Department of Biology


My main long-standing interest has been the ecology of plant populations and how they are influenced by phytophagous insects and plant pathogens. This led to the study of phenotypic plasticity and genetic differentiation of various species in different habitat types, effects of disease epidemics and insect herbivory on plant competition, demographic and genetic aspects of within- and among-population variation in space and time, and trans-continental comparisons.

The study of ecological interactions both at the individual plant and at the population level between Senecio vulgaris and the rust fungus Puccinia lagenophorae has been the major focus of my research during the past 12 years.

Since 2000, I have become interested in various aspects of conservation and restoration ecology, especially on mechanisms of local adaptation and biodiversity management, both in agricultural and alpine habitats.

Since 2004 I have come back to topics of my PhD: Plant invasions and biological control; my theoretical and experimental studies predominantly deal with the prediction of evolutionary changes in invasive, exotic plants and their consequences for plant-herbivore interactions, such as for biological control measures.

In 2013, our project proposal on “Sustainable management of Ambrosia artemisiifolia in Europe (SMARTER) became funded as COST-FA1203 and presently, more than 180 researchers with expertise in weed science, biological control, health care, aerobiology, economy and atmospheric and agricultural modelling. from over 33 countries, are participating in this unique European research initiative.



Common Ragweed - Seeds, Pollen and Allergy



Ecology & Evolution - ch du musée - 1700 Fribourg - Tel +41 26 / 300 8835 - Fax +41 26 / 300 9741
heinz.mueller[at] - Swiss University