Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology

PD Dr. Marcell K. Peters

Akademischer Oberrat

Telephone: +49 (0)931 31-83330
Fax:             +49 (0)931 31-84352
e-Mail:  marcell.peters@uni-wuerzburg.de
ORCID: 0000-0002-1262-0827

Room C043

University of Würzburg
Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology
Biocenter -  Am Hubland

97074 Würzburg, Germany

  • Patters and drivers of montane biodiversity, organismic traits and ecosystem functions
  • Land use change and its effect on biodiversity and ecosystem functions
  • Multi-taxa approaches in community ecology  
  • Army ants and ant-following birds
  • DNA barcoding

DFG-Research Unit Kilimanjaro, Syn5 Kilimanjaro ecosystems under global change: Linking biodiversity, biotic interactions and biogeochemical ecosystem processes. Funded by the DFG.

Marcell Peters, Jie Zhang, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter

Urban Trees:  Do exotic trees maitain native insect communities. Project funded by the DBU.

Marcell Peters, Susanne Böll (LWG)

ANDIV:  Patterns and drivers of insect diversity and their microbiome along a complete forest elevational gradient in the Peruvian Andes. Project funded by the DFG.

Marcell Peters, Ingolf Steffan-Deweneter, Alexander Keller, Gunnar Brehm (Phyletisches Museum, Jena)


  • 2018 Habilitation in Zoology at the University of Würzburg
  • Since 11/2017 Akademischer Rat (permanent position) at the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg
  • 2010-2017 Research Associate at the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg, scientific coordinator of the DFG research unit Kilimanjaro
  • 2008-2010 PostDoc at the ZFMK (Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum A. Koenig), project: „Ant and termite communities along a habitat degradation gradient: patterns and consequences for ecosystem function
  • 2008 Ph.D. ZFMK / University of Bonn, 'Effects of habitat fragmentation on African swarm-raiding army ants and ant-following birds'
  • 2006 Visiting student in the social insect group of Prof. J.J. Boomsma, Copenhagen: molecular analyses on population structure of army ants
  • 2004-2007 PhD studies at the University of Bonn
  • 2003 Diploma in Biology at the University of Bonn/ ZFMK ‘Influence of rainforest fragmentation of East African army ants’, Supervisor: Prof. Dr. C. M. Naumann
  • 1999 Research project on seed dispersal by ants at the RWTH Aachen
  • 1996-2003 Studies in Biology at the RWTH AachenUniversity of WürzburgUniversity of Bonn

Dzekashu FF, Yusuf AA, Pirk CWW, Steffan-Dewenter I, Lattorff HMG, Peters MK (accepted) Floral turnover and climate drive seasonal bee diversity along a tropical elevation gradient. Ecosphere.

Njovu HK, Gebert F, Schellenberger Costa D, Kleyer M, Wagner T, Steffan-Dewenter I, Peters MK (2021) Plant traits mediate the effects of climate on phytophagous beetle diversity on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Ecology: https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3521.

Albrecht J*, Peters MK*, Becker JN, Behler C, Classen A, Ensslin A, Ferger SW, Gebert F, Gerschlauer F, Helbig-Bonitz M, Kindeketa WJ, Kühnel A, Mayr AV, Njovu HN, Pabst H, Pommer U, Röder J, Rutten G, Schellenberger Costa D, Sierra-Cornejo N, Vogeler A, Vollstädt MGR, Dulle HI, Eardley CD, Howell KM, Keller A, Peters RS, Kakengi V, Hemp C, Zhang J, Manning P, Mueller T, Bogner C, Böhning-Gaese K, Brandl R, Hertel D, Huwe B, Kiese R, Kleyer M, Leuschner C, Kuzyakov Y, Nauss T, Tschapka M, Fischer M, Hemp A, Steffan-Dewenter I, Schleuning M (2021) Species richness is more important for ecosystem functioning than species turnover along an elevational gradient. Nature Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01550-9 *equal contribution.

Lasway JV, Kinabo NR, Mremi RF, Martin EH, Nyakunga OC, Sanya J, Rwegasira GM, Lesio N, Gideon H, Pauly A, Eardley C, Peters MK, Peterson AT, Steffan-Dewenter I, Njovu HK (2021) A synopsis of the Bee occurrence data of Northern Tanzania. Biodiversity Data Journal 9: e68190.

Mayr AV, Requier F, Peters MK, Steffan-Dewenter I (2021) Seasonal variation in the ecology of tropical cavity-nesting Hymenoptera on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Frontiers in Biogeography 13: https://doi.org/10.21425/F5FBG49389.

Mayr AV, Keller A, Peters MK, Grimmer G, Krischke B, Geyer M, Schmitt T, Steffan-Dewenter I (2021) Cryptic species and hidden ecological interactions of halictine bees along an elevational gradient. Ecology and Evolution 11:7700-7712.

Sagwe RN, Peters MK, Dubois T, Steffan-Dewenter I, Lattorff MG (2021) Pollinator supplementation mitigates pollination deficits in smallholder avocado (Persea americana Mill.) production systems in Kenya. Basic and Applied Ecology 56:392-400.

Tommasi  N, Biella P, Guzzetti L, Lasway JV, Njovu H, Tapparo A, Agostinetto G, Peters MK, Steffan-Dewenter I, Labra M, Galimberti A (2021) Impact of land use intensification and local features on plants and pollinators in Sub-Saharan smallholding farms. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 319:107560.

Peters MK, Classen A, Müller J, Steffan-Dewenter I (2020) Increasing the phylogenetic coverage for understanding broad-scale diversity gradients. Oecologia 192:854-865.

Classen A, Eardley CD, Hemp A, Peters MK, Peters RS, Ssymank A, Steffan-Dewenter I (2020) Specialization of plant-pollinator interactions increases with temperature at Mt. Kilimanjaro. Ecology and Evolution 10:2182-2195.

Mayr AV, Peters MK, Eardley CD, Renner ME, Röder J, Steffan-Dewenter I (2020) Climate and food resources shape species richness and trophic interactions of cavity-nesting Hymenoptera. Journal of Biogeography 47:854-865.

Gebert F, Steffan-Dewenter I, Moretto P, Peters MK (2020) Climate rather than dung resources predict dung beetle abundance and diversity along elevational and land use gradients on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Journal of Biogeography 47:371-381.

Dainese M, …, Peters MK, et al. (2019) A global synthesis reveals biodiversity-mediated benefits for crop production. Science Advances 5:eaax0121.

Böll S, Mahsberg D, Albrecht R, Peters MK (2019) Urbane Artenvielfalt fördern: Arthropodenvielfalt auf heimischen und gebietsfremden Stadtbäumen. Naturschutz und Landschaftsplanung 51:576-583.

Gebert F, Njovu HK, Treydte AC, Steffan-Dewenter I, Peters MK (2019) Primary productivity and habitat protection predict elevational species richness and community biomass of large mammals on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Journal of Animal Ecology 88:1860-1872.

Njovu HK, Peters MK, Schellenberger Costa D, Brandl R, Kleyer M, Steffan-Dewenter I (2019) Leaf traits mediate changes in insect herbivory along broad environmental gradients on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Journal of Animal Ecology 88: 1777-1788.

Peters MK, Hemp A, Appelhans T, Becker JN, Behler C, Classen A, Cornejo NS, Detsch F, Ensslin A, Ferger SW, Frederiksen SB, Gebert F, Gerschlauer F, Gütlein A, Haas M, Helbig-Bonitz M, Hemp C, Kindeketa WJ, Kühnel A, Mayr A, Mwangomo E, Ngereza C, Njovu HN, Otte I, Pabst H, Renner M, Röder J, Rutten G, Schellenberger Costa D, Vollstädt MGR, Eardley CD, Keller A, Peters RS, Ssymank A, Kakengi V, Zhang J, Bogner C, Böhning-Gaese K, Brandl R, Hertel D, Huwe B, Kiese R, Kleyer M, Kuzyakov Y, Nauss T, Schleuning M, Tschapka M, Fischer M, Steffan-Dewenter I (2019) Climate-land-use interactions shape tropical mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Nature 568:88-92.

Samuel Ross SRP-J, Hita Garcia F, Fischer G, Peters MK (2018) Selective logging intensity in an East African rain forest predicts reductions in ant diversity. Biotropica 50:768-778.

Albrecht J, Classen A, Mayr A, Mollel NP, Schellenberger Costa D, Vollstädt MGR, Dulle HI, Fischer M, Hemp A, Howell KM, Kleyer M, Nauss T, Peters MK, Tschapka M, Steffan-Dewenter I, Böhning-Gaese K, Schleuning M (2018) Plant and animal functional diversity drive mutualistic network assembly across an elevational gradient. Nature Communications 9:3177.

Thormann B, Ahrens D, Espinosa CI, Armijos DM, Wagner T, Wägele JW, Peters MK (2018) Small-scale topography modulates elevational α-, β- and γ-diversity of Andean leaf beetles. Oecologia 187: 181-189.

Butler IA, Peters MK, Kronauer DJC (2018) Low levels of hybridization in two species of African driver ants. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 31: 556–571.

Herbst C, Arnold-Schwandner S, Meiners T, Peters MK, Rothenwöhrer C, Steckel J, Wäschke N, Westphal C, Obermaier E (2017) Direct and indirect effects of agricultural intensification on a host-parasitoid system on the ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) in a landscape context. Landscape Ecology 32:2015-2028.

Ferger SW, Peters MK, Appelhans T, Detsch F, Nauss T, Otte I, Böhning-Gaese K., Schleuning M (2017) Synergistic effects of climate and habitat change on avian beta diversity. Diversity and Distributions 23: 1246–1255.

Schellenberger Costa D, Classen A, Ferger S, Helbig-Bonitz M, Peters MK, Böhning-Gaese K, Steffan-Dewenter I, Kleyer M (2017). Do plant functional traits predict animal body size? PLoS One 12: e0174157.

Classen A, Steffan-Dewenter I, Kindeketa W, Peters MK (2017) Integrating intraspecific variation in community ecology unifies contrasting theories on body size shifts along climatic gradients. Functional Ecology 31:768-777.

Röder J, Detsch F, Appelhans T, Nauss T, Otte I, Peters MK, Brandl R (2017) Heterogeneous patterns of abundance of epigeic arthropod lineages along a major elevation gradient. Biotropica 49:217-228.

Hudsen LN, …., Peters MK, et al. (2017) The database of the PREDICTS (Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems) project. Ecology and Evolution 7:145-188.

Peters MK, Hemp A, Appelhans T, Behler C, Classen A, Detsch F, Ensslin A, Ferger SW, Frederiksen SB, Gebert F, Haas M, Helbig-Bonitz M, Hemp C, Kindeketa WJ, Mwangomo E, Ngereza C, Otte I, Röder J, Rutten G, Schellenberger Costa D, Tardanico J, Zancolli G, Deckert J, Eardley CD, Peters RS, Rödel M-O, Schleuning M, Ssymank A, Kakengi V, Zhang J, Böhning-Gaese K, Brandl R, Kalko EKV, Kleyer M, Nauss T, Tschapka M, Fischer M, Steffan-Dewenter I (2016) Predictors of elevational biodiversity gradients change from single taxa to the multi-taxa community level. Nature Communications 7:13736.

Peters MK, Peisker J, Steffan-Dewenter I, Hoiss B (2016) Morphological traits are linked to the cold performance and distribution of bees along elevational gradients. Journal of Biogeography 43:2040-2049.

Thormann B, Ahrens D, Armijos DSM, Peters MK, Wagner T, Wägele JW (2016) Exploring the leaf beetle fauna (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) of an Ecuadorian mountain forest with DNA barcoding. PLoS One 11: e0148268.

Kuppler J, Fricke J, Hemp C, Steffan-Dewenter I, Peters MK (2015) Conversion of savannah habitats to agriculture and its effects on grasshopper communities at Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Journal of Insect Conservation 19:509–518.

Classen A, Peters MK, Kindeketa WJ, Appelhans A, Eardley CD, Gikungu MW, Hemp A, Nauss T, Steffan-Dewenter I (2015) Temperature versus resource constraints: which factors determine bee diversity on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania? Global Ecology and Biogeography 24:642-652.

Peters MK, Mayr T, Röder J, Sanders N, Steffan-Dewenter I (2014) Variation in nutrient use by ant assemblages along an extensive environmental gradient on Mt Kilimanjaro. Journal of Biogeography 41:2245–2255.

Steckel J, Westphal C, Peters MK , Bellach M, Rothenwoehrer C, Erasmi S , Scherber C, Tscharntke T, Steffan-Dewenter I (2014) Landscape composition and configuration differently affect trap‑nesting bees, wasps and their antagonists. Biological Conservation 172:56-64.

Classen A, Peters MK, Ferger SW, Helbig-Bonitz M, Schmack J, Maassen G, Schleuning M, Kalko EKV, Böhning-Gaese K, Steffan-Dewenter I (2014) Complementary ecosystem services of pest predators and pollinators increase quantity and quality of coffee yields. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 281:20133148.

Peters MK, Fischer G, Hita Garcia F, Lung T, Wägele JW (2013) Spatial variation in army ant swarm raiding and its potential effect on biodiversity. Biotropica 45:54-62.

Fischer G, Hita Garcia F, Peters MK (2012) Taxonomy of the ant genus Pheidole Westwood (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in the Afrotropical zoogeographic region: definition of species groups and systematic revision of the Pheidole pulchella group. Zootaxa 3232:1-43.

Lung T, Peters MK, Farwig N, Böhning-Gaese K, Schaab G (2012) Combining long-term land-cover time series and field observations for spatially explicit predictions on changes in tropical forest biodiversity. International Journal for Remote Sensing 33:13-40.

Schleuning M, Farwig N, Peters MK, Bergsdorf B, Bleher B, Brandl R, Dalitz H, Fischer G, Freund W, Gikungu MW, Hagen M, Hita Garcia F, Kagezi GH, Kaib M, Kraemer M, Lung T, Naumann CM, Schaab G, Templin M, Uster D, Wägele JW, Böhning-Gaese K (2011) Differential responses of multiple animal-mediated ecosystem processes to fragmentation and logging of a tropical rainforest. PLoS One 6:e27785

Kronauer DJC*, Peters MK*, Schöning C, Boomsma JJ (2011) Hybridization in East African swarm-raiding army ants (Dorylus subgenus Anomma). Frontiers in Zoology 8:20. *both authors contributed equally

Thormann B, Raupach MJ, Wagner T, Wägele JW, Peters MK (2011) Testing a short nuclear marker for inferring staphylinid beetle diversity in an African tropical rain forest. PLoS One 6:e18101.

Peters MK, Lung T, Schaab G, Wägele JW (2011) Deforestation and the population decline of the army ant Dorylus wilverthi in western Kenya over the last century. Journal of Applied Ecology 48:697-705.

Hita Garcia F, Fischer G, Peters MK (2010) Taxonomy of the Tetramorium weitzeckeri species group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Afrotropical zoogeographical region - revision, synopsis, and key to Afrotropical species. Zootaxa 2704:1-90. (Monograph)

Hita Garcia F, Fischer G, Kück P, Thormann B, Peters MK (2010) Tetramorium boehmei sp. n. - a new rainforest species from the T. camerunense species group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Western Kenya. Bonn Zoological Bulletin 57:359-366.

Raupach MJ, Astrin J, Hannig K, Peters MK, Stoeckle MY, Wägele JW (2010) Molecular species identification of Central European ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) using nuclear rDNA expansion segments and DNA barcodes. Frontiers in Zoology 7:26.

Peters G, Peters MK (2010) The evolution of spectral characters of long-distance calls in the cat family (Mammalia: Felidae) – effects of body weight, habitat, and phylogeny. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 101:487-500.

Hita Garcia F, Fischer G, Peters MK (2010) Tetramorium snellingi sp. n. - a new leaf-litter ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from a Western Kenyan rainforest. Myrmecological News 13:141-146.

Peters MK (2010) Ant-following and the prevalence of blood parasites in birds of African rainforests. Journal of Avian Biology 41:105-110.

Hita Garcia F, Fischer G, Snelling RR, Peters MK, Wägele JW (2009) A preliminary checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Kakamega Forest and the surrounding area in Western Kenya. Journal of East African Natural History 98:147-165.

Peters MK, Okalo B (2009) Severe declines of ant-following birds in African rainforest fragments are facilitated by a subtle change in army ant communities. Biological Conservation 142:2050-2058.

Peters G, Baum L, Peters MK, Tonkin-Leyhausen B (2009) Spectral characteristics of long-distance calls in cat species of the genus Felis (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) living in different habitat types. Journal of Ethology 27:221-237.

Peters MK, Fischer G, Schaab G, Kraemer M (2009) Species compensation maintains abundance and raid rates of African swarm-raiding army ants in rainforest fragments. Biological Conservation 142:668-675.

Peters MK (2008) Ameisenfolgende Vögel in einem guineo-kongolischen Regenwald Kenias und ihre Gefährdung durch Regenwaldfragmentierung. Koenigiana 2:3-8.

Mammides C, Cords M, Peters MK (2008) Effects of habitat disturbance and food supply on population densities of three primate species in the Kakamega Forest, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 47:87-96.

Schöning C, Peters MK (2008) Dorylus army ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). In: Kühne L (ed.): Butterflies and moth diversity of the Kakamega Forest (Kenya). Selbstverlag, Potsdam-Babelsberg.

Peters MK, Likare S, Kraemer M (2008) Effects of habitat fragmentation and degradation on flocks of African ant-following birds. Ecological Applications 18:847-858.

Peters M, Oberrath R, Böhning-Gaese K (2003) Seed dispersal by ants: are seed preferences influenced by foraging strategies or historical constraints? Flora 198:413-420.