SBiKF_NWG_Fritz_Elefanten

SBiK-F Research Group

Geobiodiversity Research

Fundamental questions

How has the amazing diversity of life on Earth evolved, and what shapes diversity patterns through time and in space? The first question is at the centre of macroevolution, a discipline of biology and palaeontology that investigates speciation, extinction, and the evolution of species’ traits over long timescales (usually millions of years). The second question lies at the intersection of macroevolution with macroecology and biogeography, which study the (paleo-) ecology and the geographic distributions of species, higher taxa, and their traits on large spatial scales. Our research uses integrative approaches to address both questions and focuses on terrestrial vertebrates, in particular mammals and birds.

Integrative approaches

To understand the variation of diversity in species, higher taxa, and their traits across time and space, we investigate a broad range of topics, bringing together large-scale biogeographical, macroecological and macroevolutionary patterns to infer underlying mechanisms. We compile and synthesize large databases of the fossil record as well as on living taxa, particularly data that are gathered from preserved specimen in museum collections, public data resources, and literature mining, and that encompass species’ traits, geographic and stratigraphic occurrences, and phylogenetic relationships among organisms. Our research integrates methods across various disciplines, such as statistical and modelling tools commonly applied in paleontology and biology as well as macroecology and macroevolution.

Diverse research goals

We are a diverse group of bio- and geoscientists and utilize interdisciplinary approaches to identify potential environmental drivers of biodiversity dynamics, such as climate change, mountain building, and increasing human impacts through the so-called Anthropocene. Our goal is to learn from the past by studying the evolutionary history underlying present-day diversity patterns in relation to their abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic drivers, in order to improve projections of future biodiversity in a world increasingly dominated by humans.

Further information

For more information on our research and highlighted publications, see here. In the drop-down menus below, we provide a selection of links (also to our teaching activities at Goethe University Frankfurt), press releases, and our externally funded projects.

Our research contributes to the Senckenberg research fields Biodiversity and Climate and Biodiversity, Systematics and Evolution, in particular the research activities Geobiodiversity and Climate and Biogeography.

Links and selected press releases

Externally funded projects

Externally funded projects

2021 – 2026 Leibniz professorship for Dr. Susanne Fritz as cooperation professorship at Goethe University Frankfurt, granted to Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung in the Competition of the Leibniz Association 2018: “Geobiodiversity: assessing the impacts of mountain building and climate change on evolution and ecology of mammals and birds“

2020 – 2024 LOEWE Schwerpunkt (cooperative project grant by Hesse’s Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts) „VeWA – past hothouse climates as natural analogues of our high-CO2 future”, granted to Goethe University Frankfurt & Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (Dr. Susanne Fritz as Co-PI)

2019 – 2022 DFG (German Research Foundation) postdoctoral position granted to Dr. Shan Huang: „Late Cenozoic climatic impact on body size evolution in large mammals“

2014 – 2021 DFG (German Research Foundation) Emmy Noether research group granted to Dr. Susanne Fritz: “Macroevolution of climatic niches in birds”

2015 – 2019 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation postdoctoral fellowship granted to Dr. Shan Huang: “Biodiversity-environment association in space and time: How Cenozoic climate influenced large mammals in the Northern Hemisphere”