Environmental Physiology and Functional Ecology - Dr. Maik Veste

Niewouldtville, Northern Cape, South AfricaPost-mining sites Lusatia, BrandenburgNorthern Cape, South AfricaDesert agricultural research station Yotvata, Southern Arava, IsraelSouthern Negev, IsraelExpedition Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South AfricaLiving in the Namib desert, NamibiaCentral Negev, Israel

As an plant physiological ecologist I  spent many years the Succulent Karoo (South Africa), the Namib desert (Nambia), the Negev (Israel) and other drylands to understand the adapatation of plants and micirorganisms under exterme environmental conditions. We invesigated photosynthesis, gas exchange, soil-plant interactions of desert plants as well the ecologcial functions of biological soil crusts andcarried out long-term research projects on dryland ecology. Presently, my research focus is on ecophysiology and ecosystem processes in reclaimed ecosystems in the temperate zone of Europe and tree-crop interactions in the drylands of South Africa. The research range from physiological processes inside the plants to studies on soil-plant and plant-atmosphere interactions within ecosystems. A key question is the integration of plant ecophysiology into ecosystem functioning. 


  • Study of biology (botany, zoology, microbiology, biochemistry) at the Westfälische-Wilhelms Universität Münster
  • PhD at the University of Hohenheim, Thesis Ecological behaviour of desert plants - Integration of ecophysiological adaptation strategies from plants to ecosystems.
  • Lecturer for ecophysiology and ecosystem processes
    at the University of Hohenheim
  • Read more

Research interests

  • Ecophysiology and stress physiology of plants 
  • Functional ecology 
  • Plant-soil interactions
  • Biological soil crusts - biocrusts
  • Integration of environmental physiology into ecosystem research
  • Reclamation ecology and ecosystem development
  • Integrated landscapes 

Ecophysiology represents the study of short-term acclimation and long-term adaptation of plants to changing environmental conditions. Understanding of these basic physiological processes and their response to biotic and abiotic stress is crutical for plant production. These includes photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, water and mineral uptake. The analyses is based on measurements of ecophysiological parameters like leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence, water-use efficiency, plant water status, and chemical analysis of plants and soils in controlled greenhouse experiments and field trials. The research range from physiological processes inside the plants to studies on soil-plant interactions within natural and agricultural ecosystems. There is considerable research effort in investigating plant growth and the fundamental ecophysiological mechanisms that plants use to cope with environmental stresses. Comprehensive field and controlled greenhouse experiments on photosynthesis, plant growth, water use efficiency, nutrient requirements, and effects on ecosystems processes are carried out. A key question is the integration of plant ecophysiology into ecosystem functioning.  

Gas exchange measurementsStress physiology - application of chlorophyll fluorescenceUsing spectral reflectance sensors to determine NDVI and PRI of biocrustsGreenhouse experimentField work in NamibiaMicroclimate and evapotranspiration measurementsInvestigations of stand strructure - leaf area measurementsAutomatic minirhizotron for investigations of fine-root dynamicsDetermination of chlorophyll content

Current research projects

  • 2018-2020 "Influence of climate on physiological activity and small-scall development of biological soil crusts in initial ecosystems in Brandenburg" (funded by Zwillenberg-Tietz-Stiftung)
  • 2017-ongoing  "ANFOREK - Applied research for reclamation of post-mining sites in the Lusatian lignite mining district“ (funded by LEAG AG, Cottbus)
  • 2016-2018  "Development of biocrusts on temperate sand dunes and post-mining sites and their application in restoration ecology“ with University of Hohenheim, (funded by Geschwister-Staude-Stiftung, Universität Hohenheim)
  • 2016 - 2018  "AgriWaterSystems  - Optimization of irrigation and evapotranspiration in agriculture in the Western Cape, South Africa“ in cooperation with University of Stellenbosch, Department of Forestry and Wood Science, South Africa (funded by BMEL - BLE)
  • 2014 - 2018  "AgroSolarSystems - An integrated Agro-Forestry-Energy approach to land use“ with University of Stellenbosch, Department of Forestry and Wood Science (PI), DLC - Dr. Littmann Consulting (funded by NRF -  National Research Foundation South Africa)
  • Finished research projects...


  • Lectures and course "Ecosystem fluxes and thier regulation in plants and ecosystems", Universität Hohenheim, (2015-…)
  • Lecture "Plant Ecophysiology", Universität Hohenheim, (2015-…)     
  • Lecture "Zonobiomes of the World and Plant Geography - Desert Ecosystems", Universität Hohenheim,(2015-…)
  • Overview

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© Maik Veste 2018 - Update 05JAN2018                                          Impressum