Current research

  • Megafauna, biogeochemical cycles, & climate

    Megafauna (large animals) are ecosystem engineers that modify the structure and the function of ecosystems. By consuming large quantities of biomass, megafauna recycle nutrients, and by digesting plants through fermentation, they emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. My Marie Skłodowska-Curie project "MegaBiCycle", will focus on the global role of megafauna in nutrient cycling and climate.

  • Plant trait variability

    Plants adapt to changes in the environment, such as climate and competition, to optimize their fitness. Vegetation models simulate how plants respond to environmental changes, but they rarely include plant trait variability through phenotypic plasticity and genetic mechanisms. In collaboration with other researchers, we are developing new approaches to better include trait variability in vegetation models by incorporating eco-evolutionary and quantitative genetics concepts.

  • Animals in vegetation models

    Vegetation models are powerful tools used to study how vegetation grows and changes through time, and are part of larger models simulating climate. My goal is to include animals in vegetation models, which are currently simulating "empty" forests and grasslands, so we can study the ecological and functional role of animals in ecosystems.

News and press coverage

Publications - CV


Yang H, Ciais P, Chave J, Huang Y, Ballantyne A, Yu K,

Berzaghi F, Wigneron JP. Coarse woody debris are buffering mortality-induced carbon losses to the atmosphere in tropical forests. Environmental Research Letters.


Berzaghi F, Wright IJ, Kramer K, Oddou-Muratorio S, Bohn FJ, Reyer CPO, Sabate S, Sanders T, Hartig F. Towards a New Generation of Trait-Flexible Vegetation Models. Trends in Ecology & Evolution.


Berzaghi F, Longo M, Ciais P, Blake S, Bretagnolle F, Vieira S, Scaranello M, Scarascia-Mugnozza G, Doughty CE. Carbon stocks in Central African forests enhanced by elephant disturbance. Nature Geoscience.


Berzaghi F, Engel J, Plumptre A, Mugabec M, Kujirakwinjad D, Ayebarec S, Bates J. Comparative niche modeling of two Laniarius bush-shrikes and the conservation of mid-elevation Afromontane forests of the Albertine Rift. The Condor: Ornithological Applications.

Berzaghi F, Verbeeck H, Nielsen MR, Doughty CE, Bretagnolle F, Marchetti M, Scarascia-Mugnozza G. Assessing the role of megafauna in tropical forest ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles - the potential of vegetation models. Ecography.

Vacchiano G, Ascoli D, Berzaghi F, Lucas-Borja ME, Caignard T, Collalti A, Mairota P, Palaghianu C, Reyer C, Sanders T, Schermer E, Wohlgemuth T, Hacket-Pain A. Reproducing reproduction: How to simulate mast seeding in forest models. Ecological modeling, 376, 40-53.


Andersen JH, Berzaghi F, Christensen T, Geertz Hansen O, Mosbech A, Stock A, Zinglersen K, Wisz M. Potential for cumulative effects of human stressors on fish, sea birds and marine mammals in Arctic waters. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 184, 202-206.


Wisz M, Andersen JH, Berzaghi F(eds), Christensen T, Clausen DS, Johansen KL, Geertz-Hansen O, Hedeholm R, Nymand, Zinglersen KB. A catalogue of available data describing ecosystem components and human stressors in the sea west of Greenland. Working Document for Nordic Council of Ministers, 38 pp.

Short Bio

I completed a PhD in Ecology (April 2018) on plant-animal interactions in tropical forests. Before becoming interested in Ecology, I completed a Master's degree in Computer Science and, among others things, I worked on educational and commercial videogames. I have repurposed my computer science skills to work on ecological research. This has allowed me to work across ecosystems and taxa, from African elephants to Greenland fishes, and has given me the opportunity to experience life and cultures in countries around the world. I also enjoyed teaching as an Adjunct Faculty at the City Colleges of Chicago where I taught Computer Science courses, and as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington.