Biodiversity is both, a response variable affected by global change drivers and a factor modifying ecosystem processes and services that are essential to human well-being. Improved capability to predict the consequences of changes in drivers will aid improved prediction of the state of the environment. The proposed University Research Priority Programme on Global Change and Biodiversity embarks on innovative avenues in this research domain by using a latitudinal gradient approach based on interactions, feedback and scale, which will yield more reliable and robust knowledge about global change processes. Our research activities are bundled into eight interdisciplinary projects that extend current activities into strategically important areas of global change and biodiversity. Each research activity is under the lead of two core scientists, while all are interconnected through a matrix structure of collaboration. All eight projects are located in five experimental systems (e.g., Siberia, Tibetan plateau, Lake Zurich, Laegeren, and Borneo), where activities of the contributing groups have been taken place previously. Methods link observational and experimental data with theoretical, statistical and socio-economic modelling approaches as well as qualitative fieldwork and normative analysis. In particular, methods build on existing excellence in remote sensing, biodiversity–ecosystem functioning research, soil science, evolution, physics and statistics while achieving added value by stimulating inter- disciplinary collaboration to address issues beyond the reach of single disciplines.