Prof. em. Dr. DDr. h.c. Christian Körner

Christian Körner (1949) is Austrian citizen and Swiss resident
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-7768-7638


Institute of Botany, University of Basel
Schönbeinstrasse 6
4056 Basel (Switzerland)

Curriculum vitae

1968-1973M.Sc. (Biol.Diploma), University of Innsbruck, Austria
1973-1977Ph.D. thesis, University of Innsbruck with W. Larcher (Water relations of alpine plants)
1977-1980Postdoc: Austrian MAB alpine program and field work in the Caucasus (Georgia)
1980-1981Postdoctoral fellow, Research School of Biol. Sci., Australian Natl. Univ. (RSBS-ANU) Canberra
1982-1989Senior lecturer University of Innsbruck (1982 “Habilitation” for Botany). Various projects on alpine ecology
1989Visiting Research Fellow, RSBS-ANU, Canberra (stable carbon isotopes)
since 1989Full Professor for Botany, University of Basel (for research projects see below)
1994-1999Joint project with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama (Mellon Foundation)
1995-2007High elevation treeline research, globally
2000-2015Swiss canopy crane project
2003Publication of Alpine Plant Life (2nd ed.)
2009-2014ERC Advanced Grant (2 Mio. CHF) TREELIM, exploring thermal tree species limits in Europe

Research projects

The influence of increasing atmospheric CO₂ concentration on natural vegetation (incl. Swiss Canopy Crane project SCC in a mature forest), alpine plant ecology and biodiversity, high elevation treeline research - global comparisons, implications of climate change in the Mediterranean, various projects in bioclimatology, ERC advanced grant TREELIM exploring causes of tree species range limits in Europe (2009-2014). For detailed information see Projects.
President of the Alpine Research Station ALPFOR on the Furkapass.


Diversity and structure of plants, plant physiological ecology and systems ecology, geobotany and vegetation of the earth, M.Sc. course in Ecology.

Academic memberships

Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna), German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina (Halle), National Academy of India (Foreign Fellow)

National Committees

Past president of ProClim (Forum for Climate and Global Change 2000-2006) and board member (continued), past president of the Biodiversity Forum and board member (continued; both Swiss Academy of Sciences), member of OCCC (advisory board for the Swiss Department of the Interior on climate change issues) (2000-2013), member of the Council of the Swiss Scientific Academies (CASS) (2000-2006)

International Committees

Chair of the Global Mountain Biodiversity assessment (GMBA) of DIVERSITAS (1998-2015); task leader of the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems (GCTE) project of IGBP (1998-2004); science steering committee of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP) (1998-2004) and Swiss national representative (2000-2006); Swiss national representative of SCOPE (2006-); convening Lead Author of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, mountains chapter (2002-2005)

Awards/Academic achievements

Highest score in Ecology for all German, Austrian and Swiss research institutions 1997-1998 (Bild der Wiss. 8/1999); plenary opening lecture of the International GCTE-LUCC Conference (Barcelona 1998); vice president International Botanical Congress (St. Louis 1999, plenary lecture); plenary speaker for the millennial ESA/BES conference (Orlando, 2000); Tansley lecture of the British Ecological Society (London 2002); private Royal Colloquium for his Majesty the King of Sweden (2003); keynote at 8th SBSTA plenary/CBD Convention of Biodiversity (Montreal 2003); plenary lecture, International Botanical Congress (Vienna 2005); plenary lecture/opening session Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP, Beijing 2006); Marsh Award, British Ecological Society (2007); King Albert Mountain Award by the King Albert I. Memorial Foundation for outstanding contribution to  mountain research (2010); Dr. h.c. (University of Innsbruck 2013), Honorary member of the Ecological Society of America (ESA 2013); Dr. h.c. (Ilia University, Tbilisi 2014);
ca. 350 ISI listed publications; ca. 14'000 citations; h-index ISI 71; Google scholar (1994-) 78; highest cited text book: Alpine plant life (Springer 2003) with 2'300 citations; Alpine Treelines (Springer 2012), more than 6'000 downloads by mid 2014; Advisory board of the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (2017-); Honorary member of the Basel Botanical Society (2016)

Editorial work

Oecologia, Springer (editorial board since 1988, Editor-in Chief 1998-2013); editorial board of SCIENCE (2000-2004); TREE (Trends in Ecology and Evolution); Global Change Biology, Blackwell (1995-2011, 2013-),; Biologie in unserer Zeit (VCH Wiley); GAIA (1996-2014); Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers in Functional Plant Ecology (2011-2015); Alpine Botany, Springer (editorial board 2010-)


LATEST Publication: Körner C (2017) A matter of tree longevity. Science 355:130-131 link to full text