My research is centred on using high-resolution remote sensing data and large field databases to understand how forest resources and biodiversity are responding to climate change and land management. We are currently focusing on the effects of microclimatic variation on species distribution dynamics and biodiversity responses to climate change. We are therefore maintaining a microclimate measurement network in Switzerland, and combine these measurements with 3D radiation transfer models and interpolation techniques to arrive at maps of the past, present and future microclimatic conditions. One application of our tools is the analysis of the effects of different forest management practises on the site suitability for regenerating target tree species.

I am also collaborating with industry partners to develop solutions for carbon, biodiversity and natural capital monitoring. I am particularly involved in the development of globally applicable approaches to quantify current and potential tree carbon stocks and sequestration rates at management relevant scales. This information is then linked with other natural capital tools to arrive at a holistic approach to environmental resource management. My work builds upon strengthening the link between ecology and the digitalisation of natural resources, to help manage ecosystems sustainably and safeguard the provisioning of ecosystem services to future generations.

Education & Employment

11/2019 – present SNF Ambizione Fellow & Scientific staff member WSL, Land Change Science, Birmensdorf
02/2019 – present Scientific Modeller, Natural Capital Research Ltd., Oxford, UK
09/2017 – 11/2019 SNF Postdoc Mobility Fellow, University of Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge, UK, advisor: Prof. David Coomes
05/2016 – 08/2017 Postdoc, WSL, Land Change Science, Birmensdorf
07/2013 - 03/2016 Ph.D., Ecology (Biodiversity and Remote Sensing), ETH Zurich
2012 – 2013 Scientific assistant, WSL, Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Birmensdorf
2006 – 2012 B.S. and M.S., Geography (GIScience, Biogeography, Forest and Landscape Management), University of Zurich
2002 – 2006 Claims Manager, SwissRe, Division Property and Casualty, Zurich
1999 – 2010 Several projects in mountain forest management and in the Swiss National Park (civil service)

Selected publications

Zellweger, F.; Flack-Prain, S.; Footring, J.; Wilebore, B.; Willis, K.J. (2022)Carbon storage and sequestration rates of trees inside and outside forests in Great Britain. Environmental Research Letters, 17, 7: 074004.

Zellweger, F., De Frenne, P., Lenoir, J., Vangansbeke, P, Verheyen, K., Bernhardt-Römermann, M., ... Coomes, D. (2020). Forest microclimate dynamics drive plant responses to warming. Science, 368, 772–775.

Zellweger, F., De Frenne, P., Lenoir, J., Rocchini, D., & Coomes, D. (2019). Advances in microclimate ecology arising from remote sensing. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 34(4), 327–341.

De Frenne, P., Zellweger, F., Rodríguez-Sánchez, F., Scheffers, B., Hylander, K., Luoto, M., … Lenoir, J. (2019). Global buffering of temperatures under forest canopies. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3, 744–749. 

Zellweger, F., Roth, T., Bugmann, H., & Bollmann, K. (2017). Beta diversity of plants, birds and butterflies is closely associated with climate and habitat structure. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 26(8), 898–906.