PhD MSc Agnes Dellinger

Associate Researcher

© Agnes Dellinger

Research interests

  • Pollination biology, buzz-pollination
  • Flower evolution and flower diversity
  • Pollinator shifts and diversification
  • Mountain ecology
  • Population dynamics and population genetics

Pollinator mediated selection has played a major role in shaping the flowering plant diversity we observe on Earth today. The results of pollinator mediated selection become particularly apparent when comparing two closely related species which differ in their pollinators, i.e. which have shifted pollinators (e.g. from bee to hummingbird). Such pollinator shifts lead to divergent floral phenotypes in adaptation to attract, reward and fit with the different pollinators. Drivers of pollinator shifts have rarely been investigated but changes in pollinator quantity (abundance) and quality (efficiency) may be most important.

In my research, I investigate the drivers and consequences of pollinator shifts in the neotropical plant tribe Merianieae (Melastomataceae). Merianieae include around 300 species, are distributed from Brazil to Nicaragua and most diverse in the tropical Andes (Northern Peru, Ecuador, Colombia). During my PhD, I could show that Merianieae are ancestrally buzz-pollinated by bees (ca. 75 % of extant taxa) and have shifted repeatedly to pollination by mixed assemblages of vertebrate pollinators (ca. 10 % of taxa; hummingbirds, bats, rodents, flowerpiercers; Dellinger et al. 2019, American Naturalist) or passerine birds (ca. 15 % of taxa; Dellinger et al. 2014, Current Biology). Merianieae show complex adaptations to these different pollinators in their flower morphology, and in particular in the androecium (Dellinger et al. 2019, New Phytologist).

To answer my research questions, I use multifaceted, interdisciplinary approaches and work both at the macro- and microevolutionary level. My work includes extensive field experiments and plant collecting in the Latin American Andes, phylogenetic comparative methods, morphological and morphometric studies (e.g. Scanning Electron Microscopy, High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography, 3D-flower models, geometric morphometrics) as well as population genomics and niche modelling (Dellinger et al. 2016, New Phytologist).


Pollinator shifts and floral Evolution in the Merianieae (Melastomataceae)

Project T 1186 Firnberg-Programm

Modelling abiotic and biotic drivers of a plant radiation


Current Courses

 Curriculum Vitae

Current position

  • 2021/6– Associate Researcher

Education and scientific career

  • 2019/9–2021/6 Post-doc university assistant (FWF-Project "Pollinator Shifts and Floral Evolution in the Merianieae")
  • 2019 PhD Theses "Pollinator Shifts and Floral Evolution in Merianieae (Melastomataceae)"
  • 2017/10–2019/8 Prae-doc university assistant (FWF-Project "Pollinator Shifts and Floral Evolution in the Merianieae")
  • 2015–2017/09 Prae-doc university assistant, PhD-student
  • 2014 Research associate at the Department for Botany and Biodiversity research (CVL, head: Stefan Dullinger)
  • 2010– Master programme in Community and Landscape Ecology (University of Vienna, Austria); 2010/2011 Erasmus exchange, University of Lund, Sweden
  • 2007–2010 Bachelor programme in Ecology (University of Vienna, Austria)
  • 1999–2007 Secondary School, Klosterneuburg, Austria


Showing entries 1 - 20 out of 37



Bochorny, T., Bacci, L. F., Dellinger, A. S., Michelangeli, F. A., Goldenberg, R., & Brito, V. L. G. (2021). Connective appendages in Huberia bradeana (Melastomataceae) affect pollen release during buzz pollination. Plant Biology, 23(4), 556-563.

Dellinger, A. S., Pérez-Barrales, R., Michelangeli, F. A., Penneys, D. S., Fernández-Fernández, D. M., & Schönenberger, J. (2021). Low bee visitation rates explain pollinator shifts to vertebrates in tropical mountains. New Phytologist, 231(2), 864-877.



Dellinger, A. S., Artuso, S., Pamperl, S., Michelangeli, F. A., Penneys, D. S., Fernández-Fernández, D. M., Alvear, M., Almeda, F., Armbruster, W. S., Städler, Y., & Schönenberger, J. (2019). Modularity increases rate of floral evolution and adaptive success for functionally specialized pollination systems. Communications Biology, 2(1), [453].

Dellinger, A. S., Chartier, M., Fernández-Fernández, D., Penneys, D. S., Alvear, M., Almeda, F., Michelangeli, F. A., Staedler, Y., Armbruster, W. S., & Schönenberger, J. (2019). Beyond buzz-pollination – departures from an adaptive plateau lead to new pollination syndromes. New Phytologist, 221(2), 1136-1149.

Dellinger, A., Artuso, S., Fernandez-Fernandez, DM., Penneys, D., & Schönenberger, J. (2019). Foraging preferences of bees and birds – assessing the adaptive value of heteranthery in flowers of Merianieae (Melastomataceae). The 2019 Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Finland.

Dellinger, A., Artuso, S., Pamperl, S., Michelangeli, FA., Penneys, D., Fernandez-Fernandez, DM., Armbruster, W. S., Städler, Y., Klingenberg, C., & Schönenberger, J. (2019). Is modularity the key to adaptive success? Testing alternative hypotheses on modularity in flowers of Merianieae (Melastomataceae). In Abstract Book GM Austria 2019 (pp. 13)


Dellinger, A., Artuso, S., Fernández-Fernández, D., Penneys, D. S., Michelangeli, FA., Alvear, M., Almeda, F., Städler, Y., & Schönenberger, J. (2018). Floral trait convergence and functional differentiation concomitant with pollinator shifts in Merianieae (Melastomataceae). II Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology, Montpellier, France.

Kirchheimer, B., Wessely, J., Gattringer, A., Hülber, K., Moser, D., Schinkel, C. C. F., Appelhans, M., Klatt, S., Caccianiga, M., Dellinger, A., Guisan, A., Kuttner, M., Lenoir, J., Maiorano, L., Nieto-Lugilde, D., Plutzar, C., Svenning, J. C., Willner, W., Hörandl, E., & Dullinger, S. (2018). Reconstructing geographical parthenogenesis: Effects of niche differentiation and reproductive mode on Holocene range expansion of an alpine plant. Ecology Letters, 21(3), 392-401.

Dellinger, A., Scheer, L. M., Fernandez-Fernandez, D. M., Penneys, D. S., Tenhaken, R., Dötterl, S., & Schönenberger, J. (2018). Beyond pollination syndromes: disentangling complex vertebrate pollination systems in the genus Meriania (Melastomataceae). In XI International Symposium on Pollination: Abstracts

Dellinger, A., Scheer, L. M., Artuso, S., Fernandez-Fernandez, D. M., Penneys, D. S., Sornoza, F., Tenhaken, R., Dötterl, S., & Schönenberger, J. (2018). Beyond pollination syndromes: disentangling complex vertebrate pollination systems in the genus Meriania (Melastomataceae). In PopBio 2018: 31st Conference of the Plant Population Biology Section of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GfÖ): Abstracts

Dellinger, A., Fernandez-Fernandez, D. M., Artuso, S., Penneys, D. S., Michelangeli, F. A., Alvear, M., Almeda, F., & Schönenberger, J. (2018). Cambios de polinizadores resultan en la reconstrucción de la flor. In XII Latin American Botanical Congress (LABC): Abstracts

Dellinger, A., Paun, O., Fernandez-Fernandez, D. M., Penneys, D. S., & Schönenberger, J. (2018). Impact of pollinator shifts on mating systems and population genetic diversity in a Neotropical plant group. In European Conference of Tropical Ecology, Annual Meeting of the society for Tropical Ecology (GTÖ): Challenges in Tropical Ecology and Conservation - Global Perspectives [S15-002]

Showing entries 1 - 20 out of 37

Dellinger, A. (2013). Floral Structure and Pollination Biology of Axinaea (Melastomataceae). Master thesis,  Universität Wien, Wien. PDF available at:

Dellinger, A., & Berger, A. (2009). Vergesellschaftung, Habitatspezifität und pflanzensoziologische Bewertung der Vorkommen von Trifolium saxatile im Schalftal, Ötztaler Alpen, Tirol. Verh. zool.-bot. Ges., 146, 125-138. (Bachelorarbeit)