Ecology of Semi-arid Regions

Festuca pallescens Parodi steppes in Patagonia. The degradation due to overgrazing was not recognized due to the higly variable rainfall. Picture: Sandro Pütz.

(Semi-)Arid regions are characterised by highly variable and unpredictable rainfall. The livelihood of at least one billion people depends on the use of this land. With the help of modelling, we aim to improve the general understanding how processes such as spatially and temporally variable rainfall and interactions between species and land use influence the dynamics of (semi-)arid regions (e.g. in South Africa, Namibia, Argentina (Patagonia), Morocco, China (Eastern Tibetan Plateau), Australia). In particular our research focuses on:

  • The structure and long-term dynamics of vegetation in (semi-)arid grasslands and savannas subject to variable rainfall and grazing.
  • Emergence of patterns and resilience in savannas.
  • Developing a mechanistic understanding of degradation and desertification processes by exploring the interactions among climatic drivers and human impacts on demographic processes of key species in (semi-)arid ecosystems.
  • Ecological and economic strategies for risk management in and long-term sustainable use of semi-arid lands in the face of highly stochastic environmental conditions and global change.

Selected Publications

  • Zimmermann, J., Higgins, S.I., Grimm, V., Hoffmann, J., Münkemüller, T. & Linstädter, A. (2008) Recruitment filters in a perennial grassland: the interactive roles of fire, competitors, moisture and seed availability. Journal of Ecology Vol. 96, No. 5. pp. 1033-1044.
  • Müller, B., Linstädter, A., Frank, K., Bollig, M., Wissel, C. (2007):
    Learning from local knowledge: modeling the pastoral-nomadic range management of the Himba, Namibia
    Ecol.Appl. 17 (7), 1857-1875
  • Pütz, S. (2006):
    Long-term impact grazing on vegetation under stochastic climate: a cross-scale simulation study
    Dissertation, Universität Potsdam
    PhD Dissertation 07/2006Leipzig, 160 S., ISSN 1860-0387
  • Wiegand, T., Snyman, H. A., Kellner, K., Paruelo, J. M. (2004):
    Do grasslands have a memory: modeling phytomass production of a semiarid South African grassland
    Ecosystems 7 (3), 243-258
  • Groeneveld, J., Enright, N. J., Lamont, B. B., Wissel, C. (2002):
    A spatial model of coexistence among three Banksia species along a topographic gradient in fire-prone shrublands
    J.Ecol. 90 (5), 762-774
  • More publications




Joint SESYNC-UFZ-sDiv Call for Synthesis Proposals on “Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services”

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