Emmy-Noether Young Research Group

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System

The basic supply of ecosystem goods and services such as food production, species richness or climate stabilization is necessary for mankind. However, many ecosystem services have been strongly degraded during recent decades due to the excessive exploitation of natural resources.

In our junior research group we focus on the impact of climate change on such ecosystem services as well as strategies for sustainable land management in order to maintain them. To do this, we develop and improve the model systems aDGVM and aDVGM2 which couple vegetation dynamics, functional diversity and ecosystem services as well as the impact of climate change and land use.

We use the new model approaches to study how vegetation, functional diversity, biome boundaries and ecosystem services respond to climate change and whether diversity influences the impact of climate change on vegetation. We further assess how land management influences ecosystem dynamics and we develop sustainable land use strategies for current and future climate conditions, using Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) storylines. Our focus is on tropical ecosystems of South America, Africa and Asia.


Selected Publications

Kumar D, Pfeiffer M, Gaillard C, Langan L, Martens C, Scheiter S. 2020. Misinterpretation of Asian savannas as degraded forest can mislead management and conservation policy under climate change. Biological Conservation 241: 108293 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108293

Scheiter S, Moncrieff GR, Pfeiffer M, Higgins SI. 2020. African biomes are most sensitive to changes in CO2 under recent and near-future CO2 conditions. Biogeosciences 17: 1147-1167 https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-1147-2020

Lasslop G, Coppola AI, Voulgarakis A, Yue C, Veraverbeke S. 2019. Influence of Fire on the Carbon Cycle and Climate. Current Climate Change Reports 5: 112–123 doi: 10.1007/s40641-019-00128-9

Teckentrup L, Harrison SP, Hantson S, Heil A, Melton JR, Forrest M, Li F, Yue C, Arneth A, Hickler T, Sitch S, Lasslop G. 2019. Response of simulated burned area to historical changes in environmental and anthropogenic factors: a comparison of seven fire models. Biogeosciences 16: 3883–3910 doi: 10.5194/bg-16-3883-2019.

Scheiter S, Schulte J, Pfeiffer M, Martens C, Erasmus BFN, Twine WC. 2019. How does climate change influence the economic value of ecosystem services in savanna rangelands?. Ecological Economics 157: 342-356 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.11.015

Pfeiffer M, Langan L, Linstädter A, Martens C, Gaillard C, Ruppert J, Higgins SI, Mudongo E, Scheiter S. 2019. Grazing and aridity reduce perennial grass abundance in semi-arid rangelands – insights from a trait-based dynamic vegetation model. Ecological Modelling 395: 11-22 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.12.013

Gaillard C, Langan L, Pfeiffer M, Kumar D, Martens C, Higgins SI, Scheiter S. (2018. African shrub distribution emerges via height – sapwood conductivity trade-off. Journal of Biogeography 45: 2815-2826 https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13447

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 Biogeography 44: 2319-2330 https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13018

Scheiter S, Higgins SI, Beringer J, Hutley LB. 2015. Climate change and long-term fire management impacts on Australian savannas. New Phytologist 205: 1211-1226 https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.13130

Scheiter S, Langan, L, Higgins SI. 2013. Next generation dynamic global vegetation models: learning from community ecology. New Phytologist 198: 957-969 https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.12210

Higgins SI, Scheiter S. 2012. Atmospheric CO2 forces abrupt vegetation shifts locally, but not globally. Nature 488: 209-212 https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11238