Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Welcome ... the Plant Ecology group website, led by Prof. Dr. Katja Tielbörger! Here you can find information to our main research topics, our teaching, our staff, job announcements and news. Ms Tielbörger is also head of the Botanical Garden.

If you want to get us to know us better, join one of our regular group seminars which we host together with the Plant Evolutionary Ecology group! We are presenting our work in these seminars and provide you with an insight into the highly active and diverse range of research topics of the plant ecology department.

Enjoy exploring our website and feel free to contact anyone if you are interested in finding out more about any particular topics, or if you want to pay us a visit. Subscribe to our Email newsletter.

New publications

12.04.2024 ► Eldridge, D.J., ..., Canessa, R., ..., Liancourt, P., ...,Tielbörger, K., ..., van den Brink, L., ... (2024). Hotspots of biogeochemical activity linked to aridity and plant traits across global drylands. Nature Plants

11.04.2024 ► Majekova, M., Springer, B., Ferenc, V., Gruntman, M., & Tielbörger, K. (2024). Leaf fluctuating asymmetry is not a reliable indicator of stress. Functional Ecology

29.01.2024Rauschkolb, R., Bucher, S.F., Hensen, I., ..., Tielbörger, K., ... (2024). Spatial variability in herbaceous plant phenology is mostly explained by variability in temperature but also by photoperiod and functional traits. International Journal of Biometeorology

25.01.2024 ► Yi, J., Wan, J., Tielbörger, K., Tao, Z., Siemann, E., Huang, W. (2024). Specialist reassociation and residence time modulate the evolution of defense in invasive plants: A meta-analysis. Ecology: e4253

23.01.2024 ► Smith, M.D., Wilkins, K.D., Holdrege, M.C., ..., Tielbörger, K., ..., van den Brink, L., ... (2024). Extreme drought impacts have been underestimated in grasslands and shrublands globally. PNAS 121(4):e2309881120.

02.12.2023Terzer E., Schmid M., Bauert B., Weidmann-Csencsics D., Birrer S., Bolliger J., Brodbeck S., Gugerli F. (2023). Distinct spatial patterns of genetic structure and diversity in the butterfly Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) inhabiting fragmented grasslands. Conservation Genetics

24.11.2023 ► Weides, S.E., Hájek, T., Liancourt, P., Herberich, M.M., Kramp, R.E., Tomiolo, S., Pacheco-Riaño, L.C., Tielbörger, K., Májeková, M. (2023). Belowground niche partitioning is maintained under extreme drought. Ecology

10.11.2023 ► Schmid M., Rueffler C., Lehmann L., Mullon C. (accepted). Resource variation within and between patches: Where exploitation competition, local adaptation and kin selection meet. The American Naturalist

28.10.2023Conti L., Valencia E., Galland T., Götzenberger L., Lepš J., Vojtkó A. E., Carmona C. P., Májeková M., LOTVS concorcium, de Bello F. 2023. Functional traits trade-offs define plant population stability across biomes.  Proceedings Royal Society B 290(2001): 2023–0344.

01.08.2023 Metz, J., Tielbörger, K. (2023). A drought year favored drier-adapted origins over local origins in a reciprocal transplant experiment along a rainfall gradient. Oikos, 2023, e09806.

05.07.2023 ► Koch, F., Neutel, AM., Barnes, D.K.A., Tielbörger, K., Zarfl, C., Allhoff, K.T. (2023). Competitive hierarchies in bryozoan assemblages mitigate network instability by keeping short and long feedback loops weak. Communications Biology 6:690.

12.06.2022 ► Herberich, M., Gayler, S., Tielbörger, K. Environmental heterogeneity promotes coexistence among plant life-history strategies through stabilizing mechanisms in space and time. Basic and Applied Ecology 71: 45-56.

12.06.2023 ► Herberich, M., Schädle, J., Tielbörger, K. Plant community productivity and soil water are not resistant to extreme experimental drought in temperate grasslands but in the understory of temperate forests. Science of the Total Environment 891: 164625.


Prof. Dr. Katja Tielbörger
+49 (0)7071 29-74246



Dr. Monika Doll and Team
+49 (0)7071 29-73235



Plant Ecology
Institute for Evolution and Ecology
University of Tübingen
Auf der Morgenstelle 5
D-72076 Tübingen

New DFG project: Disentangling neutral from adaptive genetic variation in light of ecological interactions


Species are not homogeneous entities but show ample of intra-specific genetic variation in morphological, phenological, or behavioral traits.

Such genetic variation is a key component of biodiversity and could help species to adapt to a heterogeneous environment.

In a three-year DFG project, led by Dr. Max Schmid, both the ecological conditions favoring adaptive genetic variation within species and empirical methods to detect this part of biodiversity will be studied.

A new publication derived from the global BIODESERT project


A new publication in Nature Plants derived from the global BIODESERT project shows how plant architecture and aridity shape the way in which shrubs affect biogeochemical cycling in drylands.

Congratulations to Katja, Liesbeth, Pierre, and Rafa!

New publication on asymmetry of leaves as an indicator of stress


Our work on leaf fluctuating asymmetry as stress indicator has been accepted in Functional Ecology!

The bottom line: as much as we tweak published and our own data from many species and several stress gradients and stress experiments, FA has no relationship whatsoever with stress.

So we think it is time to abandon this idea in plants...

A metaanalysis about evolution of defenses in invasive plants


Jinlong's and Katja's first manuscript about evolution of defenses in invasive plants, a metaanalysis, has been published in Ecology.


First major DroughtNet publication


Liesbeth and Katja are co-authors on a new manuscript just published in PNAS, which shows that extreme droughts will have larger impacts on grasslands and shrublands than previously thought. It is the first major DroughtNet publication - more to come!

New publication: Belowground niche partitioning is maintained under extreme drought


In this study, scientists from our working group documented results suggesting that belowground niche partitioning could mitigate negative effects on diversity imposed by extreme drought under future climate: Ecology

Welcome Dr. Said M. Hassen


Said, a plant ecologist from Ethiopia has joined the plant ecology group as PostDoc. He is from Debre Berhan University and his research fellowship is granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

His research interests include the effects of climate change on the interactions between crop and weed species, and comparative characterization of germination and dormancy cycling between invasive weed populations and crops under future climate change. Welcome, Said!

New paper on dry adapted ecotypes of annual plants


Katja has a new paper in Oikos accepted!

Jointly with the main author, Johannes Metz, the manuscript shows how dry adapted ecotypes of annual plants benefit more in dry years than wet adapted ones!

Hierarchy reduces instability of competition networks


In this new publication Franziska Koch, Katja Tielbörger and Korinna Allhoff investigate the structure and stability of competition networks. In their analysis, they combine mathematical models with empirical data on competition between bryozoans (moss animals) and show that hierarchy reduces the instability of these communities: