Education and Professional Experience

2017-ongoing Senior scientist PPE group of Prof. Ansgar Kahmen (University of Basel)
2017-2022 PI Project Manager: “With Engadine sheep against the green alder expansion in the Swiss Alps” (applied project, funded by Swiss Finance and Property Zürich and Al Breach, Andermatt)
2016-2020 Co-PI/Project Manager of the Project of Zurich-Basel PSC-Mercator Research Fellowship Program: “Changing snow loads and summer drought press alpine plants and force economy (SNOSU-FORCE)” PhD project: Maria Vorkauf (PI Prof. Ansgar Kahmen)
2013-2020 PI FOEN project: Effects of atmospheric N deposition on the alpine vegetation in three different habitats
2010-2015 Co-PI of the Project of Zurich-Basel PSC-Mercator Research Fellowship Program: The Alnus-problem and the exceedance of critical loads for nitrogen in the Alps (ALNEX). PhD project: Tobias Bühlmann 
2009-2012 Post-doc: NRP VALUrsern-The ecological and socio-economic consequences of land transformation in alpine regions. Project coordination, supervision of PhD project: Thijs van den Bergh 

To see the complete CV download the pdf on the right

Research interests 

  • Alpine Biodiversity
  • Alpine Ecology
  • Global Change
  • Land use and land cover changes, water cycle
  • N cycle, atmospheric N deposition, N induced changes in different ecosystems
  • Shrub encroachment (in particular by Alnus viridis) in the Alps  


  • ALPFOR (Alpine Research and Education Station Furka,, member and executive secretary of the association ALPFOR 
  • Member of ICAS Interacademic Commission of Alpine Studies SCNAT Swiss Academy of Sciences 
  • Member of Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Berggebiete (SAB)
  • Member of Naturforschende Gesellschaft Uri


  • Ecology and conservation biology, 3 weeks block course , University of Basel
  • Alpine Ecology, 1 week course , University of Basel/ALPFOR
  • Ecosystem and population processes, lecture, University of Basel  


  • Alpine ecology excursions for various groups: students, families, members and apprentices of arma suisse, Korporation Ursern, cantonal representatives, etc.
  • Botanical Garden Basel: Abendführungen 

Thesis supervision

  • PhD thesis: supervision and co-supervision of 7 PhD students since 2005
  • Master thesis: supervision and co-supervision of c.15 master theses at the University of Basel 

Key publications

Bühlmann T, Körner C, Hiltbrunner E (2016) Shrub expansion of Alnus viridis drives former montane grassland into nitrogen saturation. Ecosystems 19: 968-985. doi:10.1007/s10021-016-9979-9

Nagelmüller S, Hiltbrunner E, Körner C (2017) Low temperature limits for root growth in alpine species are set by cell differentiation. AOB Plants. doi: 10.1093/aobpla/plx054

Van den Bergh T, Körner C, Hiltbrunner E (2017) Alnus shrub expansion increases evapotranspirationin the Swiss Alps Reg Environ Change. doi:10.1007/s10113-017-1246-x

Körner C, Hiltbrunner E (2018) The 90 ways to describe plant temperature. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 

For a complete list of publications download the pdf on the right.

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Dr. Erika Hiltbrunner

University of Basel
Schönbeinstrasse 6
4056 Basel

Office no.: 01.010
Phone: +41 (0)61 207 35 11