Start-up PostDocs

Niche separation in 3D: food competition and niche stratification in a sympatric bird community


Dr. Wiebke Ullmann

University of Potsdam

Plant Ecolgy and Nature Conservation

Am Mühlenberg 3

14476 Potsdam - Golm


+49 (0) 331 - 977 6250

wiebke.ullmann [at]



A significant part of the terrestrial surface is used for agricultural purposes. I am interested in the effects of the various different types of agricultural landscapes on biotic and abiotic interactions, with the ultimate goal of creating profitable, sustainable agricultural landscapes. 

During my PhD I investigated the movement and behaviour of European hares in structurally simple versus structurally complex landscapes. Now I want to extent that knowledge to coexistence mechanisms. 




Insect diversity and abundance has suffered an immense decline over the past decades, which strongly influences higher trophic levels and subsequently the entire ecosystem. In this project I investigate the coexistence mechanisms of sympatric insectivore species in an increasingly insect free world, i.e. fragmented, and intensively used agricultural landscapes with large monocultures. I aim to study movement processes promoting equalizing and stabilizing mechanisms that enhance coexistence between the sympatric insectivores in food depleted agricultural regions.  The insectivore model species are colonial breeding passerines: house martins, sand martins, and barn swallows. The passerines will be equipped with ultra-light radio tags of the ATLAS System to test whether equalizing and stabilizing mechanisms in aerial insectivores are weakened and the usually functioning niche separation is diluted. This project offers the opportunity to study the competitive ability of sympatric insectivores under the current decline of insects and climate change with unpredictable effects on equalizing and stabilizing mechanisms.

Coexistence and evolution of dispersal strategies under change and disturbance

Cédric Scherer

Leibniz Insititute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW)

in the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

Ecological Dynamics

Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17 

10315 Berlin


+49 (0)30 – 51 68 342

scherer [at]




I am a computational biologist with main interest in movement ecology and spatial dynamics of animals and pathogens within the heterogeneous world they live in. I am mainly using theoretical simulation models to understand topics such as extinction risk of species or persistence of pathogens. 

During my PhD in the BioMove project I focused on the mechanism that drive disease persistence in spatially structured landscapes using classical swine fever, a pathogen infecting wild and domestic boars, as a model system. By extending a well-established agent-based model I aimed to understand effects of movement types and landscape structures on disease persistence. Furthermore, I explored seasonal and spatial differences in infection risk during an outbreak in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Germany) that lasted for eight years.




Understanding the causes and consequences of dispersal remains a central topic in ecology and evolution. Dispersal – as a key process for evolutionary dynamics – is itself determined by ecological processes resulting from individual decision making and information use that generate patterns of gene flow and genetic differentiation. Dispersal may further act as ’equalizing’ or ‘stabilizing’ mechanisms  and mediate coexistence in communities. Thus, the coexistence of species and their different strategies are likely driven by an eco-evolutionary feedback loop. 

Using a conceptual modeling framework I am going to investigate the coexistence and joint evolution of different dispersal strategies in an animal community. Particularly, the project aims to understand how these strategies are driven by disturbances such as fragmentation impacting resource distribution and a spreading disease within this community which strongly interacts with the host’s demography. I am going to use a spatially- and genetically-explicit individual-based model where the movement phases (i.e. emigration, transfer, and settlement) are combined with a genetic algorithm approach.


Research Training Group

DFG-GRK 2118/1


Prof. Dr. Florian Jeltsch

jeltsch [at]


Deputy Speaker:

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niels Blaum blaum [at]



Merlin Schäfer
merlin.schaefer [at]


biomove-rtg [at]

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Florian Jeltsch