Dr Bettina Ohse


Research interests


In my research, I explore various drivers of forest ecosystem dynamics as well as consequences of biodiversity on forest ecosystem functioning. Trees are very long-lived organisms and hence face a multitude of challenges across their life-time, such as climate change, herbivory, nitrogen deposition, or impacts from forest management. I am interested in how these drivers affect trees as well as forest biodiversity and structure, and how such changes alter forest ecosystem functioning.

In my past projects, I have explored

  • Climate change effects on growth responses of arctic treeline trees as main driver of boreal forest dynamics (using dendro-ecological methods)
  • Tree-mammal interactions in forests – in particular, responses of tree saplings to deer browsing and the role of sapling diversity for deer foraging choices, using forest inventory data as well as a multi-tree-species and multi-trait experiment
  • Biodiversity effects on forest multifunctionality and how this relationship is driven by environmental context
  • Effects of global change and forest management on population characteristics and individual traits of forest herbs

Thus, my work encompasses different scales, from single leaf traits to continental patterns of multifunctionality, and from responses to herbivory within a few hours to climate responses across centuries.

Currently, as part of the Global Woody Demography project, I investigate the patterns and peculiarities of tree species demography worldwide as well as the potential of demographic data and approaches to inform tree species conservation and forest management.

Research profile

CV / Scientific career


Since Nov 2020
PostDoc – Spatial Interaction Ecology research group, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, Germany

2018–2020 (parental part time)
PostDoc – Landscape Ecology research group, Institute of Ecology, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

2013–2018 (incl. 9 months parental leave)
PhD candidate – Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity research group, Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig, Germany
Title of the Dissertation: „Mutual influences of tree saplings and mammalian herbivores in temperate mixed deciduous forests – A functional biodiversity approach” (Supervisor: Prof. Christian Wirth)

Research Assistant – Nature Conservation and Landscape Planning research group, Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology, University of Göttingen, Germany

Dec 2010
Diploma in Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation, University of Greifswald
Title of the Diploma thesis: „Climatic and environmental influences on recent tree line dynamics in Alaska” (Supervisor: Prof. Martin Wilmking)

Visiting student – Department of Forest Sciences and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, USA (12 months)

Diploma studies (BSc & MSc equivalent) in Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation, Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, University of Greifswald, Germany

Scholarships and Awards


Jan 2019 – Dissertation Award of the Research Academy Leipzig

Dec 2016 – Best Paper Award of the Wilhelm Pfeffer Foundation, German Society for Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG)

2013 – 2016 Dissertation  Fellowship of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, DBU)

2007 – 2008 Study Abroad Scholarship of the Ev. Studienwerk Villigst

2007 – 2008 Study Abroad Travel Grant of the Fulbright Commission

2007 – 2010 Student Scholarship of the Ev. Studienwerk Villigst





Fichtner A, Härdtle W, Matthies D, Arnold V, Erfmeier A, Hemke T, Jansen D, Lütt S, Schmidt M, Sturm K, von Oheimb G & Ohse B (2020) Safeguarding the rare woodland species Gagea spathacea: Understanding habitat requirements is not sufficient. Plant Species Biology 35, 120-129, DOI: 10.1111/1442-1984.12264

Ammer C, Fichtner A, Fischer F, Gossner MM, Meyer P, Seidl R, Thomas FM, Annighöfer P, Kreyling J, Ohse B, …[16 more co-authors] (2018) Key ecological research questions for Central European forests. Basic and Applied Ecology 32, 3-25, DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2018.07.006

van der Plas A, Ratcliffe S, Ruiz-Benito P, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Verheyen K, Wirth C, Zavala M, et al. …Ohse B, … [60 more co-authors], Fischer M, Gamfeldt L, Allan E (2018): Continental mapping of forest ecosystem functions reveals a high but unrealized potential for forest multifunctionality. Ecology Letters, 21 (1), 31-42, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12868

Ratcliffe S, Wirth C, Jucker T, van der Plas F, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Verheyen K, Allan E, Benavides R, Bruelheide H, Ohse B, et al. … [41 more co-authors], Baeten L (2017) Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning relations in European forests depend on environmental context. Ecology Letters, 20(11): 1414-1426, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12849

Ohse , Seele C, Holzwarth F, Wirth C (2017) Different facets of tree sapling diversity influence browsing intensity by roe deer dependent on spatial scale. Ecology and Evolution, 7 (17), 6779–6789, DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3217

Ohse B, Hammerbacher A, Seele C, Meldau S, Reichelt M, Ortmann S, Wirth C. (2017) Salivary cues: Simulated roe deer browsing induces systemic changes in phytohormones and defense chemistry in wild-grown maple and beech saplings. Functional Ecology, 31 (2), 340-349, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12717

Ohse B, Jansen F, Wilmking M (2012) Do limiting factors at Alaskan treelines shift with climatic regimes? Environmental Research Letters, 7(1), DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/1/015505

Ohse B, Huettmann F, Ickert-Bond SM, Juday GP (2009) Modeling the distribution of white spruce (Picea glauca) for Alaska with high accuracy: an open access role-model for predicting tree species in last remaining wilderness areas. Polar Biology, 32, 1717-1729.


Bürger-Arndt R, Ohse B, Meyer K, Höltermann A (2012) Ökosystemdienstleistungen von Wäldern. Workshopbericht, Internationale Naturschutzakademie Vilm, 16.-19. November 2011.- BfN Skripten 320, Bonn-Bad-Godesberg, 142 S.

Icon address

Puschstrasse 4
04103 Leipzig

Icon roomnumber


Icon phone
+49 341 9739144
Icon institutes

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ

Share this site on:
iDiv is a research centre of theDFG Logo