Ecological Plant Geography
The research group Ecological Plant Geography studies the ecology of plants from the level of the individual (Ecophysiology, funtional Ecology) to the ecosystem (community ecology, spatial ecology). We are particularly interested in studying how spatial distribution patterns of functional plant groups, e.g. epiphytes, trees, or poikilohydric plants like bryophytes, can be explained and predicted based on their physiological, physoignomical, and ecological characteristics and on biotic interactions.
Central questions include:
- Where and why do plant groups reach their distributional limits?
- How do such limit change when conditions, e.g. the climate, changes?
- What role do plant-plant interactions play in determining the dynamics of plant distributional boundaries?
Our favorite study systems are located in mountains and in the tropics and include the alpine treeline, epiphytic plants and bryophytes (mosses and liverworts).
- Ecology and ecophysiology of alpine treelines (1 finished and 3 current projects, PhD students: Hannah Loranger, Nishtha Prakash, Lirey Ramirez, Lukas Flinspach)
- Climate-change effects on tropical bryophytes (1 finished and 2 current projects, PhD students: Elodie Moureau, Nada Nikolic, Postdoc: Monica Berdugo)
- Elevational gradients in bryophyte diversity and functional composition (1 current project, PhD student: Eyvar Rodríguez)
- Climate and plant-trait effects on plant productivity and litter decomposition (1 current project, PhD student: Rafaella Canessa)
- Life on a leaf: community dynamics of epiphylls (1 finished project, Postdoc: Anna Mezaka)
- Islands in the sky: island biogeography of epiphytes as spider habitats (1 finished project, Postdoc: Francisco Mendez)
- Bryophyte functional-trait relationships (1 finished project, Postdoc: Wang Zhe)
- Ecological roles of epiphytes in cloud-forest ecosystems (1 finished project, PhD student: Diana Gómez)
- Interactions among alpine plants (1 finished project, PhD student: Carolina García)