Prof. Dr. Thomas Hickler
Professor for Biogeography, Head of Senckenberg 'Data and Modelling Centre', Head of Research Group 'Biogeography and Ecosystem Ecology', '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'


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 and temporal scales ranging from millions of years ago to the next century.  I am particularly interested in the effects and feedbacks of fire in the Earth system.



Fire in the Earth System – I am 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. As part of this work I am a coordinator of the Fire Model Intercomparison Project (FireMIP, website to be moved from KIT to Senckenberg soon)


Coupling LPJ-GUESS to an Atmospheric Chemistry enabled GCM – I am also working on a combined modelling framework which couplies LPJ-GUESS to the EMAC atmospheric chemistry model utilizing the MESSy interface.  This work will enable the investigation of many atmosphere-biosphere interactions and feedback including tracing gas emissions from vegetation and fire, changing vegetation structure and function, tropospheric ozone damage to plants, and Nitrogen fertilization and emissions.


DGVMTools – an R-package of tools for reading, processing, analyzing, and plotting output dynamic global vegetation models.

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



Google Scholar


Forrest, M., Tost, H., Lelieveld, J., & Hickler, T. (2020). Including vegetation dynamics in an atmospheric chemistry-enabled general circulation model: linking LPJ-GUESS (v4.0) with the EMAC modelling system (v2.53). Geoscientific Model Development, 13(3), 1285–1309.


Feurdean, A., … Forrest, M., …  & Hickler, T. (2020). Fire hazard modulation by long-term dynamics in land cover and dominant forest type in eastern and central Europe. Biogeosciences, 17(5), 1213–1230.


Teckentrup, L., Harrison, S. P., Hantson, S., Heil, A., Melton, J. R., 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(19), 3883–3910.


Andela, N., Morton, D. C., Giglio, L., Chen, Y., Werf, G. R. van der, 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., & Randerson, J. T. (2017). A human-driven decline in global burned area. Science, 356(6345), 1356–1362.


Hantson, S., Arneth, A., Harrison, S. P., Kelley, D. I., Prentice, I. C., Rabin, S. S., Archibald, S., Mouillot, F., Arnold, S. R., Artaxo, P., Bachelet, D., Ciais, P., Forrest, M., Friedlingstein, P., Hickler, T., Kaplan, J. O., Kloster, S., Knorr, W., Lasslop, G., Li, F., Mangeon, S., Melton, J. R., Meyn, A., Sitch, S., Spessa, A., van der Werf, G. R., Voulgarakis, A., & Yue, C. (2016).   The status and challenge of global fire modelling. Biogeosciences, 13(11), 3359–3375.


Forrest, M., Eronen, J. T., Utescher, T., Knorr, G., Stepanek, C., Lohmann, G., & Hickler, T. (2015). Climate-vegetation modelling and fossil plant data suggest low atmospheric CO2 in the late Miocene. Clim. Past, 11(12), 1701–1732.

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


Warren DL, Matzke NJ, Iglesias TL. 2020. Evaluating presence‐only species distribution models with discrimination accuracy is uninformative for many applications. Journal of biogeography 47: 167–180.

Feurdean A, Vanniere B, Finsinger W, Warren D, Connor SC, Forrest M, Liakka J, Panait A, Werner C, Andric M, Bobek P, Carter VA, Davis B, Diaconu A-C, Dietze E, Feeser I, Florescu G, Galka M, Giesecke T, Jahns S, Jamrichova E, Kajukalo K, Kaplan J, Karpinska-Kolaczek M, Kolaczek P, Kunes P, Kupriyanov D, Lamentowicz M, Lemmen C, Magyari EK, Marcisz K, Marinova E, Niamir A, Novenko E, Obremska M, Pedziszewska A, Pfeiffer M, Poska A, Roesch M, Slowinski M, Stancikaite M, Szal M, Swieta-Musznicka J, Tantau I, Theuerkauf M, Tonkov S, Valko O, Vassiljev J, Veski S, Vincze I, et al. 2020. Fire hazard modulation by long-term dynamics in land cover and dominant forest type in eastern and central Europe. Biogeosciences  17: 18.

Feurdean A, Tonkov S, Pfeiffer M, Panait A, Warren D, Vannière B, Marinova E. 2019. 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.

Hertel AG, Leclerc M, Warren D, Pelletier F, Zedrosser A, Mueller T. 2019. Don’t poke the bear: using tracking data to quantify behavioural syndromes in elusive wildlife. Animal behaviour 147: 91–104.

Saeedi H, Costello MJ, Warren D, Brandt A. 2019. Latitudinal and bathymetrical species richness patterns in the NW Pacific and adjacent Arctic Ocean. Scientific reports 9: 9303.

Smith AB, Godsoe W, Rodríguez-Sánchez F, Wang H-H, Warren D. 2019. Niche Estimation Above and Below the Species Level. Trends in ecology & evolution 34: 260–273.

Warren DL, Matzke NJ, Cardillo M, Baumgartner J, Beaumont L, Huron N, Simões M, Iglesias T, Dinnage R. 2019. danlwarren/ENMTools: Initial beta release. Zenodo. doi: 10.5281/ZENODO.3268814.

Warren DL, Beaumont LJ, Dinnage R, Baumgartner JB. 2019. New methods for measuring ENM breadth and overlap in environmental space. Ecography 42: 444–446 doi: 10.1111/ecog.03900.

Iglesias TL, Dornburg A, Warren DL, Wainwright PC, Schmitz L, Economo EP. 2018. Eyes Wide Shut: the impact of dim-light vision on neural investment in marine teleosts. Journal of evolutionary biology 31: 1082–1092.

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
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

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.

Theresa Stratmann
Ph.D. Student, Member of Research Group 'Movement Ecology'



My research interest is in conservation biology and how we can use math and modeling to make better decisions regarding conservation. While studying my master’s degree I used bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) as a case study for how we can resource-efficiently locate and survey rare and elusive species. This work combined species distribution modeling and intensive field work in close collaboration with state wildlife agencies in the United States to give me first-hand experience into what it means to conserve species at ground-level. For my Ph. D. I am changing my focus to examine how movement affects population dynamics in highly mobile animals. My study system is the Eastern Steppe of Mongolia and the nomadic Mongolian Gazelles (Procapra gutturosa). I will simulate this system by programming an herbivore-vegetation model. To do this I am combining expertise from the two working groups I am involved in. I am a part of Thomas Müller’s group, whose focus is on movement ecology and conservation, and Thomas Hickler’s group, whose focus is on vegetation modeling and effects of climate change. We hope this modeling approach will help us better understand how important mobility is to long-term population persistence of animals living in unpredictable and dynamic landscapes.

Past Projects:

B.S. Ecology, Minor Mathematics, summa cum laude,  The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA,  (Lab of Dr. John Maerz: click here)

M.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Biology,  Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA,  (Lab of Dr. Kyle Barrett: click here)



My work is part of the BMBF project MoreStep which brings together social and ecological sciences to identify societal drivers that can lead to an ecological tipping point of the Mongolian steppe ecosystem. Our role is to use the herbivore-vegetation model to examine the importance of movement in maintaining sustainable numbers of wild and domestic herbivores. The model will also be used to disentangle the effects of climate and grazing on vegetation. 



Stratmann, T. S. M., T. Floyd, and K. Barrett (2020): Habitat and History Influence Abundance of Bog Turtles. The Journal of Wildlife Management 84(2):331–343. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21793


Nandintsetseg, D., C. Bracis, … , T. Stratmann, and T. Mueller. Challenges in the conservation of wide-ranging nomadic species. Journal of Applied Ecology. 56(8): 1916-1926.

Check out the animation I made for the paper here.


Stratmann, T. S. M., T. Floyd, and K. Barrett (2016): Locating suitable habitat for a rare species: evaluation of a species distribution model for Bog Turtles ( Glyptemys muhlenbergii) in the southeastern United States. Herpetological Conservation and Biology. 11(1): 199-213.


Munscher, E., A. Walde, T. S. M. Stratmann, and B. Butterfield (2015): Exceptional Growth Rates Observed in Immature Pseudemys from a Protected Spring System in Florida. Herpetology Notes. 8: 133-140.


Pierson, T., T. S. M. Stratmann, E. White, A. Clause, C. Carter, M. Herr, A. Jenkins, H. Vogel, M. Knoerr, and B. Folt (2014): New County Records of Amphibians and Reptiles Resulting from a Bioblitz Competition in North-Central Georgia, USA. Herpetological Review. 45(2): 296-297.


Floyd, T.M., T.S.M. Stratmann, G.J. Brown, III, and C.S. Pfaff (2013): Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis. Terrestrial Movement. Herpetological Review. 44:651.


Stratmann, T. and S. Pfaff (2011): Geographic Distribution Note for Lampropeltis elapsoides. Herpetological Review. 42(4):572-573.

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


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.



EMSAfrica – Ecosystem Management Support for Climate Change in Southern Africa


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,, 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,, 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,, 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,, 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,, 2018.