Agnes Dellinger, PhD
I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research at the University of Vienna, Austria. I am interested in understanding the relative importance of abiotic and biotic processes in driving plant diversification at macro- and microevolutionary scales, and how flowers diversify and evolve under continuous or divergent pollinator-mediated selection.
In my research, I combine observational and experimental field work with the structural and functional investigation of flower morphology. I use time-calibrated molecular phylogenies to trace trait evolution across time, and analyse these data in conjunction with environmental niche data.
Since 2012, I have been working towards establishing the Neotropical plant tribe Merianieae (Melastomataceae) as my model system for addressing questions related to macro- and microevolutionary processes of plant diversification. The ca. 300 species of Merianieae harbour an exceptional diversity of different pollination strategies (i.e. buzz-pollination by bees, pollination by passerine birds and by mixed assemblages of vertebrates such as hummingbirds, bats, rodents) and are distributed from lowland rainforests to high-altitudes in the Andes. This offers an ideal set-up for exploring longstanding questions of lineage diversification in one of the Earth’s prime biodiversity hotspots.