Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Gutianshan [(c) Christian Ristok]

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Sylvia Haider

Assistant professor

I’m a vegetation ecologist with a broad range of research interests, including the fields of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships, trait-based ecology, biogeography, global change ecology and biological invasions. I’m co-chairing the Mountain Invasion Research Network (MIREN), where we established a long-term ecological monitoring of plant diversity along elevational gradients worldwide, with a particular focus on the effects of species invasions and human-induced disturbance. Further, I’m a member of TreeDì, our Sino-German graduate school, where we study tree-tree interactions to better understand the drivers of functional traits and trait variation, and how traits mediate ecosystem functions.

Andrea Galmán

Postdoctoral researcher

I am a plant ecologist interested in understanding how plant chemical diversity, phylogenetic relatedness and abiotic factors shape plant biotic interactions. During my PhD research, I studied elevational gradients in plant-insect herbivory interactions using oak species as a study system. Now with my postdoctoral project " Darwin´s Naturalization Conundrum rEvisited"  I have expanded my field of study to community ecology to explore the mechanisms by which alien plant species succeed in novel environments. My passion for nature goes beyond research. In my free time, I enjoy doing any outdoor activity in the mountain or the sea. On rainy days I enjoy painting botanical watercolors in the company of my cats.

Meike Buhaly

Doctoral researcher

My primary interests lie in the impacts of climate change on plant community diversity and functional traits and how these findings may improve our understanding of future shifts in species ranges. I am currently working as a PhD student within the RangeX project using data from MIREN (Mountain Invasion Research Network) to determine how taxonomic and functional beta diversity within and between plant communities are changing over time and across elevational gradients. My goal is to better understand current species’ trajectories to be able to predict how ecosystems may function in the future. Outside this project, I’m also interested in forest ecology (mixed stand development), hiking, and playing ultimate frisbee.

Pablo Castro

Doctoral researcher

I am interested in the importance of trait variation at fine scales (within species and within individuals) in local coexistence and community assembly, with special focus on leaf traits. Specifically, in my PhD I am studying the changes of intra-specific trait variation and intra-individual trait variation in response to local tree diversity in temperate and subtropical forests. For that, I am measuring a set of different morphological and chemical properties of leaves in Biodiversity-Ecosystem functioning experiments in China and Germany. Furthermore, as not everything in life is science, in my free time I try to go back to my natural habitat, mountains, where you can find me hiking or climbing.

Andréa Davrinche

Doctoral researcher

Generally enthusiastic about plant diversity, physiology and adaptation to stresses, I am in particular interested in the insights plant functional traits can provide for understanding ecosystems properties.

With a background in ecophysiology and ecology, I am now working as part of the international research group TreeDì (BEF-China). I use leaf traits to disentangle diversity-related mechanisms at local scales, focusing on tree-tree interactions. I specifically look at within-tree trait responses to changing species richness and soil conditions in subtropical China. While always eager to go to the field, I also use the convenience of greenhouse experiment to answer my research questions.

When not talking about plants, you can find me attempting to recreate some culinary wonder of Chinese cooking.

Tobias Proß

Doctoral researcher

Amanda Ratier Backes

Postdoctoral researcher

I am interested in understanding plant diversity and the factors influencing vegetation changes along environmental gradients, for example in mountain regions. In my PhD project I have investigated the drivers behind the species richness pattern along the southern slopes of mount Teide in Tenerife, Canary Islands. For that I looked into leaf functional traits and how they are affected by different drivers. I also investigated if intraspecific trait variability might explain a plant’s ability to survive under the changing conditions in mountains, comparing native and non-native species. Coming from the ecotone region between the Pampa grasslands and the Atlantic forest, mountains have become my new favorite habitat where you find so many vegetation types close together! For the future, I would love to integrate art and science communication as a way to bring people closer to nature.

Anna Bittner

Master student

Leana Meder

Bachelor student

I am interested in factors shaping plant communities along environmental gradients. For my Bachelor thesis I am currently investigating the influence of non-native species and disturbance on plant communities along an elevational gradient in two regions: in the Czech Republic and Norway. For that, I use plant functional leaf traits and evaluate them in line with the leaf economics spectrum.
As a student helper I am involved in sampling and processing mostly leaf, but also root samples. In line with this I have already contributed to several sampling campaigns of greenhouse or outdoor experiments, such as the Jena experiment, NutNet, MyDiv or the large scale greenhouse experiment conducted in Halle in 2019 and 2020 as part of the TreeDì graduate school.
In my freetime one can mostly find me sitting in admiration in front of my aroid greenhouse cabinet, inhaling books (which luckily also works while having a look at the greenhouse cabinet) or – in non-covid-situations – visiting concerts.

Tilo Monjau

Master student

Diversity is awesome- may it be in seasons, plants, animals, landscapes or persons. Master student currently working on the impact of diversity and mycorrhiza types on functional leaf traits at individual scale.

I love the fieldwork and enjoy spending time in the nature, following several passions from sailing, bushcrafting up to winter sports and tabletennis. With a special interest for uncommon animals and a special love for tree ferns. Originally shifted from zoological morphology to plant ecology, and it’s great!

Let’s see what is coming down the road, learning never stops.

Larissa Frey

Student assistant

My main interests include the soil environment within an ecosystem, especially plant-soil interactions, but also matterial flow and nutrient cycles. Currently, I am working on my master's thesis, investigating the influence of soil properties and land use on plant communities.  I am eager to learn more about how ecosystems respond to changing climate. I am fascinated by mountains, boreal and arctic environments and would like to continue research in this area in the future.

Carolin Schaub

Student assistant

I am interested in how climate warming affects plants and ecosystems and what changes may be caused by it. In my bachelor thesis, I evaluated a transplantation experiment that was done in montane meadows and focused on species composition, functional traits and diversity.