Unser Team


Dr. Simon Scheiter
Senior scientist, Head of Emmy Noether Research Group 'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System'

Research interests

My primary research interest is to understand the interactions between vegetation, atmosphere and humans. Therefore, I develop and apply different modelling approaches, particularly process-based, dynamic vegetation models (DGVMs), to simulate ecosystem dynamics, biogeochemical cycles and diversity. Vegetation models are coupled with land use models to understand how climate chance and land use influence ecosystems, diversity and ecosystem services and to develop strategies for the sustainable use of natural resources.

Current Projects

Biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Earth system (DFG)
Limpopo Living Landscapes (LLL, BMBF SPACES initiative)
Adaptive Resilience of Southern African Ecosystems (Ars AfricaE, BMBF SPACES initiative)

Extenal Links

Researchgate Profile of Simon Scheiter
ResearcherID Profile of Simon Scheiter
aDGVM website

Short CV (download pdf)

Selected publications

Langan L; Higgins SI; Scheiter S (2017): Climate-biomes, pedo-biomes or pyro-biomes: which world view explains the tropical forest – savanna boundary in South America? JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY44, 2319-2330.

Scheiter, S.; Langan, L.; Higgins, S.I. (2013): Next generation dynamic global vegetation models: learning from community ecology. NEW PHYTOLOGIST198, 957-969. 

Higgins, S.I. & Scheiter, S. (2012) Atmospheric CO2 forces abrupt vegetation shifts locally, but not globally. NATURE488, 209-212. 

Scheiter, S. & Higgins, S.I. (2009): Impacts of climate change on the vegetation of Africa: an adaptive dynamic vegetation modelling approach (aDGVM). GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY15, 2224-2246. 

Scheiter, S. & Higgins, S.I. (2007): Partitioning of root and shoot competition and the stability of savannas. AMERICAN NATURALIST, 170, 587-601.

Full publication list (download pdf)

Dr. Gitta Lasslop
Researcher, DFG own position (DFG eigene Stelle), Member of Emmy Noether Research Group 'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System'

External Links

DFG Project ‚Interactions between fire, vegetation and climate‘ https://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/338130981?language=en

Profile on Researchgate https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gitta_Lasslop

Dr. Mirjam Pfeiffer
PostDoc, Member of Emmy Noether Research Group 'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System'

Research interests

I am interested in understanding processes, interactions and feedback mechanisms between biotic and abiotic components of the Earth system. In the past I have studied how changes in environmental conditions during an abrupt climate change event at the termination of the last glaciation impacted the terrestrial nitrogen cycle and the release of nitrous oxide from soils on a local to regional scale by combining a process-based biogeochemical model with a scenario of climate and vegetation change based on multiproxy data. I am also strongly interested in the role of natural and anthropogenic wildland fires and developed a new fire module for DGMVs that is particularly suited to investigate climate-human-fire relationships prior to the Industrial Revolution. In  my current research I am focusing on the feedback mechanisms between grazing, browsing, fire, wood extraction and savanna degradation in the Limpopo Province, South Africa using the aDGVM2. The target of this research is to define “optimal” livestock, fire management and fuel wood extraction strategies for the rangeland in this area that will contribute to define sustainable rangeland management practices at regional level for current and future conditions.


List of publications:

M. Pfeiffer and J. O. Kaplan. Response of terrestrial N2O and NOx emissions to abrupt climate  change. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science. 9(1). 012001, 2012, doi:10.1088/1755-1315/9/1/012001
M. Pfeiffer, J. van Leeuwen, W. O. van der Knaap, and J. O. Kaplan. The effect of abrupt climate  warming on biogeochemical cycling and terrestrial N2O emissions in a terrestrial  ecosystem. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 391, 74-83, doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.06.015, 2013

M. Pfeiffer, A. Spessa, and J. O. Kaplan. A model for global biomass burning in preindustrial time: LPJ-LMfire (v1.0): Geoscientific Model Development, 6, 643-685, doi:10.5194/gmd-6-643-2013, 2013
M. Pfeiffer and J. O. Kaplan. Europe’s LGM vegetation enigma: the role of fire, humans, and  climate. Manuscript in prep. for submission

L. T. Murray, L. J. Murray, J. O. Kaplan, E. D. Sofen, M. Pfeiffer, and B. Alexander. Factors  controlling variability in the oxidative capacity of the troposphere since the Last Glacial  Maximum: Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss. 13, 46 p., 2013, doi: 10.5194/acpd-13-24517-2013

Camille Gaillard
Dushyant Kumar
Dr. Liam Langan
PostDoc, Member of Emmy Noether Research Group 'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System'

Research interests

My studies have been long and varied. Having studied statistics at undergraduate and graduate levels I decided a change of direction was in order. After a very interesting year at the Department for the Environment and Nature in Berlin Lichtenberg I then went on to complete an M.Sc. in Biodiversity and Conservation. Currently I am “doing” my Ph.D. and am developing a novel model, the aDGVM2, an individual and trait based dynamic vegetation model where the composition of emergent plant communities results from natural selection on plant traits. It’s really very cool. See here (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.12210/full).