Professor Alexandre Antonelli

Director of Science




Biodiversity assessments, biogeography, evolution, genomics, meta-barcoding, methods development, molecular phylogenetics, tropical biology.

Biography Plus

My main scientific goal is to understand the evolution and distribution of biodiversity, by studying the formation, extinction, and migration of species. I am particularly interested in teasing apart the relative roles of abiotic (e.g. climate and landscape changes) and biotic (e.g. competition, adaptations) drivers of biodiversity changes through space and time. To achieve these goals, I study the distribution of species, their genetic variation, and the fossil record. Most of my work has dealt with the tropics, especially in South America where most species occur today.

Reporting to the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, I provide leadership and management of the Science Directorate at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst. My overall aim is to strengthen and further develop Kew as a global centre of excellence in plant and fungal knowledge and to promote evidence-based solutions to major societal challenges.

My main tasks are to:

  1. Drive excellence in Kew’s science, attract globally leading scientists, promote career development among staff, and steer performance and operational delivery of science programmes and projects.
  2. Be an advocate and spokesperson for Kew’s science internally and externally, including promoting Kew’s research portfolio and partnerships in the scientific and policy communities nationally and internationally.
  3. Provide effective leadership as a member of the Executive Board.
  4. Increase fundraising, including the generation of income for science consultancy and Kew’s Intellectual Property.
  5. Lead and further develop a research programme including current and future students and early career researchers reporting directly to me.
Qualifications and appointments Plus

Current positions

  • Full Professor in Systematics and Biodiversity. University of Gothenburg, 2015-
  • Chairman and founder, AB, 2015-

Previous positions

  • Founder and Director, Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre, 2017-19
  • Scientific Curator, Gothenburg Botanical Garden, 2010-19
  • Science Advisor, Universeum Science Centre, 2016-18
  • Cisneros Visiting Scholar, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 2018
  • Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, 2014-15
  • Researcher, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, 2012-14
  • Associate staff member, Panama Canal Project, 2011-16
  • Postdoctoral fellow, Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, 2009-10


  • PhD Systematics and Biodiversity, University of Gothenburg, 2008
  • MSc Biology, University of Gothenburg, 2003
  • Biology, University of Campinas, 1996


  • Associate editor, Systematic Biology, 2015-
  • Associate editor, Journal of Biogeography, 2015-
  • Associate editor, Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 2014-

Awards and distinctions

  • Elected member of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg, 2016-
  • Elected member of the Young Academy of Sweden, 2016-19
  • Future Research Leader, 2016
  • The Faculty of Science Research Award, 2015
  • Wallenberg Academy Fellow, 2014
  • Elected member of the Young Academy of Europe, 2013-

A full CV is available on the Antonelli Lab website.

Selected publications Plus

Antonelli, A., Kissling, W.D., Flantua, S.G.A., Bermúdez, M.A., Mulch, A.M., Muellner-Riehl, A.N., Kreft, H., Linder, H.P., Badgley, C., Fjeldså, J., Fritz, S.A., Rahbek, C., Herman, F., Hooghiemstra, H. and Hoorn, C. (2018)

Geological and climatic influences on mountain biodiversity

Nature Geoscience 11(10):718–725. DOI: 10.1038/s41561-018-0236-z

Antonelli, A., Zizka, A., Antunes Carvalho, F., Scharn, R., Bacon, C.D., Silvestro, D. and Condamine, F.L. (2018)

Amazonia is the primary source of Neotropical biodiversity

PNAS 115(23): 6034–6039. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1713819115

Antonelli, A., Ariza, M., Albert, J., Andermann, T., Azevedo, J., Bacon, C., Faurby, S., Guedes, T., Hoorn, C., Lohmann, L., Matos-Maraví, P., Ritter, C. D., Sanmartín, I., Silvestro, D., Tejedor, M., ter Steege, T., Tuomisto, H., Werneck, F., Zizka, A. and Edwards, S. (2018)

Conceptual and empirical advances in Neotropical biodiversity research

PeerJ 6, e5644. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.5644

Lehtonen, S., Silvestro, D., Karger, D. N., Scotese, C., Tuomisto, H., Kessler, M., Peña, C., Wahlberg, N. and Antonelli, A. (2017)

Environmentally driven extinction and opportunistic origination explain fern diversification patterns

Scientific Reports 7: 483. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-05263-7

Perez-Escobar, O.A., Chomicki, G., Condamine, F.L., Karremans, A.P., Bogarin, D., Matzke, N., Silvestro, D. and Antonelli, A. (2017)

Recent origin of Neotropical orchids in the world’s richest plant biodiversity hotspot

New Phytologist 215(2):891-905. DOI: 10.1111/nph.14629

Antonelli, A., Hettling, H., Condamine, F.L., Hettling, H., Nilsson, K., Nilsson, R.H., Oxelman, B., Sanderson, M.J., Sauquet, H., Scharn, R., Silvestro, D., Töpel, M. and Vos, R.A. (2017)

SUPERSMART: ecology and evolution in the era of big data

Systematic Biology 66(2):152–166. DOI: 10.1093/sysbio/syw066

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