Hey my name is Katja, I’m 27 years old and I just started my PhD at the Biodiversity/Theoretical Ecology (Ecological Modelling) group at the Freie Universität Berlin.
In my project, I am going to investigate the impacts of wildlife management on functional plant composition and thereupon the impact on ecosystem functions and services. The aim is to assess the chances and risks of emerging wildlife-based management strategies under regional and global change in savanna systems.
By simulating the feedbacks between these plant traits to water fluxes and vegetation dynamics this study will then allow to link from plant traits and their diversity to ecosystem functions (e.g. biomass production, water fluxes) and services (e.g. carbon storage, water provision, forage production). The overall aim is then to assess how climate change modulates wildlife impacts on ecosystem properties.
Wildlife triggers highly complex feedbacks in ecosystems: Dependent on feeding preferences, it directly impacts the biomass of different plant functional types and thus indirectly impacts water, nutrient and carbon fluxes, which in turn alter local conditions for plant growth.
This is a classic consumer (wildlife) resource (plants) interaction model. I hope that this course will deepen my understanding of such interactions and I look forward to meeting other young, as well as accomplished scientists!