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Fakultät für Biologie, Chemie und Geowissenschaften

Funktionelle und Tropische Pflanzenökologie - Prof. Dr. Bettina Engelbrecht

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Beendete Projekte


  • RAPID: The effect of an extreme El Nino event on tropical forest seedling regeneration

    Tropical forests are among the most diverse terrestrial ecosystems and they play a vital role in the global carbon and water cycle. How tropical forest species and communities will respond to global climate change remains a great source of uncertainty. Over much of the moist and wet tropics, anomalous yet periodic El Niño Southern Oscillation events are associated with reduced cloud cover, decreased rainfall, and severe drought. The seedling stage is a critical stage in the population dynamics and regeneration of trees, and is most sensitive to drought. We study the effects of one of the strongest El Niño events on record on tree seedling regeneration in tropical forests that span a pronounced rainfall gradient in central in Panama.

    at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute



  • Anthropogenic disturbance and key organisms of the regeneration dynamics in semiarid Caatinga - Brazil's threatened dry forest landscape

    The goal of this German-Brazilian research cooperation is to understand how anthropogenic disturbance (including decreases of rainfall through Global Change) influence biological communities and ecological interactions. Toward this aim, we examine three key organism groups: plants, soil crusts, and leaf-cutting ants and their interactions along gradients of anthropogenic disturbance and rainfall in the Caatinga, one of the most threatened biomes of South America.


  • Variation of plant drought tolerance in grasslands: effects on community assembly and ecosystem resilience

    Under conditions of climate change, water availability in temperate grasslands is projected to decrease, and extreme events – including droughts - to increase. A thorough understanding of species responses to drought, of the traits governing drought responses, and how they affect community assembly and ecosystem function is necessary for projections of consequences of climate change for the future. In this study, we comparatively assess whole-plant drought tolerance of 38 grassland species, and identify the key traits for differential drought responses, through directly linking physiological, anatomical and morphological traits that influence species water relations to the species’ drought tolerance.

    A project within the Biodiversity Exploratories, DFG Priority Programme 1374.



  • Differential drought sensitivity of tropical trees: a key for understanding the consequences of global change in the Brazilian Caatinga ecosystem

    The Caatinga Biome is a mosaic of seasonal tropical dry forests in the northeast of Brazil. It covers about 800,000 km2 and more than 23 million people live in the region. Caatingas have been heavily modified and at the same time, they experience extreme climatic conditions with very low rainfall, which is predicted to further decrease with climate change. Mechanisms that lead to the death of trees during drought remain poorly understood worldwide and are a research priority in view of widespread forest dieback.
    This project will provide the first insights into the differential susceptibility of tree species to drought in the Caatinga.

    Funded by BayLAT.


  • Quantifying tropical seedling responses to key resources
    Bettina Engelbrecht, Jim Dalling, Liza Comita, Ben Turner [Details]


  • Natural enemies, climate, and the maintenance of tropical tree diversity


  • Regional distribution patterns in tropical forest: direct and indirect consequences of drought periods
    Julian Gaviria, Delicia Pino Garay, Bettina Engelbrecht [Details]


  • How, why and where will tree species survive increasing pressure? Providing diagnosis and decision-making tools to attenuate the effect of global change on biodiversity in the Congo Basin forests

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