Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)


EVE research groups

BSc Biology

EVE undergrad courses

MSc program

Evolution and Ecology

PhD program

EVEREST grad school

Welcome to EvE!

Research and teaching in EvE focus on how individuals, populations and communities interact and cope with environmental variability. We synergistically address a wide variety of perspectives and methodologies in evolutionary ecology, including plant and animal ecology, integrative botany and zoology, ecotoxicology, and conservation.

EvE news

Publication: Health deficits in fish from urban areas

20 January 2022 ► Despite the presence of fish fauna in rivers passing through European agglomerations, the health of the animals is poor. A multi-year study on a river system in southern Hesse (NiddaMan) showed in particular health impairments in habitats downstream of industrial dischargers, fish species living in contact with sediment and individuals in the spawning season (Schweizer et al., Env Sci Europe). The results of the study will be incorporated into the local authorities' strategy for future environmental management.

Swt environmental award goes to initiative "Colorful Meadow”

29 November 2021 ► The initiative "Bunte Wiese" (Colorful Meadow) is the 1st jury prize winner of the environmental prize offered by the Tübingen Municipal utility company (endowed with 4000.-€). A nature experience app for young people was developed.


Press release


MOPGA Strasbourg conference

23 November 2021 ► The Midterm Conference for MOPGA starts today! Members from the Plant Evolutionary Ecology group will report on almost 50 projects related to understanding Earth’s climate history; impacts on living ecosystems, including coupled human-natural systems; and technological to social solutions.

Everyone is invited to join by live stream starting at 9am!


Publication: Farmland eco-schemes and biodiversity conservation

08 November 2021 ► Flower fields are a core EU eco-scheme to support farmland biodiversity. New work by Mirjam Rieger et al. (Animal Evolutionary Ecology) shows, however, that the majority of EU flower fields fail to support farmland birds during peak food and shelter needs in winter, and derives suggestions for improved eco schemes (Journal of Applied Ecology). 


Publication: The Genomic Processes of Biological Invasions: From Invasive Species to Cancer Metastases and Back Again

12 October 2021 ► The concept of invasion is useful across the fine scale landscape of cancer tumors up to the broader landscapes of ecosystems. Working with researchers at USF and Moffitt Cancer Center in the USA, Christina Richards et al. discuss what can be learned from the genomics of invasion by leveraging the prowess of cancer genomics with the diversity of invasive species studies (Frontiers in Evolution and Ecology).


Job offer: PhD student position (m/f/d, E13 TV-L, 50%) in Evolution and Ecology

30 September 2021 ► The Institute of Evolution and Ecology at the Department of Biology seeks a highly motivated PhD student in visual ecology of marine predator-prey interactions.

Please see the job advertisement for further details.

Publication: A unique type of joint allows for the high mobility of scorpion tails

01 September 2021 ► Together with researchers from the University of Rostock and the Muséum d’histoire Naturelle, Genève, Manfred Drack (Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates) investigated the twisting and bending movements of typical adjoining metasomal segments in scorpions. The tube-shaped segments form simple yet robust joints, while providing room for the intestine and the ventral nerve cord. Anteriorly, these segments possess two saddle-like protrusions which are able to rotate in two directions on the rim of the posterior circular opening of the previous segment. (Journal of the Royal Society Interface)

New Savages – Globalization in Flora
Exhibition on the Botanical Garden’s open-air ground

18 August 2021 ► The Verband Botanischer Gärten e. V. (Botanical Gardens‘ Association) offers a panel exhibition entitled “New Savages – Globalization in Flora”, together with an accompanying brochure. This exhibition explains everything worth knowing about travel routes and plant properties that favor invasiveness, as well as properties that characterize invasive locations. It highlights the importance of botanical gardens and private gardens as a nucleus for the spread of neophytes, as well as the risks and opportunities of new plant species.

Publication: The water mites of the family Hygrobatidae (Acari, Hydrachnidia) in Italy

06 August 2021 ► The extremely diversified and ecologically sensitive water mites (Acari: Hydrachnidia) reach their maximum diversification in Europe in the Mediterranean countries. Reinhard Gerecke ("Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates") has presented a monography of one of their important families in Italy, with the previously little documented fauna of Sicily as a gravitation point.
Gerecke, R. (2021): The water mites of the family Hygrobatidae (Acari, Hydrachnidia) in Italy. Zootaxa 5009 (1): 1-85

Defence: Franziska Willems

06 July 2021 ► Franziska Willems, EVEREST student in Plant Evolutionary Ecology, and supervised by Prof. Dr. Oliver Bossdorf and Dr. Niek Scheepens (now a professor at the Goethe-University of Frankfurt a. M.), has successfully defended her PhD thesis on the effects of global change on plant phenology. Part of her PhD work has been published in the New Phytologist and Ecological Applications.

Congrats Franziska!

Publication: Ovipositor of the braconid wasp Habrobracon hebetor: structural and functional aspects

28 June 2021 ► Michael Csader et al. (Journal of Hymenoptera Research) from the ‘Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates’ research group investigated the ovipositor of a parasitoid braconid wasp in detail. They have combined light- and electron-microscopic techniques with 3D reconstructions, described all inherent cuticular structures and examine their mechanics and function. This work furthers our understanding of a putative key feature in the evolution of braconids and parasitoid wasps in general.

Public relations: Farmland conservation project at Berlin "Woche der Umwelt"

07 June 2021 ► Invited by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) and Federal President Steinmeier, the EvE institute now presents ongoing research on farmland bird conservation during the environmental fair "Woche der Umwelt" in Berlin. The project develops tools to reconcile modern agricultural techniques with the nesting needs of endangered bird species that breed in hay meadows and cereal fields. Details via attempto online and youtube.

Publication: Forest management and plant phenology

25 May 2021 ► Intensive forest mangement also changes the phenology of understorey plants. A new study from the Plant Evolutionary Ecology group published in Ecological Applications (first author: Franziska Willems) finds that in intensively managed forests the flowering of woodland anemones and other early-flowering species is on average delayed by two weeks compared to more natural forests.

Publication: Gastropods and the Colburn analogy

21 May 2021 ► In an interdisciplinary cooperation between the Animal Physiological Ecology Group, the Faculty of Engineering of Esslingen U for Appl Sci and the Institute of Applied Physics, microstructural investigations of the vascular system in the helicoid lung in combination with fluidic principles allowed the calculation and modelling of hemolymph and oxygen transport, and revealed construction-related physiological limitations in land snails (PLoS ONE).

Defence: Anna Kirschbaum

01 April 2021 ► Anna Kirschbaum, EVEREST student in Plant Evolutionary Ecology, has now successfully defended her PhD project on the "evolution of plant phenotypic plasticity in response to grassland management". During her PhD project, Anna was supervised by Dr. Niek Scheepens (now a professor at the Goethe-University of Frankfurt a. M.). The first paper that was generated from her work has now been issued in the Journal of Plant Ecology.


Publication: Combined effects of climate change and habitat destruction in a rainforest songbird

02 February 2021 ► Building on previous work, a new study co-authored by Henri Thomassen (Comparative Zoology) proposes a framework to estimate the “genetic vulnerability” of local populations to the combined impacts of climate change and other habitat modifications. (Evol. Appl.)

Publication: Fish without fear

21 January 2021 ► Following their findings on biochemical and histological effects of the widely used psychotropic drug venlafaxine in trout (Env. Sci. Europe), Michael Ziegler et al. (Animal Physiological Ecology) demonstrated that even small amounts of this anxiety reliever in the range of environmentally relevant concentrations in water make fish significantly more 'relaxed' and careless (Frontiers Env. Sci.).

Publication: Thermal selection in land snails

15 January 2021 ► Field experiments simulating environmental warming revealed strong selection against pigmented morphs in a widely distributed species of land snails. An international consortium led by EvE scientists provided evidence for thermal selection across multiple levels of biological organisation (Ecology and Evolution).

Defence: Julia Geue

18.12.2020 ► Julia Geue, EVEREST student in Comparative Zoology, has now successfully defended her PhD project. Julia has investigated Landscape Genomics as a tool in conservation prioritization. Her work generated several publications, including papers in Wiley's Ecology and Evolution.


Conference: Meeting StEvE 2020 went online

24 November 2020 ► For the first time, the Tübingen Meeting of Students in Evolution and Ecology (Meeting StEvE) has now been held as an entirely web-based remote conference. More than 100 students and faculty from Tübingen and beyond joined an exciting opening lecture by Mark Moore. He illustrated how inferences from stone-flaking experiments on the cognitive abilities of early humans may suffer from biased assumptions. Participants then engaged in lively discussions with 15 EVEREST students, who gave stimulating oral or poster presentations about their current PhD projects. Prizes for the best poster went to Frank Reis (microbiome ecology), and for the best talks to Julia Geue (surrogacy in conservation prioritization), Franziska Koch (stability rules for species networks), and Sophie Habinger (paleoecology of pongin primates).

The PhD students in Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology have made this a highly professional event! Thanks to William Snyder, Eleonora Gargani, Li Li, Diana Marcazzan, Alba Motes Rodrigo, and Jordy Orellana Figueroa.

New publication in Ecology Letters!

31 August 2020 Katja Tielbörger (Plant Ecology) just published a new study showing that plants may rapidly adapt to climate change, albeit not in all relevant traits. So the message is not entirely optimistic (Ecology Letters).

Publication: Wavelength-specific heating of snails

07 August 2020 Based on the work conducted within a course of the MSc programme (Advanced Animal Ecophysiology), Tatjana Tull and Danina Schmidt jointly have published their results on the role of ambient wavelength, shell size and pigmentation intensity in the heating of individuals of a Mediterranean land snail species (Journal of Molluscan Studies).

State Competition "Baden-Württemberg blooms"

31 July 2020 ► The "Colourful Meadow" initiative is among the winners of the state competition Baden-Württemberg blooms in the category "Other actors".


Publication: Insect compound eyes inspired novel adjustable technical optics

24 July 2020 ► Together with researchers from the Vienna University of Technology, Manfred Drack (Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates) developed a 3D printed prototype for a new optical device. Based on the advantages of compound eyes, an additional technical zooming feature was introduced that cannot be found in the biological system. Furthermore, an adjustable field of view per 'pixel' was implemented (Frontiers in Materials).