Prof. Dr. Severin Irl

Personal interests

I’m Professor of Biogeography, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and Head of the Biogeography and Biodiversity Lab at the Institute of Physical Geography

My main research interests include:

  •    Island biogeography and ecology, especially focusing on the endemic plant species
  •    Global treeline patterns with a particular (but not exclusive) focus on islands
  •    Biogeography and ecology of high-elevation ecosystems on oceanic islands and other mountainous systems
  •    Invasion biology
  •    Plant-herbivore interactions with a focus on introduced herbivores and endemic plants on islands
  •    Spatial and ecological distribution of endemic and insular species and the possible effects of climate change on this distribution
  •    Primary succession on lava flows
  •    Functional island biogeography
  •    Global and macroecological patterns of all sort mainly revolving around diversity, rarity, endemism and invasion

I'm Secretary of the newly founded Society of Island Biology (SIB):

AK Biogeographie des VGDH:

Associated Editor for Diversity and Distributions 

Google Scholar

Research Gate

Follow me on Twitter: @Severin_Irl


Eduard-Strasburger Award 2017 donated by the German Botanical Society (DBG) and Springer Spektrum. See here (German), here (German) and here (English).

Frithjoff Voss Award for Physical Geography 2019 donated by the Frithjoff Voss Stiftung. See here and here.

Selected publications

Fernández-Palacios JM, Kreft H, Irl SDH, Norder S, Ah-Peng C, Borges PA, Burns KC, de Nascimento L, Meyer JY, Montes E & Drake DR (2021). Scientists’ Warning-The Outstanding Biodiversity of Islands is in Peril. Global Ecology and Conservation, e01847.

Irl SDH, Schweiger AH, Steinbauer MJ, Ah-Peng C, Arévalo JR, Beierkuhnlein C, Chiarucci A, Daehler CC, Fernández-Palacios JM, Flores O, Kueffer C, Madera P, Otto R, Schweiger JMI, Strasberg D, Jentsch A (2021) Human impact, climate and dispersal strategies determine plant invasion on islands. Journal of Biogeography.

Irl SDH, Obermeier A, Beierkuhnlein C, Steinbauer MJ (2020) Climate controls plant life form patterns on a high-elevation oceanic island. Journal of Biogeography, DOI:

Flantua S, Payne D, Borregaard M, Beierkuhnlein C, Steinbauer MJ, Dullinger S, Essl F, Irl SDH, Kienle D, Kreft H, Lenzner B, Norder S, Rijsdijk K, Rumpf S, Weigelt P, Field R (2020) Snapshot isolation and isolation history challenge the analogy between mountains and islands used to understand endemism. Global Ecology and Biogeography, DOI:

Cubas, J.*, Irl, S.D.H.*, Villafuerte, R., Bello-Rodríguez, V., Rodríguez-Luengo, J.L., del Arco, M., Martín-Esquivel, J.L., & González-Mancebo, J.M. (2019). Endemic plant species are more palatable to introduced herbivores than non-endemics. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B, 286, 20190136.
* Equal contribution

Harter, D; Irl, SDH; Seo, B; Steinbauer, M; Gillespie, RG; Triantis, KA; Fernandez-Palacios, JM; Beierkuhnlein, C (2015): Impacts of global climate change on the floras of oceanic islands - Projections, implications and current knowledge, Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 17(2), 160–183: doi:10.1016/j.ppees.2015.01.003

Irl, SDH; Harter, D; Steinbauer, M; Puyol Gallego, D; Fernández-Palacios, JM; Jentsch, A; Beierkuhnlein, C (2015): Climate vs. topography – spatial patterns of plant species diversity and endemism on a high-elevation island, Journal of Ecology, 103, 1621-1633: doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12463