Lehrstuhl für Tierökologie und Tropenbiologie

Dr. Alice Claßen


Telephone: +49 (0)931 31-82793
Fax:             +49 (0)931 31-84352
e-Mail:  alice.classen@uni-wuerzburg.de

ORCID: 0000-0002-7813-8806

Room C044

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

97074 Würzburg, Germany

  • Ecological and evolutionary forces shaping the functional and phylogenetic diversity of insects along elevational gradients
  • macroecology
  • tropical plant-pollinator interaction networks
  • Ecosystem service capacity of pollinators

ADaptation of Alpine Pollinators in Times of Global Change (ADAPT)

Head of junior research group in the Bavarian climate research network ("Bayerischen Klimaforschungsnetzwerk (bayklif)")


Alice Claßen, Kristof Brenzinger (PostDoc), Anne Fabienne Maihoff (PhD), Janika Kerner (PhD), Nikki Sauer (Master)



Peter Väth (TA)

Manuel Kuhn (Bachelor student)

Simon Schoger (Bachelor student)

Lukas Bofinger (Master student)

Irina Schemm (Bachelor student)

Elisa Treffehn (Bachelor student)

Simone Sahler (Bachelor student)

Katharina Kallnik (TA)


The research group ADAPT

ADAPT investigates how pollinators respond to climatic changes. We explore this at different levels of biological organization, i.e. from a molecular level up to the communtiy level.

Our main research questions are:

(1) How did pollinator communities in the national park Berchtesgaden change along elevational gradients within the last 10 years?

(2) Do pollinators that strongly respond to climatic changes share certain traits?

(3) How do bumblebee colonies perform in different climate and how do they respond to a climatic changes?

(4) What is the molecular basis of thermal adaptation in Bombus lucorum?

(5) How does land use impact the adaptation capacity of pollinator species?


Kilimanjaro Project SP7Effects of climate und land use change on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of pollinators and decomposers

Alice ClaßenIngolf Steffan-Dewenter

  • Seit 2018 Leader of the junior research group "ADaptation of Alpine Pollinators in Times of global change" (ADAPT). University of Würzburg, Germany. 
  • 2015 - 2017 Postdoc at the University of Würzburg, Germany. Project: KiLi Sub Project 7: Effects of climate und land use change on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of pollinators and decomposers
  • 2015: 6 months full-time partental leave (back in part time position) 
  • 2010-2014 PhD student at the University of Würzburg, Germany. Project: KiLi Sub Project 7: Effects of climate und land use change on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of pollinators and decomposers
  • 2009 Diploma thesis in the population genetics group of the Dep. of Entomology, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena (Germany). Subject: “On the trail of evolution: Which factors cause intraspecific variation in the sex pheromone of heliothine moths?”
  • 2008 field research on heliothine moths in North Carolina State University, Dept. Entomology, 3107 Gardner Hall, Raleigh, NC.
  • 2007 voluntary work in the cloud and rain forest of South America, Jatun Sacha Foundation, Ecuador.
  • 2004-09 Studies in Biology (majored in ecology) at the Free University of Berlin, Germany.

under review

Maihoff F, Friess N, Hoiss B, Kerner J, Schmid-Egger C, Neumayer J, Hopfenmüller S, Bässler C, Mueller J, Classen A (under review) Smaller, more diverse and on the way to the top: rapid community shifts of montane wild bees over a decade.

Kerner J, Bofinger L, Krauss J, Maihoff AF, Classen A. (under review) Alpine butterflies want to fly high: Species and communities shift upwards faster than their host plants. 

Brenzinger K, Maihoff F, Peters MK, Schimmer L, Bischler T, Classen A (under review) Temperature and livestock grazing triggers transcriptome responses in bumblebees along an elevational gradient. 

peer reviewed

Sponsler D, Requier F, Kallnik K, Classen A, Maihoff AF, Sieger J, Steffan-Dewenter I (2022) Contrasting patterns of richness, abundance, and turnover in mountain bumble bees and their floral hosts. Ecology 103: e3712. 

Ziegler A, Meyer H, Otte I, Peters MK, Appelhans T, Behler C, Böhning-Gaese K, Classen A, Detsch F, Deckert J,  Eardley CD, Ferger SW, Fischer M, Gebert F, Haas M, Helbig-Bonitz M, Hemp A, Hemp C, Kakengi V, Mayr AV, Ngereza C, Reudenbach C, Röder J, Rutten G, Schellenberger Costa D, Schleuning M, Ssymank A, Steffan-Dewenter I, Tardanico J, Tschapka M, Vollstädt M, Wöllauer SS, Zhang J, Brandl R, Nauss T (2022) Potential of LiDAR for the prediction of animal species richness at Mount Kilimanjaro. Remote Sensing 14, 786.

Moreaux C, Meireles DAL, Sonne J, Badano EI, Classen A, Gonzáles-Chaves A, Hipólito J, Klein A-M, Maruyama PK, Metzger JP, Philpott SM, Rahbek C, Saturni FT, Sritongchuay T, Tscharntke T, Uno S, Vergara CH, Viana BF, Strange N, Dalsgaard Bo (2022) The value of dense forest for biotic pollination of Arabica coffee: a global assessment. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 323, 107680.

Sponsler D, Kallnik K, Requier F, Classen A, Maihoff AF, Sieger J, Steffan-Dewenter (2021). Floral preferences of mountain bumble bees are constrained by functional traits but flexible through elevation and season. Oikos 00: 1-12. OPEN ACCESS http://doi.org/10.1111/oik.08902

Welti EAR, Zajicek P, Frenzel M, Ayasse M, Bornholdt T, Buse J, Classen A, Dziock F, Engelmann RA, Englmeier J, Fellendorf M, Förschler MI, Fricke U, Ganuza C,  Hippke M, Hoenselaar G, Kaus-Thiel A, Kerner J, Kilian D, Mandery K, Marten A,  Monaghan MT, Morkel C, Müller J, Puffpaff S, Redlich S, Richter R, Rojas-Botero S, Scharnweber T, Scheiffarth,  Schmidt Yáñez P, Schumann R, Seibold S, Steffan-Dewenter I, Stoll S, Tobisch C, Twietmeyer S, Uhler J, Vogt J, Weis D, Weisser WW, Wilmking M, Haase P (2021) Temperature drives variation in flying insect biomass across a German Malaise trap network. Insect Conservation and Diversity  OPEN ACCESS https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12555

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 HK, 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

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 RS, Peters MK, Steffan-Dewenter I (2020). Specialization of plant–pollinator interactions increases with temperature at Mt. Kilimanjaro. Ecology and Evolution 00:1–14. OPEN ACCESS

Dainese M, Martin EA, Aizen M, Albrecht M, Bartomeus I, (...) Classen A, et al. (2019) A global synthesis reveals biodiversity-mediated benefits for crop production. Science Advances 5 (10), eaax0121.

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, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1048-z.

Maas B, Heath S, Grass I, Cassano C, Classen A, Faria D, Gras P, Williams-Guillén K, Johnson M, Karp D, Linden V, Martínez Salinas MA, Schmack J, Kross S (early online). Experimental field exclosure of birds and bats in agricultural systems - methodological insights, potential improvements, and cost-benefit trade-offs. Basic and Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1016/j.baae.2018.12.002

Nojima S, Classen A, Groot A, Schal C (2018) Qualitative and quantitative analysis of chemicals emitted from the pheromone gland of individual Heliothis subflexa females. PLOS ONE 13(8): e0202035. OPEN ACCESS

Albrecht J, Classen A, Vollstädt MGR, Mayr A, Mollel NP, Schellenberger Costa D, 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. OPEN ACCESS

Groot A, Nojima S, Heath JJ, Ammagarahalli B, van Wijk M, Classen A, Santangelo RG, Lopez J, Schal C (2018) Alcohol contributes to attraction of Heliothis (=Chloridea) virescens males to females. Journal of Chemical Ecology 44: 621-630. doi: 10.1007/s10886-018-0995-4

Schellenberger Costa D, Classen A, Ferger SW, Helbig-Bonitz M, Peters MK, Böhning-Gaese K, Steffan-Dewenter I, Kleyer M (2017). Relationships between abiotic environment, plant functional traits, and animal body size at Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. PLOS ONE 12 (3): e0174157. OPEN ACCESS

Classen A, Steffan-Dewenter I, Kindeketa WJ, Peters MK (2017). Integrating intraspecific variation in community ecology unifies contrasting theories on body size shifts along climatic gradients. Functional Ecology  31 (3): 768-777. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12786

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. OPEN ACCESS.

Classen A, Peters MK, Kindeketa WJ, Appelhans T, Eardley C, Gikungu MW, Hemp A, Nauss T, and Steffan-Dewenter I (2015) Temperature versus resource constraints: which factors determine bee diversity on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania? Global Ecology and Biogeography 24(6): 642-652. doi: 10.1111/geb.12286 

Classen A, Peters MK, Ferger SW, Helbig-Bonitz M, Schmack JM, Maassen G, Schleuning M, Kalko EKV, Böhning-Gaese K, and Steffan-Dewenter I (2014). Complementary ecosystem services provided by pest predators and pollinators increase quanitity and quality of coffee yields. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20133148. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.3148

Groot AT, Schöfl G, Inglis O,Donnerhacke S, Classen A, Schmalz A, Santangelo RG, Emerson J, Gould F, Schal C, and Heckel DG (2014). Within-population variability in a moth sex phermone blend: genetic basis and behavioural consequences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20133054.

Groot AT,  Classen A, Inglis O, Blanco CA,  Lopez J Jr, Vargas AT, Schal C, Heckel DG and Schoefl G (2011). Genetic differentiation across North America in the generalist moth Heliothis virescens and the specialist H. subflexaMolecular Ecology 20: 2676-2692.

Groot AT, Classen A, Staudacher H, Schal C, and Heckel DG (2010). Phenotypic plasticity in sexual communication signal of a noctuid moth. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23: 2731-2738.

Groot AT, Blanco CA, Classen A, Inglis O, Santangelo RG, Lopez J Jr, Heckel DG and Schal C (2010). Variation in Sexual Communication of the Tobacco Budworm, Heliothis virescens. Southwestern Entomologist 35: 367-372.