iDiv Sabbaticals

Interactions and scientific involvement of iDiv visiting scientists are central mechanisms which contribute to iDiv’s mission to be a leading biodiversity research centre. iDiv sabbatical researchers play an important role in contributing to the iDiv mission through their intellectual and social interactions, in which they share their vision, experience and passion for biodiversity research.

10th iDiv Sabbatical Call

The pre-proposal deadline has recently passed.

Current iDiv Sabbatical Fellows

Angela Peace

Hosted by Stan Harpole, Ulrich Brose and Helmut Hillebrand

Structured Population Dynamics Subject to Stoichiometric Constraints

Mathematically modeling essential elements and their interactions is one of the best tools we have to better understand our world. Ecological processes are naturally structured and depend on the flow and balance of essential elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus.  Food webs are structured networks of interacting trophic levels and organisms go through structured life stages. Throughout my sabbatical, I propose to theoretically explore ecological structures subject to stoichiometric constraints by integrating the field of structured population modeling with the theory of Ecological Stoichiometry. My collaborators and I will develop novel mathematical models that investigate how varying nutrient and light levels shape ecological structures and promote biodiversity, using dynamical systems theory to construct and analyze systems of differential equations. This research will yield new applications in theoretical ecology, strengthening its predictive power. Expected outcomes include at least two publications, computational codes for a public repository, and the initiation of new collaborations.

Fernando T. Maestre

Hosted by Nico Eisenhauer

Climate change impacts on dryland soil biodiversity and associated ecosystem functions from local to global scales

Ongoing climate change is having major impacts on the composition and diversity of biotic communities in terrestrial ecosystems. Given that crucial ecosystem functions, such as productivity, nutrient cycling and carbon storage, depend on biodiversity, changes in biodiversity associated to climate change are predicted to be accompanied by yet further extreme ecological events and potential catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. However, large uncertainty exists about how climate change-induced alterations in species composition and diversity will impact ecosystem functioning and the ability of ecosystems to provide goods and services. This is particularly true for dryland (arid, semiarid and dry-subhumid) ecosystems, as despite they cover over 45% of the terrestrial surface and host over 38% of the global population we are only starting to understand their unique biodiversity and its links to ecosystem functioning. This sabbatical aims to evaluate how soil biodiversity modulates the impacts of climate change on ecosystem functioning in drylands at multiple spatial scales (from local to global). I plan to integrate data on multiple trophic groups of soil organisms (bacteria, fungi, protists and nematodes) and ecosystem functions (proxies of primary productivity and nutrient cycling) from: i) ongoing climate change experiments being carried out in Spain and ii) standardized field surveys conducted in 236 drylands worldwide. The integration of fully comparable data (i.e. obtained in the same laboratory) from different experimental approaches, multiple biotic communities and spatial scales will allow a thorough evaluation of climate change impacts on soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and a wider generalization of the results obtained.

Future iDiv Sabbatical Fellows

Laura Lopez-Hoffman

Hosted by Karin Frank, Aletta Bonn, Marten Winter, Christian Kuhlicke, Henrique Pereira

Governing biodiversity across space:  Discovering principles of sustainability and equity for telecoupled social environmental systems

Socio-ecological systems are connected across space via telecouplings, such that social and ecological processes in one place affect biodiversity and human society in other parts of the globe. While we now have the scientific tools to recognize and quantify these connections, there is a critical need to create (and strengthen existing) governance systems that link ecological and societal outcomes in one location with management in other locations. Further, recent evidence suggests that over the long-term, ecologically-sustainable governance systems are also societally-equitable. My proposed sabbatical research at iDiv addresses this critical need through two specific aims:

AIM 1: Identify principles for equity and sustainability in the telecoupled governance of migratory species, by expanding my current research from North America with European case studies.

AIM 2: Identify generalizable principles for the design of sustainable and equitable telecoupled governance systems through synthesis of research findings with iDiv colleagues.

Olli Tahvonen

Hosted by Martin Quaas, Nadja Rüger, Christian Wirth, Andreas Huth and Andreas Sickert

Economics and optimal management strategies for biodiverse forests

Increasingly, forest managers, society, and policy makers pay attention to the multifunctionality of forests. The supply of multiple forest services to society depends on management choices and trade-offs between wood, carbon storage and biodiversity conservation and call for multidisciplinary system perspective and optimized forest management strategies. The sabbatical project builds on my extensive work in rigorous economic optimization of forestry and with its strong economic-ecological basis, multidisciplinarity and newest advance in solving complex large-scale optimization problems by machine learning methods it will contribute to iDiv research in this important field. In turn, I will greatly benefit from collaboration with iDiv’s experts in forest modeling, ecosystem multifunctionality, ecosystem services and -valuation, forestry, and biodiversity economics. The project will contribute to the ongoing public debate on forest policy-making in Germany and Europe. iDiv lectures will cover integrated economic-ecological modeling and applications to multifunctional forestry.

Roxibell del Carmen Pelayo Escalona

Hosted by Tiffany Knight

Ecological networks along altitudinal gradients in the Páramos in Venezuela

The plant reproductive ecology and plant-animal interactions are considered variables very sensitive to be affected by climatic changes. The plant-pollinator networks in Tropical Mountain from Venezuela could be very sensitive to the loss of component species because of their low nestedness, high levels of specialisation, endemism and functional complementarity. However, there are still large information gaps that need to be explored, for example, what processes are related to the network structures of these environments? The aims of my sabbatical stay are: i) to design an additional sampling of variables for plants and pollinators, for the phenology and pollination monitoring protocol of the GLORIA-Andes summits. ii) To apply these new measurements in the re-monitoring that must be carried out in the year 2023. iii) Analyze the available data on pollinators in elevational gradients on a global scale and analyze their structural patterns, with Prof Knight's team.

Sandra Cuartas

Hosted by Tiffany Knight

Meta-networks of species diversity and community pollination in the Andes of Colombia

The sabbatical is a very valuable opportunity to train myself in statistical analysis on several aspects of my own data of pollination networks in Andean forest. I expect to share with Prof Tiffany Knight and her team during the stay, to discuss about the optimal method to analyze the data and about the interpretation of results. The main goal of the research is to evaluate to what extent local networks in an Andean forest present a metanetwork structure and identify the combination of functional traits of the plant and insect species participating in central interactions (forming the metanetwork core). The expected products of sabbatical are 1) writing a journal article with the working group of Prof Knight about pollination metanetwoks in Andean forest and 2) processing an inter-institutional agreement to facilitate access to research fund calls and mobility of researchers and students among both institutions.

Madhusudan Katti

Hosted by Sonja Knapp, Marten Winter, Christine Fürst, Carsten Meyer, Aletta Bonn

The Role of Historical and Contemporary Socioeconomic, Racial, and Cultural Segregation in Structuring the Spatial Distribution of Nature and Biodiversity in Cities

The proposed sabbatical project will address how the social geography of cities, as shaped by historical and contemporary dynamics of culture, race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, and migration, influences the biogeography of nature and biodiversity in cities. This research will advance understanding of urban socio-ecological systems by more deeply integrating social and cultural processes into a global comparative analysis of cities. The project will develop new collaborations with a number of iDiv researchers, produce coauthored articles, and a book for a broader public. More broadly, the sabbatical will help me learn from the expertise and experience of my hosts and other iDiv scholars to both broaden and deepen the scope of my research and the book now in development. In addition to immersing in the scholarly discourse at iDiv, I will offer lectures, courses/workshops, co-organize conference sessions, and develop a Study Abroad course for North Carolina State University and iDiv students.

Past iDiv Sabbatical Fellows

Name (Affiliation)

Research project



Priyanga Amarasekare (University of California Los Angeles)

A framework for biodiversity maintenance: scaling up from modules to communities



Prof Stephanie Bohlman (University of Florida)

Linking biodiversity and demography through remote sensing of trait tradeoffs



Prof Cynthia Chang (University of Washington)Placing ecological succession in applied global change and restoration context2022 

Prof Douglas Chesters (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Phylogenetic integration of insect community data


download (PDF)

Prof David Currie (University of Ottawa)

A continental theory of biogeography: predicting geographic variation in species richness and range size


download (PDF)

Prof Rodolfo Dirzo (Stanford University)

Research on plant-herbivore interactions under climate change and collaborations on biodiversity science



Prof Robert Dunn (NC State University)

The Global Biogeography of Microbes and Mutualists Associated with Humans



Prof Lenore Fahrig (Carleton University)

Dissecting SLOSS: Why are there more species in several small than few large patches?


download (PDF)

Prof Benjamin Gilbert (University of Toronto)

Project 1 – Neutrality, Demographic stochasticity and ecological drift

Project 2 – Local interactions, Regional constraints, and multiple stable states


download (PDF)


Prof Angélica González (Rutgers University)

Understanding the interactive effects of temperature and nutrients on ecological processes: a meta-analysis


download (PDF)

Prof Erik Hom (University of Mississippi)Of Sloths and Franken-Lichens: Elucidating the Biodiversity, Chemical Ecology, and Physiology of Algal Polycultures2021 

Prof Christopher Klausmeier (Michigan State University)

Synthesizing Trait-Based Ecological Theory



Prof Jeremy Lichstein (University of Florida)

Plant functional diversity and forest ecosystem stability: insights from dynamic vegetation models



Prof Elena Litchman (Michigan State University)

Trait-based community patterns in microbes


download (PDF)

Fernando T. Maestre (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos)

Climate change impacts on dryland soil biodiversity and associated ecosystem functions from local to global scales



Prof George Perry (University of Auckland)

Reconstructing movement and emergent ecological functions for extinct animals



Prof Malin Pinski (Rutgers University)

Community response to changing temperatures  across marine, freshwater, and terrestrial realms


download (PDF)

Prof Patti Vitt (Chicago Botanic Garden)

Phylogenetic Endemism, Functional Trait Diversity and Conservation Status in the Orchidaceae: a Global Synthesis



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