Biodiversity and Plant Evolution


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.1.5 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 2.5 h

            Plant ex-situ conservation 2.5 h

            Biodiversity and plant Conservation Biology 1.5 h

9. Theme presentation 2h


Students fees




Free for PhD students in the Doctoral programs BIODIV (UL; UP) and BEGC (UL, UA) and in general 1st year PhD students in the Doctoral programme in Biology (FCUL); 20 € 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.


How to apply

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