University of Innsbruck

Peter Schönswetter

“I study the evolution and spatiotemporal diversification of plants from the Alps and other mountain ranges. I have a strong background in classical branches of botany such as floristics, biogeography and vegetation science, which I use to develop timely projects based on cutting-edge methodology. I am corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and deputy head of the Advisory Board for the Protection of Nature of the Federal Government of the Tyrol. I am holding a full professorship at the University of Innsbruck since 2010. In addition, I am director of the Botanical Garden and head of the Department of Botany in the period 2021–2025.”


  • Role of genome duplication in changing mountain landscapes, FWF, 2021–2025

  • Range formation of beech forest understory herbs, FWF, 2017–2021

  • Origin of steppe flora and fauna in inner-Alpine dry valleys, FWF, 2014–2017

  • Conserving intraspecific diversification in a warmer world, FWF, 2018–2020

  • #informal projects: Astragalus, Dolomites, Sax opp etc.

Selected Publications

  • Záveská, Z., Kirschner, P., Frajman, B., Wessely, J., Willner, W., Gattringer, A., Hülber, K., Lazić, D., Dobeš, C., & Schönswetter, P. (2021) Evidence for glacial refugia of the forest understorey species Helleborus niger (Ranunculaceae) in the Southern as well as in the Northern Limestone Alps. Frontiers in Plant Science 12:683043. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.683043.
  • Kirschner, P., Záveská, E., Gamisch, A., Hilpold, A., Trucchi, E., Paun, O., Sanmartín, I., Schlick-Steiner, B. C., Frajman, B., Arthofer, W., The STEPPE Consortium, Steiner, F. M., Schönswetter, P. (2020) Long-term isolation of European steppe outposts boosts the biome’s conservation value. Nature Communications 11, 1968.
  • Sonnleitner, M., Hülber, K., Flatscher, R., Escobar García, P., Winkler, M., Suda, J., Schönswetter, P., & Schneeweiss, G. M. (2016) Ecological differentiation of diploid and polyploid cytotypes of Senecio carniolicus sensu lato (Asteraceae) is stronger in areas of sympatry. Annals of Botany, 117: 269–276.
  • Winkler, M., Tribsch, A., Schneeweiss, G.M., Brodbeck, S., Gugerli, F., Holderegger, R., Abbott, R. & Schönswetter, P. (2012) Tales of the unexpected: Phylogeography of the arctic-alpine model plant Saxifraga oppositifolia (Saxifragaceae) revisited. Molecular Ecology 21, 4618–4630.
  • Schönswetter, P., Stehlik, I., Holderegger, R., & Tribsch, A. (2005). Molecular evidence for glacial refugia of mountain plants in the European Alps. Molecular Ecology, 14, 3547–3555.

All Publications ORCID Research Gate Google Scholar

Additional research achievements

Community services

  • Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

  • Deputy head of the Advisory Board for the Protection of Nature of the Federal Government of the Tyrol

  • Editorial board/Reviewer for various journals and funding agencies

  • Head of the Curriculum Commission of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Innsbruck

All Research achievements


  • Plant biodiversity
  • Plant identification
  • Botanical excursions to the Eastern Alps and other areas
  • Flora and vegetation of the Alps and Middle Europe
  • Population biology