species diversity, we use species richness and abundance estimates of two species groups: plants and birds. We phrase the following hypotheses: plant and bird species are positively associated with mental and physical health (H1 & H3); bird abundance is positively related to mental health (H2). Our results demonstrate a significant positive relationship between plant and bird species richness and mental health across all model variations controlling for a multitude of other factors. These results highlight the importance for species diversity for people’s mental health and well-being. Therefore, policy makers, landscape planners and greenspace managers on the local and national level should consider supporting biodiverse environments to promote mental health and wellbeing. For this purpose, we propose to use species diversity measures as indicators for salutogenic (health promoting) characteristics of nature, landscape and urban green space …”

You can read more from here.

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