Department of Biology
Institute for Plant Science and Microbiology
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Ute Schmiedel

Dr. rer. nat., Staatsexamen in Biology and History

Postdoctoral research associate

Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology of Plants (BEE)
Institute for Plant Science and Microbiology
University of Hamburg
Ohnhorststr. 18
22609 Hamburg, Germany

e-mail   ute.schmiedel@uni-hamburg.de

phone:  +4940 42816-548
Fax:  +4940 42816-539
room: 2.517
Availability: by arrangement

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Research focus

  • Biodiversity and land use in the southwestern South Africa (see for instance involvement in BIOTA Southern Africa). Biodiversity, its use and relevance for land users as well as their impacts on natural resources is being determined by a participatory approach in order to jointly develop sustainable management strategies.
  • Increasing adaptive capacity of small-scale farmers on climate change conditions. The transdisciplinary and integrative research project (Mechal) aims to identify, evaluate and, where appropriate, adjust existing strategies to cope with droughts in order to develop farming practices adapted to changing climatic conditions in semi-arid areas of South Africa and Ethiopia through an action research approach. Since rural women are among the most vulnerable land users the project team will generate specific strategies to enable them to meet their particular needs.
  • Vegetation ecology of semi-arid areas of the western South Africa. Vegetation patterns, structural adaptations (plant functional traits) and their environmental drivers.
  • Habitat ecology, flora and phytogeographical patterns, effects of disturbance and restoration of the quartz fields of southern Africa. Quartz fields represent a unique special habitat type in the semi-arid southwestern South Africa; a habitat of numerous local endemics. Quartz fields are in the centre of several conservation schemes in the Succulent Karoo Biome (i.e. Knersvlakte conservation area, several nature reserves in the Little Karoo and Namaqua National Park). The research focus is on ecological driving factors of the quartz field vegetation, the impact of land use activities on the quartz fields and restoration measures for disturbed quartz fields.
  • Participatory approaches in applied biodiversity research. In the context of the Para-Ecologist Programmes within BIOTA Southern Africa and The Future Okavango , members of the local land-user communities are being employed full-time and in training courses and during current research activities instructed on the subjects of practical biodiversity research and -monitoring. In the course of this the para-ecologists undertake an important function as local reference persons for the travelled scientists and as contact person for land-users to support and facilitate the exchange between academical biodiversity researchers and land-users.  http://www.biota-africa.org/reg_south_paraecol_ba.php?Level2=1&Page_ID=L800_05_06

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Personal data

Born 17.01.1965 in Helsinki, Finland

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Scientific education

2002 PhD thesis: The quartz fields of southern Africa: Flora, phytogeography, vegetation, and habitat ecology. Botanical Institute, University of Cologne, Germany
1995 - 2002 Studies on the flora, vegetation and habitat ecology of the quartz fields of southern Africa with extended field trips to southern Africa (Namibia and South Africa)
1994 State examination/-, Staatsexamen thesis: Standortökologische und strukturelle Untersuchungen zur Vegetation der Quarzflaechen in der Knersvlakte (Südafrika) [Ecological and structural investigations on the vegetation of quartz pebble fields in the Knersvlakte (South Africa)].
Academic advisor: Norbert Jürgens
1988 - 1993 Study of Biology, History and Educational Science at the University of Hamburg, Germany
1985 - 1987 Vocational training as horticulturist (nursery)

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Professional experience

Since 2010 Member of researcher team of The Future Okavango; researcher in SP05 (Botany); coordinator of the para-ecologist programme in SP10 (Stakeholder involvement)   The Future Okavango
Since 2010 Member of the coordination team of the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL)
Since 2009 Coordinator of the transdisciplinary, international research project Mechal (funded by the Volkswagen Foundation)
2000 - 2010 Senior researcher and co-ordinator of the botanical subproject (S06) within BIOTA Southern Africa of the BIOLOG programme   BIOTA
1997 - 1998 Data collection and analysis for a vegetation map of the Knersvlakte. The map has been incorporated into the New Vegetation Map of Southern Africa

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Further activities

Since 2004 Steering Committee Arid Zone Ecology Forum (South Africa)    Arid Zone Ecology Forum (South Africa)
2004 - 2010 Co-ordinator and senior trainer of the para-ecologist training programme of BIOTA Southern Africa (employment and training of members of local land-user communities as research assistants)

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See List of Publications

Conference contributions

See List of Conference contributions


MSc. Module Ecology and biodiversity of Africa [since winter term 2009/10]

  • Seminar Ecology and Biodiversity of Africa
  • Field course in Africa

Supervision of theses

See List of Supervision of theses

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Imprint  /  last update: 2013-05-07  by: Ute Schmiedel DE