Systematics and Evolutionary Biology

"The time for phylogenetics: inferring and applying timetrees in evolutionary biology"

55. Phylogenetisches Symposium 2013
22.11.2013 - 24.11.2013


  • Because of the overwhelming response, the Symposium will now take place in the larger Audimax lecture theatre A14–002 in the same building complex.
  • For both the Saturday and Sunday, the underground parking garage under the library across the street will be available (although plenty of free parking is also to be found in the general area). Parking is, however, more difficult by the Schlaues Haus for the Icebreaker evening.
  • The conference dinner has also moved from Athen to Ali Baba. The dinner will be buffet style @ 20 € per person (drinks extra). Vegetarian options will also, naturally, be provided.
  • Maps of the Symposium venue are also available here.

Theme of the Symposium

The molecular revolution has led to an explosion of phylogenetic research that has both confirmed many long-standing hypotheses as well as forcing us to rethink many others. A more recent, associated development is that of divergence-time estimation, resulting in so-called "timetrees". Whereas phylogenies can only present hypotheses of evolutionary relationships and character evolution, timetrees add an important temporal component to expand our research questions to include investigations of what historical events might have helped drive the evolution of a given structure or taxon. Although all divergence-time estimates are ultimately based on fossil information (including paleogeographic events), the coupling of these data with DNA sequence data has led to a much more comprehensive set of estimates, given that the fossil record alone can only date a subset of the nodes in a tree and often not as precisely as desired.

Whereas molecular phylogenetics is well established in Germany, research into timetrees is in its comparative infancy with respect to both its methodological and applied, empirical aspects. Instead, much of the initiative in this area comes from outside of Germany. By presenting a symposium covering diverse aspects of timetrees, we hope to stimulate interest in this developing field of phylogenetics. Fortunately, the young age of the field means that much work still remains in developing more robust methods, in resolving cases of conflicts between fossil- and molecular-based dates (e.g., as for placental mammals), and in providing divergence-time estimates and temporally-based evolutionary scenarios for different taxa.


The preliminary program and list of speakers can be found here.

Congress fees

Attendance at the Phylogenetic Symposium is free, with the costs being covered by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Participants are only required to cover the costs of their travel, accommodation, and food (excluding the Icebreaker evening).

Nevertheless, through the support of both the Deutsche Botansiche Gesellschaft and the Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik, we have instituted a set of 40 student stipends @ 50 € apiece to help offset some of the costs for early career scientists. More details can be found here.


Please see here for a list of hotels in the Oldenburg area.





To register, please send an e-mail to Iris Zaehle (iris.zaehle(at) with the following information:

  • Name
  • Affiliation
  • Attendance at the icebreaker evening on November 22. (Free!)
  • Attendance at the conference dinner on November 23. (Not free.)
  • If you are applying for one of the student stipends (please include tentative poster title)