Research interests

  • Climate change and thermal adaptation
  • Constraints to adaptive evolution
  • Population size and genetic drift
  • Macroevolution
  • Conservation biology

Currently, two sets of questions attract most of our research efforts. The first is: Why do most species have a geographically well-restricted distributions? For the many cases where climate seems to restrict distributions, what are the constraints on the evolution of the climate niche? What is the genetic architecture of traits associated with coping with thermal stress?

The second set of questions is: How important is small population size and mutational load in setting range limits? And what are the ecological consequences of mutational load?
We study these questions in three systems: in Arabidopsis lyrata, on plant material from its entire distribution in North America, in the subarctic sister-species Arabidopsis arenicola, and in more than 100 Brassicaceae species occurring in Switzerland.

Education and professional experience

since 10/2015 Associate Professor and research group leader, University of Basel
2009 - 2015
SNSF Professor, University of Neuchâtel
2006 - 2009
Postdoc/Lecturer, ETH Zürich
2005 - 2006
Postdoc, Melbourne University
005 PhD in Environmental Sciences, University of Zürich


Prof. Dr. Yvonne Willi

Universität Basel
Departement Umweltwissenschaften
Pflanzenökologie und -evolution
Schönbeintrasse 6
CH-4056 Basel

Tel: +41 61 207 23 20