Felix May


Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Department of Ecological Modelling

Permoserstr. 15
04318 Leipzig


Felix May


Plant community dynamics: In my research I seek understanding of the dynamics in species rich plant communities such as tropical forests or semi-natural grassland communities. I am interested in the fundamental questions how species and functional diversity are generated and maintained in these ecosystems. With respect to applied science, I strive for improved models to predict the response of plant communities to environmental drivers, such as fragmentation, land use and climate.

Model-data integration: To address these questions I develop and apply spatial and dynamic simulation models, e.g. individual-based models or metacommunity models. For model validation and predictions I am interested in statistical methods to combine simulation models with empirical data, e.g. Bayesian analysis or pattern oriented modelling.

Trait-based plant ecology: I consider the focus on plant functional traits as a promising approach to acquire general knowledge that is not restricted to specific locations and plant assemblages. I think that trait-based community models facilitate the incorporation of ecological and physiological processes and foster the mechanistic understanding of species coexistence as well as of species responses to environmental drivers.


  • Towards a unified spatial theory of biodiversity  Spatiodiversity ERC grant
  • Shifts of plant diversity and functional traits in a heterogeneous semi-arid landscape
  • Trait-based modelling of small-scale grassland community dynamics


Courses for the graduate school HIGRADE

  • Generalized and linear mixed effects models in R
  • Introduction to statistical data analysis in R
HIGRADE Statistics and Methods

Earlier courses at University Potsdam

  • Individual-based ecological modelling
  • Plant population biology and data analysis
  • Conservation biology
  • Lectures on “Climate change and conservation biology” and “Ecology of plant communities”


Curriculum Vitae

since 2015 Post-Doc at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Biodiversity Synthesis Research Group
2012 − 2015
Post-Doc at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Department of Ecological Modelling
2008 – 2013 PhD-student at University Potsdam
  • Department of Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation
  • Title of the dissertation: „Spatial models of plant diversity and plant functional traits – towards a better understanding of plant community dynamics in fragmented landscapes“ PDF of the dissertation
2000 - 2008 Geo-ecology at University Potsdam
  • Title of the thesis: “Modelling coexistence of plant functional types in grassland communities: the role of above- and below-ground competition” PDF of the thesis (1.8 MB)
  • Main subjects: Modelling in ecology and hydrology, plant ecology and conservation biology

Detailed CV (67.5 KB)