Radiation of the Cape flora

The species diversity in Angiosperms is not evenly distributed around the globe, nor among different phylogenetic lineages. We are looking for macro-evolutionary and macro-ecological explanations for the patterns in the distribution of diversity. As a test area we are working on the Cape flora, which is a remarkable species rich flora centered in the south-western tip of Africa. We are investigating several large clades from the monocots, including orchids, grasses and Restionaceae, which show evidence of rapid speciation. For these clades we are constructing phylogenies, and documenting the macro-ecology of the species. This will allow us to test various competing hypotheses – that the speciation is the result of adaptive radiation into an environmentally heterogeneous area, that the radiati- on was triggered by a mid-Miocene extinction event, that it was the result of a gradual accumulation of species, that speciation is the result of genetic isolation in a geograhically disssected landscape, that speciation was the result of adaptation to an extremely variable climate.

Recent Publications

  • The evolution of flowering phenology: an example from the wind-pollinated African Restionaceae
    Linder, H. Peter
    Annals Of Botany,   DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcaa129  NOV 25 2020
  • New Guinea has the world's richest island flora
    Camara-Leret, Rodrigo; Frodin, David G.; Adema, Frits; Anderson, Christiane; Appelhans, Marc S.; et al.
    Nature  DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2549-5  AUG 27 2020
  • Diversification in evolutionary arenas-Assessment and synthesis
    Nuerk, Nicolai M.; Linder, H. Peter; Onstein, Renske E.; Larcombe, Matthew J.; Hughes, Colin E.; et al.
    Ecology And Evolution  10.1002/ece3.6313 JUN 2020
  • Unexpected diversity and evolutionary lability in root architectural ecomorphs in the rushes of the hyperdiverse Cape flora
    Ehmig, Merten; Linder, H. Peter
    New Phytologist, 227(1): 216-231  DOI: 10.1111/nph.16522   JUL 2020
  • The genetics of evolutionary radiations
    Naciri, Yamama; Linder, H. Peter
    Biological Reviews  DOI: 10.1111/brv.12598  2020
  • The assembly of the Cape flora is consistent with an edaphic rather than climatic filter
    van Santen, Marit; Linder, Hans Peter
    Molecular Phylogenetics And Evolution,  DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2019.106645, JAN 2020
  • Disentangling the drivers of local species richness using probabilistic species pools
    Karger, Dirk Nikolaus; Wueest, Rafael O.; Koenig, Christian; Cabral, Juliano Sarmento; Weigelt, Patrick; et al.
    Journal Of Biogeography,  DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13763, Early Access: DEC 2019
  • Rare species, Restionaceae, and the Cape flora
    Linder, HP
    JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY, 10.1111/jbi.13709 
  • Dissecting biodiversity in a global hotspot: Uneven dynamics of immigration and diversification within the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa
    Wuest, RO; Boucher, FC; Bouchenak-Khelladi, Y; Karger, DN; Linder, HP
    JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY, 10.1111/jbi.13625 
  • Ecophysiological strategy switch through development in heteroblastic species of mediterranean ecosystems - an example in the African Restionaceae
    Ehmig, M; Coiro, M; Linder, HP
    ANNALS OF BOTANY, 123 (4):611-623; 10.1093/aob/mcy194 MAR 14 2019
  • The surprising anatomical diversity in the roots of African Restionaceae
    Linder, HP
    PERSPECTIVES IN PLANT ECOLOGY EVOLUTION AND SYSTEMATICS, 34 77-93; 10.1016/j.ppees.2018.08.004 OCT 2018
  • Geological and climatic influences on mountain biodiversity
    Antonelli, A; Kissling, WD; Flantua, SGA; Bermudez, MA; Mulch, A; Muellner-Riehl, AN; Kreft, H; Linder, HP; Badgley, C; Fjeldsa, J; Fritz, SA; Rahbek, C; Herman, F; Hooghiemstra, H; Hoorn, C
    NATURE GEOSCIENCE, 11 (10):718-+; 10.1038/s41561-018-0236-z OCT 2018
  • Water availability, fundamental niches and realized niches: A case study from the Cape flora
    Born, J; Linder, HP
    AUSTRAL ECOLOGY, 43 (6):696-705; 10.1111/aec.12616 SEP 2018
  • Hotspots within a global biodiversity hotspot - areas of endemism are associated with high mountain ranges
    Noroozi, Jalil; Talebi, Amir; Doostmohammadi, Moslem; et al.
    SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 8: 10345 10.1038/s41598-018-28504-9 JUL 9 2018
  • Nuclear genes, matK and the phylogeny of the Poales
    Hochbach, Anne; Linder, H. Peter; Roeser, Martin
    TAXON 67(3): 521-536   10.12705/673.5 JUN 2018
  • Arable weed seed bank of grassland on former arable fields in mountain regions
    Richner, Nina; Walter, Thomas; Linder, H. Peter; Holderegger, R.
    FOLIA GEOBOTANICA 53(1): 49-61   10.1007/s12224-017-9288-x MAR 2018
  • Global grass (Poaceae) success underpinned by traits facilitating colonization, persistence and habitat transformation
    Linder, H. P.; Lehmann, Caroline E. R.; Archibald, Sally; et al.
    BIOLOGICAL REVIEWS 93(2)1125-1144 10.1111/brv.12388 MAY 2018
Peter Linder

Prof. em. Dr. Peter Linder
University of Zurich
Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
8008 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 634 84 10

Research topics

  • Speciation
  • Evolution
  • Angiosperms
  • Species radiation
  • African flora
  • Adaptive radiation



  • GIS mapping
  • Correlation to environmental parameters
  • Ecophysiological adaptation
  • Palaeoclimatic and palaeoecological reconstruction