Elena Motivans


Elena Motivans
Doctoral Researcher 'Spatial Interaction Ecology'

Department of Community Ecology
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ/

German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Puschstraße 4
D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
(postal address)

Tel: +49 341 9739144
Room: A.02.13


Elena Motivans


In my current research l am interested in learning more about pollinator interactions in some of the very diverse but understudied systems that we have right here in Europe, focusing on traditionally managed meadows in Eastern Europe. To understand what factors influence the interactions in these regions, I am examining functional diversity and pollen transport. I am also interested in using new tools, such as molecular methods and machine learning, to make pollen analysis more accessible for analyzing plant-pollinator interactions and for higher resolution of insect identification.

Curriculum Vitae


2016 - present

Doctoral Researcher in the Research Group Spatial Interaction Ecology (SIE), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

Thesis title:
"Unraveling plant-pollinator networks across land-use gradients"

11/2016 - 03/2020

Scientific content writer for ZME Science

Writing general interest biology and ecology-related articles

04/2017 – 05/2018

Research Assistant in the Research Group Spatial Interaction Ecology (SIE), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

Maintaining a database on Pacific Island tree biodiversity

04/2017 – 07/2017

Research Assistant at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, Leipzig

Conducting molecular analyses on on chytrid fungi samples from amphibians

11/2016 – 02/2017

Research Fellow at Slovenian National Institute of Biology, Marine Biology Station Piran

Developing molecular methods to detect fish fraud in products from grocery stores

04/2015 – 10/2016

Research Assistant at Zoological State Collection, Munich

Imaging invertebrate species for inclusion in barcoding databases and using eDNA barcoding to reassemble the species community from the SeaLife Aquarium

05/2013 – 06/2013

Field Assistant at Department of Biology, McGill University

Involved in sampling for a project on the evolution of stickleback fish on Vancouver Island, BC

2014 – 2016

Master of Science
Evolutionary Genomics, Ecology, and Systematics
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany

Thesis title:
“Influence of environmental conditions on eDNA detection using the invasive fish species Neogobius melanostomus”

2011 – 2014

Bachelor of Applied Science
Major Biology, minor English Literature
McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

Thesis title:
“The parallelism of body shape and dimorphism between the sexes under similar selective pressures in Oncorhynchus nerka”


2018 – present

Co-mentoring of interns and research assistants


Summer school in pollination ecology, organized by the AG Spatial Interaction Ecology (SIE), German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig. Summer schools were held in Poland and Estonia.


9 - 13 September 2019

49th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Münster, Germany. Presentation: E. Motivans, L. Neuenkamp, V. Stefan, E. Sossai, T. Knight. “Heterogeneous habitats promote diverse plant-pollinator interactions in Estonia”     


• Litas Credit Union Scholarship (2014)
• Lehre@LMU Award for Student Research Projects (2016)
• EES Young Researcher Award for Best Master’s Presentation (2016)
• ERASMUS+ internship funding— (2016/2017)
• Best PhD presentation at the iDiv conference (2019)
• iDiv Science Communication Award (2020)


17 June - 18 October 2020

"Blüten(be)sucher: Beziehungsgeschichten aus der Natur (Flower seekers: The intertwined story of pollinators and plants). Exhibit at the Botanical Garden Leipzig https://www.idiv.de/en/events/bluetenbesucher.html

02 December 2020

Dies academicus 2020. Presentation („Vernetzt: Warum sich Naturschutz nicht nur auf einzelne Arten konzentrieren sollte“)

Projects and Collaborations

  • pollen visitation networks and functional diversity along land-use and natural gradients in extensive   landscapes
  • collaborating with the iCyt platform at iDiv/UFZ to test new tools for the identification of pollen from insects
  • using barcoding to test how the taxonomic grain of pollinator identification affects visitation networks

Peer-reviewed Publications

Dunker, S., Motivans, E., Rakosy, D., Boho, D., Mäder, P., Hornick, T., Knight, T. M. (2020) Pollen analysis using multispectral imaging flow cytometry and deep learning. New Phytologist, 229: 593-606. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16882.

Schwarz, B., Vázquez, D.P., CaraDonna, P.J., Knight, T.M., Benadi, G., Dormann, C.F., Gauzens, B., Motivans, E., Resasco, J., Blüthgen, N., Burkle, L.A., Fang, Q., Kaiser‐Bunbury, C.N., Alarcón, R., Bain, J.A., Chacoff, N.P., Huang, S.‐Q., LeBuhn, G., MacLeod, M., Petanidou, T., Rasmussen, C., Simanonok, M.P., Thompson, A.H. and Fründ, J. (2020) Temporal scale‐dependence of plant–pollinator networks. Oikos, 129: 1289-1302. https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.07303

Oke, K. B., Motivans, E., Quinn, T.P., Hendry, A.P. Sexual dimorphism modifies habitat‐associated divergence: Evidence from beach and creek breeding sockeye salmon. (2019) Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 32: 227– 242. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13407

Stoeckle, B. C.*, Beggel, S.*, Cerwenka, A. F.*, Motivans, E.*, Kuehn, R., Geist, J. (2017) A systematic approach to evaluate the influence of environmental conditions on eDNA detection success in aquatic ecosystems. PLOS ONE, 12(12): e0189119. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189119 *equally contributing first authors