Ecology and evolution in invasive plants

Invasion ecology, the study of the distribution and spread of organisms in habitats to which they are not native, has received considerable attention during the past decades. This is mainly a consequence of the increased awareness of the major threats posed by invasions to biodiversity, ecosystem integrity, agriculture and human health. Non-native species have become integral components of ecosystems world-wide, and understanding the causes and consequences of biological invasions has emerged as a fundamental challenge to ecologists and evolutionary biologists. Evidence is increasing that invasive plants can undergo rapid adaptive evolution during the process of range expansion. We expect that evolutionary change during invasions will affect plant-antagonist interactions and thus have important implications for biological control programs targeted at invasive plants. We specifically explore how altered selection in the new range might influence the evolution of plant defense (resistance and tolerance) and life cycle and how this might affect subsequent biological control efficacy.


Recent Publications

  • Predicting abundances of invasive ragweed across Europe using a "top-down" approach
    Skjoth, CA; Sun, Y; Karrer, G; Sikoparija, B; Smith, M; Schaffner, U; Muller-Scharer, H
    SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 686 212-222; 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.215 OCT 10 2019
  • Do invasive alien plants differ from non-invasives in dominance and nitrogen uptake in response to variation of abiotic and biotic environments under global anthropogenic change?
    Liu, YY; Sun, Y; Muller-Scharer, H; Yan, R; Zhou, ZX; Wang, YJ; Yu, FH
    SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 672 634-642; 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.024 JUL 1 2019
  • Sympatric diploid and tetraploid cytotypes of Centaurea stoebe s.l. do not differ in arbuscular mycorrhizal communities and mycorrhizal growth response
    Sudova, R; Kohout, P; Kolarikova, Z; Rydlova, J; Voriskova, J; Suda, J; Spaniel, S; Muller-Scharer, H; Mraz, P
    AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY, 105 (12):1995-2007; 10.1002/ajb2.1206 DEC 2018
  • Cross-fertilizing weed science and plant invasion science to improve efficient management: A European challenge
    Muller-Scharer, H; Sun, Y; Chauvel, B; Karrer, G; Kazinczi, G; Kudsk, P; Oude, AGJML; Schaffner, U; Skjoth, CA; Smith, M; Vurro, M; de Weger, LA; Lommen, STE
    BASIC AND APPLIED ECOLOGY, 33 1-13; 10.1016/j.baae.2018.08.003 DEC 2018
  • Estimating economic benefits of biological control of Ambrosia artemisiifolia by Ophraella communa in southeastern France
    Mouttet, R; Augustinus, B; Bonini, M; Chauvel, B; Desneux, N; Gachet, E; Le Bourgeois, T; Muller-Scharer, H; Thibaudon, M; Schaffner, U
    BASIC AND APPLIED ECOLOGY, 33 14-24; 10.1016/j.baae.2018.08.002 DEC 2018
  • Deciphering the biology of Cryptophyllachora eurasiatica gen. et sp nov., an often cryptic pathogen of an allergenic weed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia
    Kiss, Levente; Kovacs, Gabor M.; Boka, Karoly; et al.
    SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 8, Article Number: 10806, 10.1038/s41598-018-29102-5,  JUL 17 2018
  • Time to cut: population models reveal how to mow invasive common ragweed cost-effectively
    Lommen, Suzanne T. E.; Jongejans, Eelke; Leitsch-Vitalos, Melinda; et al.
    NEOBIOTA 39:53-78 JUN 27 2018
  • Explaining variability in the production of seed and allergenic pollen by invasive Ambrosia artemisiifolia across Europe
    Lommen, Suzanne T. E.; Hallmann, Caspar A.; Jongejans, Eelke; et al.
    BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS 20(6): 1475-1491 10.1007/s10530-017-1640-9  JUN 2018
  • Areas of high conservation value at risk by plant invaders in Georgia under climate change
    Slodowicz, D; Descombes, P; Kikodze, D; Broennimann, O; Muller-Scharer, H
    ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 8 (9):4431-4442; 10.1002/ece3.4005 MAY 2018
  • Biological invasion of oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) in North America: Pre-adaptation, post-introduction evolution, or both? 
    Stutz, Sonja; Mraz, Patrik; Hinz, Hariet L.; et al. 
    PLOS ONE, 13 (1): JAN 4 2018
  • Direct effects of insecticides on common ragweed-implications for natural enemy exclusion trials
    Lommen, STE; Fogliatto, S; Vidotto, F; Citterio, S; Augustinus, BA; Muller-Scharer, H
    JOURNAL OF PESTICIDE SCIENCE, 43 (1-2):36-40; 10.1584/jpestics.D17-048 2018
Heinz Müller-Schärer

Prof. Dr. Heinz Müller-Schärer
University of Fribourg
Department of Biology
1700 Fribourg

Tel: +41 (0)26 300 88 35

Research topics

  • Polyploidy and invasion success
  • Sustainable management of weeds and plant invaders (Centaurea, Ambrosia, Rumex)
  • Biological control of invasive plants using insects and fungi
  • Local adaptation and trophic interaction



  • Biological invasions
  • Biodiversity restoration
  • Plant-pathogen/insect interactions
  • Plant ecology and evolution
  • Local adaptations in plants