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PEB group

Members of the Plant Evolution and Biodiversity group

Members of the group

Wolf L. Eiserhardt


I am a botanist trained at the universities of Hamburg (Germany) and Aarhus (Denmark). Now I am an Associate Professor at Aarhus University, and an Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK). I am broadly interested in the evolution and geographic distribution of plant diversity, and study these subjects mostly using phylogenomics and spatial statistics. I have a special interest in places with very high plant diversity, such as the Cape of South Africa, tropical rainforests, or mountains. The plant group I know most about are the palms (Arecaceae).

Google Scholar, ResearchGate, ORCID

Staff page at Aarhus University (incl. short CV)

Twitter: @w_eiserhardt


Melanie Tietje


I am a quantitative ecologist interested in large-scale patterns of diversity, traits, extinction risk, today and in deep time. I work on tropical rain forest plant diversity in the TropiTol project (Explaining the biological hyperdiversity of Tropical rainforests using the Tree of Life). Questions in this project comprise the ecological and evolutionary determinants of species richness patterns, both spatially and temporally. Combining ecological and environmental data with a comprehensive plant phylogeny, we will explore the origins of tropical rainforest plant diversity. In the past I`ve been working on traits that influence the extinction risk of marine invertebrates and also amphibians, combining paleontological and modern species data in these projects to bridge the gap between paleontology and conservation biology.

Website, Google Scholar


Lars Emil S. F. Hansen


I am a PhD student at Aarhus University (Denmark). I have a keen interest in plant evolution and biodiversity, biogeographic regionalizations as well as (Island) biogeography. As part of the TropiTol project, I’m working on the palms of Madagascar and am using them as a model group to get a better understanding of tropical rainforest plant diversification. Through macroevolutionary and macroecological methods, we will try to get in-depth insights into the drivers of palm speciation in Madagascar's tropical rainforests. I have a botanical background mostly focused on plant taxonomy, biodiversity and quantitative ecology.

Project: Explaining the hyperdiversity of tropical rainforests using the Tree of Life (TropiToL).


Oscar Wrisberg


I am a PhD student at Aarhus University, interested in the distribution of biodiversity spatially and across the tree of life. Currently, I am working on explaining the hyperdiversity of plants in tropical rainforests using two different approaches as a part of the TropiTol project. First, I am working on a species level phylogeny of Coryphoideae, a subfamily of Arecaceae, in order to uncover the evolutionary history of this ecologically important tropical rainforest model group. Secondly, I am investigating the macroecological drivers of tropical rainforest hyperdiversity on a global scale by combining massive distribution and phylogenetic datasets spanning the plant tree of life in conjunction with climate datasets in an ecoinformatic framework.

Twitter: @WrisbergOscar

Pirada Sumanon


I am a PhD student at Aarhus University and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. My work is covered both systematic and evolutionary aspects of the genus Maesa (Primulaceae) which I used as a model to clarify the patterns of tropical plant diversification in the absence of reproductive variations. Maesa distributed in the Old World Tropics and my focusing area is in New Guinea, the island with full of interesting yet mysterious biological and geological history. My work is involved in using a phylogenomic framework to obtain a species-level tree of the genus and with the help of various biogeographical analyses, this study will give us a better understanding of the tropical forest evolution.

ResearchGate, Twitter: @PiradaSumanon


Camilla Håkansson


Camilla is in charge of our phylogenomics work in the lab

External PEB members

Members of the group outside Aarhus University

Tom Carruthers


I am interested in using molecular phylogenies as a basis for estimating evolutionary timescales (divergence time estimation). Aside from simply understanding when different taxa evolved, I am interested in investigating how different variables affect the accuracy of divergence time estimates, and determining how divergence time estimates can fundamentally affect our understanding of plant macroevolution. Currently, I am working on inferring a robust phylogeny (and time-calibrated phylogeny) for Saxifraga. This involves building on previous work that I have undertaken to explore the factors that affect divergence time estimates in genomic scale datasets; and using time-calibrated phylogenies for Saxifraga as a context for studying the macroevolution of this large genus. Previously, I have worked on divergence time estimation in Ipomoea.

Angelo Moerland


I am a PhD student at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and University of Reading, UK. I focus on the species-rich genus Saxifraga L. that I use as a model to study the eco-evolutionary origin of alpine plant diversity. Through a phylogenomics approach I aim to infer their complex evolutionary history and work on a protocol that can obtain high-throughput sequence data from scarce and degraded herbarium accessions. In addition, through data on morphological and eco-physiological traits I aim to reconstruct how different manners of specialization enable Saxifraga to thrive at high elevation and how they respond to environmental perturbations.

Twitter @AngeloMoerland

Ben Kuhnhäuser

PHD STUDENT (main supervisor: Bill Baker)

Twitter: @BenKuhnhaeuser 

Researchgate, NERC website, Research blog, ORCID id


Previous students/postdocs supervised by Wolf Eiserhardt:

  • Michael Kröncke: MSc thesis "The effects of flowering phenology of Empetrum hermaphroditum on gene flow between subpopulations along snow cover gradients)" (2014). Michael is now scientific staff at University of Hannover, Germany.
  • Matthew Jeffery: MSc thesis "From Lush Lowlands to the Roof of the World: Leaf Economics and Habitat Evolution in Saxifrages (Genus Saxifraga L.)" (2017). Matthew is now a Botanical Horticulturalist at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK.
  • Josephine Connelly: BSc thesis "Phylogenetic analysis of Ravenea (tribe Ceroxyleae): A phylogenomic approach to species level tree estimation using target capture" (2019). Josephine is now MSc student at Aarhus University.
  • Alexander Venzel Rudbeck: BSc thesis "Phylogenetic analysis of Vaccinieae with a particular focus on the polyphyletic genus Vaccinium" (2018) and MSc thesis "A map of phylogenetic knowledge: spatial barriers and bias in the Darwinian shortfall" (2020)
  • Emil Muff Munk: MSc thesis "The importance of biome definition for quantifying plant species richness and phylogenetic composition in tropical rainforests" (2020)
  • Maya Schrödl: MSc thesis "Colonization and diversification history of Madagascan palms with new phylogenomic evidence from the genus Orania (Arecaceae)" (2020)