Grasender Kaffernbüffel (Syncerus caffer)
An African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) grazing the Amboseli Swamp: a highly diverse, fragile ecosystem in the dry savannas of southern Kenya which is sustained by the rains falling on the neighbouring Mount Kilimanjaro.

Biodiversity and Climate

The loss of biodiversity and climate change count amongst the greatest challenges of the era. These factors exercise a mutual influence on each other. This means that, in order to be able to understand them properly, research activities must take both factors into account.

One of its kind: Biodiversity in focus

This is exactly what the research area “Biodiversity and Climate” is concerned with. Scientists from almost all Senckenberg institutes are contributing to this research area; the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Centre is at its core. The focus of their fundamental biological, geoscientific and social scientific research is always placed on biodiversity. This combination is unique on both national and international levels. 

Three main research topics

Our research focusing on  “Geobiodiversity and Climate” is dedicated to studying the interactions between processes on the earth’s surface, climate, and ecosystems on different time geological and ecological time scales. Another focus of our research is “Genomic Evolution and Climate” in which we investigate how climate shapes the genomes of organisms, what role the environment plays in species interactions and genomic evolution. Last but not least we study “Ecosystem Services and Climate” in which we examine the mutual effects and interactions of society and biodiversity in the context of climate change.  

Wide range of methods and scales

Our researchers use a wide variety of different methods in order to investigate these research questions. These range from geological analysis, palaeontological excavations, remote sensing and field work as well as molecular-biological analysis and laboratory experiments up to large-scale climate and vegetation modelling and methods used in the social sciences. In this way, we can document and analyse events and processes, both those taking place now as well as in the past.

A new approach: service and consultancy for decision makers

On the basis of the research findings and models we are in a position to make forecasts about future developments. These in turn provide a scientific basis for decisions made by politicians and the society. In view of the huge significance of climate and biodiversity change for our society and economy, this kind of information is currently in great demand and of high relevance.


Prof. Dr. Katrin Böhning-Gaese
Director Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Head of Research Group Community Ecology and Macroecology

RESEARCH INTERESTS: Macroecology, community ecology and Social-Ecological Systems

  • Influence of global change on animal communities in the tropics and in the temperate region
  • Relationships between animal communities, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services
  • Relationships between biodiversity and human well-being in Social-Ecological Systems

TEACHING: Courses at Goethe University Frankfurt in the MSc Ecology and Evolution and in the BSc Biology

MSc Ecology and Evolution and MSc Environmental Sciences: module “Community ecology, Makroökologie und Naturschutz”

  • Content: The module includes an introductory lecture, seminars on current scientific publications, and computer and field practicals. It gives an overview about theory, statistical methods and applications of community ecology and macroecology, as well as consequences for regional and global conservation prioritisation. The module includes an ornithological fieldwork practical outside Frankfurt (duration 1 week). 
  • Contact: Susanne Fritz, Phone: +49 (0)69 7542 1803 E-Mail:

BSc Biology: specialisation module “Ökologie der Tiere” (animal ecology) – part “Makroökologie – Einfluss des Klimawandels auf Artverbreitungen” (macroecology – influence of climate change on species distributions)

  • Content: In our part of the module we investigate the potential effects of climate change on the distributions of different European bird species. We use species distribution models to project potential distributions of birds in dependency of climate scenarios for the end of the 21st century.
  • Contact: Thomas Müller, Phone: +49 (0)69 7542 1889 E-Mail: