Dr Elżbieta Cieślak

Associate Professor

Plant Biology Group
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Lubicz 46, 31‑512 Kraków, Poland


Research interests

  • Taxonomy and chorology of critical species complexes of European flora (Caltha palustris s.l., Gladiolus palustris s.l., Melica ciliata s.l., Agropyron-Elymus complex).
  • Processes of natural polyploid hybridization in vascular plants.
  • Biogeography of xerothermic species with disjunct distribution in Central Europe, focused on dynamics of their range change in time and space.
  • Historical biogeography, evolution and genetic processes of different groups of species in the Carpathians and neighboring mountain ranges of Europe (Alps, Sudetes, Balkan Peninsula).
  • Applying molecular tools to unravel patterns of genetic diversity and divergence of endemic species of the Tatra Mts. (Carpathians).

Higher education and employment history

  • MSc degree at the Jagiellonian University (1993).
  • PhD degree at the W. Szafer Institute of Botany, PAS (2001).
  • Assistant professor at the W. Szafer Institute of Botany, PAS.
  • Habilitation at the W. Szafer Institute of Botany, PAS (2014).
  • Manager of the Laboratory of Molecular Analyses, the W. Szafer Institute of Botany, PAS (2004-2010).
  • Associate professor at the W. Szafer Institute of Botany, PAS.

Membership and awards

  • Outgoing national scholarship from Foundation for Polish Science (2002/2003).
  • Scholarship from Foundation for Polish Science (2005).
  • Member of the Polish Botanical Society (PBS) (since 1998).
  • Member of the Associate Editors of Plant and Fungal Systematics, Fragmenta Floristica et Geobotanica Polonica.
  • Member of the Scientific Council of the IBPAS.

International experience

  • Hungary (1998) – 2-week research stay; The Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest.
  • Ukraine (2000) – International field session "Podolia – Xerothermic vegetation – steppes of southern Poland and western Ukraine – ecology, conservation and management of steppe-like communities", Krakow-Lviv.
  • Russia (2001) – 2-week research stay; The Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (herbarium), Sankt-Petersburg.
  • Ukraine (2004) – 2-week research stay; Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (herbarium), Lviv.
  • France (2005) – 3-week research stay; Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine (molecular laboratory), Université Joseph-Fourier, Grenoble.
  • Austria (2010) – 2-week research stay; Museum of Natural History of Vienna (herbarium), Vienna.
  • Switzerland (2012) – workshop and Final Conference of the Ecochange Project, “A European Perspective on the Future of Biodiversity and Ecosystems", Zürich.

Research projects

  • Taxonomy and chorology of Caltha palustris L. complex in Poland (1998-2001); grant no. 6P04C 05113; State Committee for Scientific Research, Poland – co-investigator.
  • Patterns of genetic diversity of rare and widely distributed species of genus Melica L. (2003-2006); grant no. 3P04G 04025; State Committee for Scientific Research, Poland – co-investigator.
  • Phylogeny and spatial patterns of molecular diversity of selected species of the genus Cochlearia L. from Central and Eastern Europe as the basis for the protection of their genetic diversity (2003-2006); grant no. 3P04G 00724; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education – project leader.
  • INTRABIODIV: Tracking surrogates for intraspecific biodiversity: towards efficient selection strategies for the conservation of natural genetic resources using comparative mapping and modeling approaches (2004-2006); grant no. GOCE-CT-2004-505376 - co-investigator.
  • Intra-and inter-population genetical variability of Saxifraga hirculus L. (Saxifragaceae) in Poland against the background of neighboring areas and theoretical-practical and methodological aspects of its protection (2004–2007), grant no. 2P04G 08226; State Committee for Scientific Research, Poland – co-investigator.
  • Intra- and interpopulational genetical variability of Viola uliginosa Besser from the territory of Poland, against the background of the adjacent countries, in the perspective of the protection of the species (2005-2008); grant no. 2P04G 03127; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education – co-investigator.
  • Phylogeography and the origin of the tall-herb communities flora in the Carpathians (2005-2009), grant no. 2P04G 09528; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education – co-investigator.
  • Endemics in the flora of Poland – analysis of patterns of variation and biological diversity (2005-2009), grant no. 2P04G 06028; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education – co-investigator.
  • Spatial patterns of genetical diversity of xerothermic species of extrazonal distribution in Poland, within context of colonization history (2007-2010); grant no. 2P04G 06028; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education – project leader.
  • Molecular patterns within a group of Lecanora dispersa in Poland against the background of morphological-anatomical and hemotaksonomcal variability the particular species (2007-2010); grant no. N 304 05032/2318; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education – co-investigator.
  • ECOCHANGE: Challenges in assessing and forecasting biodiversity and ecosystem changes in Europe (2007-2011); grant no. FP6-036866 – co-investigator.
  • Genetic differentiation and phylogenetic relationships unravel the biogeographical history of the Europaean Melica L. species, sect. Beckeria (Bernh.) Aschers. em. Hempel (Poaceae) (2009-2012); grant no. N 303 373436; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education – co-investigator.
  • Polish xerothermic species from genus Campanula in Central European context: phylogeography and ecological characteristics (2010-2015); grant no. NN 304 362738; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education/National Science Center NCN – co-investigator.
  • Genetic diversity of Carlina onopordifolia Besser in relation to the evolution and biogeographical history of Carlina acanthifolia All. complex (Compositae) in Europe (2011-2014); grant no. N N304 300940; Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education/National Science Center NCN – project leader.
  • Species delimitation and phylogeny of neotropical Lecanora s.l. (lichen-forming Ascomycota, Lecanoromycetes) from Bolivia based on multilocus and phenotypic data (2017-2021); grant no. NN 304 362738; National Science Center NCN – co-investigator.

Recent publications (selected)

Walusiak E., Krztoń W., Cieślak E., Szczepaniak M., Wilk-Woźniak E. 2024. Native recovery or expansive threat? Past and predicted distribution of Trapa natans L. s. l. on northern limit of species' range – Handout for species management. Ecological Indicators 158: 111349. DOI

Cieślak E., Cieślak J., Ronikier M. 2021. Phylogeographical structure of a narrow endemic plant in an isolated high-mountain range: the case of Cochlearia tatrae in the Tatra Mts (Western Carpathians). Preslia 93: 125–148. DOI

Medeiros I.D., Mazur E., Miadlikowska J., Flakus A., Rodriguez-Flakus P., Pardo-De la Hoz C.J., Cieślak E., Śliwa L., Lutzoni F. 2021. Turnover of lecanoroid mycobionts and their Trebouxia photobionts along an elevation gradient in Bolivia highlights the role of environment in structuring the lichen symbiosis. Frontiers in Microbiology 12: 774839. DOI

Zieliński K.J., Kaczmarczyk A., Cieślak E., Ślesak I. 2021. Symbioza u cyjanobakterii. Kosmos 70: 697–710. DOI

Stachurska-Swakoń A., Cieślak E., Ronikier M., Nowak J., Kaczmarczyk A. 2020. Genetic structure of Doronicum austriacum (Asteraceae) in the Carpathians and adjacent areas: toward a comparative phylogeographical analysis of tall-herb species. Plant Systematics and Evolution 306: 14. DOI

Cieślak E., Drobniak S. 2019. Phylogeography of xerothermic Carlina acanthifolia subsp. utzka in Central Europe. Flora 253: 76–86. DOI

Tkach N., Röser M., Suchan T., Cieślak E., Schönswetter P., Ronikier M. 2019. Contrasting evolutionary origins of two mountain endemics: Saxifraga wahlenbergii (Western Carpathians) and S. styriaca (Eastern Alps). BMC Evolutionary Biology 19: 18. DOI

Wołejko L., Stańko R., Jarzombkowski F., Makowska M., Horabik D., Gutowska E., Kotowska K., Bloch-Orłowska J., Cieślak E., Kędra M., Żółkoś K. 2018. Ochrona torfowisk alkalicznych w Polsce. Tom 1. Klub Przyrodników, Świebodzin.

Migdałek G., Nowak J., Saługa M., Cieślak E., Szczepaniak M., Ronikier M., Marcussen T., Słomka A., Kuta E. 2017. No evidence of contemporary interploidy gene flow between the closely related European woodland violets Viola reichenbachiana and V. riviniana (sect. Viola, Violaceae). Plant Biology 19: 542–551. DOI

Kajtoch Ł., Cieślak E., Varga Z., Paul W., Mazur M.A., Sramkó G., Kubisz D. 2016. Phylogeographic patterns of steppe species in Eastern Central Europe: a review and the implications for conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation 25: 2309–2339. DOI

Paul W., Cieślak E., Ronikier M., Migdałek G., Słomka A., Żabicka J. 2016. Low genetic diversity of declining Viola uliginosa (Violaceae) at its southern range limits in Poland. Acta Biologica Cracoviensia Series Botanica 58: 71–82. DOI

Szczepaniak M., Kamiński R., Kuta E., Słomka A., Heise W., Cieślak E. 2016. Natural hybridization between Gladiolus palustris and G. imbricatus inferred from morphological, molecular and reproductive evidence. Preslia 88: 137–161. Link