Bachelor & Master Thesis

If you are interested in writing your Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis in our group, please consider the following:

  • Theses are typically done in the context of ongoing research projects, because this is where we can offer the best supervision. Your work will be relevant for the research project and your data and/or results will be used.
  • Our research projects use methods of natural sciences.
  • In most theses, there is a practical part included; either in the field or in the laboratory. 
  • Theses only doing a literature review or analyzing existing data are possible, but not the rule. There needs to be good reasoning why such an approach is justified for the topic. 
  • With no exception, data analysis has to be done in R, and we require that you are familiar with the program to a point that you are able to apply knowledge from previous coursework. This means for Bachelor’s theses, we expect you to be able to apply the functions you learned in the tutorials during your second semester.
  • Projects that involve field work take time to organize. Please make sure that you approach us early enough when considering writing your thesis with us.

Generally, we are working in English, but there are options to write in German.

Below you will find a list of our main ongoing research projects. If you are interested in any of them, please contact the responsible person indicated.

Inquiries concerning non-project-related thesis topics should be directed solely to our office management (

Tree-tree interactions in subtropical forests

 (TreeDì /BEF-China)

"TreeDì - 林地 - TreeDiversity Interactions: The role of tree-tree interactions in local neighbourhoods in Chinese subtropical forests" is an International Research Training Group funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS). Biodiversity-Ecosystem-Functioning (BEF) research in forests has become a vibrant field of research in the last decade. The aim of TreeDì - 林地 (lín dì, forest land) is to understand how tree-tree interactions in local neighbourhoods of varying diversity translate into the observed positive tree species richness effects on key ecosystem functions at the community scale. Within TreeDì, we focus on functional biodiversity research by analyzing the role of leaf traits in mediating BEF-relationships, and on crown architecture and productivity as response to local species richness. Besides tree-tree interactions, we also assess the role of shrubs and how trees and shrubs influence each other. 


Pablo Castro Sánchez-Bermejo (for topics related to functional traits;; room C13.105)

Andreas Fichtner (for topics related to spatial complementarity;; room C13.126)

TreeDi experimental area ©Sylvia Haider
TreeDi experimental area

Biodiversity along elevation gradients - The Mountain Invasion Research Network


The aim of MIREN is to understand the effects of global change on species’ distributions and biodiversity in mountainous areas. MIREN was founded in 2005 with a focus on the global monitoring of non-native plant invasions in mountains. Now, the initial focus has expanded to the study of species redistribution under different drivers of global change, including biological invasions, climate change, and land-use change. We perform observational and experimental studies along elevation gradients to evaluate and quantify the processes and mechanisms that are shaping mountain plant communities at regional to global scales. We research both temporal and spatial changes in community composition as well as the specific influence of non-native species. (Meike, Sylvia)

Examples of past or ongoing topics:

  • Native-alien plant dynamics in mountain regions: exploring diversity-invasibility relationships at different elevation and disturbance levels
  • Influence of non-native species and disturbance on plant functional traits along elevational gradients

Contact: Meike Buhaly (; room C13.127)

Sylvia Haider (; room C13.103)

Tenerife - Teide ©Meike Buhaly
Tenerife - Teide

Long-term effects of fertilization on grassland diversity - The Nutrient Network


One of the most pervasive human impacts on ecosystems is alteration of global nutrient budgets. The Nutrient Network is a coordinated research network comprised of more than 130 grassland sites worldwide. In experimental plots, we investigate the effects of fertilization (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and their combinations) on plant productivity and diversity. Our group runs a site in Bad Lauchstädt (south of Halle) since 2015, where we collect vegetation data every year. The main questions of NutNet are: How general is our current understanding of productivity-diversity relationships? To what extent are plant production and diversity co-limited by multiple nutrients in herbaceous-dominated communities?

Contact: Sylvia Haider (; room C13.103)

experimental area ©Sylvia Haider
experimental area

Diversity of the forest herb layer - the BETA-FOR project


The BETA-FOR project aims to explore the impacts of forest homogenization on both biodiversity and ecosystem functions. The decline in β-diversity due to increasing human activities has led to more uniform communities in landscapes. Using an experimental approach, we examine the role of structural diversity and natural disturbances in forests to understand their effects on understory plant communities and their functioning.

Contact: Pia Bradler (; room C13.127)

Andreas Fichtner (; room C13.126)

[Translate to Englisch:] forest ©Pia Brandler
experimental area