Håkan Wittzell

Håkan Wittzell

Affiliated with the university

Personal profile


As curator and database manager at the Botanical Museum, I am responsible for the digitising of the collections, and for building up a separate herbarium of type specimens. Moreover, I am curator of the Preiss herbarium from Western Australia.

Since 2005, I am also coordinator of the project Sweden’s Virtual Herbarium, which is a co-operation between Sweden’s six major herbaria. The project is supported by the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative. The grant for the period 2020-2022 is 11.1 million SEK.

I started out as an animal ecologist, and presented my Ph.D. thesis on natural and sexual selection in the ring-necked pheasant in 1991. Theories on sexual selection based on parasite resistance sparked my interest in the highly variable Major histocompatibility complex (Mhc), which plays an important role in the immune system. Two years as a postdoc in Paris allowed me to characterise the Mhc in pheasants, and to study the association between the Mhc genotype of male pheasants and male characters used by female pheasants for selecting a mate.

The postdoc period marked a shift in my interests towards molecular ecology, in particular in conjunction with birds, reptiles, and even salmon. I have published about 40 papers spanning animal ecology, molecular ecology, immunogenetics, molecular evolution, taxonomy and phylogenetics. In 1998, I was appointed associate professor (docent) at Lund University.

I have always been a keen botanist, and started the latest inventory of the flora of Skåne, which is my home province by birth and unchecked habit. Botanically, I am a specialist in the intricate and challenging genus Taraxacum (dandelions).


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