My research focuses on stress eco-physiology, and various aspects of primary producers’ responses to the environment, aiming to reveal traits that permit cryptogams (mainly lichens and mosses) to exist and persist in extreme terrestrial habitats. My background in investigating fundamental questions in the biology of lichens, such as their acclimation potential to changing environmental conditions.

I am working on research projects in both poles (Arctic and Antarctic) in collaboration with Antarctica New Zealand, the Spanish Antarctic Programme and the British Antarctic Survey.

Current Research

My current research project in collaboration with the International Centre for Terrestrial Antarctic Research (ICTAR) based at the University of Waikato, New Zealand aims to better understand present Antarctic biogeographic patterns and resilience to environmental change. In particular, my research aims to assess:

  • long-term changes in vegetation cover in response to a changing climate.
  • temperature thresholds for locally adapted vegetation and their acclimation potential.

My other ongoing research project with the Spanish Antarctic Programme and the University Complutense in Madrid aims to elucidate the bio-complexity and functioning of the cryptogamic covers the maritime Antarctic, mainly Livingston Island.

On the other side of the planet, on Arctic Svalbard, I am collaborating with the British Antarctic Survey in a project investigating how increasing temperatures, both in the form of short-lived heatwaves and in the form of persistent warmer growth temperatures, will affect the growth and productivity of the so important cryptogamic vegetation cover.

Previous research

My work contributed to:

  • The identification of facilitative interactions between lichens and mosses that enable biological soil crusts to be successful players in primary succession (Colesie et al. 2011, Oecologia).
  • The finding that especially lichens are valuable indicators to evaluate the environments’ stress level and that they show changes in carbon allocation as an adjustable response to habitat severity (Colesie et al. 2014, The ISME Journal).
  • The description of biological soil crusts as a consistent but rare phenomenon in cold desert environments in the Antarctic (Colesie et al. 2014, Antarctic Science).
  • Evidence that the macroclimate is not a good indicator for biodiversity trends in high latitude environments and the parallel variation in the severity of the thermal and hydric environment makes simple transect and gradient-based modelling complicated (Colesie et al. 2014, Polar Biology).
  • Insights into the role of water availability in the primary production and turnover rates in endolithic cyanobacterial communities (Colesie et al. 2016 – Algological studies)
  • The presentation of biological soil crusts as an important and threatened vegetation unit in temperate, European habitats (Büdel et al. 2014, Biodiversity and Conservation; Williams et al. 2016, Ecology and Evolution)
  • The identification of environmental conditions leading to optimal and realistic productivity in biological soil crusts (Raggio et al. 2014, – Biodiversity and Conservation; Colesie et al. 2016, Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, Raggio et al. 2017, Geoderma).
  • Characterized threshold temperatures for the survival of endemic Antarctic lichens species and investigated their acclimation potential to changing temperatures (Colesie et al. 2018, Global Change Biology)
  • Identified changes in growth economics in response to temperature stress (both hot and cold) in combination with nutrient depletion in invasive grass species (manuscript in preparation).
  • Identified biological soil crusts as an important community in tundra ecosystems (Williams et al. 2016, Polar Biology)
  • Described the composition of polar biological soil crusts on a genus level for algae and cyanobacteria (Rippin et al. 2018).


    1. Colesie, C., Stangl, Z.R., Hurry, V. (2020). Differences in growth-economics of fast vs. slow-growing grass species in response to temperature and nitrogen limitation individually, and in combination. BMC Ecology, 20:63


    1. Sancho, L., de los Ríos, A., Pintado, A., Colesie, C., Raggio, J., Ascaso, C., & Green, A. (2020). Himantormia lugubris, an Antarctic endemic on the edge of the lichen symbiosis. Symbiosis, 1-10.


    1. Jung, P., Emrich, D., Briegel‐Williams, L., Schermer, M., Weber, L., Baumann, K., Colesie, C., Clerc, P., Lehnert, L.W., Achilles, S., Bendix J., Büdel, B. (2019). Ecophysiology and phylogeny of new terricolous and epiphytic chlorolichens in a fog oasis of the Atacama Desert. Microbiology Open, e894.


    1. Mugnai, G., Rossi, F., Felde, V.J.M.N.L., Colesie, C., Büdel, B., Peth, S., Kaplan, A., De Phillips, R. (2018) The potential of the cyanobacterium Leptolyngbya ohadii as inoculum for stabilizing bare sandy substrates. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 127: 318-328


    1. Szyja, M., Büdel, B., Colesie, C. (2018) Ecophysiological characterization of early successional biological soil crusts in heavily human-impacted areas. Biogeosciences 15: 1919-1931.


    1. Tamm, A., Caesar, J., Kunz, N., Colesie, C., Reichenberger, H., Weber, B. (2018) Ecophysiological properties of three biological soil crust types and their photoautotrophs from the Succulent Karoo, South Africa. Plant and Soil. Online first:


    1. Rippin, M., Borchhardt, N., Williams, L., Colesie, C., Jung, P., Büdel, B., Karsten, U., Becker, B. (2018) Genus richness of microalgae and Cyanobacteria in biological soil crusts from Svalbard and Livingston Island: morphological versus molecular approaches. Polar Biology. Online first:


    1. Colesie, C., Büdel, B., Hurry, V., Green, T.G.A. (2017) Can Antarctic lichens acclimatise to changes in temperature. Global Change Biology 24: 1123–1135.


    1. Colesie, C., Williams, L., Büdel, B. (2017) Internal thallus water status in the soil crust lichen Psora decipiens is optimised via a high phenotypic plasticity. The Lichenologist 49: 483–492.


    1. Mugnai, G., Rossi, F., Felde, V.J.M.N.L., Colesie, C., Büdel, B., Peth, S., Kaplan, A., De Phillips, R. (2017) Development of the polysaccharidic matirx in biocrusts induced by a cyanobacterium inoculated in sand microcosms. Biology and Fertility of Soils 54: 27–40.


    1. Raggio, J., Green, T.G.A., Sancho, L.G., Pintado, A., Colesie, C., Weber, B., Büdel, B. (2017) Metabolic activity duration can be effectively predicted from macroclimatic data for biological soil crust habitats across Europe. Geoderma 306: 10-17.


    1. Williams, L., Colesie, C., Ullmann, A., Westberg, M., Wedin, M., Büdel, B. (2016) Lichen acclimation to changing environments: Photobiont switching vs. climate-specific uniqueness in Psora decipiens. Ecology and Evolution 7: 2560-2574.


    1. Felde, V.J.M.N.L., Rossi, F., Colesie, C., Uteau-Puschmann, D., Horn, R., Felix-Henningsen, P., De Phillips, R., Peth, S. (2016) Pore characteristics in biological soil crusts are independent of extracellular polymeric substances. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 103: 294-299.


    1. Colesie, C., Büdel, B., Green, T.G.A. (2016) Endolithic communities in the Mc Murdo Dry Valleys: biomass, turnover, cyanobacteria and location – a preliminary insight. Algological Studies 151/152: 51-68.


    1. Williams, L., Borchhardt, N., Colesie, C., Baum C., Komsic-Buchmann K., Rippin M., Becker B., Karsten U., Büdel, B. (2016) Biological soil crusts of Arctic Svalbard and of Livingston Island, Antarctica. Polar Biology 40:399–411.


    1. Colesie, C., Green, T.G.A., Raggio, J., Büdel, B. (2016) Summer activity patterns of Antarctic and high alpine lichen dominated biological soil crusts – similar but different? Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 48: 449-460.


    1. Pande, S., Shitut, S., Freund, L., Westermann, M., Bertels, F., Colesie, C., Bischofs, B., Kost, C. (2015) Metabolic cross-feeding via inter-cellular nanotubes among bacteria. Nature communications 6: 6238.


    1. Colesie, C., Green, T.G.A., Haferkamp, I., Büdel, B. (2014) Lichen dominated soil crusts show changes in composition, CO2 gas exchange, and carbon allocation as stress-related traits across habitats of different severity. The ISME Journal 8: 2104–2115.


    1. Colesie, C., Green T.G.A., Türk R., Hogg I.D., Sancho L.G., Büdel, B. (2014) Terrestrial biodiversity trends along the Ross Sea coastline, Antarctica: Lack of latitudinal gradient, controls and potential limits to bioclimatic modeling. Polar Biology 37: 1197-1208.


    1. Raggio, J., Pintado, A., Vivas, M., Sancho, L.G:, Büdel, B., Colesie, C., Weber, B., Schroeter, B:, Green, T.G.A. (2014) Continuous chlorophyll fluorescence, gas exchange and microclimate monitoring in a natural soil crust habitat in Tabernas badlands, Almeria, Spain: Progressing towards a model to understand productivity. Biodiversity and Conservation 2: 1809-1826.


    1. Büdel, B., Colesie, C., Green, T.G.A., Grube, M., Lazaro-Suau, R., Loewen-Schneider, K., Maier, S., Peer, T., Pintado, A., Raggio, J., Ruprecht, U., Sancho, L., Schroeter, B:, Türk, R., Weber, B., Wedin, M., Westberg, M., Williams, L., Zheng, L. (2014) Improved appreciation of the functioning and importance of biological soil crusts in Europe – The Soil Crust International project (SCIN). Biodiversity and Conservation 23: 1639-1658.


    1. Colesie, C., Gommeaux, M., Green, T.G.A., Büdel, B. (2014) Biological soil crusts in continental Antarctica: Garwood Valley, Southern Victoria Land, and Diamond Hill, Darwin Mountains region. Antarctic Science 26, 115-123.


    1. Shao, Y., Spiteller, D., Tang, X., Ping, L., Colesie, C., Münchberg, U., Lorenz, S., Schönemann, L., Jia, A., Bartram, S., Schneider, B., Büdel, B., Popp, J., Svatoš, A., Heckel, D.G., Boland, W. (2011) Crystallization of – and -carotene in the forgut of Spodoptera larvae feeding on suboptimal food plant. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 41: 211-218.


    1. Colesie, C., Scheu, S., Green, T.G.A., Weber, B., Wirth, R., Büdel, B. (2011) The advantage of growing on moss: facilitative effects on photosynthetic performance and growth in the cyanobacterial lichen Peltigera rufescens. Oecologia 169: 599-607.