Ulrike Hiltner


Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Department of Ecological Modelling

Permoserstr. 15
04318 Leipzig

Building 1.0, Room 225

Tel.: +49 341 235-1723
Fax: +49 341 235-451723

Ulrike Hiltner


  • My major fields of study are Physical Geography, Ecosystem Modelling, Data Science, Dendroecology, and Forestry.

  • In my current work as environmental researcher, I focus on forest ecosystems. I develop and apply simulation models to investigate crucial mechanisms in forests that influence the structure, dynamics and ecosystem services. The references to natural systems I derive from field data. Important subjects of my research are: tree growth, spatio-temporal dynamics and community interactions, effects of climate change and forest management, as well as resilience and resistance to stress.

  • In addition, I am also interested in data scientific methods which are helpful for the development of models and the analysis of simulation results. Their combination with field data, and their use to better understand and predict the dynamics and structure of (forest) ecosystems is what my studies are about.

Predicting the impact of forest management and climate change on forest ecosystems

Ecosystem services of forests, such as biomass productivity but also the supply of timber, are of particular interest for me. Forests help to stabilize the global climate as they fix carbon in their biomass. However, there is a potential for vulnerability. Disturbances, such as continuous climate change and logging activity, affect the forests’ sensitive balance to varying degrees. If, as a result, forest degradation or even land use change into agricultural land occurs, this will bring further negative feedback loops which may affect other ecosystem services.

Identifying which forest management strategies are sustainable in times of climate change is of global relevance. This ensures that forest ecosystems and resources remain stable in the future. In order to achieve these goals, decision-makers should be able to weigh up reasonable trade-offs between ecological and economic alternatives to forest use. Finding a consensus is often difficult because non-linear, interactive processes within forest ecosystems under additional influences of various environmental factors make predictions difficult. Simulation models can be used to test a wide range of options for action, respectively. For my investigations, I use the forest model FORMIND to quantify the long-term effects of different forest management strategies on forest growth in the context of climate change.


  • Hiltner, U., Huth, A., Bräuning, A., Hérault, B., Fischer, R., (2018):
    Simulation of succession in a neotropical forest: High selective logging intensities prolong the recovery times of ecosystem functions
    For. Ecol. Manage. 430 , 517 - 525
    full text (url)
  • Hiltner, U., Bräuning, A., Gebrekirstos, A., Huth, A., Fischer, R., (2016):
    Impacts of precipitation variability on the dynamics of a dry tropical montane forest
    Ecol. Model. 320 , 92 - 101
    full text (url)


Since 02/2016 PhD student at the UFZ
01/2014-01/2016 Research assistant in the field of ecological modelling at the UFZ
04/2011-12/2013 MSc in Physical Geography at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg
Master’s Thesis on ecological modelling and dendroecology: “Climatic control and simulation of forest growth in a tropical montane forest in Ethiopia”
08/2009-06/2013 Student assistant in the dendro-laboratory at the Institute of Geography, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg
10/2007-03/2011 BSc in Physical Geography at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg
Bachelor’s Thesis on dendroecology: “Climate-growth correlation of Pinus kochiana at a tree line site in the Greater Caucasus, Georgia