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Dr. Felix May


Tietjen Group - Theoretical Ecology

Institute of Biology

Freie Universität Berlin


Freie Universität Berlin
Institute of Biology
Königin-Luise-Straße 2/4, Gartenhaus
Room 203
14195 Berlin

Research Interests

  • Emergence and maintenance of biodiversity across scales
  • (Meta)-communities dynamics
  • Theory of species coexistence
  • Response of biodiversity to land use and climate change (especially to habitat loss and habitat fragmentation)
  • Sustainable conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem functions
  • Integration of dynamic simulation models with empirical data

Curriculum Vitae

  • since 2020: Senior scientist at Freie Universität Berlin, Theoretical Ecology
  • 2018-2020: Junior-Professor (no tenure track) for Quantitative Methods of Natural Science, Leuphana University Lüneburg
  • 2015-2018: Post-Doc at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
    Biodiversity Synthesis Research Group
  • 2012-2015: Post-Doc at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
    Department of Ecological Modelling
  • 2008-2013: Post-Doc at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
    Department of Ecological Modelling
  • 2000-2008: Studies of Geo-ecology at University Potsdam

Peer review


  • Fahrig L, JI Watling, CA Arnillas, V Arroyo-Rodríguez, T Jörger-Hickfang, J Müller, HM Pereira, F Riva, V Rösch, S Seibold, T Tscharntke, F May (2022) Resolving the SLOSS dilemma for biodiversity conservation: a research agenda. Biological Reviews 97(1), 99–114. https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12792
  • Gohr C, H von Wehrden, F May, and PL Ibisch (2022) Remotely sensed effectiveness assessments of protected areas lack a common framework: A review. Ecosphere 13(4), e4053. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.4053


  • Engel T, SA Blowes, DJ McGlinn, F May, NJ Gotelli, BJ McGill, and JM Chase (2021) Using coverage-based rarefaction to infer non-random species distributions. Ecosphere 12(9), e03745. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3745
  • Crawford MS, Barry KE, Clark AT, Farrior CE, Hines J, Ladouceur E, Lichstein JW, Maréchaux I, May F, Mori AS, et al. (2021) The function-dominance correlation drives the direction and strength of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships. Ecology Letters 24(9), 1762–1775. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13776
  • Blumröder JS, May F, Härdtle W, and Ibisch PL (2021) Forestry contributed to warming of forest ecosystems in northern Germany during the extreme summers of 2018 and 2019. Ecological Solutions and Evidence 2(3), e12087. https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12087
  • Crawford MS, Schlägel UE, May F, Wurst S, Grimm V, and Jeltsch F (2021). While shoot herbivores reduce, root herbivores increase nutrient enrichment’s impact on diversity in a grassland model. Ecology 102(5), e03333. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3333


  • Craven D, Sande MT van der, Meyer C, Gerstner K, Bennett JM, Giling DP, Hines J, Phillips HRP, May F, Bannar‐Martin KH, Chase JM, Keil P (2020). A cross-scale assessment of productivity–diversity relationships. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 29(11): 1940–1955. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13165.
  • Angessa AT, B Lemma, K Yeshitela, J Fischer, F May, and G Shumi (2020). Woody plant diversity, composition and structure in relation to environmental variables and land-cover types in Lake Wanchi watershed, central highlands of Ethiopia. African Journal of Ecology 58(4), 627–638. https://doi.org/10.1111/aje.12731.
  • May F, Wiegand T, Huth A, Chase JM (2020). Scale-dependent effects of conspecific negative density dependence and immigration on biodiversity maintenance. Oikos, 129(7), 1072-1083, https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.06785.
  • Shoemaker LG, Sullivan LL, Donohue I, Cabral JS, Williams RJ, Mayfield MM, Chase JM, Chu C, Harpole WS, Huth A, HilleRisLambers J, James ARM, Kraft NJB, May F, Muthukrishnan R, Satterlee S, Taubert F, Wang X, Wiegand T, Yang Q, Abbott KC (2020). Integrating the underlying structure of stochasticity into community ecology. Ecology, 101(2), e02922, https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2922.
  • Blowes SA, Chase JM, Franco AD, Frid O, Gotelli NJ, Guidetti P, Knight TM, May F, McGlinn DJ, Micheli F, Sala E, Belmaker J (2020). Mediterranean marine protected areas have higher biodiversity via increased evenness, not abundance. Journal of Applied Ecology, 57(3), 578–589, https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13549.


  • May F, Rosenbaum B, Schurr FM, Chase JM (2019). The geometry of habitat fragmentation: Effects of species distribution patterns on extinction risk due to habitat conversion. Ecology and Evolution, 9(5), 2775–2790, https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4951.
  • McGlinn DJ, Xiao X, May F, Gotelli NJ, Engel T, Blowes SA, Knight TM, Purschke O, Chase JM, McGill BJ (2019). Measurement of Biodiversity (MoB): A method to separate the scale-dependent effects of species abundance distribution, density, and aggregation on diversity change. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 10(2), 258–269, https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13102.
  • Chase JM, Gooriah L, May F, Ryberg WA, Schuler MS, Craven D, Knight TM (2019) A framework for disentangling ecological mechanisms underlying the island species–area relationship. Frontiers of Biogeography, 11(1), https://doi.org/10.21425/F5FBG40844.
  • Chase JM, Liebergesell M, Sagouis A, May F, Blowes SA, Berg Å, Bernard E, Brosi BJ, Cadotte MW, Cayuela L, Chiarello AG, Cosson J-F, Cresswell W, Dami FD, Dauber J, Dickman CR, Didham RK, Edwards DP, Farneda FZ, Gavish Y, Gonçalves‐Souza T, Guadagnin DL, Henry M, López‐Baucells A, Kappes H, Nally RM, Manu S, Martensen AC, McCollin D, Meyer CFJ, Neckel‐Oliveira S, Nogueira A, Pons J-M, Raheem DC, Ramos FN, Rocha R, Sam K, Slade E, Stireman JO, Struebig MJ, Vasconcelos H, Ziv Y (2019) FragSAD: A database of diversity and species abundance distributions from habitat fragments. Ecology, 100(12), e02861, https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2861.
  • Crawford M, Jeltsch F, May F, Grimm V, Schlägel UE (2019) Intraspecific trait variation increases species diversity in a trait-based grassland model. Oikos, 128(3), 441–455, https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.05567.


  • May F, Gerstner K, McGlinn DJ, Xiao X, Chase JM (2018) mobsim: An r package for the simulation and measurement of biodiversity across spatial scales. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 9(6), 1401–1408, https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12986.
  • Bohn FJ, May F, Huth A (2018) Species composition and forest structure explain the temperature sensitivity patterns of productivity in temperate forests. Biogeosciences, 15(6), 1795–1813, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-15-1795-2018.
  • Chase JM, McGill BJ, McGlinn DJ, May F, Blowes SA, Xiao X, Knight TM, Purschke O, Gotelli NJ (2018) Embracing scale-dependence to achieve a deeper understanding of biodiversity and its change across communities. Ecology Letters, 21(11), 1737–1751, https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13151.
  • Dengler J, Wagner V, Dembicz I, García-Mijangos I, Naqinezhad A, Boch S, ... May F, ..., Biurrun I et al. (2018) GrassPlot – a database of multi-scale plant diversity in Palaearctic grasslands. Phytocoenologia, 48(3), 331–347. https://doi.org/10.1127/phyto/2018/0267.

  • Keil P, Pereira HM, Cabral JS, Chase JM, May F, Martins IS, Winter M (2018) Spatial scaling of extinction rates: Theory and data reveal nonlinearity and a major upscaling and downscaling challenge. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 27(1), 2–13, https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12669.


  • Bergholz K, May F, Giladi I, Ristow M, Ziv Y, Jeltsch F (2017a) Environmental heterogeneity drives fine-scale species assembly and functional diversity of annual plants in a semi-arid environment. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 24, 138–146, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ppees.2017.01.001.
  • Bergholz K, May F, Ristow M, Giladi I, Ziv Y, Jeltsch F (2017b) Two Mediterranean annuals feature high within-population trait variability and respond differently to a precipitation gradient. Basic and Applied Ecology, 25, 48–58, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2017.11.001.
  • Wiegand T, May F, Kazmierczak M, Huth A (2017) What drives the spatial distribution and dynamics of local species richness in tropical forest? Proc. R. Soc. B, 284(1863), 20171503, https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.1503.
  • May F, Wiegand T, Lehmann S, Huth A (2016) Do abundance distributions and species aggregation correctly predict macroecological biodiversity patterns in tropical forests? Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25, 575–585, https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12438.
  • Kazmierczak M, Backmann P, Fedriani JM, Fischer R, Hartmann AK, Huth A, May F, Müller MS, Taubert F, Grimm V, Groeneveld J (2016) Monodominance in tropical forests: modelling reveals emerging clusters and phase transitions. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 13(117), 20160123, https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2016.0123.


  • May F, Huth A, Wiegand T (2015) Moving beyond abundance distributions: neutral theory and spatial patterns in a tropical forest. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 282(1802), 20141657, https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.1657.
  • Velázquez E, Paine CET, May F, Wiegand T (2015) Linking trait similarity to interspecific spatial associations in a moist tropical forest. Journal of Vegetation Science, 26(6), 1068–1079, https://doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12313.
  • Giladi I, May F, Ristow M, Jeltsch F, Ziv Y (2014) Scale-dependent species–area and species–isolation relationships: a review and a test study from a fragmented semi-arid agro-ecosystem. Journal of Biogeography, 41(6), 1055–1069, https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.12299.
  • Weiss L, Pfestorf H, May F, Körner K, Boch S, Fischer M, Müller J, Prati D, Socher SA, Jeltsch F (2014) Grazing response patterns indicate isolation of semi-natural European grasslands. Oikos, 123(5), 599–612, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0706.2013.00957.x.


  • May F, Giladi I, Ristow M, Ziv Y, Jeltsch F (2013a) Plant functional traits and community assembly along interacting gradients of productivity and fragmentation. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 15(6), 304–318, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ppees.2013.08.002.
  • May F, Giladi I, Ristow M, Ziv Y, Jeltsch F. (2013b) Metacommunity, mainland-island system or island communities? Assessing the regional dynamics of plant communities in a fragmented landscape. Ecography, 36(7), 842–853, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0587.2012.07793.x.
  • Jeltsch F, Blaum N, Brose U, Chipperfield JD, Clough Y, Farwig N, Geissler K, Graham CH, Grimm V, Hickler T, Huth A, May F, Meyer KM, Pagel J, Reineking B, Rillig MC, Shea K, Schurr FM, Schröder B, Tielbörger K, Weiss L, Wiegand K, Wiegand T, Wirth C, Zurell D (2013) How can we bring together empiricists and modellers in functional biodiversity research? Basic and Applied Ecology, 14(2), 93–101, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2013.01.001.
  • Gemeinholzer B, May F, Ristow M, Batsch C, Lauterbach D (2012) Strong genetic differentiation on a fragmentation gradient among populations of the heterocarpic annual Catananche lutea L. (Asteraceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution, 298(8), 1585–1596, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-012-0661-1.

2011 and earlier