Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Jan C. Ruppert: Assistant Professor

Shortcuts: Find me on ResearchGate, GoogleScholar, ResearcherID, Publons

Research Interest

I am a plant ecologist with a strong interest in vegetation dynamics in dryland ecosystems. My research focuses on how biotic and abiotic features of the environment shape primary production, vegetation composition, and biodiversity as well as their role for an ecosystems’ stability towards disturbances and extreme events (e.g. grazing, drought; (Ruppert et al. 2015). In the past years, I have taken various perspectives ranging from global scale assembly studies (Ruppert et al. 2012, 2015) down to field scale analyses of plant functional types (Linstädter et al. 2014), functional traits (Moreno García et al. 2014) and ecosystem service provision (Guuroh et al. 2018). In my research, I have employed a diverse set of methodological approaches such as data-integration and meta-analysis based upon existing data, monitoring and sampling along natural gradients and as well as mechanistic field experiments (Limpopo Living Landscapes, NamTip). Recently, I have embraced the quickly emerging field of smart monitoring of vegetation via near-surface remote sensing as it holds various options to economize classically labor-intense field sampling without sacrificing accuracy or quality of obtained data. Thus far, I have gathered substantial hands-on experience in middle-european grasslands as well as grasslands and savannas of Southern Africa (South Africa, Namibia), and have visited North American as well as Israeli grass- and shrublands.

Current Projects

Further Information

Professional Experience

2016 - ongoing

Assistant Professor Plant Ecology Group, University of Tübingen

2014 - 2016

Postdoc in BMBF funded project 'LLL - Limpopo Living Landscapes'

Range Ecology and Range Management Group, University of Cologne, Germany

2010 - 2014

Scientific Staff / Cooperative Researcher DFG funded 'Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of African Savannas'

Range Ecology and Range Management Group, University of Cologne, Germany

Crop Science Group, University Bonn, Germany


Scientific Assistant Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, UFZ Leipzig, Germany

2007 - 2010

Research Student Range Ecology and Range Management Group, University of Cologne, Germany

Scholarships & Grants

2019 - 2022

NamTip: Understanding and Managing Desertification Tipping Points in Dryland Social-Ecological Systems – A Namibian Perspective, BMBF (provisional commitment of acceptance)

2016 - 2019

Research Associate, Risk and Vulnerability Science Centre, University of Limpopo, South Africa

2015 - 2017

UoC PostDoc Grant, "You get what you pay for? Putting inexpensive Remote Sensing Technologies to the test in Vegetation Ecology", awarded by the University of Cologne

2011 - 2013

Full, merit-based PhD-scholarship of the Foundation of German Business (Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft, sdw;

2011 - 2014

Fellow of the Theodor-Brinkmann-Graduate-School, University Bonn (

Academic Education


PhD in Ecology (Dr. rer. nat.), University of Cologne, Germany.
Topic: Advancing Functional Understanding of Primary Production in Drylands: Insights from a Data-Integration Approach.

Supervisors: Anja Linstädter, Michael Bonkowski & Hartmut Arndt, (University of Cologne) & Stefan Porembski (University of Rostock) [Download Thesis]

2010 - 2014

PhD studies in Ecology (Focus: Plant and Rangeland Ecology), University of Cologne, Germany.


State Examination in Biology (MSc equivalent), University of Cologne, Germany.
Topic: Meta-analysis of the Rain-Use Efficiency in arid and semi-arid environments by the use of long-term monitoring sites.

Supervisors: Dr. Anja Linstädter, University of Cologne & Prof. Dr. Helmut Hillebrand, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany

2004 - 2009

Studies of Biology and German Linguistic and Literature, University of Cologne, Germany.


Pfeiffer, M., Langan, L., Linstädter, A., Martens, C., Gaillard, C., Ruppert, J. C., Higgins, S., Mudongo, E. & S. Scheiter 2019. Grazing and aridity reduce perennial grass abundance in semi-arid rangelands–Insights from a trait-based dynamic vegetation model. Ecological Modelling 395: 11-22.

Guuroh, R.T., Ruppert, J.C., Ferner, F., Čanak, K., Schmidtlein, S. & A. Linstädter. 2018. Drivers of forage provision and erosion control in West African savannas — A macroecological perspective. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 251: 257-267.

Oomen, R.J., Linstädter, A., Ruppert, J.C., Brüser, K., Schellberg, J. & F. Ewert. 2016. Effect of Management on Rangeland Phytomass, Cover and Condition in Two Biomes in South Africa. African Journal of Range & Forage Science 33(3): 185-198.

Ruppert, J.C., Harmoney, K., Henkin, Z., Snyman, H.A., Sternberg, M., Willms, W., & A. Linstädter. 2015. Quantifying drylands’ drought resistance and recovery: The importance of drought intensity, dominant life history and grazing regime. Global Change Biology 21(3): 1258-1270. [Download]

Linstädter, A., Schellberg, J., Brüser, K., Moreno-García, C., Oomen, R.J., du Preez, C., Ruppert, J.C. & F. Ewert. 2014. Are There Consistent Grazing Indicators in Drylands? Testing Plant Functional Types of Various Complexity in South Africa’s Grassland and Savanna Biomes. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104672. (Open Access)

Ruppert, J.C. & A. Linstädter. 2014. Convergence between ANPP estimation methods in grasslands - a practical solution to the comparability dilemma. Ecological Indicators, 36:524-531. [Download PrePrint]

Brüser, K., Feilhauer, H., Schellberg, J., Linstädter, A., Oomen, R.J., Ruppert, J.C. & F. Ewert. 2014. Discrimination and Characterization of Management Systems in semi-arid Rangelands of South Africa using RapidEye Time Series. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 35:1653-1673.

Moreno García, C.A., Schellberg, J., Ewert, F., Brüser, K., Canales-Prati, P., Linstädter, A., Oomen, R.J., Ruppert, J.C. & S.B. Perelman. 2014. Response of community-aggregated plant functional traits along grazing gradients: insights from African semi-arid grasslands. Applied Vegetation Science, 17:470-481.

Moreno García, C.A., Schellberg, J., Ewert, F., Linstädter, A., Ruppert, J.C., Perelman, SB. 2013. Functional Responses of South African Rangelands in Contrasting Tenure Systems. Conference Proceedings of the 22nd International Grassland Congress, 15th - 19th September 2013, Sydney, Australia. [Download Proceedings]

Ruppert, J.C., Holm, A., Miehe, S., Muldavin, E., Snyman, H.A., Wesche, K., Linstädter, A. 2012. Meta-analysis of rain-use efficiency confirms indicative value for degradation and supports non-linear response along precipitation gradients. Journal of Vegetation Science 23(6): 1035-1050. [Download PrePrint]

Conference Contributions, Keynotes & Invited Talks

Ruppert, J.C. 2016. Climate Change in Global Rangelands: A Dryland Ecologists Perspective (Keynote Talk). 10th International Rangeland Congress, 16th - 22nd July 2016, Saskatoon, Canada. [Conference Paper, page 88ff.]

Ruppert, J.C., Linstädter, A. 2016. The Good, the Bad and the Rainfall - Drylands’ Stability towards positive and negative Rainfall Anomalies. PopBio 2016, 5th - 7th May, Trebon, Czech Republic.

Ruppert, J.C., Linstädter, A. 2015. Is „good“ rainfall as good as „bad“ is bad? Drylands‘ stability towards positive and negative rainfall anomalies. Conference of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GfÖ), 31st August - 4th September 2013, University of Goettingen, Germany. [Abstract, page 96]

Ruppert, J.C., 2014. Quantifying drylands’ drought resistance and recovery: The importance of drought intensity, dominant life history and grazing regime. Evolution and Ecology Seminar Series, Host: Prof. Dr. Katja Tielbörger, University of Tübingen, Germany (

Ruppert, J.C. & A. Linstädter, 2013. Savanna or Grassland - Which biome is more resilient to anomalies in precipitation? A data fusion study in arid and semi-arid Africa. Conference of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GfÖ), 9th August - 13th September 2013, University Potsdam, Germany.

Ruppert, J.C., A. Linstädter, 2013. Convergence between ANPP estimation methods in grasslands - a practical solution to the comparability dilemma (Poster). Poster presentation at the Bastheva de Rothschild Seminar on "Coordinated approaches for studying long-term ecosystem responses to global change" in Ramat Hanadiv Park, Israel. [Download Poster]

Ruppert, J.C., 2013. Rangeland Productivity in Drylands - Insights from a Global Database of Long-Term Studies. Meteorological Colloquium, Host: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Cubasch, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany (

Ruppert, J.C., Ewert, F., Linstädter, A. 2012. Drivers of dryland productivity – Insights from a global meta-analysis. EcoSummit 2012, Sept 30th - Oct 5th 2012, Columbus OH, USA. [Abstract, page 345]

Moreno García, C.A., J. Schellberg, F. Ewert, A. Linstädter, J.C. Ruppert, S.B. Perelman, 2012. Response of Communities Plant Functional Traits Along Grazing Gradients on South African Rangelands. Tropentag, Sept 19th - 21th 2012, Göttingen - Kassel/Witzenhausen, Germany.

Ruppert, J.C.& A. Linstädter, 2011. Aboveground Net Primary Production and Rain-use Efficiency in Drylands - Results and Insights from a Meta-analytical Perspective. Tropentag, Oct 5th - 7th 2011, Bonn, Germany. [Abstract]

Ruppert, J.C., A. Linstädter, 2010. Rain-use efficiency: A concept revisited. Recent challenges and possible approaches. 40th Anniversary Conference of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GfÖ), 30th August - 3rd September 2010, Gießen, Germany.

Ruppert, J.C., A. Linstädter, 2010. Analyzing the rain-use efficiency: New insights by meta-analysis and quantile regression. 95th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), Aug 1st - 6th 2010, Pittsburgh PA, USA. [Abstract]


Joe DeCapua interviews Jan Ruppert about drylands’ vulnerability to climate change on the Voice of America.