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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 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



     Other funding

     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  


  Watch my interview at
  You Tube




Recent publications


 just posted:


  Getzin et al. 2014

   Adopting a spatially explicit

  perspective to study the

  mysterious fairy circles of 

  Namibia. Ecography
press resease


  Cipriotti et al.  2014

  A complex network of

  interactions controls

  coexistence and relative

  abundances in Patagonian

  grass–shrub steppes
  Journal of Ecology


  Hartig ,et al. 2014

  Approximate Bayesian
  parameterization of a
  complex tropical forest
  model. Biogeosciences


  Shen, Wiegand, and He

  2013. Quantifying spatial

  phylogenetic structures of

  & fully mapped plant

  communities. Methods in

  Ecology and Evolution


  Wiegand, He and Hubbell

  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


  Wiegand et al.  2012

  Testing the independent
  species arrangement
  assertion made by theories
  of stochastic geometry of
  biodiversity. Proceedings B


  Hartig ,et al. 2011

  Statistical inference for

  stochastic simulations

  models - theory and

  application. Ecology Letters











    Modified: 31.01.2014 Resp.: Thorsten Wiegand     webmaster