Stefan Ferger


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Stefan Ferger

Ph.D. student


Fields of interest
I am interested in the effects of climate and land-use on ecological communities and their ecosystem functions. To address these topics, my research is focused on changes in biodiversity and its related ecosystem functions along land-use and elevation gradients, mainly using experimental field studies.

During my Diploma-studies, I have used mist netting and stable isotope analyses to investigate the diversity, feeding behaviour and habitat use of understory birds along a tropical forest-farmland gradient in Kakamega, Kenya.

My PhD-studies are part of the subproject “Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: birds and bats as seed dispersers and arthropod predators” of the DFG Research Unit "Kilimanjaro ecosystems under global change: Linking biodiversity, biotic interactions and biogeochemical ecosystem processes". Herein I investigate the effects of climate and land-use changes along the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro on avian diversity and its related ecosystem functions. In particular, I aim to identify the factors that directly and indirectly influence avian seed dispersal and arthropod predation.

Key-Words: biodiversity, ecosystem processes, elevational gradients, land-use gradients, disturbance, habitat fragmentation, feeding guilds, pest control, seed dispersal, tropics

Current projects

Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: birds and bats as seed dispersers and arthropod predators (with Helbig-Bonitz M, Tschapka M, Howell KM, Böhning-Gaese K)

o Predicted and measured temporal changes in bird community composition resulting from climate and land use change (with Dulle HI, Hof C, Cordeiro NJ, Böhning-Gaese K)

o Linking land use change, biodiversity and ecosystem services in coffee management systems on Mount Kilimanjaro (with Claßen A, Schmack JM, Helbig-Bonitz M, Maaßen G, Peters MK, Tschapka M, Böhning-Gaese K, Steffan-Dewenter I)



Recent publications

Ferger SW, Schleuning M, Hemp A, Howell KM, Böhning-Gaese K (2014) Food resources and vegetation structure mediate climatic effects on species richness of birds. Global Ecology and Biogeography.

o Classen A, Peters MK, Ferger SW, Helbig H, Schmack JM, Maaßen G, Schleuning M, Kalko EKV, Böhning-Gaese K, Steffan-Dewenter I (2014) Complementary ecosystem services provided by pest predators and pollinators increase quantity and quality of coffee yields. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281: 20133148.

Ferger SW, Böhning-Gaese K, Wilcke W, Oelmann Y, Schleuning M (2013) Distinct carbon sources indicate strong differentiation between tropical forest and farmland bird communities. Oecologia 171: 473 486.