Michelle Szyja

Doctoral student


Room: 70/221
Phone: 0631 - 205 4402


Plant Ecology & Systematics
Faculty of Biology
University of Kaiserslautern
PO-BOX 3049
67653 Kaiserslautern

Research interests

Increasing drought and agriculture belong, worldwide, to the main factors of global change. Semiarid habitats are especially endangered by this, as they are already limitated due to drought and are also intensely used for agriculture. Especially in the brazilian dry forest of the nationalpark Catimbau (Caatinga, Brazil) which is under continuous anthorpogenic disturbance, and also a key-habitat to investigate climate change, this phenomenon is strong. During my Ph.D. I will be investigating the impact of anthropogenic induced disturbance on this ecosystem and will be developing methods for a sustainable agriculture. The main question of the DAAD-financed project is: How does continuous anthropogenic disturbance influence key organisms and the regeneration of ecosystems and how such effects are modulated by agricultural intensity and precipitaion. Three main topics are adressed. (1) How do ecological key organisms react to continuous disturbances (leaf cutting ants and Biological Soil Crusts in this thesis)? (2) What are the consequences of these complex reactions concerning regeneration of vegetation? (3) What consequences can therefore be identified for ecosystem services in these habitats?

The results of this thesis will help to model scenarios of future biotic changes as well as help to define a more sustainable develop strategie to preserve ecosystem integrity.


Botanical Excursions (Arten- und Vegetationskundliche Exkursionen, BIO-PÖS-18-W-9) – field course

Plant Ecology  (FP Pflanzenökologie II, BIO-PÖS-12-L-7) – field course, lectures and seminar

Plant Ecology I (Aufbau-/ Vertiefungspraktikum Pflanzenökologie 1 Grundlagen, BIO-PÖS-02-L-7) - field course, lectures and seminar

Presentations at Meetings

Colesie, C., Szyja, M.C., Büdel, B. (2016) Secrets of success: Ecophysiological traits of early successional soil crusts. - BIOCRUST 3 - Third International Workshop on Biological Soil Crusts. Moab, Utah, USA.


Coming soon