Project groups

7-2.2 | THE FOREST-SAVANNAH MOSAIC (2008-2011)

We analyse the climate-driven dynamics of the forest-savannah mosaic of West Africa, giving special attention to the role of refugia. Gallery forests are investigated as model examples of refugia along a climatic gradient extending from the Sahel in the north to the Southern Sudanian zone in the south, thus spanning an area from grass-savannah to dry forest. Our studies are based on the hypothesis, that during past climatic oscillations the forest extended to the north, or – in more arid times - withdrew to the south, leaving the azonal gallery forests as isolated islands of vegetation which subsequently served as centres of diversity and sources of repopulation.

By investigating the genetic relationships among the populations of selected model species from gallery forests representing different plant functional types (woody plants, lianas, grasses), the historical biogeography will be reconstructed and analysed in the light of climate change.

These studies are conducted in close cooperation with our African counterparts, in particular Prof. Dr. Brice Sinsin (Cotonou) and Prof. Dr. Adjima Thiombiano (Ouagadougou) and with the BiK-F projects B2.7 and A2.2.

This project is additionally funded by the German Minitry for Education and Research and by the European Science Foundation.


Schmidt, M., Traoré, S., Ouédraogo, A., Mbayngone, E., Ouédraogo, O., Zizka, A., Kirchmair, I., Kaboré, E., Tindano, E., Thiombiano, A., Hahn, K. & G. Zizka (2013) : Geographical patterns of woody plants‘ functional traits in Burkina Faso. - Candollea 68 (2): 197-207.

Wittig, R., Hahn-Hadjali, K. & K. König : Wo wächst die Palmyraplame? Mit Satellitendaten praxistaugliche Verbreitungskarten erstellen. - Forschung Frankfurt 3: 75-78
Link to Publication

Zizka, G. : Bedrohte Biodiversität - von der Vielfalt der Moleküle bis hin zur menschlichen Nutzung und Klimawandel. - Klein, H.P. & al.: Aktuelle Themen aus den Bildungs- und der Biowissenschaften; Ges. für Didaktik der Biowissenschaften, pp. 129-136.