Phone: +41 44 632 89 75
My research focuses on ecological and evolutionary processes in plant populations. I am particularly interested in patterns of selection and genetic connectivity within and across landscapes. The degree of adaptation and the ability of propagule flow are essential factors in understanding the influence of changing environmental factors such as climate change and habitat fragmentation on plant persistence.
In our research we combine ecological and molecular approaches to address effects of natural and anthropogenic habitat fragmentation and effects of anticipated climate change within individual plant species as well as in plant species comparisons. Most of the studies take place in alpine habitats, where altitudinal gradients serve as a surrogate for changing climate with an increase in temperature and season length from the top to the bottom of the mountain.
Given the technical revolution with the novel opportunities to study genes under selection in non-model species, I also study adaptive genetic variation in European beech along a multitude of environmental gradients. This project will elucidate the microevolutionary potential of this important tree species within Switzerland under global change.
Within the group of Ecosystem Management I lead the BioChange project on plant reactions to climate change in alpine habitats, particularly with respect to the supervision of three PhD students as well as administrative and financial matters. Following topics are tackled by:
Esther Frei: Adaptation and phenotypic plasticity of alpine plants under climate change scenarios
Thomas Hahn: Plant genetic diversity, differentiation and gene flow along altitudinal gradients in the Alps
Philippe Matter: Disruption of local adaptation in plant populations via pollen immigration along altitudinal gradients.
Dr. Chris Kettle contributes to the supervision of the molecular project parts.
In collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jaboury Ghazoul, I supervise Charlotte Klank, who studies the pollination system, plant performance, and genetic diversity in differently sized populations of T. europaeus. My focal support lays in the quantitative genetics and molecular experiments including statistical analyses and writing.
In collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jaboury Ghazoul, I supervise Julia Born who studies mechanisms of co-existence in the Shorea genus. My focal contribution was discussions of experimental procedures during the field work and statistical support for the analyses of plant growth.
European beech occurs along many environmental gradients within Switzerland and thereby might contain locally adapted genotypes. Genotypes adapted to warmer temperature and longer drought periods are expected to foster the sustainability of European beech forests under global change. In this project I collaborate with Dr. G.G. Vendramin (Florence, Italy), Drs. P. Brang, C. Sperisen and C. Heiri (WSL) to study adaptive genes in c. 80 provenances sampled across Switzerland. This genomic project complements a large-scale common garden experiment at WSL.
Based on seed weight data of c. 1300 lowland and alpine plant species from Switzerland, we will test the hypothesis that selection favours larger seeds in the harsher environmental conditions at higher altitude. Thereby we will also consider phylogenetic contrasts and the influence of habitat preference as well as plant traits. This project is a collaboration with Prof. Dr. J. Stöcklin (University of Basel) and Dr. W. Schütz (Germany).
In this project, we found indications that European beech at nearby dry and mesic sites is adapted to soil moisture availability based on an AFLP outlier analysis. We also studied the dendrochronological characteristics of the trees and combined this dataset with the genetic dataset. This study was a collaborative work with Dr. Pascale Weber.
Pluess and Weber, 2012, PloSOne (PDF)
|PhD||‘Plant genetic diversity and population differentiation in the fragmented alpine landscape’. Supervised by PD Dr. Jürg Stöcklin. Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Switzerland. 2000-2004.|
|Master||‘Genetic diversity and fitness in Scabiosa columbaria in the Swiss Jura in relation to population size’. Supervised by PD Dr. Jürg Stöcklin. Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Switzerland. 1999-2000.|
|Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Statistics||Department of Mathematics, ETH; 43 ETCS. 2007-2009.|
|Lecturer||I am responsible for the MSc course ‚Disturbance Ecology‘ (3 ETCS) and contribute to other courses. D-UWIS, ETH ,Switzerland. Since 2010.|
|Oberassistent||Population Ecology and Genetics. Ecosystem Management, ETH, Switzerland. Since 2008.|
|Postdoc||‘Gene flow and adaptation in alpine plants’. PI Prof. Dr. Jaboury Ghazoul. Ecosystem Management, ETH, Switzerland. 2006-2008.|
|Postdoc||‘Pollen movement in Quercus lobata’. PI Prof. Dr. Victoria Sork. Dept. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA. 2004-2005.|
|Internship||‘Stable isotopes in ecology: Humus C-pool and respiration of roots and microbes in different CO2- and N-treatments’. Supervised by Dr. Rolf Siegwolf. Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland. July - October 1998.|
Pluess, A.R. (in review) Meta-Analysis reveals restricted microevolution in grassland plant species under contrasting management. Biodiversity and Conservation
Frei E.R., Ghazoul J. & A.R. Pluess (in review) Plastic responses to elevated temperature in low and high elevation populations of three grassland species in the Swiss Alps. American Journal of Botany.
Klank C., Ghazoul J. & A.R. Pluess (in revision) Conservation implications based on neutral and quantitative genetic differentiation in Swiss Trollius europaeus populations. Heredity.
Hahn T., Kettle C.J., Ghazoul J., Frei E.R., Matter P. & A.R. Pluess (2012) Neutral genetic diversity and differentiation in low central and upper peripheral plant populations in the Swiss Alps. PLoS ONE. 7(8): e41608. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0041608.
Matter P., Kettle C.J., Ghazoul J., Hahn T. & A.R. Pluess (in press) Estimating the pollen dispersal of the two grassland species Ranunculus bulbosus and Trifolium montanum using an experimental approach. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. DOI: 10.1007/s12686-012-9791-6
Matter P., Pluess A.R., Ghazoul J. & C.J. Kettle (in press) Eight new microsatellite markers for the bulbous buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus. American Journal of Botany.
Matter P., Määttänen, K, Kettle C.J., Ghazoul J. & A.R. Pluess (in press) A new set of microsatellites for Trifolium montanum (Fabaceae), consisting of seven species-specific and four transferred from T. repens. American Journal of Botany.
Klank C., J. Ghazoul & Pluess A.R. (2012). Genetic variation and plant performance in fragmented populations of globeflowers (Trollius europaeus) within agricultural landscapes. Conservation Genetics, 13 (3), 873-884, DOI: 10.1007/s 1059-012-0337-y. (PDF)</
Pluess A.R. & K. Määttänen (in press) Characterization of eighteen novel microsatellite markers and multiplex PCR protocol for Fagus sylvatica. Conservation Genetics Resources. DOI: 10.1007/s12686-012-9791-6.
Pluess A.R. & P. Weber (2012) Drought-Adaptation Potential in Fagus sylvatica: Linking Moisture Availability with Genetic Diversity and Dendrochronology. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33636. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0033636. (PDF)
Pluess A.R., Frei E., Kettle C.J., Hahn T. & J. Ghazoul (2012) Plant growth and fitness of Scabiosa columbaria under climate warming conditions. Plant Ecology & Diversity, 4(4):379-389 (PDF)
Weber P., Bugmann H., A.R. Pluess, Walthert L., & A. Rigling (in press) Drought response and changing sensitivity of beech close to the dry distribution limit. Trees- Structure and Function.
Pluess, A.R. (2011) Pursuing glacier retreat: genetic structure of a rapidly expanding Larix decidua population. Molecular Ecology 20 (3), 473-485. (PDF)
Scofield, D.G., Alfaro V.R., Sork, V.L., Grivet, D., Martinez, E., Papp, J., Pluess, A.R. & Smouse ,P.E. (2011) Foraging patterns of acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) on valley oak (Quercus lobata Née) in two California oak savannah-woodlands. Oecologia 166 (1), 187-196. (PDF)
Weber, P., Pluess, A.R. & Mühlethaler, U. (2010) Genetic resources of beech in Switzerland. COST Action E 52 report in ‘Status of the Genetic Resources of European Beech’ special issue of Communicationes Instituti Forestalis Bohemicae 25: 248-255. (PDF)
Scheepens, J.F., Stöcklin, J. & Pluess, A.R. (2010) Unifying selection acts on competitive ability and relative growth rate in Scabiosa columbaria. Basic and Applied Ecology 11:7 612-618. (PDF)
Klank C., Pluess A.R. & Ghazoul J. (2010) Effects of population size on plant reproduction and pollinator abundance in a highly specialised pollination system. Journal of Ecology 89: 1389-1397. (PDF)
Stöcklin, J., Kuss P. & Pluess, A.R. (2009) Genetic diversity, local adaptation and gene flow in the alpine landscape: Case studies with Alpine plant species. Botanica Helvetica 119 (2), 125-133.
Pluess, A.R., Sork, V.L., Dolan, B., Davis, F.W., Grivet, D., Merg, K., Papp, J. & Smouse, P.E. (2009) Short distance pollen movement in a wind-pollinated tree, Quercus lobata (Fagaceae). Forest Ecology and Management 258, 735-744
Kuss, P., Pluess A.R., Ægisdóttir, H.H. & Stöcklin, J.(2008) Spatial isolation and genetic differentiation in naturally fragmented plant populations of the Swiss Alps. Journal of Plant Ecology 1(3): 149-159.
Jaeger, J., Pluess, A., Klank, C. & Ghazoul, J. (2007) Herausforderungen für Forstwirtschaft und forstliche Forschung: Wie können Wissenschaft und Praxis wirksamer zusammenarbeiten? GAIA 16(4): 261-266.
Pluess, A.R. & Stöcklin, J. (2005) The importance of population origin and environment on clonal and sexual reproduction in the alpine plant Geum reptans. Functional Ecology, 19, 228-237.
Pluess, A.R., Schütz, W., & Stöcklin, J. (2005) Seed weight increases with altitude in the Swiss Alps between related species but not among populations of individual species. Oecologia 144, 55-61.
Pluess, A.R. & Stöcklin, J. (2004) Population genetic diversity of the clonal plant Geum reptans (Rosaceae) in the Swiss Alps. American Journal of Botany 91, 2013-2021.
Pluess, A.R. & Stöcklin, J. (2004) Genetic diversity and fitness in Scabiosa columbaria in the Swiss Jura in relation to population size. Conservation Genetics 5(2), 145-156.
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