RESEARCH GROUP OF PROF. GREGOR KOZLOWSKI
Our research group explores various aspects of biology, evolution and biogeography of threatened, endemic and relict plant species. Through our studies, we aim to provide the basic knowledge in order to efficiently protect species at the brink of extinction. We are directly linked with the Botanic Garden of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland (G. Kozlowski is a director of the garden), as well as intensively collaborating with the Natural History Museum Fribourg (NHMF). Internationally, our group is tightly associated with the Shanghai Chenshan Botanic Garden in China (Plant Systematics and Evolutionary Biology Group at the Shanghai Chenshan Plant Science Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences).
Globally, our main model organisms are threatened woody species, with special focus on relict trees. Relict trees are remnants of past populations that have become fragmented by climate-driven changes and habitat loss. These remnants were left behind during past range shifts and can persist today only in enclaves with favorable environmental conditions in areas with inhospitable regional climates. The major model organisms of our research are the relict tree genera Zelkova (Ulmaceae) and Pterocarya (Juglandaceae) possessing today pronounced disjuctions between the Western and Eastern Eurasia. Our group coordinates the activities of international and interdisciplinary relict tree Projects Zelkova & Pterocarya network of more than 30 researchers from ca. 15 countries.
At the local scale, the main subject of our investigations are threatened and/or endemic alpine-arctic and boreal plants (e.g., Nuphar pumila, Papaver occidentale, Pinus cembra). The Alps, along with the neighboring mountain ranges, played an important role in forming the biogeographical patterns in Europe and acted as a refugium for many taxa throughout several ice age cycles.