Unser Team


Prof. Dr. Thomas Hickler
Professor for Biogeography, Head of Senckenberg Data and Modelling Centre, Head of Research Group 'Quantitative Biogeography', Speaker of GRADE Sustain (Goethe Graduate Academy)

My main research interest is to understand the distribution of life on earth (e.g. species, biodiversity, vegetation types, ecosystems) through space and time. I am particularly interested in interactions between climate and the terrestrial biosphere. This includes potential impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems and associated ecosystem services, as well as the role of the biosphere in the earth climate system (e.g. carbon and water cycling). Methodologically, vegetation and ecosystem modelling at local to global scales has been at the core of my work.

Examples of current research projects:

– GEOEssential
– EarthShape: Earth Shaping by Biota 
– Ecosystem Management Support for Climate Change in Southern Africa (EMSAfrica)
– The open Climate Impacts Encyclopedia (ISIpedia)
– Developing dynamic regional to global vegetation models
–  Accounting for habitat characteristics and biotic interactions in biodiversity models
– Modelling the role of fire in the functioning of the terrestrial biosphere
– Effects of plant trait variability on ecosystem stability and resilience
– Assessing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem Services
– Causes and ecosystem impacts of megafauna extinctions
– Impacts of climate change and air pollution on mountain ecosystems in Scandinavia, France and Spain

Examples of environmental impact assessments:

– Intergovermental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), ongoing
Policy support tools and methodologies for scenario analysis and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services 
– North Sea Region Climate Change Assessment (NOSCCA, chapter Terrestrial Ecosystems)

BSc. and MSc. topics (‚Abschlussarbeiten‘)

Dr. Matthew Forrest
PostDoc, Member of Research Group 'Quantitative Biogeography' Member of 'Data and Modelling Centre'

Research interests

The main focuses of my research are vegetation and ecosystem processes and the role of vegetation in the Earth system. To study these topics I use process-based models (primarily the Dynamic Global Vegetation Model LPJ-GUESS) applied to spatial scales ranging from regional to global. Whilst much of my work involves improving the vegetation simulations for the present day and recent past (in particular utilising the wealth of remote sensing data made available by satellites) I also study vegetation in past geological ages (the Miocene) and simulate the effects of climate change on a vegetation and ecosystem functioning in the forthcoming century.

Specific projects

• Climate Change Impacts in Turkish Vegetation – A BMBF-funded project in collaboration with Turkish and British partners.  The overall goal is to produce a high-resolution environmental-risk map of the consequences of climate change in Turkey. Our role is to adapt the global version LPJ-GUESS to better describe the Turkish vegetation and then project the future changes to vegetation and productivity using climate data from a regional climate model.  The study is performed at a 1km resolution and makes use of both remotely sensed data and field observation from Turkish partners. In particular the very high spatial resolution (1km) and the use of locally-gathered soil depth information (novel for LPJ-GUESS but critical for calculating plant-available water in arid zones) are of particular value for this regional impacts study. 

• Vegetation in the Miocene – Using the output from a palaeoclimate model to provide meteorological data for LPJ-GUESS we are reconstructing the vegetation in Late Miocene (~10 million years ago) and investigating CO2 concentrations and some of the atmosphere-biosphere interactions that shaped our planet’s evolution.

• Coupling LPJ-GUESS to an Atmospheric Chemistry enabled GCM – With support from MPI Chemistry in Mainz I am working to couple LPJ-GUESS to the EMAC atmospheric chemistry model utilising the powerful MESSy interface.  This work will enabled investigations of many atmosphere-biosphere interactions and feedbacks including: trace gas emissions from vegetation and fire, changing vegetation structure and function, tropospheric ozone damage to plants and Nitrogen fertilisation and emissions.

• Fire in the Earth System – I am also working to improve the process-based representation of wildfire (in particular the SPITFIRE model) in vegetation models. Fire is key in shaping the functioning and structure of large areas of the terrestrial land surface and is responsible for large carbon dioxide and other trace gas fluxes. 

I am also the BiK-F liaison with the Frankfurt Cloud, a collaborative venture between Goethe University of Frankfurt and sponsors including Deutsche Bank AG and Interxion Deutschland GmbH.


As is apparent from my CV and previous publications, I am new to the area of Earth Systems Science, my previous research life was in the field of Experimental Particle Physics. I hope to bring ideas and techniques from Physics to my new endeavours.

Outside of science I enjoy playing football, various games of skill and chance, music and devil’s advocate. I also like to get out into the world and spend slightly too much time worrying about the state of things.  

Short CV

2010 PhD awarded, University of Glasgow
2005-2010 PhD Studies in experimental high-energy physics, University of Glasgow/Deutsches Electronen Synchrotron (DESY), Hamburg
2005 MSci awarded, University of Glasgow
2001-2005 BSc/MSci Studies in Physics and Mathematics, University of Glasgow



Dr. Dan Warren
Researcher, Head of Senior Scientist Group 'Computational Population biology'

Research interests

I have broad interests in evolution, ecology, conservation, and animal behavior.  My primary research program focuses on the evolution of species‘ environmental tolerances and spatial distributions, with frequent detours into conservation-oriented empirical studies.  I also maintain active research programs in phylogenetic methods and theory, as well as the neuroecology of marine fishes.  My work includes both basic and applied research, with a particular focus on developing quantitative methods.  I am an author of several popular software packages for conducting evolutionary and ecological analyses, including Converge, AWTY, ENMTools, and RWTY.  In my spare time I compose music for nature documentaries.

I teach technical courses in R on a volunteer or consulting basis for Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, Transmitting Science, and PR Statistics.

External Links

List of publications on Google Scholar

List of publications on Researcher ID

List of publications on Scopus

Researcher profile on Orcid

Selected Publications

A. Tingstad, R.J. Lempert, M. Moskwik, D.L. Warren, C. Parmesan, L.O. Mearns, S. McGinnis, and Y. Ryu. 2017. Demonstrating the applicability of robust decision making (RDM) to conservation decision-making under uncertain future climate. Journal of Conservation Planning 13:11-24.

F. d’Errico, W.E. Banks, D.L. Warren, K. van Niekerk, C. Henshilwood, G. Scubin, A. Daniau, M.S. Goni. 2017. Identifying early modern human ecological niche expansions and associated cultural dynamics in the South African middle stone age. *PNAS *114:7869-7876.

A.D. Lamb, G.J. Watkins-Colwell, J.A. Moore, D.L. Warren, T.L. Iglesias, M.C. Brandley, and A. Dornburg. 2017. Endolymphatic sac use and reproductive activity in the Lesser Antilles endemic gecko Gonatodes antillensis (Gekkota: Spaerodactylidae). Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 58(1):17-29.

D.L. Warren, A.J. Geneva, and R. Lanfear. 2017. RWTY (R We There Yet): An R package for examining convergence of Bayesian phylogenetic analyses. Molecular Biology and Evolution 34:1016-1020. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msw279

A. Dornburg, E.J. Forrestel, J.A. Moore, T.L. Iglesias, A. Jones, L. Rao, and D.L. Warren. 2017. An assessment of sampling biases across studies of diel activity patterns in marine ray-finned fishees (Acinopterygii). Bulletin
of Marine Science
. doi: 10.5343/bms.2016.1016

L.J. Beaumont, E. Graham, D.E. Duursma, P.D. Wilson, A. Cabrelli, J.B. Baumgartner, W. Hallgren, M. Esperón-Rodríguez, D.A. Nipperess, D.L. Warren, S.W. Laffan, and J. VanDerWal. 2016. Which species distribution
models are more (or less) likely to project broad-scale, climate-induced shifts in species ranges? Ecological Modelling 342:135-146.

R. Lanfear, X. Hua, and D.L. Warren. 2016. Estimating the effective sample size of tree topologies from Bayesian phylogenetic analyses. Genome Biology and Evolution. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evw171

A. Dornburg, C. Lippi, S. Federman, J.A. Moore, *D.L. Warren*, T.L. Iglesias, M.C. Brandley, G.C. Watkins-Colwell, A.D. Lamb, and A. Jones. 2016 *.* Disentangling the influence of urbanization and invasion on endemic reptiles in Tropical biodiversity hotspots: A case study of Phyllodactylus martini along an urban gradient in Curaçao. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 57:147-164.

Cardillo, M., and D.L. Warren. 2016.Analyzing patterns of spatial and niche overlap among species at multiple resolutions. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25:951-963.

Mainali, K.P., D.L. Warren, K. Dhileepan, A. McConnachie, L. Strathie, G. Hassan, D. Karki, B.B. Shrestha,  and C. Parmesan. 2015. Projecting future expansion of invasive species: Comparing and improving methodologies. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13038

Hua, X., P. Cowman, D.L. Warren, and L Bromham. 2015. Longevity is linked to mitochondrial mutation rates in rockfish: a test using Poisson regression. Mol. Biol. Evol. Early version available online. doi:

Iglesias, T.L., A. Dornburg, M.C. Brandley, M.E. Alfaro, and D.L. Warren. 2015. Life in the unthinking depths: energetic constraints on encephalization in marine fishes.  J. Evo. Bio 28:1080-1090. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12631

Warren, D.L., M. Cardillo, D.F. Rosauer, and D.I. Bolnick. 2014. Mistaking geography for biology: inferring processes from species distributions*.*Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29 (10), 572-580. doi:

Dr. Aidin Niamir

Research interests
Fascinated by diversity and dynamics of life on Earth, my current work mainly focuses on spatiotemporal predictive distribution models, application of earth observation in biodiversity and ecosystem studies, and open geo-information tools for to support science-policy interactions. I am interested to understand global patterns of life and the associated underlying drivers. I, therefore, extensively develop spatio-temporal models and improve their performance and reliability in particular applications.

Main Projects

IPBES, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, is an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012. It provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people, as well as the tools and methods to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets. IPBES mission is to strengthen knowledge foundations for better policy through science, for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development. For more information visit www.ipbes.net
GEOEssential, Variables Workflows for Resource Efficiency and Environmental Management, is one of the four ERA-Planet projects, supported by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme. GEOEssential aims to strengthen the European Research Area by evaluating existing structures and platforms, and by providing new applications in the field of Earth Observation (EO) to monitor the progresses in environmental conditions towards policy targets. It will create cross-thematic workflows to evaluate, predict and monitor natural resources with Earth Observation tools, in particular in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), IPBES, and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Our institute leads the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning work package. In close collaboration with other institutes, this work package will map the relevant data landscape and institutions, develop specific workflows for indicators, evaluate the application of EO products to inform dynamic models, review the exiting policy and reporting needs, and finally transfer the annotated processing services and workflows for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services to the GEOEssential project dashboard. For more information visit www.geoessential.eu

External Links

List of my publications on Google Scholar
Follow me on Twitter @AidinNiamir

Dr. Claus Weiland
Scientific Programmer Member of 'Data and Modelling Centre'

Research interests
• Metadata applications describing biological/biodiversity data 
• Integrative models using this data 
• High-performance computing in context of computational biology   

Short CV
2005 – 2010 Software developer, Senckenberg Library & HRZ Goethe University
2004 Dr.phil.nat, J.W.Goethe University Frankfurt
1998 – 2002 Research Assistant at Dept. Of Cell Biology & Neu-roscience JWG
1997 Diploma in Biology, J.W.Goethe University Frankfurt

Selected Publications
Weiland, C. Über Zeitverarbeitung in der MSO. Modellierung der neuronalen Prozesse in der Medialen Superioren Olive. PhD thesis Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt 2004

Weiland, C. A Multi-Threaded Solver for Auditory Computations in the MSO. Proceedings  of the First Congress of Alps Adria Acoustics Association, pp. 607-610, Portoroz 2003.

Weiland, C. A Network Model for the Functional Architecture of the Mammalian Medial Superior Olivary Nucleus. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 105, 1999.