Dr Robert Beyer

Senior Scientist

Robert is a Marie-Curie Research Fellow (project CLIMATEMIGRATION2050, description below). He uses artificial neural networks to predict how climate change will impact global migrations flows in the coming decades, and to determine how agricultural systems can be adapted to prevent migration due to climate-driven crop failure.

Robert very much enjoys familiarising himself with new fields and methods, and has led research papers in mathematics, archaeology, botany, climatology, conservation science, economics, and linguistics. His research has been covered globally by media outlets such as the New York Times, Guardian, CBS, Forbes, and National Geographic.


Working Group


Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
P.O. Box 60 12 03
14412 Potsdam

2022 -               Adjunct lecturer (Humboldt University of Berlin)
2021 -               Marie-Curie research fellow (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)
2015 - 2021    Postdoctoral research associate (University of Cambridge)
2012 - 2015    Double Ph.D. in mathematics (École Centrale Paris) and forest science (Technical University of Munich)
2006 - 2011    M.Sc. in mathematics, economics, and philosophy (Technical University of Munich and Kyōto University)

(first and joint-first author)

Beyer R, Manica A, Hua F, Martin PA, Rademacher T (2022): Relocating croplands could drastically reduce the environmental impacts of global food production. Communications Earth & Environment

Beyer R, Schewe J, Lotze-Campen H (2022): Gravity models do not explain, and cannot predict, international migration dynamics. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications

Beyer R, Krapp M, Manica A (2021): Climatic windows for human migration out of Africa in the past 300,000 years. Nature Communications

Beyer R, Manica A, Mora C (2021): Shifts in global bat diversity suggest a possible role of climate change in the emergence of SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. Science of the Total Environment

Beyer R, Rademacher T (2021): Species Richness and Carbon Footprints of Vegetable Oils: Can High Yields Outweigh Palm Oil’s Environmental Impact? Sustainability

Beyer R, Manica A (2021): Global and country-level data of the biodiversity footprints of 175 crops and pasture. Data in Brief

Beyer R, Manica M (2021): Range sizes of the world’s mammals, birds, and amphibians from the mid-Holocene to the industrial period. Animals

Beyer R, Krapp M, Manica M (2021): Addendum: High-resolution terrestrial climate, bioclimate and vegetation for the last 120,000 years. Scientific Data

Maisano Delser P*, Krapp M*, Beyer R*, Jones E, Miller EF, Hovhannisyan A, Parker M, Siska V, Vizzari MT, Pearmain EJ, Imaz-Rosshandler I, Leonardi M, Somma GL, Hodgson J, Tysall E, Xue Z, Cassidy L, Bradley DG, Eriksson A, Manica A (2021): Climate and mountains shaped human ancestral genetic lineages. Biorxiv

Beyer R, Duran AP, Rademacher T, Tayleur CM, Brooks SE, Coomes D, Donald PF, Sanderson FJ (2020): The environmental impacts of palm oil and its alternatives. Biorxiv

Beyer R, Manica A (2020): Historical and projected future range sizes of the world’s mammals, birds, and amphibians. Nature Communications

Beyer R, Krapp M, Manica M (2020): High-resolution terrestrial climate, bioclimate and vegetation for the last 120,000 years. Scientific Data

Beyer R, Basler D, Kaasalainen M, Raumonen P, Pretzsch H (2020): Do trees have constant divergence angles? Theoretical Biology

Beyer R, Krapp M, Manica M (2020): A empirical evaluation of bias correction methods for paleoclimate simulations. Climate of the Past

Beyer R, Singarayer J, Stock J, Manica A (2020): Environmental conditions do not predict the diversification of the Bantu languages? Heliyon

Betti L*, Beyer R*, Jones E*, Eriksson A, Tassi F, Siska V, Leonardi M, Maisano Delser P, Bentley LK, Nigst PR, Stock JT, Pinhasi R, Manica A (2020): Climate shaped how Neolithic farmers and European hunter-gatherers interacted after a major slowdown from 6,100 BCE to 4,500 BCE. Nature Human Behaviour

Lehnebach R*, Beyer R*, Letort V, Heuret P (2018): The pipe model theory half a century on: a review. Annals of Botany

Beyer R*, Bayer D*, Letort V, Pretzsch H, Cournède P-H (2017): Validation of a functional-structural tree growth model using terrestrial Lidar data. Ecological Modelling

Beyer R, Letort V, Bayer D, Pretzsch H, Cournède P-H (2017): Leaf density-based modeling of phototropic crown dynamics and long-term predictive application to European Beech. Ecological Modelling

Beyer R, Bayer D, Pretzsch H, Cournède P-H (2017): Reconstructing minimal length tree branch systems from leaf positions. Ecological Informatics

Beyer R (2017): Efficient modelling of foliage distribution and crown dynamics in monolayer tree species. Theory in Biosciences

Beyer R, Richter-Gebert J (2016): Emergence of complex patterns in a higher-dimensional phyllotactic system. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae

Beyer R, Etart O, Cournède P-H, Laurent-Gengoux P (2015): Modeling spatial competition for light in plant populations with the porous medium equation. Journal of Mathematical Biology

Beyer R, Letort V, Cournède P-H (2014): Modeling tree crown dynamics with 3D partial differential equations. Frontiers in Plant Science

2020      Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship
2018      Postdoctoral Affiliate at Clare Hall College, Cambridge
2017      Prize for Best Ph.D., awarded by the Université Franco-Allemande, an association of >200 universities
2012      Ph.D. scholarship, awarded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation
2011      Hurwitz Price, awarded by the TU Munich; graduated top of year in mathematics (1/52)

Media coverage: New York Times, The Guardian, CBS, The Independent, Telegraph, Politico, National Geographic, Forbes, New Scientist, and others.

Project summary

Predicting changes in international migration flows driven by adverse effects of climate change has been a subject of high societal and political interest, given the demographic and socio-economic implications for both sending and receiving countries. Previous work in the space of climate mobility has shown that cross-border migration from agriculturally dependent countries increases as crop productivity decreases due to higher temperatures. The latest generation of global crop models project a marked decline in futur crop yields in many parts of Africa, suggesting potentially significant consequences for migration.

This project aims to compile state-of-the-art demographic, economic, social, and agricultural data spanning both the historical period and alternative future scenarios until 2050, and integrate them into a widely-used mathematical framework for modelling international migration. This aims to identify where migration – focussing on Africa-Europe corridors – driven by climate-change-induced crop failure is likely to occur, and whether suitable agricultural adaptation may lessen adverse effects.

Project approach: Projected impacts of climate change on crop productivity and, subsequently, agro-economic variables are incorporated into migration models, along with relevant demographic, economic, social and other variables, in order to project future climate-induced migration.


Beyer, Schewe, & Lotze-Campen (2022): “Gravity models do not explain, and cannot predict, international migration dynamics”, Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9 (56)

Under review:
Beyer, Sedova, Schewe, & Lotze-Campen (2022): “Global effects of conflict- and disaster-induced displacement on internal and international migration”

In preparation:
Beyer, Abel, Manica, & Lotze-Campen (2022): “Big challenges for causal modelling of international migration dynamics”