I am interested in large-scale evolutionary, paleontological, biogeographic, and (paleo-)ecological patterns, their relationships with the abiotic environment in time and space, and the processes underlying these patterns and relationships. I have worked on ecology, evolution and conservation of mammals, amphibians and birds. Particularly since the establishment of my own research group (Emmy Noether fellowship of the German Research Foundation DFG), my research focuses on macroevolution, macroecology, and biogeography of living and fossil birds and mammals. Since starting my professorship at Goethe University Frankfurt I increasingly develop interdisciplinary research in cooperation with experts in the reconstruction of paleoclimate and Earth surface dynamics, with the goal of understanding the effects of climate change and mountain building on biodiversity dynamics.
Full list of publications [PDF]
More about my research
Editorial Board member at Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, since 2017
Subject Editor at Ecography, since 2014
Associate Editor at Frontiers of Biogeography, since 2013
Substitute member of the Examination Board for BSc and MSc in Geosciences at Goethe University Frankfurt, since 2021
Elected member of the Scientific Committee of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, 2021-2024
Board member, Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences sDiv at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research iDiv, Leipzig, Germany, 2018-2020
Teaching at Goethe University Frankfurt
Please see my university webpage for more information
Since 2021 Professor for Geobiodiversity Resarch at the Institut für Geowissenschaften, Fachbereich Geowissenschaften / Geographie, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt; Leibniz Professorship in cooperation with Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung
2014-2021 Emmy Noether research group leader, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre & Fachbereich Biowissenschaften, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
2011-2014 Postdoctoral researcher, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) & Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt, Germany
2009-2011 Postdoctoral researcher, Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
2009 PhD degree, Imperial College London, UK. Thesis „Comparative analyses of extinction risk in vertebrates”
2006-2009 Marie Curie Early-Stage Researcher at Imperial College London. EU FP6 project „HOTSPOTS – Understanding and conserving the Earth’s biodiversity hotspots”
1999-2005 Diplom in Biology, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Germany
Biodiversity – Macroecology & Macroevolution
I am interested in understanding broad-scale biodiversity dynamics, in space and time, particularly the dramatic temporal and spatial variation in different aspects of biodiversity. I investigate the processes underlying biodiversity patterns, with an emphasis on the role of history in shaping global and regional biota, including evolutionary history of the organisms and historical environmental transitions (e.g. landscape evolution and paleoclimate change).
I take an interdisciplinary approach to research by synthesising large datasets from ecology, evolution, palaeontology, geoscience, etc. I also integrate knowledge from studying various organismal systems, including terrestrial mammals, marine bivalves, and parasites.
Funded by a DFG Eigene Stelle grant, my current work combines cross-continent paleontological and neontological data of terrestrial large mammals to investigate the macroevolution of body size in relation to ecological functions and environmental transitions.
See more on my Research website.
2012 PhD University of Georgia, USA
2006 MSc Imperial College London, UK
2015-2019 Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow, Senckenberg Biodiversity & Climate Research Centre, Germany
2012-2005 Postdoctoral scholar, University of Chicago, USA
See more on my full CV.
Song, H., Huang, S., Jia, E., Dai, X., Wignall, P. B., Dunhill, A. M., (2020). “Flat latitudinal diversity gradient caused by the Permo-Triassic mass extinction”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. URL: https: //doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1918953117.
Teitelbaum, C. S., Amoroso, C. R., Huang, S., Davies, T. J., Rushmore, J., Drake, J. M., Stephens, P. R., Byers, J. E., Majewska, A. A., Nunn, C. L., (2020). “A comparison of diversity estimators applied to a database of host- parasite associations”. Ecography. URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05143.
Huang, S., Meijers, M. J., Eyres, A., Mulch, A., Fritz, S. A., (2019). “Unravelling the history of biodiversity in moun- tain ranges through integrating geology and biogeography”. Journal of Biogeography 46.8, pp. 1777–1791. URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13622.
Edie, S. M., Huang, S., Collins, K. S., Roy, K., Jablonski, D., (2018). “Loss of biodiversity dimensions through shifting climates and ancient mass extinctions”. Integrative and Comparative Biology 58.6, pp. 1179–1190. URL: https: //doi.org/10.1093/icb/icy111.
Huang, S., Eronen, J. T., Janis, C. M., Saarinen, J. J., Silvestro, D., Fritz, S. A., (2017). “Mammal body size evolution in North America and Europe over 20 Myr: similar trends generated by different processes”. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284, p. 20162361. URL: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.2361.
I am a geologist interested in dating sedimentary records and reconstructing terrestrial paleo-environments, especially during warm greenhouse periods such as the Eocene. These terrestrial records are key in providing constraints on dust fluxes and precipitation in the past, especially when accurately dated by using magneto- and cyclostratigraphy. I employ a variety of sedimentological tools such as grain-size distributions and surface textures to track mineral dust and aridification in the geological record (as described in Meijer et al., 2020; Earth-Sci. Rev.). Furthermore, I am using stable and clumped isotopes to reconstruct temperature as well as precipitation and study their role in driving biotic changes.
Continental Paleoclimate and Biodiversity Evolution
The continental basins in the north-western US provide a rich fossil mammal record marked by multiple shifts in biodiversity during the Eocene period. I aim to reconstruct the climatic evolution of the Paleogene basins in Idaho and Montana by using stable and clumped isotopes to understand the links between climate and mammal biodiversity.
East Asian monsoons during the Eocene
Monsoons are a characteristic feature of the modern-day Asian climate, yet their geological history remains debated. I have dated sedimentary records from the Xining Basin in central China using magnetostratigraphy to study the evolution of the monsoons during the Eocene period. I use various sedimentological, geochemical and palynological proxies to track atmospheric moisture and dust storms to study the evolution of the monsoons and westerlies.
Duration of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM)
The PETM is arguably the most famous and well-studied climatic event in Earth’s history and serves as an analogue for future global warming. This hyperthermal event has been recorded in the orbitally-forced terrestrial deposits of the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming US, at high-resolution which enabled improved estimates on the duration of the PETM.
2020-current: Postdoc at Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt, Germany
2015-2020: University of Potsdam, Germany, Geosciences, Ph.D.
2013-2015: Utrecht University, the Netherlands, Earth Sciences, M.Sc.
2010-2013: Utrecht University, the Netherlands, Earth Sciences, B.Sc.
My research interests are mainly focused around the conservation of biodiversity and, in particular, assessing the impacts of environmental change on species distributions and diversity patterns. So far, my research has comprised different aspects of conservation work, from modelling a single species distribution, with the aim to support conservation actions, to global conservation assessments. My recent work has been largely focused on assessing the impacts of climate and land-use change on terrestrial vertebrate distributions, ranging from potential changes in global biodiversity patterns to changes in local species community compositions. Currently I am working on a project in collaboration with the Frankfurt Zoological Society to identify global sites of conservation interest, that have a high potential for successful long-term conservation.
Short CV [PDF]
The diverse and complex ways in which species interact with their biotic and abiotic environment have always fascinated me. I am particularly curious to understand how functional traits shape biotic interactions and how they influence species’ responses to their environment. My work at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre puts this into the perspective of recent climate change. Specifically, I am addressing three main questions. First, I am interested in potential effects of climate change on the functional diversity of interacting species. Second, I aim at quantifying the dispersal capacity of fleshy-fruited plants under climate change based on functional traits. Finally, I am interested in relationships between traits that influence species’ sensitivity to climate change and their adaptive capacity. I am studying this based on data on birds and plants from a highly diverse elevational gradient in the Manú Biosphere Reserve in the Andes of southeast Peru. Hopefully, my work will help to advance our understanding of the relationships between functional traits, species’ abiotic and biotic interactions, and ecosystem functions in a changing world.
- Functional traits
- Biotic interactions
- Seed dispersal
- Ecosystem functioning
- Climate change
Nowak, L., Kissling, W. D., Bender, I. M. A., Dehling, D. M., Töpfer, T., Böhning‐Gaese, K., & Schleuning, M. (2019). Projecting consequences of global warming for the functional diversity of fleshy‐fruited plants and frugivorous birds along a tropical elevational gradient. Diversity and Distributions, 25, 1362-1374.
Schleuning, M., Neuschulz, E. L., Albrecht, J., Bender, I. M., Bowler, D. E., Dehling, D. M., Fritz, S. A., Hof, C., Mueller, T., Nowak, L., Sorensen, M. C., Böhning‐Gaese, K., & Kissling, W. D. (2020). Trait-based assessments of climate-change impacts on interacting Species. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 35, 319-328.
Bender, I. M. A., Kissling, W. D.,Blendinger, P. G., Böhning‐Gaese, K., Hensen I., Kühn, I., Muñoz, M. C., Neuschulz, E. L. , Nowak, L., Quitián, M., Saavedra, F., Santillán, V., Töpfer, T., Wiegand, T., Dehling, D. M., & Schleuning, M. (2018). Morphological trait matching shapes plant–frugivore networks across the Andes. Ecography, 41, 1910-1919.
Dugger, P. J., Blendinger, P. G., Böhning‐Gaese, K., Chama, L., Correia, M., Dehling, D. M., Emer, C., Farwig, N., Fricke E. C., Galetti, M., García, D., Grass, I., Heleno, R., Jacomassa, F. A. F., Moraes, S., Moran, Catherine,Muñoz, M. C., Neuschulz, E. L., Nowak, L. , Piratelli, A., Pizo, M. A., Quitián, M., Rogers, H. S., Ruggera, R. A., Saavedra, F., Sánchez, M. S., Sánchez, R., Santillán, V., Schabo, D. G., Ribeiro da Silva, F., Timóteo, S., Traveset, A., Vollstädt, M. G. R., & Schleuning, M. (2018). Seed‐dispersal networks are more specialized in the Neotropics than in the Afrotropics. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 28, 248-261.