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.

Coming soon...

The next iDiv Sabbatical Call will be launched in November 2021.

Current iDiv Sabbatical Fellows

Prof Erik Hom

Hosted by Nicole van Dam, Antonis Chatzinotas, Volker Grimm, Stan Harpole, Georg Pohnert, Anja Widdig, Christian Wilhelm and Severin Sasso

Of Sloths and Franken-Lichens: Elucidating the Biodiversity, Chemical Ecology, and Physiology of Algal Polycultures

The sabbatical research will consist of 2 parts aimed at elucidating:

  1. the biodiversity and chemical ecology of the algae-containing sloth fur microbiome, and
  2. the chemical ecology and physiological responses of symbiotic partners in synthetic fungal-algal symbioses or “franken-lichens.”

With iDiv collaborators will be determined the chemical cues produced by algal polycultures derived from sloth fur that may shape sloth-arthropod interactions, and explored the theories to explain the unusually rich biodiversity associated with the sloth fur ecosystem. Also the capacity for franken-lichens to cryptically or cooperatively synthesize compounds as a holobiont will be investigated. The goal is to develop a more complete understanding of the mechanisms driving sloth ecology and microbiome diversity, as well as the early evolution, ecology, and phylogenetic breadth of plant-microbe symbioses.

Prof Cynthia Chang

Hosted by Stan Harpole, Emma Ladouceur, Ingolf Kühn and Christiane Roscher

Placing ecological succession in applied global change and restoration context

The goal of this project is to place succession theory in context with applied ecology research, critical in this time of rapid global change. A synthesis study will be explicitly comparing community change patterns between long-term natural succession studies to restoration and global change experiments. First, a database of long-term natural succession studies will be built and this research will be synthesized to understand community change patterns across disturbance types and severity. Explicitly these community responses will be compared to those found in restoration and global change studies.

Future iDiv Sabbatical Fellows

Prof 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.

Prof 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.

Prof 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.

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 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


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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 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 Lenore Fahrig (Carleton University)

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


download (PDF)

Prof Angélica González (Rutgers University)

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


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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


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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


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Prof Patti Vitt (Chicago Botanic Garden)

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



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