Suzette Flantua


Researcher, Project leader of PPF-Alpine


Research groups


My main research interest is to understand what determines biodiversity in mountain regions, by studying the impact of climate dynamics at various time scales (past, present, future). I am particularly interested in the way how historical environmental factors (climate and geology) and humans influenced contemporary biodiversity patterns. I use a biogeographical and palaeoecological approach, taking advantage of recent developments in palaeoecological data availability (e.g. Neotoma) and landscape modelling (GIS). Most of my work has dealt with the tropics where I also have organized and participated in numerous field expeditions of the Northern and Central Andes, and savanna lowlands. I also supervise students and lecture in courses, organize scientific events, and take responsibility in committees. In addition, I am passionate about communicating my research to a broader audience through the use of video (see Communication) and talks about sustainability.

Since April-2022 I am leading the project called the Past, Present and Future of Alpine Biomes Worldwide (PPF-Alpine), funded as a Startup Grant by Trond Mohn Stiftelse and the Dept of Biological Science, UiB. The aim of the project is to understand present-day alpine biodiversity from a long-term perspective and link expertise from biology, geology, geography, climatology, and glaciology to move our understanding of these ecosystems forward to better conserve them in the future. 

Julien Seguinot joined the project as a postdoc since April 2022 and he is focusing on reconstructing paleo-glaciers of different mountains globally.

Eline Rentier and Lotta Schultz both joined the project as a PhD researchers since Jan 2023. Eline will work on modelling the spatiotemporal dynamics of global alpine biomes, while Lotta will focus on understanding the relationship between past environmental dynamics and present-day alpine biodiversity. 

Together with John-Arvid Grytnes, Ondrej Mottl, and Camila Pacheco Riaño we are the PPF-Alpine team in Bergen, accompanied by our international group of collaborators.

Follow us by twitter @PPFalpine and see here more for information on the project and the team:




1) Biogeographical history of the high Andean páramos during the last 1 million years: Sky islands: A time travel of the Andes Mountains

Flantua, S.G.A., O’Dea, A., Onstein, R., Giraldo, C., Hooghiemstra, H., 2019. The flickering connectivity system of the north Andean páramos. Journal of Biogeography 46, 1808-1825

See also:

2) Global acceleration in rates of vegetation change over the past 18,000 years. Mottl & Flantua et al. 2021. ScienceNews coverage


◦ Research regularly featured in University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science newsletter
◦ New publications featured on Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, University of Amsterdam, and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute website
◦ Several papers featured in various newspapers and scientific websites: Science paper (2021) on global rates of vegetation change, Journal of Biogeography paper (2019) on the biogeographic history of the Andean páramos, Nature Geoscience paper (2018) on mountain biodiversity, and Science perspective paper (2015) on the closing of the Panama Isthmus (2015).
◦ BBC Radio 4. a) Science paper (2021), b) Interview and report on fieldwork expeditions in Colombia. Boyacá Plants-for-life project. Royal Botanical Garden Kew, UK (2018).

◦ Dutch Radio NPO. Paleoecological research from Bergen and birding.





2017       Practicum assistant GIS, Bachelor course Digital Earth, Future planet studies, University of Amsterdam

2016       Practicum assistant GIS and Microsoft Access, Bachelor course Biodiversity & Global Change, Biological Sciences, University of Amsterdam

2015       Lecturer ‘The physical setting and the distribution of life on Earth’, Bachelor course Biodiversity & Global Change, Biological Sciences, University of Amsterdam

2014-2016, Lecturer, practicum and field work assistant, Bachelor course Palaeoecology, Biological Sciences, University of Amsterdam

2014       Lecturer ‘Land cover changes and sustainable land management’, Bachelor course Biodiversity & Global Change Biological Sciences, University of Amsterdam

Coordinator and lecturer, Pre-congress training course ‘Chronology and integration of spatial and temporal data in paleo-environmental interpretations’, LOTRED –SA Symposium. Medellin-Colombia

2012       Coordinator and lecturer, Workshop ‘Capacity building in Biotechnology and Bio-security. Impacts and opportunities for socio-ecosystems’ (In Spanish). 4D Elements Consultores – NGP Seguridad Alimentaria – SENA. Bogotá-Colombia.

2012, 2013          Coordinator online courses. Introduction to Sustainability; Sustainable landscape design. (In Spanish). Asesorías de Diseño Sostenible. Medellin-Colombia.

2012       Coordinator and lecturer, Master course ‘Introduction to environmental information systems at national and international level, GIS and Remote Sensing’ including a hands-on workshop on the use of Quantum GIS. (In Spanish). In collaboration with M. Romero, 4D Elements Consultores, University of Tunja, Colombia.

2011       Coordinator and lecturer, Master course ‘Introduction to environmental information systems at national and international level, GIS and Remote Sensing, with emphasis on environmental management in the Orinoco basin’. (In Spanish) In collaboration with M. Romero, 4D Elements Consultores. Universidad de los Llanos, Colombia.

2000       English Teacher, ESL Institute. Manizales, Colombia.


40.        Van der Sande, M., Bush, M., Akesson, C.M., Berrio, J-C, Correa-Metrío, A., Flantua, S.G.A., Hooghiemstra, H., Maezumi, S.Y., McMichael, C.N.H., Montoya, E., Mosblech, N.A.S., Nascimento, M. de Novaes, Peña-Claros, M., Poorter, L., Raczka, M.F., Gosling, W.D. (2023). Warming, drought and disturbances lead to shifts in functional composition; a millennial-scale analysis for Amazonian and Andean sites. Global Change Biology.

39.        Pacheco-Riaño, C., Flantua, S.G.A.*, Grytnes, J-A.* 2023. Can Plants “Move” Fast Enough to Escape Climate Change? Frontiers for Young Minds. (*senior authors)

38.        Flantua, S.G.A.*, Mottl., O.*, Felde, V.A.*, Bhatta, K.P.*, Birks, H.H., Grytnes, JA, Seddon, A.W.R., Birks, H.J.B. 2023. A guide to the processing and standardization of global palaeoecological data for large-scale syntheses using fossil pollen. Global Ecology and Biogeography, Link

37.        Albert, J.S., Carnaval, A.C., Flantua, S.G.A., Lohmann, L.G., Ribas, C.C., Riff, D., Carrillo, J.D., Fan, Y., Figueiredo, J.J.P., Guayasamin, J.M., Hoorn, C., de Melo, G.H., Nascimento, N., Quesada, C.A. Ulloa Ulloa, C., Val, P. Arieira, J., Encalada, A.C., Nobre, C.A. 2023. Human impacts outpace natural processes in the Amazon. Science 379(6630), Link

36.        Pacheco-Riaño, L.C., Schei, F.H., Flantua, S.G.A.*, Grytnes, J-A.* 2023. Lags in the response of plant assemblages to global warming depends on temperature-change velocity. Global Ecology and Biogeography. Link  (*senior authors)

35.        Bhatta, K. P., Mottl, O., Felde, V. A., Flantua, S. G. A., Birks, H. H., Cao, X., Chen, F., Grytnes, J.-A., Seddon, A. W. R., & Birks, H. J. B. (2023). Exploring spatio-temporal patterns of palynological changes in Asia during the Holocene. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 11.

34.        Hooghiemstra, H., Cleef, A.M., Flantua, S.G.A., 2022. A paleoecological context to assess the development of oak forest in Colombia: A comment on Zorilla-Azcué, S., Gonzalez-Rodríguez, A., Oyama, K., González, M.A., & Rodríguez-Correa, H., The DNA history of a lonely oak: Quercus humboldtii phylogeography in the Colombian Andes. Ecology and Evolution 2021, doi: 10.100-2/ece3.7529. Ecology and Evolution 12, e8702.

33.        O’Dea, A., Flantua, S.G.A., Leray, M., Lueders-Dumont, J.A., Titcomb. M.C.. 2022. Pleistocene sea level changes and crocodile population histories on the Isthmus of Panama: A comment on Avila-Cervantes et al. (2020). Evolution.

32.        Tovar, C., Carril, A.F., Gutierrez, A.G., Ahrends, A., Fita, L., Zaninelli, P., Flombaum, O., Abarzua, A.M., Alarcon, D., Aschero, V., Baez, S., Barros, A., Carilla, J., Eugenia Ferrero, M., Flantua S.G.A., Gonzáles, P., Menéndez C.G., Pérez-Escobar, O.A., Pauchard, A., Ruscica, R.C., Sarkinen, T., Sörensson, A.A., Srur, A., Villalba, R., Hollingsworth, P.M. 2022. Understanding climate change impacts on plant distributions in the Andes: challenges and opportunities. Journal of Biogeography. 10.1111/jbi.14389. Link

31.        Hooghiemstra*, H., Sarmiento Pérez, G., Torres Torres, V., Berrío, J-C., Lourens, L., Flantua, S.G.A.* 2022. 60 years of scientific deep drilling in Colombia: the north Andean guide to the Quaternary. Scientific Drilling 10, 1-15. (* senior authors)

30.        Sales, R., McMichael, M., Flantua, S.G.A., Hagemans, K., Zondervan, Z.R., González-Arango, C., Church, W., Bush, M. 2022. Potential distributions of pre-Columbian people in Tropical Andean landscapes. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences 20200502. Link.

29.        Val, P., Figueiredo, J. Gustavo de Melo, Flantua, S.G.A., Quesada, C.A., Fan, Y., Albert, J.A., Guayasamin, J.M., Hoorn, C., 2021. Chapter 1: Geological History and Geodiversity of the Amazon. In: Nobre et al. Amazon Assessment Report 2021. United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, New York, USA. DOI: 10.55161/POFE6241

28.        Bacon, C.D., Gutiérrez-Pinto, N., Flantua, S., Castellanos Suárez, D., Jaramillo, C., Pennington, R.T., Antonelli, A., 2021. The seasonally dry tropical forest species Cavanillesia chicamochae has a middle Quaternary origin. Biotropica 54 (1), 91-99. Link

27.        Bradshaw, R.H.W., Styles, B., Giesecke, T., Flantua, S.G.A., Bittmann, F., Williams, J.W., 2021. Eric C. Grimm 1951–2020. Veget Hist Archaeobot. Link

26.*      Mottl, O.*, Flantua, S.G.A.*, Bhatta, K.P., Felde, V.A., Giesecke, T., Goring, S., Grimm, E.C., Haberle, S., Hooghiemstra, H., Ivory, S., Kuneš, P., Wolters, S., Seddon, A., Williams, J.W., 2021. Global acceleration in rates of vegetation change over the last 18,000 years. Science 372 (860-864). (* first authors) Link

25.        Diazgranados*, M., Tovar, C., Etherington, T.R., Rodríguez-Zorro, P., Castellanos-Castro, C., Galvis Rueda, M., Flantua*, S.G.A. Ecosystem services show variable responses to future climate conditions in the high Andes. PeerJ. (2021) e11370. Link (* corresponding authors)

24.        Mottl, O., Grytnes, J.-A., Seddon, A.W.R., Steinbauer, M.J., Bhatta, K.P., Felde, V.A., Flantua, S.G.A., Birks, H.J.B., 2021. Rate-of-change analysis in paleoecology revisited: A new approach. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 293, 104483. Link (preprint)

23.        Hooghiemstra, H., Flantua, S., 2020. Book review: Quaternary ecology, evolution, and biogeography, Valenti Rull. Academic Press, Elsevier (2020). Quaternary Science Reviews 247, 106608. Link.

22.        Flantua, S.G.A., Payne, D., Borregaard, M.K., Beierkuhnlein, C., Steinbauer, M.J., Dullinger, S., Essl, F., Irl, S.D.H., Kienle, D., Kreft, H., Lenzner, B., Norder, S.J., Rijsdijk, K.R., Rumpf, S.B., Weigelt, P., Field, R., 2020. Snapshot isolation and isolation history challenge the analogy between mountains and islands used to understand endemism. Global Ecology and Biogeography 29 (10): 1651-1673. Link

21.        Nürk, N.M., Linder, H.P., Onstein, R.E., Larcombe, M.J., Hughes, C.E., Fernández, L.P., Schlüter, P.M., Valente, L.M., Beierkuhnlein, C., Cutts, V., Donoghue, M.J., Edwards, E.J., Field, R., Flantua, S.G.A., Higgins, S.I., Jentsch, A., Liede-Schumann, S., Pirie, M.D., 2020. Diversification in evolutionary arenas – assessment and synthesis. Ecology and Evolution. Link (preprint)

20.        Onstein, R.E., Vink, D.N., Veen, J., Barratt, C.D., Flantua, S.G.A., Wich, S.A., Kissling, W.D., 2020. Palm fruit colours are linked to the broad-scale distribution and diversification of primate colour vision systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences. 287: 20192731. Link

19.        Bilbao et al., 2019. Transforming fire suppression into an intercultural and participative fire management policy in Canaima National Park, Venezuela. A learning together and Indigenous, academic and institutional knowledge integration process. Biodiversidade Brasileira-BioBrasil 1, 316. Link

18.        Felde, V.A., Flantua, S.G.A., Jenks, C.R., Benito, B.M., de Beaulieu, J.-L., Kuneš, P., Magri, D., Nalepka, D., Risebrobakken, B., ter Braak, C.J.F., Allen, J.R.M., Granoszewski, W., Helmens, K.F., Huntley, B., Kondratienė, O., Kalniņa, L., Kupryjanowicz, M., Malkiewicz, M., Milner, A.M., Nita, M., Noryśkiewicz, B., Pidek, I.A., Reille, M., Salonen, J.S., Šeirienė, V., Winter, H., Tzedakis, P.C., Birks, H.J.B., 2019. Compositional turnover and variation in Eemian pollen sequences in Europe. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 29, 101-109. Link

17.*      Flantua, S.G.A., O’Dea, A., Onstein, R., Giraldo, C., Hooghiemstra, H., 2019. The flickering connectivity system of the north Andean páramos. Journal of Biogeography 46, 1808-1825. Link

16.        Montade, V., Ledru M.P., Giesecke, T., Flantua, S.G.A., Behling, H., Peyron, O., 2019. A new modern pollen dataset describing the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The Holocene 29(8), 1253-1262. Link

15.        Hooghiemstra, H. & Flantua, S.G.A., 2019. Colombia in the Quaternary: an overview of environmental and climatic change, in: Gómez, J., Pinilla–Pachon, A.O. (Eds.), The Geology of Colombia. Servicio Geológico Colombiano, Bogotá, pp. 43–104. Link

14.*      Antonelli*, A., Kissling*, W.D., Flantua*, S.G.A., Bermúdez, M.A., Mulch, A., Muellner-Riehl, A.N., Kreft, H., Linder, H.P., Badgley, C., Fjeldså, J., Fritz, S.A., Rahbek, C., Herman, F., Hooghiemstra, H., Hoorn*, C., 2018. Geological and climatic determinants of mountain biodiversity. Nature Geoscience 11, 718–725. (* first co-authorship). Link

13.*      Flantua, S.G.A. & Hooghiemstra, H., 2018. Historical connectivity and mountain biodiversity; with special reference to Andean plants. In: Hoorn C., Perrigo, A., Antonelli A. (eds.), Mountains, Climate and Biodiversity. Chapter 12, Wiley. 171-185

12.*      Hoorn, C., Bogotá-Angel, G.R., Romero-Baez, M., Lammertsma, E.I., Flantua, S.G.A., Dantas, E.I., Dino, R., do Carmo, D.A., Chemale Jr, F., 2017. The Amazon at Sea: Onset and stages of the Amazon River from a marine record, with special reference to Neogene plant turnover in the drainage basin. Global and Planetary Change 153, 51-65. Link

11.        Salamanca, S.S., Van Soelen, E.E., Van Manen, M.L.T., Flantua, S.G.A., Santos, R.V., Roddaz, M., Dantas, E.L., Van Loon, E., Sinninghe Damsté, J.S., Kim, J.H., Hoorn, C., 2016. Amazon forest dynamics under changing abiotic conditions in the early Miocene (Colombian Amazonia). Journal of Biogeography 43(12), 2424-2437. Link

10.*      Flantua, S.G.A., Hooghiemstra, H., Vuille, M., Behling, H., Carson, J.F., Gosling, W.D., Hoyos, I., Ledru, M.P., Montoya, E., Mayle, F., Maldonado, A., Rull, V., Tonello, M.S., Whitney, B.S., González-Arango, C., 2016a. Climate variability and human impact in South America during the last 2000 years: synthesis and perspectives from pollen records. Climate of the Past 12, 483–523. Link

9.          Flantua, S.G.A., Blaauw, M., Hooghiemstra, H., 2016b. Geochronological database and classification system for age uncertainties in Neotropical pollen records. Climate of the Past 12, 387–414. Link

8.*        Flantua, S.G.A., Hooghiemstra, H., Grimm, E.C., Behling, H., Bush, M.B., González-Arango, C., Gosling, W.D., Ledru, M.-P., Lozano-García, S., Maldonado, A., Prieto, A.R., Rull, V., Van Boxel, J.H., 2015. Updated site compilation of the Latin American Pollen Database. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 223, 104–115. Link

7.          Hoorn, H. & Flantua, S.G.A. 2015. An early start for the Panama land bridge. Science 348 (6231):186-187. Link

6.          Flantua, S.G.A., Hooghiemstra, H., Van Boxel, J.H., Cabrera, M., González-Carranza, Z., González-Arango, C. 2014. Connectivity dynamics since the Last Glacial Maximum in the northern Andes; a pollen-driven framework to assess potential migration. In: W.D. Stevens, O.M. Montiel, P. Raven (eds.) Monographs in Systematic Botany Missouri Botanical Garden 128, 98-123. Paleobotany and Biogeography: A Festschrift for Alan Graham in His 80th Year. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis, MO. ISBN 978-0-915279-97-5 Link

5.          Grimm, E.C., Bradshaw, R.H.W., Flantua, S.G.A., Giesecke, T., Lézine, A.M., Takahara, H., Williams. J.W. 2013. Databases and their application. In: S.A. Elias (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science 3, pp. 831-838. Elsevier, Amsterdam. ISBN: 978-0-444-53642-6

4.          Flantua, S.G.A., Bilbao, B., Rosales, J. 2013. Indigenous land use and land cover changes in the National Park of Canaima, Venezuela: Pemón Sector II Kamarata. In: LT. Lopes, S. Arley, J. Silveira da Costa, E.R. Baptista (eds.). Libro Escudo Guianês, biodiversidade, conservação dos recursos naturais e cultura, pp.  209-224. NAEA, GSF, Belém, Georgetown. Link

3.          Rincon, A., Pascual, U., Flantua, S.G.A. 2013.  Examining spatially varying relationships between coca crops and associated factors in Colombia, using geographically weight regression. Applied Geography 37: 23-33. Link

2.*        Romero, M.H., Flantua, S.G.A., Tansey, K., Berrío, J.C. 2012. Landscape transformation in savannas of northern South America: Land use / cover changes since 1987 in the Llanos Orientales of Colombia. Applied Geography 32: 766-776. Link

1.          Flantua, S.G.A., Boxel, v. J.H., Hooghiemstra, H., Smaalen, J. 2007. Application of GIS and logistic regression to fossil pollen data in modeling present and past spatial distribution of the Colombian savanna. Climate Dynamics 29(7-8): 697-712. Link



  1. Onstein, R.E., Vink, D.N., Veen, J., Barratt, C.D., Flantua, S.G.A., Wich, S.A., Kissling, W.D., 2020. Understanding the relationship between fruit colour and primate vision requires multiple lines of evidence. A reply to Heymann & Fuzessy. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences 288 (1943).

  2. Hooghiemstra, H. & Flantua, S.G.A.. Interactive comment on “Early Pliocene vegetation and hydrology changes in western equatorial South America” by Friederike Grimmer et al.”. Clim. Past. Discussions. Link.



  1. Payne, D., Hoorn, C., Randin, C., Flantua, S.G.A., 2020. Past changes in species diversity: A view from the mountains. Past Global Changes Magazine 28(1), 18-19. Link

  2. Morrison, K.D., Hammer, E., Popova, L., Madella, M., Whitehouse, N., Gaillard, M-J., LandCover6k Land-Use Group Members (Flantua, S.G.A.). Global-scale comparisons of human land use: developing shared terminology for land-use practices for global change. Past Global Changes Magazine 26(1), 8-9.

  3. Van Boxel, J.H., Brandts, E.B., Flantua, S.G.A., Grimm, E.C., Hooghiemstra, H., Van Loon, E.E., 2017. Data description for the DANS project: Disclosure of paleoecological datasets of IBED, FNWI, UvA. DANS Report.

  4. Hooghiemstra, H., Flantua, S.G.A., 2017. Hergebruik van data. LAPD – Latin American Pollen Database. Geobrief 3, 14-16

  5. Flantua, S.G.A., Hooghiemstra, H., Grimm, E.C., Markgraf, V., 2013. Updated Latin American Pollen Database: Version 2013 in preparation for NEOTOMA. Past Global Changes Magazine 21, 88.



  1. Rincón, S.A., Suárez, C.F., Romero-Ruiz M., Flantua, S.G.A., Sarmiento, A., Hernández, N., Palacios Lozano, M.T., Naranjo, L.G., Usma, S. 2014. Identifying highly biodiverse savannas based on the European Union Renewable Energy Directive (SuLu Map): Conceptual background and technical guidance. WWF Colombia, Bogotá, 104 pp.

  2. Bustamente, C., Osorio, F., Rojas, L., Cáceres, X, Romero-Ruiz, M., Sarmiento Dueñas, A., Flórez, N., Hernández, N., Porras, M., Flantua, S.G.A., Vargas, M.C., Beltrán, D., Giménez, N., Tellez, P. 2013. Strategic management plan for the River Orinoco waterbasin, Colombia -   Phase I and II. Instituto de investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt – 4D Elements Consultores S.A.S. – INGEAG, Bogotá, 320 pp. (In Spanish)

  3. Romero-Ruiz, M., Flantua, S.G.A., Sarmiento, A., Hernández, N. 2013. Defining conservation areas in the Orinoco, Colombia: Analysis of studies completed or in progress. WWF Colombia, Bogotá, 38 pp.

  4. Flantua, S.G.A., Uribe B., C.E. 2001. Aproximación a una caracterización de la zona de influencia de la Quebrada Cameguada en el municipio de Chinchiná, Departamento de Caldas. Unidad Municipal de Asistencia Técnica Agropecuaria (UMATA). Chinchiná, Caldas, 56 pp.



  • Flantua, S.G.A. (2017). Climate change and topography as drivers of Latin American biome dynamics. PhD thesis, University of Amsterdam.

  • Flantua, S.G.A. (2008). Land use and land-cover changes in the Sector II. Kamarata in the National Park Canaima, Venezuela. Master thesis II, University of Amsterdam.

  • Flantua S.G.A. (2005). Modelling the spatial distribution of the Colombian Savanna: Los Llanos Orientales. Master Thesis I, University of Amsterdam.



See a complete overview of publications in Cristin.



PPF-Alpine is a 4-year project funded by the Trond Mohn Foundation (TMS) and University of Bergen running from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2025. It aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of the role of the dynamic past in shaping present-day patterns of mountain biodiversity, sourcing and integrating knowledge from a range of different disciplines.




Humans on Planet Earth - Long-term impacts on biosphere dynamics (HOPE) is a 5-year European Research Council Advanced Grant project running from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022. It addresses a critical question in Earth system science - what was the impact of prehistoric people on the biosphere and its dynamics?