Biodiversity and Plant Evolution


On completion of the course, the students shall have acquired the following knowledge and understanding:

  •       Describe the main evolutionary acquisitions on groups of the plant kingdom and its adaptive significance.
  •       Comprehend the modern plant phylogeny and its sources of information.
  •       Explain the underlying evolutionary mechanisms of diversity and speciation in the plant kingdom.
  •       Describe the variety of pollination syndromes, reproductive systems and population structures presentin the plant kingdom, and explain           the mechanisms underlying this diversity.
  •       Explain and critically analyse how the genetic diversity and evolutionary potential of plant populations are influenced by phenomena like             phenotypic plasticity, seed banks, hybridization, polyploidy and postglacial colonization history.
  •       Formulate hypotheses and propose methods when studying evolutionary phenomena in wild plant species.

This course can have a recognition of 6 ECTs for FCUL PhD students enrolling in it as part of their first doctoral year. For FCUL PhD students only requiring 5 ECTs recognized in their specific PhD programmes  the last 6 hours of the course are not mandatory and the certificate will be on 'Topics in Biodiversity and Plant Evolution’.

Minimum background: bachelor degree in Biology or related areas

Directed to: PhD or MSc students in Biology, Evolution, Ecology or related areas, postdocs and professionals working in related topics

General Plan

1. Evolutionary acquisitions in land plants (Embryophytes).3 h

2. Phylogeny of land plants. Contemporary sources of information for land plants systematic.4 h

3. Evolutionary processes and plant population structures. Phenotypic plasticity and adaptation. Ecotypes and clines. 2 h

4. Postglacial colonization history of plants in Europe and Atlantic islands. Genetic and biogeographic consequences. Phylogeography.3 h

5. Pollination and reproductive biology. Plant mating systems. Reproductive costs and strategies in the plant kingdom. Selective processes associated with fertilization and seed development. Evolutionary pressures shapping seed traits 3 h

6. Allopatric and sympatric speciation in the plant kingdom. Speciation through hybridization and chromosomal changes. Species concepts.2 h

7. Plant life histories: reproductive strategies and seed ecology: Biogeographical and evolutionary aspects of seed dormancy 2 h

8. Biodiversity and Conservation Biology of plants:

                The Convention on Biological Diversity and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 3 h

                Role of Natural History Museums in plant Biodiversity Conservation 3 h

                Plant ex-situ conservation 3 h

                Biodiversity and plant Conservation Biology 2 h

9. Theme presentation 6 h


Students fees




Free for 1st year PhD students in the Doctoral program in Biology (FCUL), Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution (BIODIV UL; UP) and Biology and Ecology of Global Changes (BEAG UL, UA) when the course counts credits for their formation, in which case the delivery of a final report done after the course is mandatory; 40 € for PhD students from institutions of the PEERS network (cE3c, CFE); 80 € for FCUL Master students and unemployed; 130 € for BTI, BI and other PhD students; 180 € for Professional and postdocs.

When the maximum number of students is reached 5 vacancies will be available for non-paying 1st year PhD students mentioned above, being, by order of preference: 1) cE3c students; 2) BIODIV students (not from cE3c); 3) FCUL students (not from cE3c); 4) BEAG students (not from FCUL).

Contacts for Inscription

Candidates should send a short CV and a motivation letter to Helena Cotrim at the following email address:

In the email include the following information:

Full Name:



Professional activity: Professional/Postdoc, BTI, BI (or other non-post-doc research grant), PhD student (with/ without scholarship), Lic. (Bachelor)/Master student

Academic formation:

PhD student of the 1st year of Doctoral programme BIODIV (FCUL/FCUP), Biologia (FCUL) or BEAG (FCUL or UA)?:

If yes to the above question, PhD student doing the Course to count credits for 1st year?:

PhD student of cE3c or CEF (Centro de Ecologia Funcional):?

If PhD student from another programme/centre, which: