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Christian Frølund Damgaard

Dr. Scient., Professor

Profile photoChristian Damgaard

Bioscience, Aarhus University
Vejlsøvej 25, 8600, Silkeborg, Denmark
E-mail: cfd@bios.au.dk
Phone: (+45) 30183153


Dr. Scient., Aarhus University, 2005
Ph.D., Aarhus University, 1994
M.Sc., in biology, Aarhus University, 1990


Professor, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, 2008 -
Senior scientist, Department of Terrestrial Ecology, NERI, Aarhus University, 1996 - 2008
Post Doc., Risø National Laboratory, 1994 - 1996

Research experience

Mathematical and statistical modelling of ecological and evolutionary processes.

Author of two books: "Evolutionary Ecology of Plant-Plant Interactions" and "Quantitative Plant Ecology", 179 publications in peer-reviewed journals (86 of them as first author, 33% in top 5% journals), 5000 citations, h-index: 26 (Publons), 33 (Google Scholar), 78 book chapters, proceedings, reports etc., and 11 software packages.

Participant in several international and national research projects and networks. Longer research visits to Eric Garnier, CNRS, Montpellier, France, and Kathi Irvine, USGS, Bozeman, USA. Associate Editor of Functional Ecology, Environmental and Ecological Statistics and The Open Ecology Journal; Editorial Board member of Journal of Plant Interaction and BioRisk; Board member of OIKOS-DK. Reviewer for more than fifty different scientific journals and funding agencies.

Management experience

Project leader of several research projects and research networks within various topics of plant ecology. I have secured funding from a variety of private and public funders for international and interdisciplinary research projects. Most recently, these include the Independent Research Foundation Denmark and the Ministry of Environment and Food. In total, I have secured >5 mill DKK in external funding as principal investigator since 2010.

Teaching experience

Teacher in "Applied Statistics", “Evolutionary Ecology”, “Population Biology”, “Nutrient Cycling and Environmental Management”, "Plant Biology and Biotechnology" and “Use of Ecological Models” at Aarhus University. Course in "Statistics" at Sino-Danish Center (UCAS).

Ph.D. courses on “Quantitative Plant Ecology” and “Fitting ecological models to empirical data”, at Aarhus University and University of Coimbra, and “Ecological Modelling” at Copenhagen University. Supervision of several master and Ph.D. students.

Science and innovation

Christian Damgaard was trained as a population geneticist and evolutionary biologist where he studied the evolution of plant mating systems. He has focused his scientific work on plant population ecology, where he has developed new methods for integrating population and community ecological models with empirical studies using advanced statistical methods. He was a pioneer in the use of Bayesian statistics in plant ecology in the attempt to quantify plant-plant interactions and predict plant community dynamics from competition experiments with a seminal paper in Ecology in 1998.

He has published two books on the evolutionary ecology of plant-plant interactions and quantitative plant ecology, and worked with the empirical modelling of intra- and inter-specific interactions among plants, including making quantitative analyses of the effects of environmental gradients on competitive interactions, prognostic models for plant community dynamics, and size-asymmetric competition. Furthermore, he has developed new methods for analyzing plant abundance data for making ecological inferences.

He has developed a new method of parameterizing the degree of size-asymmetric plant growth, and developed a new summary statistic of the Lorenz curve in order to quantify the size distribution of competing plants. This statistic is becoming a standard method in the description of size distributions and inequality. The work is done in collaboration with Jacob Weiner, Copenhagen University

He has developed new statistical models for analyzing plant abundance and plant occurrence data. These statistical models are used e.g. in hierarchical models for predicting the effect of environmental gradients on the vegetation. He has developed novel methods to quantify plant-plant interactions and demographic parameters in order to predict community dynamics using plant abundance data from permanent plots, as well as predicting the effect of drivers and environmental gradients on plant communities.

Strategic and applied research

Christian Damgaard has, as a general approach in his research, developed and used ecological models and statistical methods that link the testing of ecological hypotheses in basic research questions with the generation of ecological predictions that are useful for more strategic and applied research questions into a common quantitative framework. This has been possible by applying advanced statistical methods such as structural equation modeling, state-space modeling, and Bayesian hierarchical models in the research. In this manner general ecological theory such as models of interspecific competition has been quantitatively refined and successfully applied on research questions where it has been paramount to quantify the uncertainty of the generated ecological predictions, e.g. in the ecological risk assessment (ERA) of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and the use of pesticide, as well as in predicting the effect of different environmental driver on ecosystem dynamics.

He is member of the team that perform the Danish ERA of GMO where he has participated in the ERA in more than hundred actual GMO cases and is appointed to a roster of expert under the international Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. He is a member of the team that manages the monitoring of the Danish terrestrial environment (NOVANA), where he is responsible for the analysis of ecological data.

Selected recent publications

Damgaard, C. 2019. A Critique of the Space-for-Time Substitution Practice in Community Ecology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 34:416-421.
Damgaard, C. 2019. Spatio-Temporal Structural Equation Modeling in a Hierarchical Bayesian Framework: What Controls Wet Heathland Vegetation? Ecosystems 22:152-164.
Damgaard, C. and K. M. Irvine. 2019. Using the beta distribution to analyze plant cover data. Journal of Ecology 107: 2747-2759.