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Dr. Bettina Ohse

Dr. Bettina Ohse


Campus Maulbeerallee
Universität Potsdam
Maulbeerallee 3, Haus 3, Raum 0.13
14469 Potsdam

Research interests

In my research, I explore drivers of forest ecosystem dynamics as well as consequences of biodiversity change on forest ecosystem functioning. Trees as very long-lived organisms face a multitude of challenges across their life-time, including climate change, herbivory, nitrogen deposition, or impacts from forest management. I am interested in how these drivers affect single tree species as well as forest biodiversity and structure, and how such changes alter forest ecosystem functioning.

My work encompasses different scales, from single leaf traits to continental patterns of forest multifunctionality, and from trees’ responses to herbivory within a few hours to relationships between tree growth and climate across centuries. In my research, I use observational data, field experiments, as well as data synthesis.

Main areas of research

  • functional biodiversity
  • tree-herbivore interactions
  • global change ecology
  • disturbance ecology and ecological succession
  • dendroecology

Dr. Bettina Ohse


Campus Maulbeerallee
Universität Potsdam
Maulbeerallee 3, Haus 3, Raum 0.13
14469 Potsdam


Current project: TempTurn – Temporal turnover of functional biodiversity in forests after disturbances (with a focus on tree functional diversity in temperate forest ecosystems)

In my past projects, I have explored

  • Climate change effects on growth responses of arctic treeline trees as main driver of boreal forest dynamics (using dendro-ecological methods)
  • Tree-mammal interactions in forests – in particular, responses of tree saplings to deer browsing and the role of sapling diversity for deer foraging choices, using forest inventory data as well as a multi-tree-species and multi-trait experiment
  • Biodiversity effects on forest multifunctionality and how this relationship is driven by environmental context
  • Effects of global change and forest management on population characteristics and individual traits of forest herbs
  • Global woody demography – the potential of demographic data and approaches to inform tree species conservation and forest management


Google Scholar:

Academic career

since April 2023: PostDoc (DFG Independent Researcher), Ecology/Macroecology group, University of Potsdam, Germany

2020 – 2023: PostDoc, Spatial Interaction Ecology research group, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, Germany

2018 – 2020: PostDoc, Landscape Ecology research group, Institute of Ecology, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

2013 – 2018: PhD candidate, Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity research group, Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig, Germany

2011 – 2013: Research Assistant, Nature Conservation and Landscape Planning research group, Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology, University of Göttingen, Germany

2007 – 2008: Visiting student – Department of Forest Sciences and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, USA (12 months)

2004 – 2010: Diploma studies (MSc.) in Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation, Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, University of Greifswald, Germany

Scholarships and Awards

2019 – Dissertation Award of the Research Academy Leipzig

2016 – Best Paper Award of the Wilhelm Pfeffer Foundation, German Society for Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG)

2013 – 2016 Dissertation Fellowship of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, DBU)

2007 – 2008 Study Abroad Scholarship of the Ev. Studienwerk Villigst

2007 – 2008 Study Abroad Travel Grant of the Fulbright Commission

2007 – 2010 Student Scholarship of the Ev. Studienwerk Villigst



Troullier M, King G, Alix C, Bunn A, Griesbauer H, Harvey J, Juday G, Lange J, Nicklen E, Ohse B, Pisaric MFJ, Porter TJ, Roland C, Sauchyn D, Sherriff R, Sullivan PF, Tardif J, Wiles G, Wilmking M (submitted) Machine learning models predict changing growth rates and a shifting climate sensitivity of white spruce. Journal of Ecology


Ohse B, Compagnoni A, Farrior CE, McMahon SM, Salguero-Gómez R, Rüger N, Knight TM (2023) Demographic synthesis for global tree species conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2023.01.013

Fichtner A, Härdtle W, Matthies D, Arnold V, Erfmeier A, Hemke T, Jansen D, Lütt S, Schmidt M, Sturm K, von Oheimb G & Ohse B (2020) Safeguarding the rare woodland species Gagea spathacea: Understanding habitat requirements is not sufficient. Plant Species Biology 35, 120-129, DOI: 10.1111/1442-1984.12264

Ammer C, Fichtner A, Fischer F, Gossner MM, Meyer P, Seidl R, Thomas FM, Annighöfer P, Kreyling J, Ohse B, …[16 more co-authors] (2018) Key ecological research questions for Central European forests. Basic and Applied Ecology 32, 3-25, DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2018.07.006

van der Plas A, Ratcliffe S, Ruiz-Benito P, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Verheyen K, Wirth C, Zavala M, et al. …Ohse B, … [60 more co-authors], Fischer M, Gamfeldt L, Allan E (2018): Continental mapping of forest ecosystem functions reveals a high but unrealized potential for forest multifunctionality. Ecology Letters, 21 (1), 31-42, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12868

Ratcliffe S, Wirth C, Jucker T, van der Plas F, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Verheyen K, Allan E, Benavides R, Bruelheide H, Ohse B, et al. … [41 more co-authors], Baeten L (2017) Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning relations in European forests depend on environmental context. Ecology Letters, 20(11): 1414-1426, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12849

Ohse B, Seele C, Holzwarth F, Wirth C (2017) Different facets of tree sapling diversity influence browsing intensity by roe deer dependent on spatial scale. Ecology and Evolution, 7 (17), 6779–6789, DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3217

Ohse B, Hammerbacher A, Seele C, Meldau S, Reichelt M, Ortmann S, Wirth C. (2017) Salivary cues: Simulated roe deer browsing induces systemic changes in phytohormones and defense chemistry in wild-grown maple and beech saplings. Functional Ecology, 31 (2), 340-349, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12717

Ohse B, Jansen F, Wilmking M (2012) Do limiting factors at Alaskan treelines shift with climatic regimes? Environmental Research Letters, 7(1), DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/1/015505

Ohse B, Huettmann F, Ickert-Bond SM, Juday GP (2009) Modeling the distribution of white spruce (Picea glauca) for Alaska with high accuracy: an open access role-model for predicting tree species in last remaining wilderness areas. Polar Biology, 32, 1717-1729.


Bürger-Arndt R, Ohse B, Meyer K, Höltermann A (2012) Ökosystemdienstleistungen von Wäldern. Workshopbericht, Internationale Naturschutzakademie Vilm, 16.-19. November 2011.- BfN Skripten 320, Bonn-Bad-Godesberg, 142 S.