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Dr Thorsten Balke has been appointed Professor of Vegetation Ecology and Conservation at the Institute of Biology and Environmental Sciences. He studied geography at the Leibniz University Hannover and earned his PhD at Radboud University (Netherlands) in 2013 with a thesis on coastal ecology and geomorphology.

While studying for his PhD from 2009 to 2013, Balke was a junior researcher at the Deltares research institute in Delft (Netherlands), and also spent a year as a visiting researcher at the National University of Singapore. From 2013 to 2014, after completing his PhD, Balke worked as a researcher at the Deltares institute and the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research in Yerseke (Netherlands). He then took up a position at the University of Oldenburg, before moving to the University of Glasgow (UK), where he was a researcher and lecturer at the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences from 2016 to 2023.

Balke's research focuses on coastal vegetation in temperate and tropical climate regions and its interactions with the environment. He also develops concepts and monitoring methods that are primarily used in the design of nature-based solutions to climate change and in the restoration and management of mangroves and salt marshes.

  • Neuberufung, Juniorprofessor, Professor, Uni Oldenburg

    Universität Oldenburg / Matthias Knust

Thorsten Balke

Vegetation Ecology and Nature Conservation

Mitigating the effects of climate change

Dr Thorsten Balke has been appointed Professor of Vegetation Ecology and Conservation at the university’s Institute of Biology and Environmental Sciences. The expert on coastal ecology researches how restored habitats can mitigate the effects of climate change.


Welcome to the University of Oldenburg? What brought you here?

Chance always plays a role in academic careers. After eight years in Scotland I’m delighted to be back in Oldenburg, where I can deepen my coastal research and experience in teaching ecology.

What do you research?

I focus on questions related to the consequences of climate change and nature conservation. Climate change has far-reaching effects on both nature and people. Nature-based solutions such as habitat restoration can help mitigate the consequences of climate change-induced changes that can no longer be reversed. My research in vegetation ecology helps to restore coastal habitats. Healthy and resilient coastal habitats can, for example, protect against flooding by trapping sediments and buffering shorelines against waves. In cities, they regulate the microclimate and delay water runoff. I do half of my research here in this region and the other half in collaboration with international colleagues, for example in the mangrove swamps of Southeast Asia.

What do you like about your field of study?

That everyone in this field can contribute to a sustainable and liveable future.

What are your plans for your first few months at our university?

To exchange views and ideas with as many students and colleagues as possible.

Who or what made a particular impact on you during your studies?

Learning outside the lecture hall, for example on an excursion from the Mediterranean to the Polar Circle.

Your tip for surviving on campus?

Good conversation over bad coffee always helped me in my student days.

(Changed: 07 Feb 2024)  | 
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