Experimental Plant Ecology

Plant Ecology

Two of the most pressing challenges facing ecologists are forecasting the spread of non-native species and predicting the response of native species to global climate change. To tackle these challenges, research in our group aims to decipher the ecological and evolutionary forces that shape plant species’ distributions and community structure. In particular, we combine field experiments with ecological modelling to study how altered biotic interactions influence species’ range dynamics under changing climate. We also study global patterns and processes in plant invasions along elevation gradients to better understand the dynamics and impacts of biological invasions.

Recent Publications

  • Moving up and over: redistribution of plants in alpine, Arctic, and Antarctic ecosystems under global change
    Rew, Lisa J.; McDougall, Keith L.; Alexander, Jake M.; Daehler, Curtis C.; Essl, Franz; et al.
    Arctic Antarctic And Alpine Research   DOI: 10.1080/15230430.2020.1845919   JAN 1 2020
  • The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in nonnative plant invasion along mountain roads
    Clavel, Jan; Lembrechts, Jonas; Alexander, Jake; Haider, Sylvia; Lenoir, Jonathan; et al.
    New Phytologist   DOI: 10.1111/nph.16954  OCT 2020
  • Phenological plasticity is a poor predictor of subalpine plant population performance following experimental climate change
    Block, Sebastian; Alexander, Jake M.; Levine, Jonathan M.
    Oikos,  DOI: 10.1111/oik.06667, FEB 2020
  • Scaling the linkage between environmental niches and functional traits for improved spatial predictions of biological communities
    Guisan, A; Mod, HK; Scherrer, D; Munkemuller, T; Pottier, J; Alexander, JM; D'Amen, M
    GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY, 28 (10):1384-1392; 10.1111/geb.12967 OCT 2019
  • Above- and belowground linkages shape responses of mountain vegetation to climate change
    Hagedorn, F; Gavazov, K; Alexander, JM
    SCIENCE, 365 (6458):1119-+; SI 10.1126/science.aax4737 SEP 13 2019
  • Earlier phenology of a nonnative *plant* increases impacts on native competitors
    Alexander, JM; Levine, JM
    PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 116 (13):6199-6204; 10.1073/pnas.1820569116 MAR 26 2019 
  • Running off the road: roadside non-native plants invading mountain vegetation
    McDougall, KL; Lembrechts, J; Rew, LJ; Haider, S; Cavieres, LA; Kueffer, C; Milbau, A; Naylor, BJ; Nunez, MA; Pauchard, A; Seipel, T; Speziale, KL; Wright, GT; Alexander, JM
    BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS 20(12): 3461-3473, DOI: 10.1007/s10530-018-1787-z, DEC 2018
  • Do soil biota influence the outcome of novel interactions between plant competitors?
    Cardinaux, A; Hart, SP; Alexander, JM
    JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY 106(5): 1853-1863, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13029, SEP 2018
  • Trait differentiation and adaptation of plants along elevation gradients
    Halbritter, AH; Fior, S; Keller, I; Billeter, R; Edwards, PJ; Holderegger, R; Karrenberg, S; Pluess, AR; Widmer, A; Alexander, JM
    JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, 31 (6):784-800; https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13262 JUN 2018
  • Mountain roads and non-native species modify elevational patterns of plant diversity
    Haider, S; Kueffer, C; Bruelheide, H; Seipel, T; Alexander, JM; Rew, LJ; Arevalo, JR; Cavieres, LA; McDougall, KL; Milbau, A; Naylor, BJ; Speziale, K; Pauchard, A
    GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY, 27 (6):667-678; 10.1111/geb.12727 JUN 2018
  • Species' Distributions as a Coexistence Problem: A Response to Godsoe et al.
    Alexander, Jake M.; Diez, Jeffrey M.; Usinowicz, Jacob; Hart, Simon P.
    TRENDS IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, 33 (3):144-145; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2018.01.001 MAR 2018
  • Lags in the response of mountain plant communities to climate change
    Jake M. Alexander, Loïc Chalmandrier, Jonathan Lenoir, Treena I. Burgess, Franz Essl, Sylvia Haider, Christoph Kueffer, Keith McDougall, Ann Milbau, Martin A. Nuñez, Aníbal Pauchard, Wolfgang Rabitsch, Lisa J. Rew, Nathan J. Sanders, Loïc Pellissier
    Global Change Biology https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13976 FEB 2018
JakeAlexander Uni Lausanne

Prof. Dr. Jake Alexander
ETH Zurich
Institute of Integrative Biology
8092 Zurich

Tel: +41 44 632 86 93

Research topics

  • Plant population and community responses to climate change
  • Ecology and evolution of plant invasions
  • Adaptation/rapid evolution along environmental gradients


  • Merging experimental ecology and ecological modelling
  • Research at ecology-evolutionary interface
  • Co-chair of the Mountain Invasion Research Network (MIREN), www.mountaininvasions.org