Prof. Dr. Severin Irl

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

and Mastodon:


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

Selected publications

Gallou A, Jump AS, Lynn JS, Field R, Irl SDH, Steinbauer MJ, ... & Grytnes JA (2023). Diurnal temperature range as a key predictor of plants’ elevation ranges globally. Nature Communications, 14, 7890.

Hanz DM, Cutts V, Barajas‐Barbosa MP, Algar A, Beierkuhnlein C, Collart F, ... & Irl SDH (2023). Effects of climate change on the distribution of plant species and plant functional strategies on the Canary Islands. Diversity and Distributions, 29, 1157-1171.

Eibes PM, Schaffrath F, Oldeland J, Thormählen W, Schmiedel U, Irl SDH (2022) Testing the concept of edaphism for the quartz island flora of the Knersvlakte, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 151, 555-564.

Hanz DM, Cutts V, Barajas‐Barbosa MP, Algar AC, Beierkuhnlein C, Fernández‐Palacios JM, Field R, Kreft H, Steinbauer MJ, Weigelt P, Irl SDH (2022) Climatic and biogeographical drivers of functional diversity in the flora of the Canary Islands. Global Ecology and Biogeography 31. 1313-1331.

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



Prof. Dr. Severin Irl

Geozentrum / Campus Riedberg
Raum 2.225

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Institut für Physische Geographie
Altenhöferallee 1
60438 Frankfurt am Main

Phone: +49-69-798-40171
Twitter: @Severin_Irl