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Dr Ralf Ohlemüller

Senior LecturerRalf-Ohlemuller-head

Diplom Biologe(Bonn)
PhD(Otago)

 

 

Richardson Building, room 4C22
Office Hours: email to make an appointment
Tel +64 3 479 8784
Email ralf.ohlemuller@otago.ac.nz

Teaching

  • ENVI 211 Environmental History of New Zealand (contributor)
  • ENVI 311 Understanding Environmental Issues (contributor)
  • GEOG 101 Physical Geography (contributor)
  • GEOG 287 Plants, People and the Environment (coordinator)
  • GEOG 290 Field Research Methods (contributor)
  • GEOG 380 Field Research Studies (Science) (coordinator)
  • GEOG 393 Plants, People and the Environment (coordinator)
  • GEOG 459 Biogeography (coordinator)
  • GEOG 470 A Research Topic in Geography (contributor)
  • GEOG 490 Dissertation (contributor)

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Research interests

The main motivation behind my research is to understand the environmental drivers of the spatial distribution of life. My research interests are in all aspects of biogeography and climate change and most of my work follows three main lines of research:

The geography of climate change
Climate is one of the main drivers of the geographic distribution of life; it determines not only spatial patterns but also temporal changes in the distribution, performance and function of species and ecosystems. Much of my work involves developing and mapping ecologically relevant climate change indices at a range of spatial scales.

Vegetation and climate change
Plants are the foundation of most ecosystems and perform many of the functions and services that ecosystems provide. My work investigates how spatial patterns of plant biodiversity and community structure, in particular in fragmented environments, came about through past changes in climatic conditions and what might happen to these patterns in the future.

Ecological variation in space and time
Understanding heterogeneity at different levels of ecological organisation is crucial for understanding a system’s response to environmental change. I am interested in trying to understand the interplay of ecological variation (e.g., within-species genetic and phenotypic variation, seasonal processes) and geographical variation (e.g., microclimate, environmental gradients) in shaping biological communities and their response to changing environmental conditions.

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Potential student projects

If you are thinking about doing an MSc or PhD on research questions related to biogeography, climate change, ecology or vegetation science, please get in touch. I am always interested to speak to potential candidates about project ideas. The University offers a range of competitive postgraduate scholarships.
View the scholarships webpage

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Postgraduate supervision

Current postgraduate students

  • Xiaobin Hua (PhD; primary supervisor) Changing landscapes: Compositional and phenological shifts in New Zealand’s natural grasslands.
  • Miki Nomura (PhD; primary supervisor) Past and current drivers of species climatic niches and geographic distributions.
  • James Hunter (PhD; co-supervisor) Spatially explicit modelling of Takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) reintroduction
  • Nariefa Abrahim (PhD; co-supervisor) Determining the atmospheric footprint on glacier mass balance in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.
  • Duncan Nicol (MSc) Spatial niche and geographic patterns in a diverse lineage of endemic alpine daisies (Celmisia spp.) in New Zealand.
  • Nora Schlenker (MSc) Climatic niches of extinct vs extant plant genera in New Zealand.

Past postgraduate students at Otago

  • Sven Stadtmann (PhD; co-supervisor) Finding a home: An ecological and economic framework for selecting species translocation sites.
  • James Tweed (MSc) The response of moth communities to ecosystem restoration.
  • Robbert McCann (MAppSci) Soil moisture and decomposition rates along elevational and microclimate gradients.
  • Lily Burrows (BSc Hons) Stomatal density along elevational and microclimate gradients.
  • Chaz Forsyth (MSc) Annual growth rate of silver beech (Lophozonia menziesii) across a gradient of climatic suitability.
  • Daniel Basubas (MSc) Microclimate and flowering phenology in alpine vegetation.
  • Amy Clarke (MSc) Climate drivers of alpine plant diversity in the South Island of New Zealand.
  • Dwayne Daly (MPlan) Planning for Underwater Anthropogenic Noise in New Zealand's Coastal Marine Area.

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Publications

Nomura, M., Ohlemüller, R., Lee, W. G., Lloyd, K. M., & Anderson, B. J. (2019). Can we predict which species win when new habitat becomes available? PLoS ONE, 14(9), e0213634. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213634

Bramer, I., Anderson, B. J., Bennie, J., Bladon, A. J., De Frenne, P., Hemming, D., … Ohlemüller, R., … Gillingham, P. K. (2018). Advances in monitoring and modelling climate at ecologically relevant scales. In D. A. Bohan, A. J. Dumbrell, G. Woodward & M. Jackson (Eds.), Advances in ecological research. (pp. 101-161). Oxford, UK: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/bs.aecr.2017.12.005

Clarke, A. G., Lord, J. M., Hua, X., & Ohlemüller, R. (2018). Does current climate explain plant disjunctions? A test using the New Zealand alpine flora. Journal of Biogeography, 45(7), 1490-1499. doi: 10.1111/jbi.13222

Hua, X., & Ohlemüller, R. (2018). Geographic versus environmental space: Patterns of potential native and exotic woody propagule pressure on New Zealand's indigenous grasslands. New Zealand Geographer, 74(3), 131-142. doi: 10.1111/nzg.12187

Brewer, M. J., O'Hara, R. B., Anderson, B. J., & Ohlemüller, R. (2016). Plateau: A new method for ecologically plausible climate envelopes for species distribution modelling. Methods in Ecology & Evolution, 7(12), 1489-1502. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12609

Chapter in Book - Research

Bramer, I., Anderson, B. J., Bennie, J., Bladon, A. J., De Frenne, P., Hemming, D., … Ohlemüller, R., … Gillingham, P. K. (2018). Advances in monitoring and modelling climate at ecologically relevant scales. In D. A. Bohan, A. J. Dumbrell, G. Woodward & M. Jackson (Eds.), Advances in ecological research. (pp. 101-161). Oxford, UK: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/bs.aecr.2017.12.005

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Journal - Research Article

Nomura, M., Ohlemüller, R., Lee, W. G., Lloyd, K. M., & Anderson, B. J. (2019). Can we predict which species win when new habitat becomes available? PLoS ONE, 14(9), e0213634. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213634

Hua, X., & Ohlemüller, R. (2018). Geographic versus environmental space: Patterns of potential native and exotic woody propagule pressure on New Zealand's indigenous grasslands. New Zealand Geographer, 74(3), 131-142. doi: 10.1111/nzg.12187

Clarke, A. G., Lord, J. M., Hua, X., & Ohlemüller, R. (2018). Does current climate explain plant disjunctions? A test using the New Zealand alpine flora. Journal of Biogeography, 45(7), 1490-1499. doi: 10.1111/jbi.13222

Brewer, M. J., O'Hara, R. B., Anderson, B. J., & Ohlemüller, R. (2016). Plateau: A new method for ecologically plausible climate envelopes for species distribution modelling. Methods in Ecology & Evolution, 7(12), 1489-1502. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12609

Huntley, B., Collingham, Y. C., Singarayer, J. S., Valdes, P. J., Barnard, P., Midgley, G. F., … Ohlemüller, R. (2016). Explaining patterns of avian diversity and endemicity: Climate and biomes of southern Africa over the last 140,000 years. Journal of Biogeography, 43, 874-886. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12714

Linder, H. P., Rabosky, D. L., Antonelli, A., Wüest, R. O., & Ohlemüller, R. (2014). Disentangling the influence of climatic and geological changes on species radiations. Journal of Biogeography, 41(7), 1313-1325. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12312

Normand, S., Randin, C., Ohlemüller, R., Bay, C., Høye, T. T., Kjær, E. D., … Svenning, J.-C. (2013). A greener Greenland? Climatic potential and long-term constraints on future expansions of trees and shrubs. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 368(1628), 20120479. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0479

Ohlemüller, R., Huntley, B., Normand, S., & Svenning, J.-C. (2012). Potential source and sink locations for climate-driven species range shifts in Europe since the Last Glacial Maximum. Global Ecology & Biogeography, 21(2), 152-163. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2011.00674.x

Chen, I.-C., Hill, J. K., Ohlemüller, R., Roy, D. B., & Thomas, C. D. (2011). Rapid range shifts of species associated with high levels of climate warming. Science, 333(6045), 1024-1026. doi: 10.1126/science.1206432

Ohlemüller, R., Anderson, B. J., Araújo, M. B., Butchart, S. H. M., Kudrna, O., Ridgely, R. S., & Thomas, C. D. (2008). The coincidence of climatic and species rarity: High risk to small-range species from climate change. Biology Letters, 4(5), 568-572. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0097

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