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We research climate changes as driving force of co-evolution of herbivores (Bovidae) and grasses (Poacea), which are regarded as essential basis for the savannah ecosystem appearance. A massive radiation of ungulates appeared in Plio-Pleictocene parallel to a fast speciation of grasses. Molecular genetic and bio geographic approaches on key-species of extant African grasses, give information of their phylogeny, climate requirements and geographic distribution. Additionally, they provide models for reconstructions of these grasses’ ecology and bio-geography in geological periods. Change in Savannahs distribution and following change in early hominids food resources, eventually let to human evolution. Paleontological data support the reconstruction of evolution of relevant ungulate-taxa in the investigation area, as well as the correlation with vegetation and the evolution, bio-geography and migration of early hominids.

This project is additionally funded by the VW-Stiftung and by the German Research Foundation.


Janssen, T., Dressler, S., Schmidt, M. & G. Zizka : Ein Biodiversitätsdaten-Netzwerk für Westafrika. - Natur und Museum 138 (5/5): 155.

Schrenk, F. (2008) : Die Frühzeit des Menschen. 5. Auflage 2008, Verlag C.H. Beck, 128 S.

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