Guy Atchison

Guy Atchison


Tel.: +41 (0)44 634 84 16


2011 PhD Student, Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zürich
2011 MSc Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh & University of Edinburgh
2010 Chinese Plants Assistant, Botany Department, Natural History Museum, London
2009 Digitisation Officer, Latin American Plants Initiative, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
2009 BSc Biology, University College London
2008 Volunteer, Botany Department, Natural History Museum, London

Research Interests

My research focuses on radiations and the evolutionary dynamics of species diversification. The unevenness of species richness is a well documented characteristic of the tree of life, however fundamental questions, such as why some lineages diversify more than others, and at differing rates, remain unanswered. My current work as a PhD-student forms part of the ‘Biogeography and Evolutionary Dynamics of Legume Diversification’ research project, run by Dr. Colin Hughes. For my part in this project I am focusing on the genus Lupinus.

Lupinus is a legume genus comprising ca. 276 annual and perennial species of plants distributed across a range of habitats from sea-level to 5,000m, with centres of diversity in North, Central and South America. Present day diversity is thought to be a result of a series of parallel and nested replicate continental scale radiations that show some of the highest known rates of net diversification in plants. While there is evidence that a shift from annual to perennial habit acted as a possible key innovation, allowing lineages to expand into upland environments, the extent and monophyly of these clades remain poorly tested due to incomplete taxon sampling, and detailed diversification trajectories of these radiations remain poorly understood due to lack of phylogenetic resolution. The project aims to investigate why Lupinus radiated in Central and South America and the mechanisms by which species diversified so rapidly.


Dr. D. A. Filatov Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford
Prof. S. Madriñán Universidad de los Andes
Prof. M. Nelson University of Western Australia

Clockwise from top left: Lupinus inflorescences; Nevado de Cachi, Argentina; Lupinus semperflorens; Raising plants at the Botanical Garden, Zürich; Lupinus alopecuroides in Chingaza National Park, Colombia; Collecting in Boyaca department, Colombia.


Colombia - October 2012
Collecting trip to high elevation Páramo habitats of the Andes in Colombia in collaboration with Prof. S. Madriñán (Universidad de los Andes) and Dr. Nicolai Nürk (Universität Heidelberg).

Argentina - February 2012
Collecting Trip to North-West Argentina (Jujuy, Salta, Tucuman, Catamarca) in collaboration with Instituto de Botánica del Nordeste (IBONE).

Belize - January 2011
Field Course in Tropical Botany run by Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Received RBGE Certificate in Practical Field Botany.


E.J.M. Koenen, J.M. de Vos, G.W. Atchison, M.F. Simon, B.D. Schrire, E.R. de Souza, L.P. de Queiroz, & C.E. Hughes. 2013. Exploring the tempo of species diversification in legumes. South African Journal of Botany. (Available Online.)

Professional Memberships

Society of Systematic Biologists
Swiss Systematics Society