Universitaet Bern Institute of Plant Sciences swissuniversity.ch  
Plant Sciences

Grassland Ecology


PD Dr. Andreas Stampfli

University of Bern
Altenbergrain 21
CH-3013 Bern
phone +41 (0)31910 21 98
e-mail Andreas.Stampfli@ips.unibe.ch

Postdoc researcher
Dr. Michaela Zeiter

Research Focus

Changes in land use and climatic variation affect semi-natural meadows. We are interested in the variability of structure and productivity across time and the mechanisms by which plant species with different life history traits regenerate and maintain species rich communities. Our observations and experiments are based on measurements in the field. Three long-term study sites are located in the Southern Alps. We run complementary studies on soil seed banks and growth of seedlings from different origin in a laboratory in the Botanical Garden Bern.


Automated instruments control the input of rain water to the meadow plots
Numerous plants flower in the third year after sowing
After 16 years of resumed mowing, Brachypodium pinnatum still dominates in this formerly abandoned meadow
Influence of drought on regeneration and vegetation change
(Swiss NSF grants 31-100612, 31-112639)

In the context of global climatic change ecologists expect that radical or irreversible vegetation changes, involving local extinctions and invasions, are most likely to follow extreme events.

Regeneration and long-term dynamics in grasslands of southern Switzerland
(Swiss NSF grant 31-55917.98)

Throughout Europe changes in land use have affected the plant species composition of meadows. This has led to an increased interest in processes which allow many species to regenerate and maintain species-rich meadows.

Vegetation dynamics in meadows and abandoned grasslands
(Swiss NSF grant 31-41922.94)

During a period of 10 years, from 1988 to 1997, we monitored the species composition in dry grasslands of high species richness at experimental sites in the ‘lower montane zone’ of the southern Alps in Switzerland.


List of publications

Peer-reviewed Articles, own research

Peer-reviewed Articles, research collaboration

  • Henne, Paul Daniel; Bigalke, Moritz; Büntgen, Ulf; Colombaroni, Daniele; Conedera, Marco; Feller, Urs; David, Frank; Fuhrer, Jürg; Grosjean, Martin; Heiri, Oliver; Luterbacher, Jürg; Mestrot, Adrien; Rigling, Andreas; Rössler, Ole Kristen; Rohr, Christian; Rutishauser, This; Schwikowski, Margit; Stampfli, Andreas; Szidat, Sönke; Theurillat, Jean-Paul; ... (2018). An Empirical Perspective for Understanding Climate Change Impacts in Switzerland. Regional Environmental Change, 18(1), S. 205-221. Springer 10.1007/s10113-017-1182-9
  • De Boeck, HJ; Hiltbrunner, E; Verlinden, M; Bassin, S; Zeiter, M. 2018. Legacy Effects of Climate Extremes in Alpine Grassland. Frontiers in Plant Science 9: 1586  [pdf]
  • Stuart-Haëntjens, E; De Boeck, HJ; Lemoine, NP; Mänd, P; Kröel-Dulay, G; Schmidt, IK; Jentsch, A; Stampfli, A; Anderegg, WL; Bahn, M; Kreyling, J; Wohlgemuth, T; Lloret, F; Classen, AT; Gough, CM; Smith, MD. 2018. Mean annual precipitation predicts primary production resistance and resilience to extreme drought. Science of the Total Environment 636: 360-366  [pdf]
  • De Boeck, HJ; Bloor, JMG; Kreyling, J; Ransijn, JCG; Nijs, I; Jentsch, A; Zeiter, M. 2018. Patterns and drivers of biodiversity–stability relationships under climate extremes. Journal of Ecology 106: 890-902. [pdf]
  • Henne, PD; Bigalke, M; Büntgen, U; Colombaroli, D; Conedera, M; Feller, U; Frank, D; Fuhrer, J; Grosjean, M; Heiri, O; Luterbacher, J; Mestrot, A; Rigling, A; Rössler, O; Rohr, C; Rutishauser, T; Schwikowski, M; Stampfli, A; Szidat, S; Theurillat, JP; Weingartner, R; Wilcke, W; Tinner, W. 2018. An empirical perspective for understanding climate change impacts in Switzerland. Regional Environmental Change 18: 205-221 [pdf]
  • Kreyling, J; Dengler, J; Walter, J; Velev, N; Ugurlu, E; Sopotlieva, D; Ransijn, J; Picon-Cochard, C; Nijs, I; Hernandez, P; Güler, B; von Gillhaussen, P; De Boeck, HJ; Bloor, JMG; Berwaers, S; Beierkuhnlein, C; Arfin K; Mohammed AS; Apostolova, I; Altan, Y; Zeiter, M; Wellstein, C; Sternberg, M; Stampfli, A; Campetella, G; Bartha, S; Bahn, M; Jentsch, A. 2017. Species richness effects on grassland recovery from drought depend on community productivity in a multisite experiment. Ecology Letters 20 (11): 1405-1413 [pdf]
  • De Boeck, HJ; Bassin, S; Verlinden, M; Zeiter, M; Hiltbrunner, E. 2016. Simulated heat waves affected alpine grassland only in combination with drought. New Phytologist 209 (2): 531-541 [pdf]


Other Articles

Refereed Book Chapters

  • Stampfli A. 2001. Did recent climatic shifts affect productivity of grass-dominated vegetation in southern Switzerland? Evidence from time series of two semi-natural grasslands and a maize field. In: Walther G.-R., Burga C.A. & Edwards P.J. (eds.) "FINGERPRINTS" of CLIMATE CHANGE - Adapted behaviour and shifting species ranges, 249-261. Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers, New York & London.
  • Stampfli A. & Zeiter M. 2001. Species responses to climatic variation and land-use change in grasslands of southern Switzerland. In: Burga C.A. & Kratochwil A. (eds.) Biomonitoring, 107-124. Kluwer, Dordrecht.
  • Stampfli A., Guggisberg F., Berli S. & Pestalozzi H. 1994. The abandoned Danthonia alpina-meadows on Monte San Giorgio, evidence of floristical changes and suggested management practices. In: Lotter A. & Ammann B. (eds.) Festschrift Gerhard Lang. Dissertationes Botanicae 224: 59-78.


  • Antognoli C., Guggisberg F., Häfelfinger S., Lörtscher M. & Stampfli A. 1995. Prati magri ticinesi tra passato e futuro. Memoria 5, Società ticinese di scienze naturali. Poncioni, Losone.

People trained

Dissertation theses

  • Preukschas Juliane 2015. Seeds in semi-natural grasslands: causes of variability in seed availability. Inauguraldissertation Universitšt Bern
  • Zeiter Michaela 2005. Regeneration by seed in semi-natural grasslands. Inauguraldissertation Universität Bern.

Diploma thesis

  • Schärer Sara 2006. Effect of seasonal droughts on reproductive output of a grassland community in Southern Switzerland.
  • Holzer Brigitte 2000. Untersuchungen zur Langlebigkeit von Diasporen im Boden: Ein Aspekt bei der Beurteilung der ‘Restaurierungschancen’ artenreicher Wiesen aus Graslandbrachen.
  • Graf Oliver 1999. Reproduktionsprozesse in einem Halbtrockenrasen bei wechselnder Bewirtschaftung.
  • Kupferschmid Andrea D. 1999. Dispersal and microsite limitation in an abandoned calcareous grassland on Monnte San Giorgio.
  • Zeiter Michaela 1997. Experimentelle Untersuchungen zur Keimung und Etablierung von Wiesenarten in gemähten und abgebrannten Flächen einer Graslandbrache.
  • Gerber Nadine 1996. Die artenreichen Wiesen von Negrentino (gemeinsam mit S. Studer).
  • Studer Sibylle 1996. Die artenreichen Wiesen von Negrentino (gemeinsam mit N. Gerber).
  • Guggisberg Fredi 1990. Verbuschende Wiesen und Weiden auf dem Monte San Giorgio / TI.