Professor of Ecosystem Management

Pluess, Andrea R., Dr.

Andrea R. Pluess

ETH Zürich
Dr. Andrea R. Pluess
ITES - Ecosystem Management
CHN G 75.1
Universitätstrasse 16
8092 Zürich

Phone: +41 44 632 89 75
Fax: +41 44 632 10 33

Mission Statement

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. My research contains three core areas: adaptation and phenotypic plasticity, the genomic basis of adaptation and genetic connectivity from population to landscape scale. With my research I aim to contribute to the knowledge building to mitigate effects of environmental change on plants and ecosystems based on traditional but also newly available genomic research methods. Sustainable plant populations are of particular importance because they contribute substantially to ecosystem resilience and resistance.


PhD projects supervision

Integrating genetic diversity and phenotypic plasticity into plant population responses to climate change in the Alps (BioChange CCES) - 2008 to 2013

Within the group of Ecosystem Management I led the BioChange project on plant reactions to climate change in alpine habitats, particularly with respect to the supervision of three PhD students, scientific reporting and administrative and financial matters. Congratulations to the three PhD candidates who earned their degree in early March 2013!
Following topics were tackled by:

Esther Frei: Adaptation and plasticity of plant populations in the Swiss Alps in the context of climate change.
Thomas Hahn: Low impact of altitude and landscape composition on patterns of genetic variation in semi-dry grassland plants.
Philippe Matter: Estimating contemporary pollen-flow and associated outbreeding effects on herbaceous plant populations along altitudinal gradients.

Dr. Chris Kettle contributes to the supervision of the molecular project parts.

Allee effects and plant conservation: Trollius europaeus-Cheistocheta spp. interaction in a fragmented landscape - 2006 to 2011

In collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jaboury Ghazoul, I supervised Charlotte Klank, who studied the pollination system, plant performance and genetic diversity in differently sized populations of T. europaeus. My focal support laid in the quantitative genetics and molecular experiments including statistical analyses and writing.

Maintenance of diversity in tropical rain forests: The paradox of soil-specialists and soil-generalists Dipterocarp species - 2006 to 2011

In collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jaboury Ghazoul, I supervised Julia Born who studied mechanisms of co-existence in the Shorea genus. My focal contribution were discussions of experimental procedures during the field work and statistical support for the analyses of plant growth.


Adaptive variation in European beech across a multitude of environmental conditions in Switzerland - ongoing

European beech, the most dominant and economically important broadleaved forest tree of Switzerland, occurs across a wide variety of environmental conditions and is thereby expected to be under divergent selection. Understanding the genomic basis of adaptation has a high application potential. I investigate the variation of over 150 SNPs in genes of known functions in 79 provenances of Switzerland. An environmental association analyses will indicate the adaptive divergence and eventually indicates which provenances might serve best as seed sources for our future forests under climate change. In this project I collaborate with A. Frank, Drs. P. Brang, C. Sperisen and C. Heiri (WSL), Drs. S. Oddou-Muratorio and H. Lalagüe (INRA, Avignon) and Dr. G.G. Vendramin (CNR, Florence). This genomic project complements a large-scale common garden experiment at WSL called ADAPT.

Does seed size differ between lowland and alpine plant species? - ongoing

Based on seed weight data of c. 1300 lowland and alpine plant species from Switzerland, we test the hypothesis that selection favours larger seeds in the harsher environmental conditions at higher altitudes. 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).

Evaluation of European beech genetic resources at dry and mesic sites in Switzerland - 2009 to 2011

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)

Curriculum Vitae


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.


Scientific editor Forest and Climate change. Unit: Forest resources and management, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research ,WSL. Since 2014.
Scientist Forest genetic resources. Unit: Forest resources and management, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research ,WSL. Since 2014.
Lecturer I contribute to several BSc and MSc courses (in German and English) and I was responsible for the MSc course ‚Disturbance Ecology‘ (3 ETCS) for four years. D-UWIS, ETH ,Switzerland. Since 2010.
Oberassistent Molecular and evolutionary ecology. Ecosystem Management, ETH, Switzerland. 2008 - 2014.
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. August - October 1998.


2014 / in press

Born J., Pluess A.R., Burslem D.F.R.P., Nilus R., Maycock C.R. & J. Ghazoul (2014) Differing life history characteristics support coexistence of tree soil generalists and specialist species in tropical rainforests. Biotropica, 46(1), 58-68. (PDF)

Frei E.R., Ghazoul J. & A.R. Pluess (2014) Plastic responses to elevated temperature in low and high elevation populations of three grassland species. PloSOne 9 (6), e98677.

Frei E.R., Hahn T., Ghazoul J. & A.R. Pluess (in press) Divergent selection in low and high elevation populations of a perennial herb in the Swiss Alps. Alpine Botany. DOI 10.1007/s00035-014-0131-1

Frei E.R., Ghazoul J., Matter P. Heggli, M. & A.R. Pluess (2014) Plant population differentiation and climate change: responses of grassland species along an elevational gradient. Global Change Biology, 20(2), 441-455. (PDF)

Matter P., Kettle C.J., Frei E.R., Ghazoul J. & A.R. Pluess (2014) Geographic distance is more relevant than elevation to patterns of outbreeding in Ranunculus bulbosus. Journal of Ecology, doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12214. (PDF)


Pluess, A.R., Klank C. & J. Ghazoul (2013) Neutral and quantitative genetic differentiation among Trollius europaeus within a fragmented landscape. Alpine Botany 123, 55-63. (PDF)

Pluess, A.R. (2013) Meta-Analysis reveals microevolution in grassland plant species under contrasting management. Biodiversity and Conservation 22(10), 2375-2400. (PDF)

Hahn T., Kettle C.J., Ghazoul J., Hennig I.E. & A.R. Pluess (2013) Landscape composition has limited impact on genetic structure in mountain clover, Trifolium montanum L. Journal of Heredity 104(6), 842-852. (PDF)

Matter P., Kettle C.J., Ghazoul J. & A.R. Pluess (2013) Extensive contemporary pollen-mediated gene flow in two herb species Ranunculus bulbosus and Trifolium montanum along an altitudinal gradient in a meadow landscape. Annals of Botanty 111(4), 611-621. (PDF)

Matter P., Kettle C.J., Ghazoul J., Hahn T. & A.R. Pluess (2013) Evaluating contemporary pollen dispersal in two common grassland species Ranunculus bulbosus L. (Ranunculaceae) and Trifolium montanum L. (Fabaceae) using an experimental approach. Plant Biology.15, 583-592. (PDF)

Pluess A.R. & K. Määttänen (2013) Characterization of eighteen novel microsatellite markers and multiplex PCR protocol for Fagus sylvatica. Conservation Genetics Resources. 5(2), 311-314. (PDF)

Weber P., Bugmann H., A.R. Pluess, Walthert L., & A. Rigling (2013) Drought response and changing sensitivity of beech close to the dry distribution limit. Trees- Structure and Function 27(1), 171-181.

Hahn T., Kettle C.J., Ghazoul J., Frei E.R., Matter P. & A.R. Pluess (2012) Patterns of genetic variation across altitude in three plant species of semi-dry grasslands. PLoS ONE. 7(8): e41608. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0041608. (PDF)


Matter P., Pluess A.R., Ghazoul J. & C.J. Kettle (2012) Eight new microsatellite markers for the bulbous buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus. American Journal of Botany, 99(10), E399-401.

Matter P., Määttänen, K, Kettle C.J., Ghazoul J. & A.R. Pluess (2012) A new set of microsatellites for Trifolium montanum (Fabaceae), consisting of seven species-specific and four transferred from T. repens. American Journal of Botany, 99(11), E447-449.

Klank C., J. Ghazoul & A.R. Pluess (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. & 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 (2011) Plant growth and fitness of Scabiosa columbaria under climate warming conditions. Plant Ecology & Diversity, 4(4): 379-389. (PDF)

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.

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. (PDF)

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

Pre 2009

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. (PDF)

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. (PDF)

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. (PDF)

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. (PDF)

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. (PDF)

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. (PDF)


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