Anna Weigand

Anna Weigand


Tel.: +41 (0)44 634 84 30


Since my bachelor studies on general biology in Bonn, Germany, I am interested in biogeography, phylogeny and ecology of plants. After my first field work experience in the tropical mountains of Ecuador, I focussed on the distribution patterns, climatic niche preferences and phylogenetic inferences in the tree fern genera Lophosoria and Sphaeropteris. For the research project in my Master’s degree on “Organismic, Evolutionary, and Palaeobiology”, I compiled a broader biogeographical analysis of vegetation types in South America and started to have first experiences with advanced programming techniques. I am passionate about programming, modelling and using big data to achieve new insights into the world that surrounds us.

Research interest

I am particularly interested in how past and present conditions impact species distributions and diversity patterns – and how this can be related to the specific evolutionary history of a group.

During my PhD project (supervised by Dr. Michael Kessler) at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, I analysed global patterns of fern diversity and how past and current events and conditions influence species numbers across the planet. My work reached from changes in local fern communities in response to recent increase in nutrient availability, over the phylogenetic signatures of extinction events of African ferns during the Tertiary, to specific analyses of environmental and historical factors shaping species pools at different spatial scales. All of this using big data and recent modelling algorithms.

In my Postdoc project, I am applying this type of analysis to other plant groups and will specifically try to incorporate the identity of co-occurring species to tackle long standing questions on saturation, competition and radiations.

Understanding the processes which have formed and form biodiversity today is a crucial step to predict how climatic and environmental changes will impact our planet in the future.


2019 – present

Postdoctoral researcher at University of Zurich, Switzerland
with Dr. M. Kessler, Department for Systematic and Evolutionary Botany

2014 – 2019

PhD Candidate at University of Zurich, Switzerland

PhD Program in Ecology

PhD Project: “The Impact of Space, Time and Environment on Fern Diversity”

Supervisor: Dr. M. Kessler, Department for Systematic and Evolutionary Botany

2012 – 2014

Master of Science at University of Bonn, NRW, Germany

Master Program in Organismic, Evolutionary, and Palaeobiology

Master’s Thesis: “Biogeographical Analysis of Neotropical Forest Inventories”

Supervisor: Dr. J. Mutke, Nees-Institute for Biodiversity of Plants

2009 – 2012

Bachelor of Science at University of Bonn, NRW, Germany

Bachelor Program in Biology

Bachelor’s Thesis: “Differentiating young from old radiations in ferns with decelerated chloroplast evolution“

Supervisor: Dr. M. Lehnert, Nees-Institute for Biodiversity of Plants

Field work

Mar – Jun 2015

Field work in Costa Rica SNF project

Jan – Mar 2015

Field work in Ecuador PhD project
(subproject NUMEX)

Oct – Dec 2014

Field work in Brazil SNF project

Aug – Oct 2014

Field work in Mexico SNF project

Jul – Aug 2014

Field work in Ecuador SNF project

Mar 2012

Field trip to Ecuador
coordinators: Dr. M. Lehnert, Prof. Dr. D. Quandt


Internships and research visits

Oct 2017

Research visit to Dr. J. Homeier, Göttingen, Germany.

Sept 2017

Research visit to Biodiversity, Macroecology and Biogeography group of Prof. H. Kreft, Göttingen, Germany.

March 2017

Research visit to Amazon Research Team of Prof. H. Tuomisto, Turku, Finland.
Presentation: A. Weigand – Large scale patterns of fern diversity.

SS 2013

Internship at the UFPE, Recife, PE, Brazil (11 weeks).
Topic: A complete list of Brazilian Cyatheaceae including key.
Coordinators: Dr. M. Lehnert, Prof. Dr. K. C. Pôrto

WS 2012/13

Internship at the UFPE, Recife, PE, Brazil (5 weeks).
Topic: Taxonomic revision of the Cyathea corcovadensis complex, a common, morphologically variable tree fern species.
Coordinators: Dr. M. Lehnert, Prof. Dr. K. C. Pôrto


Loiseau, O., Olivares, I., Paris. M., de la Harpe, M., Weigand, A., Koubinova, D., Rolland, J., Bacon, C.D., Balslev, H., Borchsenius, F., Cano, A., Couvreur, T. L. P., Delnatte, C., Fardin, F., Gayot, M., Mejía, F., Machado, T. M., Perret, M., Roncal, J., Sanin, M. J., Stauffer, F., Lexer, C., Kessler, M., Salamin, N. (accepted). Targeted capture of hundreds of nuclear genes unravels phylogenetic relationships of the diverse Neotropical palm tribe Geonomateae. Frontiers in Plant Sciences.

Noben, S., Kessler, M., Weigand, A., Tejedor, A., Rodríguez Duque, W. D., Gallego, G., Ferndando, L. & Lehnert, M. (2018). A taxonomic and biogeographic reappraisal of the genus Dicksonia (Dicksoniaceae) in the Neotropics. Systematic Botany, 43(4), 839-857.

Hernández-Rojas, A., Kessler, M., Krömer, T., Carvajal-Hernández, C., Weigand, A., & Kluge, J. (2018). Richness Patterns of Ferns Along an Elevational Gradient in the Sierra de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico: a Comparison with Central and South America. American Fern Journal, 108(3), 76-94.

Noben, S., Kessler, M., Quandt, D., Weigand, A., Wicke, S., Krug, M., & Lehnert, M. (2017). Biogeography of the Gondwanan tree fern family Dicksoniaceae-A tale of vicariance, dispersal and extinction. Journal of Biogeography.

Lehnert, M. & A. Weigand (2016).  A synopsis of the Neotropical species of the genus Cyathea (Cyatheaceae-Polypodiopsida) with bipinnate fronds Brittonia: 1-20.

Weigand, A. & M. Lehnert (2016). The scaly tree ferns (Cyatheaceae-Polypodiopsida) of Brazil. Acta Botanica Brasilica: 1-15.

Lehnert, M. & A. Weigand (2013). A proposal to distinguish several taxa in the Brazilian tree fern Cyathea corcovadensis (Cyatheaceae). Phytotaxa 155(1):35-49.