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Plant Evolution and Biodiversity

Our mission is to discover, describe, and explain the amazing diversity of plants. Want to join us?

Who are we?

We are the Plant Evolution and Biodiversity group led by Associate Professor Wolf Eiserhardt at the Department of Biology at Aarhus University in Denmark, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the UK. We are a mix of people at different career stages (from undergraduate to Assoc. Prof.) who love to ask questions about the diversity and evolution of plants, pick holes into existing theories, and chase the evidence we need to prove we're right - even if it takes us deep into the rainforest (well, especially then). We do this in many ways, criss-crossing several fields including genomics, phylogenetics, macroevolution, comparative biology, biogeography, macroecology, community ecology, and taxonomy. We go wherever our curiosity about plants takes us!

We are a friendly and welcoming group that values team work, openness and sharing. We also think science should be fun, and all academic seriousness needs to be balanced with a healthy social side. If this sounds like a group you might want to collaborate with or join, be it for a student project or a postdoc, please give us a shout!

Why plants?

We all depend on them, but we most of us rarely think about them. Plants produce the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, and many of the construction materials, commodities and medicines that our society is built on. Yet, we still do not really understand them.

There are about 400’000 known species of land plants. Very few of them (such as major crops) have been studied in great detail, but for most plant species we barely know they exist. And there may be another 80’000 or so that remain to be discovered. How and why has this diversity evolved? What is its function in nature, and why should we care about it?

Plant diversity, as all other biodiversity, is globally threatened by human activities. If we want to preserve plant diversity and its vital services (UN Sustainable Development Goal 15) we need to understand where it comes from, and how long it will take to recover if we keep diminishing it. This - understanding the natural processes shaping plant diversity - is our goal.


Head of group:

Wolf Eiserhardt

Associate Professor Department of Biology - Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity

Research areas

plant diversity
palms (Arecaceae)
Tropical ecosystems
tropical rain forest

Plants produce the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, and many of the goods our society depends on. yet, we still do not really understand them....