Jan C. Ruppert: Assistant Professor

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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, as well as its stability towards extreme events and disturbances (e.g. drought, grazing; (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). During this endeavor, I have employed a diverse set of research tools such as data-integration, meta-analysis, as well as monitoring and sampling along natural transects and planning and realizing 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 long-term field experience in grasslands and savannas of Southern Africa (South Africa, Namibia), and have visited North American as well as Israeli grass- and shrublands.


Current Projects

  • BIODESERT: Biological feedbacks and ecosystem resilience under global change (Role: Steering Committee Member; Data Partner)
  • NamTip: Desertification tipping points in Dryland Social-Ecological Systems of Namibia (Role: Subproject-PI)
  • Smart Monitoring of Vegetation: Using UAV-based remote sensing to monitor natural rangeland vegetation (Role: PI)
  • DroughtAct: Studying Climate Change mitigation strategies in dry rangelands of Southern Africa (Role: Research Associate; Former Manager)


Professional Experience

2016 - ongoing

Assistant Professor Plant Ecology Group, University of Tübingen (Katja Tielbörger)

2014 - 2016

BMBF funded Post-Doc 'LLL - Limpopo Living Landscapes'

Range Ecology and Range Management Group, University of Cologne, Germany (Anja Linstädter)

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 (Anja Linstädter)

Crop Science Group, University Bonn, Germany (Frank Ewert)


Scientific Staff Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, UFZ Leipzig, Germany (Karin Frank & Birgit Müller)

2007 - 2010

Research Student Range Ecology and Range Management Group, University of Cologne, Germany (Anja Linstädter)


Scholarships & Grants

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; www.sdw.org)

2011 - 2014

Fellow of the Theodor-Brinkmann-Graduate-School, University Bonn (www.tbgs.uni-bonn.de)


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.    


Publications (Peer Reviewed)

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. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2017.09.017


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. dx.doi.org/10.2989/10220119.2016.1218368


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. dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12777 [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. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104672 (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. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.09.008 [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. dx.doi.org/10.1080/01431161.2014.882028


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. dx.doi.org/10.1111/avsc.12092


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. dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1654-1103.2012.01420.x [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 (http://www.uni-tuebingen.de)


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., 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 (http://www.geo.fu-berlin.de/en/met/ag/klimod/index.html).


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


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]




Plant Ecology Group

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