>>Department of Ecological Modelling >> Personal homepage Thorsten Wiegand >> 













Postal address

Research interests

Wiegand lab



Thorsten Wiegand (PhD Marburg University) is a Senior Scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, and lecturer at the Escuela para Graduados

Faculdad de Agronomia -  Universidad de Buenos  Aires.

Dr. Wiegand also serves as subject editor of Ecography and Oikos, and in the editorial board of Landscape Ecology.




Dr. habil. Thorsten Wiegand
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Department of Ecological Modelling
Permoserstr. 15
04318 Leipzig

Tel.  +49 341 235 1714 
Fax: +49 341 235 1473 
e-mail: thorsten.wiegand@ufz.de



Postal address

Research interests

Wiegand lab



Research interests

Over the last 20 years or so, we are witnessing a conceptual revolution in the field of population biology and ecological modeling, which was stimulated by the rapid development of advanced new scientific tools such and individual-based, spatially explicit population models, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). There is much work to be done in developing our understanding of the new "spatial ecology", and my research program is driven by an interest in this topic. My primary research goals are (1) to broaden the theory of population and community ecology to encompass an explicit consideration of spatially distributed processes, and (2) to develop methods to adapt simulation models optimally for ecological applications. To approach these goals I use several complementary approaches

My study systems include plant communities such as tropical forests in Sri Lanka and Panama, treeline dynamics in Europe, semiarid shrubland and grasslands in South Africa, the Patagonian steppe in Argentina as well as endangered animal species such as brown bears (Ursus arctos), Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), European lynx (Lynx lynx), and tiger (Panthera tigris).

Currently most of my time is absorbed by the ERC advanced grant project SPATIODIVERSITY that aims to understand the relative importance of processes and factors that govern the composition and dynamics of species-rich communities. Surprisingly, although most processes which are thought to contribute to species coexistence have a strong spatial component, the rich source of information on spatial patterns has only rarely been used for this purpose. We adopt a spatially explicit perspective and proceed in three steps:

  1. we quantify the highly complex spatial structures found in forests using recent techniques of spatial pattern analysis,

  2. we build a range of individual-based spatially-explicit simulation models ranging from “pure” neutral models to detailed process-based models of tropical forest, and

  3. we confront these simulation models with the set of patterns identified in (1) to identify the most parsimonious models that account simultaneously for all (spatial) patterns.


Postal address

Research interests

Wiegand lab



The Wiegand Lab




     Former members



Postal address

Research interests

Wiegand lab




  My handbook on spatial
  point pattern analysis
  in ecology has just been

  Access here the new
  version of the Programita


  ERC Advanced
  Investigator Grant

  One of the prestigious ERC
  Advances Investigator
  grants has been awarded to
  my project "Towards a
  Unified Spatial Theory of
  Biodiversity" which I am
  conducting together with
  Andreas Huth and
  international collaborators.  


  Tropical forests  


   Sphere packing 


  Watch my interview at
  You Tube


Recent publications


 just posted:


Taubert et al,  2015.  

 The structure of tropical
 forests and sphere packings


Cipriotti, et. al 2015  

 Non-parametric upscaling of
 stochastic simulation models
 using transition matrices
 Methods in Ecology and


May, Huth and Wiegand 2015.  

 Moving beyond abundance

  distributions – neutral theory

 and spatial patterns in a

 tropical fores. Proc.R.Soc.B


Fedriani et al. 2015.  

  Unravelling conflicting
 density and distance-
 dependent effects on plant
 reproduction using a spatially
 explicit approach. Journal of


Getzin et al. 2015.  

 Adopting a spatially explicit

 perspective to study the

 mysterious fairy circles of

 Namibia. Ecography


Getzin, Wiegand and Hubbell 2014.  

 Stochastically driven adult-

 recruit associations of tree

 species on Barro Colorado

 Island. Proc. R. Soc. B


Punchi-Manage et al. 2015.

  Neighborhood diversity of
 large trees shows
 independent species patterns
 in a mixed dipterocarp forest
 in Sri Lanka Ecology


Cipriotti et al. 2014.  

 A complex network of

 interactions controls

 coexistence and relative

 abundances in Patagonian

 grass–shrub steppe. Journal
 of Ecology


Shen, Wiegand, and He
 Quantifying spatial

 phylogenetic structures of

 fully mapped plant

 communities. Methods in

 Ecology and Evolution


Wiegand, He, and Hubbell 2013.  

 A systematic comparison of
 summary characteristics for

 quantifying point patterns in

 ecology. Ecography


Sutherland et al. 2013.  

 Identification of 100
 fundamental ecological
 questions. Journal of Ecology


Hartig et al. 2011.  

 Statistical inference for
 stochastic simulations
 models - theory and
 application. Ecology Letters









    Modified: 05.01.2015 Resp.: Thorsten Wiegand     webmaster