Véronique Helfer

Dr. Véronique Helfer

Senior Scientist

Phone: +49 (0)421 23800 - 162

Fax: +49 (0)421 23800 - 30

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Office: Wiener Str. 7
28359 Bremen
Room: 5305 (3rd floor)

Research interests

My current research aims at providing a reliable scientific fundament for the protection, (re-)establishment and the sustainable use of mangrove and other coastal vegetated ecosystems. My research activities revolve around following questions: i) which factors drive community composition (microbial, faunal and floral) in mangrove ecosystems, ii) how this translates into ecosystem processes and services and iii) how mangrove ecosystem services will be affected upon global change. To tackle those questions, I adopt an integrative and multidisciplinary approach, encompassing various disciplines, from molecular biology (population and landscape genetics as well as eDNA metabarcoding/metagenomics), chemical ecology, functional ecology to distribution modelling (of species or traits).

Keywords: mangrove ecosystems; environmental change; species distribution modelling; eDNA/aDNA biomonitoring; biotic interactions; ecosystem processes and services; landscape genetics/genomics; environmental metabolomics; organic matter-dynamics; mangrove microbiome; spatial conservation planning, mangrove (re-)establishment.



Hassenrueck C, Poprick T, Helfer V, Molari M, Meyer R, Kostadinov I. FAIR enough? A perspective on the status of nucleotide sequence data and metadata on public archives. bioRxiv 2021.09.23.461561; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.09.23.461561

        See post on preLights about this preprint :


Articles in peer-reviewed journals

* For journals peer-reviewed by restricted committee

Beloto N, Cotovicz LC, Rodrigues JVM, Gmach MR, Zimmer M, Helfer V, Soares MO, Bezerra LEA. 2023. Blue carbon stock heterogeneity in Brazilian mangrove forests: A systematic review. Marine Pollution Bulletin 197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2023.115694.

Zimmer M, Ajonina GN, Amir AA, Cragg, SM, Crooks S, Dahdouh-Guebas F, Duke NC, Fratini S, Friess DA, Helfer V, Huxham M, Kathiresan K, Kodikara, KAS, Koedam N, Lee SY, Mangora MM, Primavera J, Satyanarayana B, Yong, JWH, Wodehouse D. 2022 When nature needs a helping hand: Different levels of human intervention for mangrove (re-)establishment. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 5 . https://doi.org/10.3389/ffgc.2022.784322.

Ghosh S, Proisy C, Muthusankar G, Hassenrück C, Helfer V, Mathevet R, Andrieu J, Balachandran N, Narendran R. 2022. Multiscale Diagnosis of Mangrove Status in Data-Poor Context Using Very High Spatial Resolution Satellite Images: A Case Study in Pichavaram Mangrove Forest, Tamil Nadu, India. Remote Sensing 14(10): 2317. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14102317

Quadros AF, Helfer V, Nordhaus I, Reuter H, Zimmer M. 2021. Functional traits of terrestrial plants in the intertidal: A review on mangrove trees. Biological Bulletin 241(2). https://doi.org/10.1086/716510

Gutting R, Syrbe R-U, Grunewald K, Mehlig U, Helfer V, Zimmer M. 2021. The Benefits of Combining Global and Local Data—A Showcase for Valuation and Mapping of Mangrove Climate Regulation and Food Provisioning Services within a Protected Area in Pará, North Brazil. Land 10(4): 432. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040432

Yannic G, Helfer V, Sermier R, Schmidt BR, Fumagalli L. 2021. Fine scale genetic structure in fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) along a rural-to-urban gradient. Conserv Genet. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-021-01335-4 

Schwenke T, Helfer V. 2021. Beyond borders: The status of interdisciplinary mangrove research in the face of global and local threats. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 250. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2020.107119

Allard SM, Costa MT, Bulseco AN, Helfer V, Wilkins LGE, Hassenrück C, Zengler K, Zimmer M, Erazo N, Mazza Rodrigues JL, Duke N, Melo VMM, Vanwonterghem I, Junca H, Makonde HM, Jiménez DJ, Tavares TCL, Fusi M, Daffonchio D, Duarte CM, Peixoto RS, Rosado AS, Gilbert JA, Bowman J. 2020. Introducing the Mangrove Microbiome Initiative: identifying microbial research priorities and approaches to better understand, protect, and rehabilitate mangrove ecosystems. mSystems 5:e00658-20. DOI: 10.1128/mSystems.00658-20

Le Minor M, Bartzke G, Zimmer M, Gillis L, Helfer V, Huhn K. 2019. Numerical modelling of hydraulics and sediment dynamics around mangrove seedlings: Implications for mangrove establishment and reforestation. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 217: 81-95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2018.10.019

Sunje E, Van Damme R, Jelic D, Mueller M, Skrijelj R, Helfer V. 2019. Morphometric characteristics of Alpine salamanders: a support for subspecies validation and conservation? Amphibia-Reptilia 40(1), 79-89. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-20181051

Bakkar T, Helfer V, Himmelsbach R, & Zimmer M. 2017. Chemical changes in detrital matter upon digestive processes in a sesarmid crab feeding on mangrove leaf litter. Hydrobiologia, 803 (1), 307-315. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-017-3319-8

Straub C, Pichlmüller F, Helfer V. 2015. Population genetics of fire salamanders in a pre-Alpine urbanized area (Salzburg, Austria). SALAMANDRA 51 (3), 245–251.

Vences M, Sanchez E, Hauswaldt S, Eikelmann D, Rodríguez A, Carranza S, Donaire D, Gehara M, Helfer V, Lötters S, Werner P, Schulz S & Steinfartz S. 2014. Nuclear and mitochondrial multilocus phylogeny and survey of alkaloid content in true salamanders of the genus Salamandra (Salamandridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 73, 208-216.

Pichlmüller F, Straub, C, Helfer V. 2013. Skin swabbing of amphibian larvae yields sufficient DNA for efficient sequencing and reliable microsatellite genotyping. Amphibia-Reptilia, 34 (4), 517–523

Helfer V, Broquet T & Fumagalli L. 2012. Sex-specific estimates of dispersal show female philopatry and male dispersal in a promiscuous amphibian, the alpine salamander (Salamandra atra). Molecular Ecology, 21 (19), 4706-4720.

* Helfer V, Gimeno A, Balzarini L, Schwarzenbacher R & Ferri V. 2011. Genetic characterization of Alpine salamander populations in Valtelline (Lombardia, Italy): preliminary results. Pianura, 27, 91-94.

* Helfer V & Monney, JC. 2009. Batraciens et reptiles du Vallon de Nant - Premier recensement. Mémoire de la Société vaudoise des Sciences naturelles, 23, 179-188.

Pellet J, Helfer V & Yannic G. 2007. Estimating population size in the European tree frog (Hyla arborea) using individual recognition and chorus counts. Amphibia-Reptilia, 28 (2), 287-294.

Hirzel AH, Le Lay G, Helfer V, Randin C & Guisan A. 2006. Evaluating the ability of habitat suitability models to predict species presences. Ecological Modelling, 199 (2), 142-152.

Ursenbacher S, Carlsson M, Helfer V, Tegelström H & Fumagalli L. 2006. Phylogeography and Pleistocene refugia of the Adder (Vipera berus) as inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Molecular Ecology, 15 (11), 3425-3437.

Reutter BA, Helfer V, Hirzel AH & Vogel P. 2003. Modelling habitat-suitability using museum collections: an example with three sympatric Apodemus species from the Alps. Journal of Biogeography, 30 (4), 581-590.

Hirzel AH, Helfer V & Métral F. 2001. Assessing habitat-suitability models with a virtual species. Ecological Modelling, 145 (2-3), 111-121.


Book chapters

Le Minor M, Zimmer M, Helfer V, Gillis LG, Huhn K. 2021. Flow and sediment dynamics around structures in mangrove ecosystems - modeling perspective. In: Sidik F, Friess D (Eds). Dynamic sedimentary environments of mangrove coasts. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 83-120. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-816437-2.00012-4

Helfer V, Hassenrück C. 2021. Microbial communities in mangrove sediments. In: Sidik F, Friess D (Eds). Dynamic sedimentary environments of mangrove coasts. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 141-175. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-816437-2.00003-3

Zimmer M, Helfer V. 2021. Quantity and quality of organic matter in mangrove sediments. In: Sidik F, Friess D (Eds). Dynamic sedimentary environments of mangrove coasts. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 369-391. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-816437-2.00015-X

Helfer V, Zimmer M. 2018. High-Throughput Techniques As Support for Knowledge-Based Spatial Conservation Prioritization in Mangrove Ecosystems. In: Makowski C., Finkl C. (eds) Threats to Mangrove Forests: Hazards, Vulnerability and Management. Coastal Research Library, vol 25. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73016-5_24

Zimmer M, Helfer V. 2016. Biodiversität, Ökosystemprozesse und Ökosystemleistungen. In: Lozán JL, Breckle S-W, Müller R, Rachor E (Eds). Warnsignal Klima: Die Biodiversität. Verlag Wissenschaftliche Auswertungen. 297-302. https://doi.org/10.2312/warnsignal.klima.die-biodiversitaet.48


Stakeholder publications (incl. blog contributions)

Böer B, Dansie A, Helfer V, Kiran S, Shipin O, Martin Zimmer. 2023. Floating Mangroves: a contribution to clean and affordable energy for all. https://quest4action.org/floating-mangroves-a-contribution-to-clean-and-affordable-energy-for-all/

Zimmer M, Helfer V. 2022. Mangrove forests - a nature-based solution for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Rural21, 56 (1/2022), 23-25. https://www.rural21.com/english/news/detail/article/mangrove-forests-a-nature-based-solution-for-climate-change-mitigation-and-adaptation.html

Bertrand A, Zimmer M & Consortium of WP2 of PADDLE. 2019. Report on tropical marine ecosystem dynamics in the last decade. PADDLE-Report WP2-D2.1


Doctoral thesis

Helfer V. 2010. Conservation genetics and population monitoring of the alpine salamander (Salamandra atra). 196 p., University of Lausanne, Faculty of Biology and Medicine, Department of Ecology and Evolution. Supervision: Fumagalli L.


Educational brochures

Helfer V. 2009. “Oh my God! Darwin et l’évolution”. Lausanne, Service des affaires culturelles - Département de la formation et de la jeunesse du canton de Vaud (collection dp. Ecole-Musée ; n° 31). https://zoologie.vd.ch/fileadmin/groups/12/Animations/pdf/dp-31_Darwin_OhMyGod.pdf

Helfer V. Haenggeli F, 2008. “Nature au sommet”. Dossier pédagogique, 59 p., WWF Suisse, Vernier. https://assets.wwf.ch/downloads/nature_au_sommet_complet_fr.pdf Document translated to four languages (French, German, Italian, Romansh).