Stefan Wester

Dr. Stefan Wester

Staff until 2010


My research interests lie in the ecology, systematics and taxonomy of vascular epiphytes. In my work I examine the changes of epiphyte assemblages in the long-term. Knowledge of the dynamics at this scale is important. In order to analyze the mechanisms behind the frequently stunning diversity of tropical epiphyte communities we have to know how stable these are in time and space. Also, information on the natural situation in undisturbed forests is important for conservation efforts because it can be used as a reference for the interpretation of epiphyte community dynamics in secondary forests.

In 2007 and 2008 I have worked in a biodiversity assessment project at the Changuinola River in the north-western part of Panama. The area has been poorly studied yet. Together with my co-workers I collected plants in the forest canopy by means of tree climbing equipment in order to gain knowledge on the diversity and community structure of epiphytic plants in this area. Panama is a very interesting study site since besides central american plant and animal species one can also find many south american species due to the countries proximity to the south american continent.

We discovered an amazingly high number of almost 500 epiphytic plant species belonging to more than 40 plant families. This is the highest species number recorded so far for a neotropical lowland forest. I am especially interested in the very diverse Orchid family which in Panama comprises more than 1200 species.

Curriculum vitae

1998 biology pre-diploma, University of Greifswald, Germany

2002 biology diploma, University of Bonn (project: Factors limiting

the vegetative growth of an epiphytic bromeliad species)

2002-2006 Doctorate, University of Kaiserslautern with Burkhard Büdel, (thesis: Long-term

changes of vascular epiphyte assemblages in the tropical lowlands of


2007-2008 project leader of the epiphyte work group within the Changuinola project in


since 2008 lecturer at the Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of

Oldenburg, Germany

Contributions to scientific meetings

Laube S, Zotz G. 2006. Neither host specific nor random: vascular epiphytes on three tree species in a Panamanian rainforest. 19th Annual Meeting of the Society for Tropical Ecology (GTÖ), Kaiserslautern, Germany (poster)

Laube S. 2005.Long-term changes in epiphyte assemblages - dynamics and underlying mechanisms, 4th International Canopy Conference, Leipzig, Germany (oral presentation)

Laube S. 2004. Long-term changes of the epiphyte communities. 17th Annual Meeting of the Society for Tropical Ecology (GTÖ), Bayreuth, Germany (poster)

Laube S, Schultz S, Zotz G. 2003. Long-term changes of the epiphyte community in Annona glabra trees of Barro Colorado Island, Panama. 16th Annual Meeting of the Society for Tropical Ecology (GTÖ), Rostock, Germany (poster)

Laube S, Zotz G. 2002. Which factors limit vegetative growth in vascular epiphytes? 15th Annual meeting of the Society for Tropical Ecology (GTÖ), Göttingen, Germany (poster)

Referee work for scientific journals

  • Annals of Botany
  • Ecotropica
  • Journal of Ecology
  • Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • Selbyana
  • Taiwan Journal of Forest Science
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