Plant life in alpine habitats

Plant Population and Evolutionary Biology

Adaptation and phenotypic plasticity are both crucial for the long-term survival of plants in changing world. Our actual research is focused on the functional consequences of the highly structured alpine landscape for demographic, reproductive and evolutionary processes in plants. With increasing altitude, plant life is challenged by low temperature, more snow, a shorter vegetation period, and harsher conditions due to a rising number of extreme weather events. 

We aim to explain the pattern of within and among species diversity in relation to altitude, biogeographic factors and human land use, We ask how far the the glacial history of the Alpine flora has affected genetic diversity and ecologically relevant differentiation and adaptation of species. We try to quantify the importance of genetic processes and phenotypic plasticity for local adaptation in functionally important plant traits. 

We combine observational studies, molecular analysis, field-, greenhouse and common garden experiments as well as demographic modelling to answer questions and test hypotheses.

Recent Publications

  • Apomixis and genetic background affect distinct traits in Hieracium pilosella L. grown under competition
    Sailer, Christian; Tiberi, Simone; Schmid, Bernhard; Stoecklin, Juerg; Grossniklaus, Ueli
    Bmc Biology 10.1186/s12915-021-01117-x  AUG 28 2021
  • Ultraviolet screening increases with elevation in translucent bracts of Rheum nobile (Polygonaceae), an alpine 'glasshouse' plant from the high Himalayas
    Song, Bo; Gao, Yongqian; Stocklin, Jurg; Song, Minshu; Sun, Lu; et al.
    Botanical Journal Of The Linnean Society  DOI: 10.1093/botlinnean/boaa005  Published: JUN 2020
  • Dynamics of apomictic and sexual reproduction during primary succession on a glacier forefield in the Swiss Alps
    Sailer, Christian; Stocklin, Jurg; Grossniklaus, Ueli
    Scientific Reports 10.1038/s41598-020-64367-9  MAY 19 2020
  • Demography of the giant monocarpic herb Rheum nobile in the Himalayas and the effect of disturbances by grazing
    Song, Bo; Stoll, Peter; Peng, Deli; Sun, Hang; Stocklin, Jurg
    Annals Of Botany  DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcz178 Published: FEB 14 2020
  • Local adaptation is stronger between than within regions in alpine populations of Anthyllis vulneraria
    Kesselring, H; Hamann, E; Armbruster, GFJ; Stocklin, J; Scheepens, JF
    EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY, 33 (5):737-750; 10.1007/s10682-019-09999-8 OCT 2019
  • DNA-content and chromosome number in populations of Poa alpina in the Alps reflect land use history
    Spinnler, F; Stocklin, J
    FLORA, 246 102-108; 10.1016/j.flora.2018.08.002 SEP 2018
  • Plant responses to simulated warming and drought: a comparative study of functional plasticity between congeneric mid and high elevation species
    Hamann, Elena; Kesselring, Halil; Stocklin, Jurg
    JOURNAL OF PLANT ECOLOGY, 11 (3):364-374; JUN 2018
  • Colonization dynamics of a clonal pioneer plant on a glacier foreland inferred from spatially explicit and size-structured matrix models 
    Scherrer, Daniel; Stoll, Peter; Stocklin, Jurg 
    FOLIA GEOBOTANICA, 52 (3-4): 353-366 DEC 2017
  • High intraspecific phenotypic variation, but little evidence for local adaptation in Geum reptans populations in the Central Swiss Alps 
    Hamann, Elena; Scheepens, J. F.; Kesselring, Halil; et al. 
    ALPINE BOTANY, 127 (2): 121-132 OCT 2017
  • High-elevation plants have reduced plasticity in flowering time in response to warming compared to low-elevation congeners 
    Schmid, Sophie F.; Stocklin, Jurg; Hamann, Elena; et al. 
  • Plasticity of flower longevity in alpine plants is increased in populations from high elevation compared to low elevation populations
    Trunschke, Judith; Stocklin, Jurg 
    ALPINE BOTANY, 127 (1): 41-51 APR 2017
  • Host specificity of two pollinating seed-consuming fly species is not related to soil moisture of host plant in the high Himalayas 
    Song, Bo; Stocklin, Jurg; Gao, Yong-Qian; et al. 
    ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 7 (2): 780-789 JAN 2017
Jürg Stöcklin

Prof. em. Dr. Jürg Stöcklin
University of Basel
Dept of Environmental Sciences – Botany
4056 Basel

Tel: +41 (0)61 207 35 01

Research topics

  • Genetic diversity, phenotypic plasticity and adaptation in Alpine plants
  • Effects of land use and global change on biodiversity in grassland
  • The demographic and functional consequences of clonal growth
  • Reproductive biology of plants



  • Demographic modelling
  • Molecular pattern of adaptation
  • Phylogeography
  • Plant-animal interactions
  • Functional community ecology