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:


For a full list of publications, please see my profile on Google Scholar

Schleuning, M., E.-L. Neuschulz, J. Albrecht, I. M. A. Bender, D. E. Bowler, D. M. Dehling, S. A. Fritz, C. Hof, T. Müller, L. Nowak, M. C. Sorensen, K. Böhning-Gaese , and W. D. Kissling (2020): Trait-based assessments of climate-change impacts on interacting species. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 35: 319-328

Bowler, D. E., H. Heldbjerg, A. D. de Jong, and K. Böhning-Gaese (2019): Long-term declines of European insectivorous bird populations and potential causes. Conservation Biology 33: 1120-1130.

Peters, M. K., A. Andreas Hemp, T. Appelhans, J. N. Becker, C. Behler, A. Classen, F. Detsch, A. Ensslin, S. W. Ferger, S. B. Frederiksen, F. Gebert, F. Gerschlauer, A. Gütlein, M. Helbig-Bonitz, C. Hemp, W. J. Kindeketa, A. Kühnel, A. V. Mayr, E. Mwangomo, C. Ngereza, H. K. Njovu1, I. Otte, H. Pabst, M. Renner, J. Röder, G. Rutten, D. Schellenberger Costa, Natalia Sierra-Cornejo, M. G. R. Vollstädt, H. I. Dulle, C. D. Eardley, K. M. Howell, A. Keller, R. S. Peters, A. Ssymank, V. Kakengi, J. Zhang, C. Bogner, K. Böhning-Gaese, R. Brandl, D. Hertel, B. Huwe, R. Kiese, M. Kleyer, Y. Kuzyakov, T. Nauss, M. Schleuning, M. Tschapka, M. Fischer, and I. Steffan-Dewenter (2019): Climate-land use interactions shape tropical mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Nature 568: 88-92

Hof, C., A. Voskamp, M. F. Biber, K. Böhning-Gaese, E. K. Engelhardt, A. Niamir, S. G. Willis, and T. Hickler (2018): Bioenergy cropland expansion may offset positive effects of climate change mitigation for global vertebrate diversity. PNAS 115: 13294-13299.

Albrecht, J., A. Classen, M. G. R. Vollstädt, A. Mayr, N. P. Mollel, D. Schellenberger Costa, H. I. Dulle, M. Fischer, A. Hemp, K. M. Howell, M. Kleyer, T. Nauss, M. K. Peters, M. Tschapka, I. Steffan-Dewenter, K. Böhning-Gaese , and M. Schleuning (2018): Plant and animal functional diversity drive mutualistic network assembly across an elevational gradient. Nature Communications 9: 3177.

Arbieu, U., C. Grünewald, B. Martín-López, M. Schleuning, and K. Böhning-Gaese (2018): Large mammal diversity matters for wildlife tourism in Southern African protected areas: insights for management . Ecosystem Services 31, Special Issue: 481-490 .

Tucker, M. A., K. Böhning-Gaese , …, T. Mueller (2018): Moving in the Anthropocene: Global reductions in terrestrial mammalian movements. Science 359: 466-469.

Bowler, D. E., C. Hof, P. Haase, I. Kröncke, O. Schweiger, R. Adrian, L. Baert, H.-G. Bauer, T. Blick, R. W. Brooker, W. Dekoninck, S. Domisch, R. Eckmann, F. Hendrickx, T. Hickler, S. Klotz, A. Kraberg, I. Kühn, S. Matesanz, A. Meschede, H. Neumann, B. O’Hara, D. J. Russell, A. F. Sell, M. Sonnewald, S. Stoll, A. Sundermann, O. Tackenberg, M. Türkay, F. Valladares, K. van Herk, R. van Klink, R. Vermeulen, K. Voigtländer, R. Wagner, E. Welk, M. Wiemers, K. H. Wiltshire, and K. Böhning-Gaese (2017): Cross- realm assessment of climate change impacts on species’ abundance trends. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1: 0067.

Peters, M. K., A. Hemp , T. Appelhans, C. Behler, A. Classen, F. Detsch, A. Ensslin, S. W. Ferger, S. B. Frederiksen, F. Gebert, M. Haas, M. Helbig-Bonitz, C. Hemp, W. J. Kindeketa, E. Mwangomo, C. Ngereza, I. Otte, J. Röder, G. Rutten, D. Schellenberger Costa, J. Tardanico, G. Zancolli, J. Deckert, C. D. Eardley, R. S. Peters, M.-O. Rödel, M. Schleuning, A. Ssymank, V. Kakengi, J. Zhang, K. Böhning-Gaese , R. Brandl, E. K. V. Kalko, M. Kleyer, T. Nauss, M. Tschapka, M. Fischer, I. Steffan-Dewenter (2016): Predictors of elevational biodiversity gradients change from single taxa to the multi-taxa community level. Nature Communications 7: 13736.

Schleuning, M., J. Fründ, O. Schweiger, E. Welk, J. Albrecht, M. Albrecht, M. Beil, G. Benadi, N. Blüthgen, H. Bruelheide, K. Böhning-Gaese , D. M. Dehling, C. F. Dormann, N. Exeler, N. Farwig, A. Harpke, T. Hickler, A. Kratochwil, M. Kuhlmann, I. Kühn, D. ​ Michez, S. Mudri-Stojnić, M. Plein, P. Rasmont, A. Schwabe, J. Settele, A. Vujić, C. Weiner, M. Wiemers, and C. Hof (2016): Ecological networks are more sensitive to plant than to animal extinction under climate change. Nature Communications 7: 13965 .

Fritz, S. A., J. T. Eronen, J. Schnitzler, C. Hof, C. M. Janis, A. Mulch, K. Böhning-Gaese , and C. H. Graham (2016): Twenty-million-year relationship between mammalian diversity and primary productivity. PNAS 113: 10908-10913.

Teitelbaum, C. S., S. J. Converse, W. F. Fagan, K. Böhning-Gaese , R. B. O’Hara, A. E. Lacy, and T. Mueller (2016): Experience drives innovation of new migration patterns in response to global change. Nature Communications 7:12793.

Neuschulz, E. L., T. Mueller, M. Schleuning, and K. Böhning-Gaese (2016): Pollination and seed dispersal are the most threatened processes of plant regeneration. Nature Scientific Reports : 29839.

Ferger, S., M. Schleuning, A. Hemp, K. M. Howell, and K. Böhning-Gaese (2014): Food resources and vegetation structure mediate climatic effects on species richness of birds. Global Ecology and Biogeography 23: 541-549.

Fritz, S. A., J. Schnitzler, J. T. Eronen, C. Hof, K. Böhning-Gaese , and C. H. Graham (2013): Diversity in time and space: wanted dead and alive. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28: 509-516.

Lenz, J., W. Fiedler, T. Caprano, W. Friedrichs, B. H. Gaese, M. Wikelski, and K. Böhning-Gaese (2011): Seed dispersal distributions by trumpeter hornbills in fragmented landscapes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278 : 2257 – 2264 .

Jetz, W., C. H. Sekercioglu, and K. Böhning-Gaese (2008): The worldwide variation in avian clutch size across species and space. PLOS Biology e303, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060303 .

Kissling, W. D., C. Rahbek, and K. Böhning-Gaese (2007): F ood plant diversity as broad-scale determinant of avian frugivore richness. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274: 799-808.

Böhning-Gaese, K. , T. Caprano, K. van Ewijk, and M. Veith (2006): Range size: disentangling current traits and phylogenetic and biogeographic factors. American Naturalist 167: 555-567.

Böhning-Gaese, K. (1997): Determinants of avian species richness at different spatial scales. Journal of Biogeography 24: 49-60.