J.F. Niek Scheepens

Group leader

Research interests

I am interested in phenotypic variation and adaptation in plants.

My past work focused on plant adaptation in heterogeneous environments (European Alps, Finnish Archipelago) and to environmental variability (Arabidopsis thaliana). In current projects I investigate adaptation of herbs to grassland and forest management. In several evolution experiments I study the phenotypic and genomic changes involved in rapid adaptation to climate, environmental variability, nutrient availability and herbivory. I also employ seed bank material to investigate recent adaptation to climate change (resurrection approach). Furthermore, I investigate evolutionary processes in ex-situ cultivation collections in botanical gardens.


·        HerbAdapt - Adaptation of understorey herbs to forest management

Back to the future - Seed banks as a tool to investigate recent adaptation to climate change

Back to the wild - Combining transplant experiments with the resurrection approach to investigate rapid plant adaptations

GrENE-net - Genomics of rapid Evolution in Novel Environments

EvoPlast - Evolution of plant phenotypic plasticity in response to grassland management

AraBreed - Evolutionary responses of plants to environmental changes through the lens of ecological theories

Phenotypic plasticity and plant adaptation to variable climates

KÄMY - plant-herbivore interactions (Vincetoxicum hindurinaria)

Plant adaptations in the European Alps


2020 - now            Professor at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

2017 - 2020           Junior group leader at the University of Tübingen, Germany

2016 - 2017           PostDoc with Oliver Bossdorf at the University of Tübingen, Germany

2014 - 2016           Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship at the University of Tübingen, Germany

2012 - 2014           PostDoc with Roosa Leimu at the University of Turku, Finland

2011 - 2012           PostDoc with Jürg Stöcklin at the University of Basel, Switzerland

2007 - 2011           PhD with Jürg Stöcklin at the Institute of Botany, University of Basel, 

2002 - 2007           BA in Philosophy of Science at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands

2001 - 2007           MSc in Biology at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands


Google scholar profile

Peer-reviewed publications

Przybylska MS, Violle C, Vile D, Scheepens JF, Lacombe B, Le Roux X, Perrier L, Sales-Mabily L, Laumond M, Vinyeta M, Moulin P, Beurier G, Rouan L, Cornet D, and Vasseur F (2023) AraDiv: a dataset of functional traits and leaf hyperspectral reflectance of Arabidopsis thalianaScientific Data 10:314. Link

March-Salas M, Lorite J, Bossdorf O, & Scheepens JF (2023). Cliffs as priority ecosystems. Conservation Biology, e14166. Link

Springer K, Coquery T, Holland V, Fitze, PS, Scheepens JF, & March-Salas M (2023). Precipitation predictability drives evolution of drought tolerance in the common poppy, Papaver rhoeasFunctional Ecology. Link

Møller C, De Frenne P, March-Salas M; Vanneste T, Verheyen K & Scheepens JF (2023). Forest management drives evolution of understorey herbs. Forest Ecology and Management, 548, 121390Link

March-Salas M; Morales-Armijo F; Hernández-Agüero JA; Estrada-Castillón E; Sobrevilla-Covarrubias A; Arévalo JR; Scheepens JF & Lorite J (2023). Rock climbing affects cliff-plant communities by reducing species diversity and altering species coexistence patterns. Biodiversity and Conservation 31:1617-1638Link

Sylvester et al. [+44 authors] (2023) Better integration of chemical pollution research will further our understanding of biodiversity loss. Nature Ecology and Evolution. accepted.

Rauschkolb RDurka W, Godefroid S, Dixon L, Bossdorf O, Ensslin A, Scheepens JF (2023) Recent evolution of flowering time across multiple European plant species correlates with changes in aridity. Oecologia. (Highlighted as student research) Link

Møller CMarch-Salas M, Kuppler J, De Frenne P, Scheepens JF (2023) Intra-individual variation in Galium odoratum is affected by experimental drought and shading. Annals of Botany 131(3):411-412. Link

Galanti D, Ramos-Cruz D, Nunn A, Rodríguez-Arévalo I, Scheepens JF, Becker C, Bossdorf O (2022) Genetic and environmental drivers of large-scale epigenetic variation in Thlaspi arvense. PLOS Genetics 18(10): e1010452. Link 

Rauschkolb R, Li Z, Godefroid S, Dixon L, Durka W, Májeková M, Bossdorf O, Ensslin A, Scheepens JF (2022) Evolution of plant drought strategies and herbivore tolerance after two decades of climate change. New Phytologist 235(2):773-785. Link

Santangelo JS, Ness RW, Cohan B, Fitzpatrick CR, Innes SG, Koch S, Miles LS, Munim S, Peres-Neto PR, Kirschbaum A, Scheepens JF, Johnson MTJ [+276 authors] (2022) Global urban environmental change drives adaptation in white clover. Science 375: 6586. 1275-1281. Link

Willems FM, Scheepens JF, Bossdorf O (2022) Forest wildflowers bloom earlier as Europe warms: Lessons from herbaria and spatial modeling. New Phytologist 235: 52-65. Link

Freimuth F, Bossdorf O, Scheepens JF, Willems FM (2022) Climate warming changes synchrony of plants and pollinators. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 289:20212142. Link

Rauschkolb R, Henres L, Lou C, Godefroid S, Dixon L, Durka W, Bossdorf O, Ensslin A, Scheepens JF (2021) Historical comparisons show evolutionary changes in drought responses in European plant species after two decades of climate change. Basic and Applied Ecology 58: 26-38. Link

Deng Y, Bossdorf O, Scheepens JF (2021) Transgenerational effects of temperature fluctuations in Arabidopsis thaliana. AoB Plants 13: 6. plab064. Link

Muola A, Scheepens JF, Laukkanen L, Kalske A, Mutikainen P, Leimu R (2021) Strong gene flow explains lack of mating system variation in the perennial herb, Vincetoxicum hirundinaria, in a fragmented landscape. Nordic Journal of Botany 39: e03008. 1-13. Link

Kirschbaum A, Bossdorf O, Scheepens JF (2021) Variation in regrowth ability in relation to land-use intensity in three common grassland herbs. Journal of Plant Ecology 14: 438-450. Link

Willems FM, Scheepens JF, Ammer C, Block S, Bucharova A, Schall P, Sehrt M, Bossdorf O (2021) Spring understory herbs flower later in intensively managed forests. Ecological Application 31(5):e02332. Link

Fischer K, Kreyling J, Beaulieu M, Beil I, Bog M, Bonte D, Holm S, Knoblauch S, Koch D, Muffler L, Mouginot P, Paulinich M, Scheepens JF, Schiemann R, Schmeddes J, Schnittler M, Uhl G, Van der Maaten-Theunissen M, Weier JM, Wilmking M, Weigel R, Gienapp P (2021) Environmental stress does not generally alter genetic variation across a diverse group of taxa. Heredity 126: 23-37. Link

Liao Z-Y, Scheepens JF, Li Q-M, Wang W-B, Feng Y-L, Zheng Y-L (2020) Founder effects, post-introduction evolution and phenotypic plasticity contribute to invasion success of a genetically impoverished invader. Oecologia, 192: 105–118. Link

Kirchhoff L, Kirschbaum A, Joshi J, Bossdorf O, Scheepens JF*, Heinze J* (2019) Plant-soil feedbacks of Plantago lanceolata in the field depend on plant origin and herbivory. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7, 422. (*shared last authorship) Link

Morente-López J, Scheepens JF, Lara-Romero C, Ruiz-Checa R, Tabarés P, Iriondo JM (2019) Past selection shaped phenological differentiation among populations at contrasting elevations in a Mediterranean alpine plant. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 170: 103894. Link

Rauschkolb R, Szczeparska L, Kehl A, Bossdorf O, Scheepens JF (2019) Plant populations of three threatened species experience rapid evolution under ex-situ cultivation. Biodiversity and Conservation, 28: 3951-3969. Link

Kesselring H, Hamann E, Armbruster GFJ, Stöcklin J, Scheepens JF (2019) Local adaptation is stronger between than within regions in alpine populations of Anthyllis vulneraria. Evolutionary Ecology, 33: 737-750. Link

Liao Z-Y, Scheepens JF, Li W-T, Wang R-F, Zheng Y-L, Feng Y-L (2019) Biomass reallocation and increased plasticity might contribute to successful invasion of Chromolaena odorata. Flora, 256: 79-84. Link

Lang PLM, Willems FM, Scheepens JF, Burbano HA, Bossdorf O (2019) Using herbaria to study global environmental change. New Phytologist 221: 110-122. Link

Scheepens JF, Deng Y, Bossdorf O (2018) Phenotypic plasticity in response to temperature fluctuations is genetically variable, and relates to climatic variability of origin, in Arabidopsis thaliana. AoB Plants, 10: ply043. Link

Scheepens JF, Rauschkolb R, Ziegler R, Schroth V, Bossdorf O (2018) Genotypic diversity and environmental variability affect the invasibility of experimental plant populations. Oikos 127: 570-578. Link 

Hamann E, Scheepens JF, Kesselring H, Armbruster GFJ, Stöcklin J (2017) High intraspecific phenotypic variation, but little evidence for local adaptation in Geum reptans populations in the Central Swiss Alps. Alpine Botany 127: 121-132. Link

Kalske A, Leimu R, Scheepens JF, Mutikainen P (2016) Spatiotemporal variation in local adaptation of a specialist insect herbivore to its long-lived host plant. Evolution 70: 2110-2122. Link

Hamann E, Kesselring H, Armbruster GFJ, Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J (2016) Evidence of local adaptation to fine- and coarse-grained environmental variability in Poa alpina in the Swiss Alps. Journal of Ecology 104: 1627-1637. Link

Scheepens JF, Frei ES, Stöcklin J (2015) Relationship between phenotypic differentiation and glacial history in a widespread Alpine grassland herb. Alpine Botany 125: 11-20. Link

Preite V, Stöcklin J, Armbruster GFJ, Scheepens JF (2015) Adaptation of flowering phenology and fitness-related traits across environmental gradients in the widespread Campanula rotundifolia. Evolutionary Ecology 29: 249-267. Link

Kalske A, Mutikainen P, Muola A, Scheepens JF, Laukkanen L, Salminen J-P, Leimu R (2014) Simultaneous inbreeding modifies inbreeding depression in a plant-herbivore interaction. Ecology Letters 17: 229-238. Link

Scheepens JF, Frei ES, Stöcklin J (2013) Glacial history affected phenotypic differentiation in the Alpine plant, Campanula thyrsoides. PLOS ONE 8: 10. e73854 1-10. Link

Steiner BL, Armbruster GFJ, Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J (2013) Distribution of bulbil- and seed-producing Poa alpina and their growth and reproduction in common gardens suggest adaptation to different elevations. American Journal of Botany 99: 12. 2035-2044. Link

Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J (2013) Flowering phenology and reproductive fitness along a mountain slope: maladaptive responses to transplantation to a warmer climate in Campanula thyrsoides. Oecologia 171: 3. 679-691. Link

Vitasse Y, Hoch G, Randin Ch, Lenz A, Kollas Ch, Scheepens JF, Körner Ch (2013) Elevational adaptation and plasticity in seedlings phenology of temperate deciduous tree species. Oecologia 171: 3. 663-678. Link

Schepers M, Scheepens JF, Cappers RTJ, Van Tongeren OFR, Raemaekers DCM, Bekker RM (2013) An objective method based on assemblages of subfossil plant macro-remains to reconstruct past natural vegetation: a case study of Swifterbant, The Netherlands. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 22: 3. 243-255. Link

Scheepens JF, Frei ES, Armbruster GFJ, Stöcklin J (2012) Pollen dispersal and gene flow within and into a population of the alpine monocarpic plant Campanula thyrsoides. Annals of Botany 110: 7. 1479-1488. Link

Frei ES, Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J (2012) High genetic differentiation in populations of the rare alpine plant species Campanula thyrsoides on a small mountain. Alpine Botany 122: 23-34. Link

Frei ES, Scheepens JF, Armbruster GFJ, Stöcklin J (2012) Phenotypic differentiation in a common garden reflects the phylogeography of a widespread Alpine plant. Journal of Ecology 100: 2. 297–308. Link 

Frei ES, Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J (2012) Dispersal and microsite limitation of a rare alpine plant. Plant Ecology 213: 3. 395-406. Link 

Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J (2011) Glacial history and local adaptation explain differentiation in phenotypic traits in the Alpine grassland herb Campanula barbata. Plant Ecology and Diversity 4: 403-413. Link

Kuss P, Armbruster GFJ, Ægisdóttir HH, Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J (2011) Spatial genetic structure of Campanula thyrsoides across the European Alps: indications for glaciation-driven allopatric subspeciation. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 13: 101–110. Link 

Scheepens JF, Kuss P, Stöcklin J (2011) Differentiation in morphology and flowering phenology between two Campanula thyrsoides L. subspecies. Alpine Botany 121: 1. 37-47. Link 

Piquet AM-T, Scheepens JF, Bolhuis H, Wiencke C, Buma AGJ (2010) Variability of protistan and bacterial communities in two Arctic fjords (Spitsbergen). Polar Biology 33: 1521-1536. Link 

Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J, Pluess AR (2010) Unifying selection acts on competitive ability and relative growth rate in Scabiosa columbaria. Basic and Applied Ecology 11: 612-618. Link

Scheepens JF, Frei ES, Stöcklin J (2010) Genotypic and environmental variation in specific leaf area in a widespread Alpine plant after transplantation to different altitudes. Oecologia 164: 1. 141-150. Link 

Scheepens JF, Veeneklaas RM, Van de Zande L, Bakker JP (2007) Clonal structure of Elytrigia atherica along different successional stages of a salt marsh. Molecular Ecology 16: 5. 1115-1124. Link 

Bruun HH, Scheepens JF, Tyler T (2007) An allozyme study of sexual and vegetative regeneration in Hieracium pilosella. Canadian Journal of Botany 85: 1. 10-15.


Scheepens JF, Lachmuth S, Michalski SG (2018) Plant population biology in a changing world. Editorial of a Special Issue in Basic and Applied EcologyLink 

Schepers M, Smit C, & Scheepens JF (2023). Akkeren op de kwelder. In A. Nieuwhof, & A. Buursma (Eds.), Van Drenthe tot aan 't Wad. Over landschap, archeologie en geschiedenis van Noord-Nederland: Essays ter ere van Egge Knol (pp. 41-52). (Jaarverslagen van de Vereniging voor Terpenonderzoek; Vol. 104). Vereniging voor Terpenonderzoek. Link 


Bucharova A, Bossdorf O, Scheepens JF, & Salguero-Gómez R (2023). Sustainable seed harvesting in wild plant populations.  bioRxiv. Link

Kirschbaum A, Hoch G, Bossdorf O, Scheepens JF (2021) Genetic variation in non-structural carbohydrates in Plantago lanceolata is related to mowing intensity but not to regrowth ability. EcoEvoRxiv. Link

Willems FM, Scheepens JF, Ammer C, Block S, Bucharova A, Schall P, Sehrt M, Bossdorf O (2019) Effects of forest management on the phenology of early-flowering understorey herbs. bioRxivLink 

Popular articles

Scheepens JF, Rauschkolb R, Ziegler R, Schroth V, Bossdorf O (2018) When can plant populations be invaded by other species? Oikos Blog 10 April 2018. Link

Scheepens JF (2017) EAB2017 - Plant ecology in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Journal of Ecology The Blog 8 December 2017. Link

Stöcklin J, Scheepens JF (2013) Anpassungsfähige alpine Pflanzen? Hotspot 27: 19. Linkhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1439179121001742?via%3Dihub


Prof. Dr. J.F. Niek Scheepens

Plant Evolutionary Ecology 

Institute for Ecology, Evolution and Diversity

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt


Max-von-Laue-Str. 13

D-60438 Frankfurt am Main

Phone: +49 (0)69 798 42132