Max Planck Gesellschaft

--- Former member ---

Julia S. Joswig

PhD student at the Functional Biogeography Research Group
in collaboration with the University of Zurich
email: jjoswig(at)
email 2: julia.joswig(at)

Research Focus:

Plants may be colourful or pale, smelly or of fines odeur, small or tall, and they grow almost everywhere. But no palm tree ever grew on the top of an alpine mountain, nor did the famous alpine 'Edelweiss' (Leontopodium nivale) ever blossom at carribean beaches.

I am interested in questions surrounding global plant trait (=characteristics, like height etc.) relationships. By that I mean both intrinsic patterns (trade-offs) and 'exterally' forced patterns (e.g. environmental stresses) and their evolutive solutions. These solutions to stresses are diverse and may converge in different branches of the plant kingdom. One question is which traits are most subjected to vary with the environment, which aspects of the environment are most linked to single traits. Another interesting question arising here is which traits (and complete strategies) are phylogenetically restricted (conserved), and which ones however explode into a functional diversity (= dissimilarity of trait values).

Research Interests:

Plant function, namely trait identity and diversity are linked to the individual plants' performances. They enable to glimpse into processes that shaped the form and function of todays plant kingdom. I would like to understand better which major processes lead to todays' functional diversity in different plant groups, may it be due to multivariate whole plant trade- offs (some also phylogenetically conserved) or due to broad scale environmental filtering.

Current Projects:

Environmental signal of climate and soil in global plant traits.

The data basis I mainly use consists of the growing plant trait data that allows multivariate analyses due to gap-filling ( I assess the potential of gap filling for global trait analyses.

PhD Thesis


September 2019 PhD candidate at the University of Zürich in collaboration with the University of Leipzig and the MPI for Biogeochemistry (Committee: Miguel Mahecha, Meredith Schuman, Michael Schaepman, Jens Kattge, Christian Wirth and Bernhard Schmid)

2016-01 to 2016-03: Research stay at the University of Santander in Bucaramanga (Colombia)

since 2014: PhD candidate: "Global signals in plant traits"

2013 - 2014 Sensitivity Ananlysis of the gap-filling algorithm HPMF

2010 - 2013 Master studies of Geography at the Georg August University of Göttingen, Gothenburg and Dresden with emphasis on soil sciences, field research at the Estación Científica San Francisco in Ecuador

2006 - 2010 Bachelor studies of Biology at the Georg August University of Göttingen and the Free University of Berlin


Xuanlong Ma,Miguel D.Mahecha, Mirco Migliavacca, Fons van der Plas, Raquel Benavides, Sophia Ratcliffe, Jens Kattge, Ronny Richter, Talie Musavi , Lander Baeten, Ionut Barnoaiae, Friedrich J.Bohn, Olivier Bouriaud, Filippo Bussottik, Andrea Coppil, Timo Domisch, Andreas Huth, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Julia Joswig, Daniel E. Pabon-Moreno, Dario Papale, Federico Selvi, Gaia Vaglio Laurin, Fernando Valladares, Markus Reichstein, Christian Wirth (2018): Inferring plant functional diversity from space: the potential of Sentinel-2, Remote Sensing of Environment.

Michael J. O'Brien, Bettina, M. J. Engelbrecht, Julia Joswig, Gabriela Pereyra, Bernhard Schuldt, Steven Jansen, Jens Kattge, Simon M. Landhäusser, Shaun R. Levick, Yakir Preisler, Päivi Väänänen, Cate Macinnis‐Ng (2017): A synthesis of tree functional traits related to drought‐induced mortality in forests across climatic zones, Journal of Applied Ecology.

Diaz et al. (2016): The global spectrum of plant form and function, Nature.

Franziska Schrodt, Jens Kattge, Hanhuai Shan, Farideh Fazayeli, Julia Joswig, Arindam Banerjee, Markus Reichstein, Gerhard Bönisch, Sandra Díaz, John Dickie, Andy Gillison, Anuj Karpatne, Sandra Lavorel, Paul Leadley, Christian B. Wirth, Ian J. Wright, S. Joseph Wright andPeter B. Reich (2015): BHPMF – a hierarchical Bayesian approach to gap-filling and trait prediction for macroecology and functional biogeography,Global Ecology and Biogeography.

(Google Scolar link)


2020 - The Global Biodiversity Forum, Davos ( - Poster contribution.

2019 - Global Change and Biodiversity: Integrating the impact of earth and world drivers across scales.

2017 - New Phytologist Symposium, Exeter - Oral presentation: Environmental signals in plant traits: A dichotomy of soil and climate driven traits.

2016 - American Geophysical Union, San Francisco - Oral presentation: What it needs to make plant function explicable.

2016 - iDiv Conference Leipzig - Oral presentation: What it needs to make plant function explainable.

2015 - iDiv Conference Leipzig.

2015 - EEF Rome - Oral presentation: Gap-filling for multivariate plant trait analyses - trait prediction using Bayesian Hierarchical Probabilistic Matrix Factorization.

2014 - GfÖ Hildesheim - Oral presentation: Evaluating the spatial influence on gap-filling of global plant functional traits.


2015/16 - PhD Representative including PhD councelling, support, organization of social events and networking within the PhDNet.

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