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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2019/20 Dr. Gesine Pufal

Dr. Gesine Pufal

© Felix Fornoff
University of Freiburg
Ecology and Biodiversity
Junior Fellow
April 2020 - January 2021

Room 02 011
Phone +49 (0) 761-203 97388
Fax +49 (0) 761-203 97451

CV

Gesine Pufal studied biology with a focus on botany at the University of Rostock from 1999 to 2005. She then was awarded a New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship and moved to Wellington, New Zealand, where she received her PhD in ecology and biodiversity from Victoria University of Wellington in 2010. From 2011 to 2013, she was a ProScience PostDoc at Leuphana University in Lüneburg in the ecosystem function working group and since 2013 is a researcher and lecturer (equivalent to assistant professor) at the University of Freiburg in the Department of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology. Her teaching in Bachelor and Master degree courses covers different aspects of ecology and conservation biology. During her research, Gesine Pufal worked extensively in various arid and alpine ecosystems of the Southern Hemisphere but recently, she moved from more fieldwork-based research into experimental common garden experiments and laboratory model systems. Her current research focuses on anthropogenic effects on seed dispersal, such as consequences of human-mediated dispersal or climate change effects on the interplay between seed predation and dispersal. In her FRIAS project, she hence aims to identify traits that cause the directionality to either seed predation or dispersal in a slug-seed model system under different climate change scenarios.

Selected Publications

  • Johnson JS, Cantrell S, Cosner C, Hartig F, Hastings A, Rogers H, Schupp EW, Shea K,  Teller BJ, Yu X, Zurell D, Pufal G (2019) Rapid changes in seed dispersal traits may modify plant responses to global change. AoB Plants, online first. Doi: 10.1093/aobpla/plz020
  • Pufal G, Memmert J, Leonhardt SD, Minden V (2019) Negative bottom-up effects of sulfadiazine, but not penicillin and tetracycline, in soil substitute on plants and higher trophic levels. Environmental Pollution 245: 531-544.
  • Bullock J, Bonte D, Pufal G, da Silva Carvalho C, Chapman D, García C, García D, Matthysen E, Delgado M (2018) Human-mediated dispersal and the rewiring of spatial networks. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 33: 958-970.
  • Dudenhöffer JH, Pufal G, Röscher C, Klein AM (2016) Plant density can increase invertebrate post-dispersal seed predation in an experimental grassland community. Ecology and Evolution 6: 3796-3807.
  • Pufal G, Klein AM (2015) Spatial scale affects seed predation and dispersal in contrasting anthropogenic landscapes. Basic and Applied Ecology 16: 726-736.
     

FRIAS Research Project

Identifying causes for directionality of ecosystem functions under climate change: seed predation and dispersal in a slug – seed model system

Many ecosystem functions are governed by plant-animal interactions that are sensitive to varying environmental conditions. The animal’s behavior can change the direction of the interaction with varying consequences for the plant partner. For example, animals consuming plant seeds often destroy them, removing potential new individuals from populations (seed predation). However, when certain environmental conditions affect the animal’s behavior (or seed traits), seeds are not digested but defecated intact, leading to seed dispersal and potential new individuals. In this project, I will use a slug-seed model system to (1) identify traits that affect the directionality of seed consumption (predation or dispersal), (2) test the hypothesis that climate change will affect those traits and slug behavior and hence also seed dispersal or predation and (3) predict in simulation models, how such changed interactions affect plant community structure. Data for the model system (e.g. seed traits, predation/dispersal rates, dispersal patterns and distances, slug behavior) were collected in student projects I designed and supervised and in a Research Innovation Fund project I completed in 2017. Research on the effects of climate change on ecosystem functions has so far neglected alternate outcomes of plant-animal interactions. My study will be the first to incorporate changes in the directionality of ecosystem functions to predict plant community dynamics under climate change.