Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Welcome ... the Plant Ecology group website, led by Prof. Dr. Katja Tielbörger! Here you can find information to our main research topics, our teaching, our staff, job announcements and news. Ms Tielbörger is also head of the Botanical Garden.

If you want to get us to know us better, join one of our regular group seminars which we host together with the Plant Evolutionary Ecology group! We are presenting our work in these seminars and provide you with an insight into the highly active and diverse range of research topics of the plant ecology department.

Enjoy exploring our website and feel free to contact anyone if you are interested in finding out more about any particular topics, or if you want to pay us a visit. Subscribe to our Email newsletter.

New publications

24.02.2023 ► Contreras, R., Carevic. F. Huanca-Mamani, W. and van den Brink, L. (2023). Medicinal use of plants from the Atacama Desert. In: Ethnobotany: From the traditional to ethnopharmacology. Eds. Martinez, J.L, Maroyi, A. and Wagner, M.L. 10.1201/9781003200147-9

28.01.2023 ► van den Brink, L., Canessa, R., Neidhardt, H., Knüver, T., Rios, R. S., Saldaña, A., Cavieres, L. A., Oelmann, Y., Bader, M. Y. and Tielbörger, K. No home-field advantage in litter decomposition from the desert to temperate forest (2023). Functional Ecology.

25.11.2022 ► Verdú, M., Garrido, J. L., Alcántara, J. M., Montesinos-Navarro, A., Aguilar, S., Aizen, M. A., Al-Namazi, A. A., Alifriqui, M., Allen, D., Anderson-Teixeira, K. J., Armas, C., ...Tielbörger, K., ... Zamora, R. RecruitNet: A global database of plant recruitment networks. Ecology, n/a(n/a), e3923.

24.11.2022 ► Maestre, F. T., Le Bagousse-Pinguet, Y., Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Eldridge, D. J., Saiz, H., Berdugo, M., Gozalo, B., Ochoa, V., Guirado, E., García-Gómez, M., Valencia, E., Gaitán, J. J., Asensio, S., Mendoza, B. J., Plaza, C., Díaz-Martínez, P., Rey, A., Hu, H.-W., He, J.-Z., . . .Canessa, R., Liancourt, P., Tielbörger, K., Ruppert, J., van den Brink, L., ... Gross, N. (2022). Grazing and ecosystem service delivery in global drylands. Science, 378(6622), 915-920.

09.11.2022 ► Jung, P., Lehnert, L. W., Bendix, J., Lentendu, G., Grube, M., Alfaro, F. D., Rio, C. d., Gutiérrez Alvarado, J. L., van den Brink, L., & Lakatos, M. (2022). The grit crust: A poly-extremotolerant microbial community from the Atacama Desert as a model for astrobiology [Mini Review]. Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, 9.

01.11.2022 ► Koch, F., Tietjen, B., Tielbörger, K., & Allhoff, K. T. Livestock management promotes bush encroachment in savanna systems by altering plant–herbivore feedback. Oikos, n/a(n/a), e09462.

22.10.2022 ► Krehl, A., Schöllkopf, U., Májeková, M., Tielbörger, K., & Tomiolo, S. (2022). Effects of plastic fragments on plant performance are mediated by soil properties and drought. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 17771.

30.09.2022 ► Díaz, R. C., Mamani, W. H., van den Brink, L., Fuentes, M. N., & Aburto, M. A. (2022). The complete chloroplast genome of the endangered species garra de león [Bomarea ovallei (Phil.) Ravenna] from Chile. Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding, 82(03), 365-368.

16.09.2022 ► Tomiolo, S., Damgaard, C. F., Gay, L., Ronfort, J., & Ehlers, B. K. A plant growth model to test for changes in plant–plant interaction over a growing season: the case of kin competition. Oikos, n/a(n/a), e09358.

22.07.2022 ► Kramp, R. E., Liancourt, P., Herberich, M. M., Saul, L., Weides, S., Tielbörger, K., & Májeková, M. Functional traits and their plasticity shift from tolerant to avoidant under extreme drought. Ecology, n/a(n/a), e3826.

28.06.2022 ► Sporbert, M., Jakubka, D., Bucher, S. F., Hensen, I., Freiberg, M., Heubach, K., König, A., Nordt, B., Plos, C., Blinova, I., Bonn, A., Knickmann, B., Koubek, T., Linstädter, A., Mašková, T., Primack, R. B., Rosche, C., Shah, M. A., Stevens, A.-D., Tielbörger, K. . . Römermann, C. (2022). Functional traits influence patterns in vegetative and reproductive plant phenology – a multi-botanical garden study. New Phytologist, 235(6), 2199-2210.

10.06.2022 ► Canessa, R., van den Brink, L., Berdugo, M. B., Hättenschwiler, S., Rios, R. S., Saldaña, A., Tielbörger, K., & Bader, M. Y. Trait functional diversity explains mixture effects on litter decomposition at the arid end of a climate gradient. Journal of Ecology, n/a(n/a).


Prof. Dr. Katja Tielbörger
+49 (0)7071 29-74246



Daniela Schloz 
+49 (0)7071 29-73235

Mo, Wed, Thu: 9:00-12:30
and by arrangement



Plant Ecology
Institute for Evolution and Ecology
University of Tübingen
Auf der Morgenstelle 5
D-72076 Tübingen

Biodiversity in drylands protects climate


Scientists from our working group are involved in the first global study to investigate pastoralism in drylands:

PhD Defence: Liesbeth van den Brink


Congratulations to Liesbeth! She has successfully defended her PhD project on connecting the green and grey world within the Earth Shape Project.

PhD Defence: Ronja Ratzbor


Ronja Ratzbor has successfully defended her PhD project on the effect of habitat heterogeneity on species diversity in semi-natural grassland ecosystems. Congratulations, Ronj

New Global Centre for climate and environment in the Jordan River region


New Global Climate Centre coordinated at the Tielbörger Group! Our group convinced the DAAD to fund a regional climate and resource management center in Jordan and neighbouring countries. The SAGE-Center (Sustainable Adaptation to Global Change in the Middle East) will be devoted to transboundary sustainability research and capacity building in the Jordan River region and will be running for almost five years, with an option for another extension by five years. This centre builds on decades of transdisciplinary and transboundary research in the focal region and on many years of confidence-building among scientists and stakeholders.

The EU's Common Agriculture Policy and Sustainable Farming: A statement by scientists

Katja has co-authored an urgency statement by scientists to the EU commission in response to the draft of the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which contradicts all serious efforts for a more sustainable agriculture. The statement has been published here: Please share!

A Dry Run: Drought Impact on Plant Ecosystems


In the new issue of attempto! Katja Tielbörger and Maximiliane Herberich describe by means of rainout shelter experiments on the Swabian Alb how future drought periods will affect plant ecosystems. Special edition climate change, attempto! 53|2020

New publication in Ecology Letters!


Katja just published a new study showing that plants may rapidly adapt to climate change, albeit not in all relevant traits. So the message is not entirely optimistic.

Press release University of Tuebingen



Ruichang's and Katja's new study now published in Nature Communications! They present a model and an experiment which manage to combine competition and facilitation theory in a common framework. Read here, when and why the stress gradient hypothesis applies and why a dense neighbourhood is not always negative for plant performance:

Press release University of Tuebingen

Planet Wissen


Katja Tielbörger is talking on Planet Wissen about the fascinating research on smart plants: plants warn each other of enemies, ally themselves with helpful bacteria and fungi, use insects and other animals for reproduction and use chemical weapons for defence. Plants can make decisions and it seems that they can even learn.