Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System

Team

Head

Mitarbeiterfoto
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 help us understand how climate change and land-use influence ecosystems, diversity and ecosystem services, and to help develop strategies for the sustainable use of natural resources.

CURRENT PROJECTS 

Biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Earth system

South African Limpopo Landscapes Network (SALLnet)

Ecosystem Management Support for Climate Change in Southern Africa (EMSAfrica

Extenal Links

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

PUBLICATIONS 

Selected publications (link to full publication list):

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 Conservation241, 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. Biogeosciences17, 1147-1167. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-1147-2020

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 Economics157, 342-356.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.11.015

Pfeiffer, Mirjam; Langan, Liam; Linstädter, Anja; Martens, Carola; Gaillard, Camille; Ruppert, Jan; Higgins, Steven; Mudongo, Edwin; Scheiter, Simon (2019) Grazing and aridity reduce perennial grass abundance in semi-arid rangelands – insights from a trait-based dynamic vegetation model. Ecological Modelling395, 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 Biogeography45, 2815-2826.https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13447

Langan, L., Higgins, S.I., 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 Phytologist205, 1211-1226. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.13130

Scheiter, S., Langan, L., Higgins S.I. (2013): Next generation dynamic global vegetation models: learning from community ecology. New Phytologist198, 957-969. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.12210

Higgins S.I., Scheiter, S. (2012): Atmospheric CO2 forces abrupt vegetation shifts locally, but not globally. Nature488, 209-212. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11238

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

RESEARCH INTERESTS

I have a background in geoecology and am strongly interested in the processes that connect biotic and abiotic components of the Earth System. My aim is to quantitatively describe and model these processes, with a specific focus on vegetation dynamics and vegetation-related processes. I strive to improve how these are modeled in dynamic vegetation models, to understand how vegetation dynamics connects to processes in other spheres of the Earth system, and to assess the connection between vegetation dynamics and the provision of ecosystem services to humans. My research includes work on fire-vegetation interactions approached from a modeling perspective, but also from a paleo-perspective based on proxy-reconstructions. I am also an expert on the trait-based model representation of African savanna ecosystems, where I am interested in research questions revolving around interactions between woody and non-woody vegetation, grazing, fire, and nutrient cycling.

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

I am currently involved as a postdoctoral researcher in the BMBF-funded South African Limpopo Landscapes Network (SALLnet), one of the terrestrial projects in the SPACES initiative.

PUBLICATIONS

Feurdean, A., Vannière, B., Finsinger, W., Warren, D., Connor, S. C., Forrest, M., Liakka, J., Panait, A., Werner, C., Andrič, M., Bobek, P., Carter, V. A., Davis, B., Diaconu, A.-C., Dietze, E., Feeser, I., Florescu, G., Gałka, M., Giesecke, T., Jahns, S., Jamrichová, E., Kajukało, K., Kaplan, J., Karpińska-Kołaczek, M., Kołaczek, P., Kuneš, P., Kupriyanov, D., Lamentowicz, M., Lemmen, C., Magyari, E. K., Marcisz, K., Marinova, E., Niamir, A., Novenko, E., Obremska, M., Pędziszewska, A., Pfeiffer, M., Poska, A., Rösch, M., Słowiński, M., Stančikaitė, M., Szal, M., Święta-Musznicka, J., Tanţău, I., Theuerkauf, M., Tonkov, S., Valkó, O., Vassiljev, J., Veski, S., Vincze, I., Wacnik, A., Wiethold, J., and Hickler, T.: Fire hazard modulation by long-term dynamics in land cover and dominant forest type in eastern and central Europe, Biogeosciences, 17, 1213–1230, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-1213-2020, 2020.

 

Scheiter, S., Moncrieff, G. R., Pfeiffer, M., and Higgins, S. I.: 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, 2020.

 

Kumar, D., Pfeiffer, M., Gaillard, C., Langan, L., Martens, C. and Scheiter, S.: 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, 2020.

 

Feurdean, A., Tonkov, S., Pfeiffer, M., Panait, A., Warren, D., Vannière, B. and Marinova, E.: Fire frequency and intensity associated with functional traits of dominant forest type in the Balkans during the Holocene. European Journal of Forest Research, 138,1049–1066, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10342-019-01223-0, 2019.

 

Pfeiffer, M., Langan, L., Linstädter, A., Martens, C., Gaillard, C., Ruppert, J. C., Higgins, S. I., Mudongo, E. and Scheiter, S.: 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, 2019.

 

Scheiter, S., Schulte, J., Pfeiffer, M., Martens, C., Erasmus, B. F. N. and Twine, W. C.: 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, 2019.

 

Gaillard, C., Langan, L., Pfeiffer, M., Kumar, D., Martens, C., Higgins, S. I., and Scheiter, S.: African shrub distribution emerges via a trade-off between height and sapwood conductivity, Journal of Biogeography, 45, 1–12, https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13447, 2018.

 

Scheiter, S., Gaillard, C., Martens, C., Erasmus, B. F. N., and Pfeiffer, M.: How vulnerable are ecosystems in the Limpopo province to climate change?, South African Journal of Botany, 116, 86–95, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2018.02.394, 2018.

 

Feurdean, A., Veski, S., Florescu, G., Vannière, B., Pfeiffer, M., O’Hara, R., Stivrins, N., Amon, L., Heinsalu, A., Vassiljev, J., and Hickler, T.: Broadleaf deciduous forest counterbalanced the direct effect of climate on Holocene fire regime in hemiboreal/boreal region (NE Europe), Quaternary Science Reviews, 169, 378–390, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.05.024, 2017.

 

Feurdean, A., Florescu, G., Vannière, B., Tanţău, I., O’Hara, R., Pfeiffer, M., Hutchinson, S. M., Gałka, M., Moskal-del Hoyo, M., and Hickler, T.: Fire has been an important driver of forest dynamics in the Carpathian Mountains during the Holocene, Forest Ecology and Management, 389, 15–26, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2016.11.046.

 

Kaplan, J. O., Pfeiffer, M., Kolen, J. C. A. and Davis, B. A. S.: Large Scale Anthropogenic Reduction of Forest Cover in Last Glacial Maximum Europe, PLoS ONE 11, e0166726. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0166726, 2016.

 

Murray, L. T., Mickley, L. J., Kaplan, J. O., Sofen, E. D., Pfeiffer, M., and Alexander, B.: Factors controlling variability in the oxidative capacity of the troposphere since the Last Glacial Maximum, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3589–3622, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-14-3589-2014, 2014.

 

Pfeiffer, M., van Leeuwen, J., van der Knaap, W. I., and Kaplan, J. O.: The effect of abrupt climatic warming on biogeochemical cycling and N2O emissions in a terrestrial ecosystem, 391, Part B, 74–83, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.06.015, 2013.

 

Pfeiffer, M., and Spessa, A., and Kaplan, J. O.: A model for global biomass burning in preindustrial time: LPJ-Lmfire (v1.0), Geoscientific Model Development, 6, 643-685, https://doi:10.5194/gmd-6-643-2013, 2013.

Dushyant Kumar
Doktorand
Ph.D. student, Member of Emmy Noether Research Group 'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System'

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My interest is to understand various ecosystem processes with a focus on terrestrial vegetation, the carbon and water cycles, and their interactions with climate change. I have also worked with hydrological models to estimate the impact of climate and land-use change on runoff. While doing my Ph. D. project, my focus is to study and understand climate-vegetation interactions at different spatial and temporal scales with the help of process-based ecosystem models. As a part of my current research, I work with the aDGVM2, a dynamic vegetation model and simulate vegetation dynamics in tropical Asia. To achieve these goals, I strive to improve the representation of the ecological functions and processes by including new traits and trade-off relationships to model different plant growth forms and vegetation types. A detailed representation of vegetation dynamics in the model improves the simulation of vegetation distribution and diversity under different climate change and management scenarios. I use this model to simulate the distribution of vegetation patterns and investigate climate change impacts on plant-trait diversity in South Asia to identify the vulnerable ecosystems that would require conservation and protection.

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

I am currently a member of the DFG funded project ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System’.

PUBLICATIONS

Scheiter, S., Kumar, D., Corlett, R.T., Gaillard, C., Langan, L., Lapuz, R.S., Martens, C., Pfeiffer, M. and Kyle, T.W. (2020), Climate change promotes transitions to tall evergreen vegetation in tropical Asia. Glob Change Biol. Accepted. (https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15217).

 

Kumar, D., Pfeiffer, M., Gaillard, C., Langan, L., and Scheiter, S. (2020), Climate change and elevated CO2 favor forest over savanna under different future scenarios in South Asia, Biogeosciences Discuss., (https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-169), in review, 2020.

 

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)

 

Kumar, D. & Scheiter, S. (2019). Biome diversity in South Asia-How can we improve vegetation models to understand global change impact at regional level? Science of The Total Environment, 671, 1001–1016. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.03.251)

 

Gaillard, C., Langan, L., Pfeiffer, M., Kumar, D., Martens, C., Higgins, S.I. & 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)

Mitarbeiterfoto
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).

Carola Martens
Ph.D. student, Member of Research Group 'Quantitative Biogeography'

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My research interests involve the field of climate-vegetation interactions and human influences. This matches well with the BMBF-funded SPACES project EMSAfrica (Ecosystem Management Support for Climate Change in Southern Africa). EMSAfrica focuses on the effects of natural disturbances, such as the impacts of land-use and climate change on the structure and functioning of South African terrestrial ecosystems. It also focuses on the production of information relevant to ecosystem management in the region.  Within the scope of this project I am working with the dynamic vegetation models (DVMs) aDGVM and aDGVM2 with a focus on Southern African vegetation changes. By using DVMs, I would like to detect changes in ecosystems and identify areas that require special attention in ecosystem management. Thus, I can contribute to protecting and maintaining biodiversity in vulnerable ecosystems.

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

EMSAfrica – Ecosystem Management Support for Climate Change in Southern Africa

CV

Kumar, D., Pfeiffer, M., Gaillard, C., Langan, L., Martens, C. and Scheiter, S.: 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, 2020.

 

Pfeiffer, M., Langan, L., Linstädter, A., Martens, C., Gaillard, C., Ruppert, J. C., Higgins, S. I., Mudongo, E. and Scheiter, S.: 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, 2019.

 

Scheiter, S., Schulte, J., Pfeiffer, M., Martens, C., Erasmus, B. F. N. and Twine, W. C.: 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, 2019.

 

Gaillard, C., Langan, L., Pfeiffer, M., Kumar, D., Martens, C., Higgins, S. I., and Scheiter, S.: African shrub distribution emerges via a trade-off between height and sapwood conductivity, Journal of Biogeography, 45, 1–12, https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13447, 2018.

 

Scheiter, S., Gaillard, C., Martens, C., Erasmus, B. F. N., and Pfeiffer, M.: How vulnerable are ecosystems in the Limpopo province to climate change?, South African Journal of Botany, 116, 86–95, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2018.02.394, 2018.

 

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

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My main research interest is to understand how ecosystems around the world change due to global change, including natural and anthropogenic factors. I am interested in changes in land cover and land use, vegetation composition and diversity, carbon storage, fire regimes, and their interactions and impacts on climate, as well as the consequences thereof and their influence on society. Modelling and understanding global fire occurrence have been my main research interests over the last years. Fire is an important agent of ecosystem change in many regions but also poses major risks for society, including the direct loss of property and lives, poor air quality, and changes ecosystem structure and functioning, e.g. it reduces the forest cover and vegetation carbon storage. Models are an important tool in summarizing our current understanding and they offer the possibility to be one step ahead of what can be measured. Because of this, I believe that vegetation models will become increasingly important to support decision making in ecosystem management. Many of the processes included in vegetation models are not yet well understood or not well constrained. I therefore use approaches that let me integrate information from observations with process-based model simulations. The methods I apply range from model evaluation with simple descriptive statistics to machine learning algorithms and hybrid modelling. My goal with these data analyses is to understand how models can and need to be improved and to develop an understanding of the uncertainty in both models and observations.

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

Interactions between fire, vegetation, and climate (DFG own position)

Fire in the future: interactions with ecosystems and society (coordination and collaboration with KIT, TU Vienna, and BOKU Vienna)

FireMIP (website to be moved from KIT to Senckenberg soon)

Link to ResearchGate

Link to Google Scholar

PUBLICATIONS (selected)

Teckentrup, L., Harrison, S. P., Hantson, S., Heil, A., Melton, J. R., Forrest, M., Li, F., Yue, C., Arneth, A., Hickler, T., Sitch, S. and Lasslop, G.: Response of simulated burned area to historical changes in environmental and anthropogenic factors: a comparison of seven fire models, Biogeosciences, 16(19), 3883–3910, doi:10.5194/bg-16-3883-2019, 2019.

Lasslop, G., Coppola, A. I., Voulgarakis, A., Yue, C. and Veraverbeke, S.: Influence of Fire on the Carbon Cycle and Climate, Curr. Clim. Chang. Reports, 5(2), 112–123, doi:10.1007/s40641-019-00128-9, 2019.

Forkel, M., Andela, N., Harrison, S. P., Lasslop, G., van Marle, M., Chuvieco, E., Dorigo, W., Forrest, M., Hantson, S., Heil, A., Li, F., Melton, J., Sitch, S., Yue, C. and Arneth, A.: Emergent relationships with respect to burned area in global satellite observations and fire-enabled vegetation models, Biogeosciences, 16(1), 57–76, doi:10.5194/bg-16-57-2019, 2019.

Lasslop, G., Brovkin, V., Reick, C. H., Bathiany, S. and Kloster, S.: Multiple stable states of tree cover in a global land surface model due to a fire-vegetation feedback, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43(12), 6324–6331, doi:10.1002/2016GL069365, 2016.

Andela, N., Morton, D. C., Giglio, L., Chen, Y., van der Werf, G. R., Kasibhatla, P. S., DeFries, R. S., Collatz, G. J., Hantson, S., Kloster, S., Bachelet, D., Forrest, M., Lasslop, G., Li, F., Mangeon, S., Melton, J. R., Yue, C. and Randerson, J. T.: A human-driven decline in global burned area, Science (80-. )., 356(6345), 1356–1362, doi:10.1126/science.aal4108, 2017.

Hantson, S., Scheffer, M., Pueyo, S., Xu, C., Lasslop, G., Van Nes, E. H., Holmgren, M. and Mendelsohn, J.: Rare, Intense, Big fires dominate the global tropics under drier conditions, Sci. Rep., 7(1), doi:10.1038/s41598-017-14654-9, 2017.

Lasslop, G., Thonicke, K. and Kloster, S.: SPITFIRE within the MPI Earth system model: Model development and evaluation, J. Adv. Model. Earth Syst., 6(3), 740–755, 2014.

Camille Gaillard
Doktorand
Ph.D. student, Member of Emmy Noether Research Group 'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Earth System'