comp ecol trans small

Kamran Safi

Research scientist

Curriculum vitae:

2009 - : Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. Head of the Computational Ecology group. Faculty member of the International Max Planck Research School.
2009 - 2011: Honoury research fellow Zoological Society of London, Institute of Zoology.
2007 - 2009: Postdoctoral fellow: Zoological Society of London, Institute of Zoology with Dr. Kate E. Jones on the project "Adding history to Ecology".
2006 - 2007: Head of scientific application at NewBehavior AG.
2002 - 2007: PhD thesis: „ Social sexual segregation in the absence of size dimorphism: causes and consequences”.
2000 - 2001: MSc in Biology “Olfactory communication in the Bechstein’s bat”

Research interests:

The interface between theoretical and empirical research with a deep interest in the methodological and statistical aspects of biology is what I am currently mostly working on. In my view, ecology is in a very exciting phase of transition, very much like molecular biology was after PCR, where data is now becoming more and more available at such amounts that we need to start to rethink the ways how we deal with them. The efforts of the computational ecology lab is centred around such challenges seeking to use synergies from interdisciplinary work bringing together statistics, mathematics, physics, information technology, geo-sciences and, very importantly of course, ecology to find new ways of dealing with and relating large amounts of eco-environmental data. Because, in addition to increasing amounts of information in ecology, important contextual information from the geo-sciences are also becoming more and more available at such (spatial and temporal) resolutions that they can be considered very relevant for understanding the ecological processes in the wild.

In general I am interested in the relationship between biological diversity, the spatial patterns of life history traits, and the traces of evolutionary biogeography. The interaction of individuals, populations and entire species with their environment, scaling from the smallest biological unit to whole ecosystems can eventually help us to understand the myriads of ecological dependences and dynamics that represent the fundamentals of life on Earth. In the future I would like to combine the landscape perspective that I adopt as a macroecologist to movement ecology, using the numerical and computational approaches developed in my lab, using the collaboration platform "". I still maintain a strong interest in (bat) behaviour and ecology where I actually did my PhD in. As a behavioural ecologist I am interested in the evolution of sociality in absence of reproduction and the effect of information transfer on foraging efficiency and thus the evolution of social aggregations. Most of the bat related projects are done in collaboration with Dr. Dina Dechmann.

Movement ecology
A very particular behavioural trait is animal movement, specifically, migratory behaviour. A considerable proportion of animal species make enormous movements on a continental to global scale. These movements can be thought of behavioural responses to a fluctuating environment and are per-se adaptive. They also represent an important example of a behavioural trait which leads to shifts and fluctuations of biodiversity and whose causes and consequences are far from being understood on large ecological and evolutionary scales. Understanding which factors shape large scale animal movement will allow us to understand a general and large scale behavioural response, identify the underlying mechanisms determining species richness, and ultimately enable us to understand and predict the dynamics of diversity.

Macroecology and Evolution
My research focuses on macroecology and macroevolutionary processes and on large scale spatial and temporal biological patterns. Currently I am specifically interested in how different measures of biodiversity are related to each other on a global scale and what processes have led to the accumulation of diversity in the past, and what enables today the maintenance of it. Beyond a purely academic interest in the relationship between diversity measures I would like to understand what “diversity” means in terms of ecosystem services and functioning and how it translates into community stability.


  • Kate E Jones, University College London
  • Jeroen B Smaers, University College London
  • Tim Blackburn, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
  • Nathalie Pettorelli, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
  • Nick J B Isaac, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Frederic Bartumeus, Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes, Movement Ecology Lab

Highlight publications:

  • N.J.B. Isaac, D.W. Redding, H.M. Meredith & K. Safi (2012) Phylogenetically-informed conservation priorities for amphibian conservation, PlosOne. 7(8): e43912.

  • B. Kranstauber, R. Kays, S.D. LaPoint, M. Wikelski & K. Safi (2012) A dynamic Brownian bridge movement model to estimate utilization distributions for heterogeneous animal movement. Journal of Animal Ecology, 81: 738–746.

  • M. L. van Toor, C. Jaberg & K. Safi (2011) Habitat suitability models and the consequences of sex-specific differences in space use for monitoring. Animal Conservation. 14(5): 512-520.

Full publication list

request a PDF

kamran safi
Contact Details
Dr Kamran Safi
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
Am Obstberg 1
78315 Radolfzell
Tel: 0049-7732-1501-15
University of Konstanz
78457 Konstanz
Tel: 0049-7531-88-3479