PD Dr. Mark-Oliver Rödel

Museum für Naturkunde
Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science
Invalidenstrasse 43
10115 Berlin

Phone +49 (0)30 2093 8571
Fax +49 (0)30 2093 8868
E-mail mo.roedel(at)mfn-berlin.de


Research interests

Innerhalb der Herpetologie liegt meine aktuelle Forschung im Gebiet der Systematik und Biodiversitätsforschung mit Schwerpunkten in der Phylogenie und Taxonomie, der Faunistik und Biogeographie sowie der Gemeinschaftsökologie, vorrangig afrikanischer Amphibien und Reptilien. Mein Methodenspektrum deckt Bereiche sowohl der gängigen „traditionellen“ als auch der „modernen“ Arbeitsweisen ab (Morphologie/Anatomie, Genetik, Bioakustik, empirische und experimentelle Labor- und Freilandmethoden). Mich interessieren insbesondere die Klärung der Phylogenie und Taxonomie west- und zentralafrikanischer Amphibien. Meine systematischen und faunistischen Arbeiten haben, neben der Klärung taxonomischer Probleme, dabei zum Ziel, die Evolution der untersuchten Taxa, sowie deren aktuelle und vergangene Verbreitungsmuster zu verstehen. Meine Hoffnung ist es, diese Erkenntnisse letztlich auch nutzen zu können, um die Auswirkungen von Lebensraumveränderungen, inkl. des Klimawandels, auf Amphibien und Reptilien prognostizieren zu können und so zu deren langfristigen Erhaltung beizutragen. Vergleichend untersuchen meine Arbeitsgruppe und ich hierzu auch Amphibien und Reptilien in anderen Regionen der Erde (Europa, Mittel- und Südamerika, Madagaskar, Südostasien).

Research Projects

  • Something on the Petropedetes natator complex & the Conraua alleni complex (Michael Barej)
  • Amphibian communities within changing environments (Joseph Doumbia): Within the World Heritage Site Nimba Mountains, it is examined how amphibian communities change along mountainous rivers under increasing anthropogenic pressure (increasing agriculture, increasing population and mining). Of particular interest are changes over time of the amphibian communities and the influence of environmental parameters on particular species as well as on the communities as a whole.
  • Adaptation potential of selected amphibian species in relation to climate change impacts (Carolin Dittrich): studies via literature research, empirical and experimental field data the adaptive potential of native amphibians to expected changes of temperature and water availability. Main focus are transfer-experiments, where eggs of the yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata) are interchanged between different habitat types and developmental parameters are compared. [Link]
  • Surviving in changing environments - plastic responses or genetic stereotypes? Studies on a population of the common frog in southern Germany (Franziska Grözinger): studies the adaptive potential of a population of the common frog (Rana temporaria) in southern Germany. There, she investigates the cause of the observed differences in developmental traits: are they based on plastic reactions to environmental conditions or are there certain mechanisms leading to a genetic specialization on local scale? [Link]
  • Life-history traits and extinction probabilities in changing environments – montane amphibians in Cameroon as model systems (Mareike Hirschfeld): This project aims to analyse if ecological properties (e.g. distribution, reproductive mode, reproduction potential, and trophic niche) are able to predict a species’ specific adaptation potential. Additionally, we hope to identify phylogenetic independent traits which facilitate and / or constrain species’ adaptation to current or future habitat and climate alterations. [Link]
  • The effect of matrix quality in a fragmented landscape using a hyperdiverse Malagasy amphibian assemblage as an example (Serge Ndriantsoa): investigates the suitability of different types of matrix habitat (deforested land, i.e., rice fields, banana plantations, secondary vegetation) for migration of frogs (influencing frog diversity in forest fragments), and as valuable habitat for some species in the surroundings of Ranomafana National Park (Madagascar). This study aims at identifying important drivers of amphibian community structure in highly fragmented landscapes.
  • Macroecology of West African amphibians (Johannes Penner): investigates the distribution of amphibians and the reasons behind that. The observed patterns are augmented by results from fine grained environmental niche modeling. [Link]
  • Functional consequences of biodiversity loss and fragmentation on ecosystems using a hyperdiverse Malagasy amphibian assemblage as an example (Jana Riemann): investigates the effects of forest fragmentation on species richness, community composition, functional diversity and trophic position of frogs in the Ranomafana National Park and its surroundings (Madagascar). This study aims at understanding how local extinctions depend on functional components of diversity, food web properties and species’ phylogenetic distance, and further, how patterns of amphibian diversity depend on fragmentation related properties of amphibian habitat like forest fragment size and isolation. [Link]
  • Living on the cutting edge? (Laura Sandberger): The Nimba toad – Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis - the only truly viviparous amphibian on Earth, is endemic to the high altitude grasslands of the Nimba Mountains. It is examined what the drivers for the toad’s patchy distribution within a seemingly homogenous habitat are, how the past and present connectivity and metapopulation dynamics develop and the abundances with increasing anthropogenic pressure are monitored. [Link]
  • Management options for amphibian conservation under climate change influences (Nadine Zacharias): reviews within the Habit-Change project behaviour and habitat requirements of selected European amphibian species with a special focus on climate changing impacts. Finally, this will lead towards recommendations for adaptive management plans for protected areas in Eastern Europe, which should incorporate the reduction of climate change stress for amphibians. [Link] [Habit-Change]
  • Amphibian diversity and genetic connectivity along altitudinal and disturbance gradients on Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) (Giulia Zancolli): the study focuses on how the landscape affects amphibian diversity at different levels, from the species to the genes. First assay patterns of species richness and assemblage composition along the southern slope of Mt. Kilimanjaro are studied and compared to other Tanzanian mountains. Secondly, the question is pursued how topographic features, e.g. elevation, slope, vegetation type affect the connectivity and genetic variation of two non-model anuran species which are closely related (genus Amietia) but differ in altitudinal distribution. Finally, loci involved in the adaptation to altitude are identified, using a population genomics approach. [Link]



Grözinger, F., Thein, J., Feldhaar, H. & Rödel, M.-O. (2014): Giants, dwarfs and the environment – metamorphic trait plasticity in the Common Frog. – PLoS ONE, 9(3): e89982. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089982.

Zancolli, G., Steffan-Dewenter, I. & Rödel, M.-O. (2014): Amphibian diversity on the roof of Africa: unveiling the effects of habitat degradation, altitude and biogeography. – Diversity and Distributions, 20: 297-308.

Barej, M.F., Schmitz, A., Günther, R., Loader, S.P., Mahlow, K. & Rödel, M.-O. (2014): The first endemic West African vertebrate family – a new anuran family highlighting the uniqueness of the Upper Guinean biodiversity hotspot. – Frontiers in Zoology, 11: 8. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-11-8.

Rödel, M.-O., Brede, C., Hirschfeld, M., Schmitt, T., Favreau, P., Stöcklin, R., Wunder, C. & Mebs, D. (2013): Chemical camouflage – a frog’s strategy to co-exist with aggressive ants. – PLoS ONE, 8(12): e81950. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081950.

Adum, G.B., Eichhorn, M.P., Oduro, W., Ofori-Boateng, C. & Rödel, M.-O. (2013): Two-stage recovery of amphibian assemblages following selective logging of tropical forests. – Conservation Biology, 27: 354-363.

Channing, A., Rödel, M.-O. & Channing, J. (2012): Tadpoles of Africa – The biology and identification of all known tadpoles in sub-Saharan Africa. – Frankfurt Contributions to Natural History, Vol. 55, Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt/M., 402 pp.

Last update: 09.01.2015