Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Research

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 in numbers (2022)

EvE news

Publication: Gammarids in times of climate change - Fourth treatment stage in wastewater treatment plants has positive effect on resistance to heat stress

30 January 2024 ► As climate change progresses, our rivers are increasingly exposed to diverse impacts. Scientists from the Animal Physiological Ecology group (Katharina Peschke et al., Pollutants) have now found the installation of a powdered activated carbon stage in wastewater treatment plants to have a positive effect on the ability of gammarids to tolerate heat stress. The expansion of wastewater treatment plants significantly reduces the concentration of micropollutants in the wastewater, resulting in lower exposure levels for downstream gammarids. Consequently, they require less resources for tolerating these substances, leaving more energy available for the necessary responses to heat stress.

New project: Ecomorphological radiation of Himalayan Northeastern Indian Steninae beetles (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae)

03 January 2024 ► Extending previous work, this project lies within the framework of German-Indian Collaboration studying the biodiversity of Steninae (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae) across two elevational gradients in Northeast India (Arunachal Pradesh). It will investigate aspects of the ecomorphological radiation of this megadiverse clade of rove beetles. Major objectives to be addressed relate to (1) diversity, distributional and niche patterns along two elevational gradients, (2) morphological and experimental analyses of the function and performance of the mouthparts, the tarsal attachment systems and the potential sensory trade-off between the visual and antennal systems, (3) phylogeny-informed macroevolutionary downstream analyses of relevant morphological, behavioural and ecological traits and their evolutionary radiation and (4) potential assembly rules at the community level. Link to available PhD position: click

Publication: Engineered Materials: Bioinspired “Good Enough” versus Maximized Performance

28 December 2023 ► Together with researchers from the TU Wien, Manfred Drack (Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates) investigated the differences in the use of materials between living nature and engineering. Materials science is constantly setting new records: ever stronger, more elastic materials or maximum load-bearing capacity at low density. At the same time, gigatonnes of waste are produced. Nature is different: it does not necessarily produce materials with extreme properties, but also those with an adapted service life, reparability and reusability. A good bone is not necessarily the strongest, but perhaps the one that heals the fastest. The extent to which such principles can be taken into account in technology has now been investigated. The results are published in the journal “Advanced Functional Materials”.

Publication: Seabirds boost coral reef resilience

19 December 2023 ► Tropical coral reefs are particularly susceptible to the effects of an ever-warming planet. However, tropical seabirds offer some hope for remote coral reef ecosystems. A new study led by an international team of researchers from the UK, Germany (Tübingen), and Australia shows that the presence of seabirds on islands adjacent to tropical coral reefs can boost coral growth rates by more than double (Science Advances).

Publication: Farmland habitat succession can compromise breeding success

21 November 2023 ►The proximate factors behind ongoing farmland bird declines even in extensively managed mountain grasslands remain poorly understood. Based on intense surveys of nesting success in the Meadow Pipit, new research by Fabian Anger et al. (J. Ornithology) suggests a key role for vegetation succession. The collaborative work between the Northern Black Forest National Park and the EvE Institute suggests that an expansion of permanent extensive cattle and horse grazing likely supports this and other farmland bird species..

New project: Influence of extreme weather events on the resilience of aquatic organisms

20 August 2023 ► As climate change continues, our rivers and streams are exposed to an increasing number of pressures. Discharges from wastewater treatment plants and stormwater overflow basins, high water temperatures and prolonged dry periods, increased particulate loads and hydraulic stress caused by heavy rainfall events are affecting aquatic organisms in a multifactorial manner. The project "EXTRESIGO - Influence of extreme weather events on the resilience of aquatic organisms", headed by Katharina Peschke (Animal Physiological Ecology group), is addressing this issue by investigating the influence of prolonged droughts and heavy rainfall events on the health status and resilience of aquatic invertebrates. The project is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung as part of the Water Research Programme and will run for 3 years.

Publication: Ovipositor steering in chalcidoid wasps

9 August 2023 ► Some parasitoid wasps, such as the chalcidoid Lariophagus distinguendus, are able to actively steer their terebra (= ovipositor shaft) in diverse directions, despite the lack of intrinsic joints or muscles. Benjamin Eggs et al. (research group „Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates“) have combined behavioural analyses with morphological studies based on various microscopical and microtomical state-of-the-art techniques. The result is a thorough in-depth analysis of the oviposition behaviour and the function of the wasp’s ovipositor, focusing on the underlying mechanisms of the terebra steering and their eco-evolutionary significance (Frontiers in Zoology).

Ceremony: Successful EvE Master students in summer 2022

25 July 2023 ► During the EvE assembly last week, our institute celebrated all students of the Evolution and Ecology MSc program who successfully completed their thesis projects during the summer semester 2023. Congratulations to Franziska Lehle, Ilona Liesche, Bastian Kathan, Thomas Kimmich (all on the picture) as well as Konstantin Bock!

Publication: (Ultra-)structure of the abdominal glands and spinning behavior in Stenus beetles.

14 July 2023 ► In the larvae of the rove beetle genus Stenus, the segmental glands of the abdomen were examined histologically and ultrastructurally. Ana Zippel et al. (Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates) demonstrated that the glands of segments 1-7 that produce an "adhesive" secretion are structurally distinct from the spinning silk-producing glands of segments 8-9. In addition, the spinning behavior of larvae during the construction of the molting cocoon was studied. The paper was published in Arthropod Structure and Development (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1467803923000531).

Institute and University sign Memorandum of Understanding with Indian Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) to study rove beetles (Staphylinidae) in the biodiversity hotspot Arunachal Pradesh

27 May 2023 ► Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) here signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Germany-based University of Tuebingen in the virtual mode on Thursday. “The agreement aims to support joint research on the ecomorphological radiation of the rove beetle subfamily Steninae (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae) in the unexplored regions of Arunachal Pradesh,” the RGU informed in a release, adding that “this collaboration brings together Prof Oliver Betz from the Institute of Evolution and Ecology at the University of Tuebingen and Dr Hiren Gogoi from the zoology department of RGU.” “Dr Padung expressed the possibility of expanding the research focus to include other insect groups in Arunachal Pradesh, given the region’s rich biodiversity,” the release added.

https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/05/27/rgu-signs-mou-with-german-varsity-for-research-on-rove-beetle/

Publication: A workflow for linear modelling in R

12 May 2023 ► Linear models are widely used for the analysis of ecological data, but their correct implementation remains a challenge. This work (Front. Ecol. Evol.) led by scientists from the Animal Evolutionary Ecology group provides data scientists with versatile R template scripts. They thoughtfully guide through data exploration, model implementation, assessment of model residuals and simulated data, and the final presentation of statistical results.

Publication: Insect and spider-friendly mowing technology in grassland

02 May 2023 ► Several studies show that a large proportion of spiders and insects living on agricultural grassland are damaged and/or killed during mowing. These were summarized and evaluated in a review by scientists from the AG Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates and the University of Hohenheim  (Landtechnik). In addition, the theoretical risk potential of different mowing technology for arthropods were examined from a technical perspective.

Publication: pH dependence of toxicity of chemicals in water implemented in EU Directive.

25 April 2023 ► The toxicity of ionisable chemicals in the environment depends strongly on the pH of the water. This toxicity shift can now be reliably modelled with the completion of the pHION project, which was led by scientists from the Animal Physiological Ecology group in collaboration with the Federal Environment Agency and the University of Athens. The study, which was recently published (Water Research), was immediately implemented by the EU as early as the end of 2022 and led to the setting of an environmental quality standard for the painkiller ibuprofen that is eight times lower than would have been derived under the previous convention. The results of this study thus directly contributed to improved environmental protection in Europe.

Publication: Addressing chemical pollution in biodiversity research

04 April 2023 ► Pollution of the environment with anthropogenic chemicals threatens biodiversity. In a paper recently published in the journal "Global Change Biology", an international group of researchers including Rita Triebskorn from the Animal Physiological Ecology show that the complexity of chemical pollution has so far been insufficiently recognized. They appeal for more cross-disciplinary collaboration between ecology, ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry to link new approaches from these individual disciplines and jointly find solutions to planetary health issues.

Award: Rita Triebskorn receives Tübingen’s Science Communication Award 2023

21 March 2023 ► Tübingen’s Science Communication Award for 2023 will be awarded to Rita Triebskorn (Animal Physiological Ecology). With this award, the jury honors her long-standing commitment to communicating her research results on water protection to the general public. The award will be presented in a ceremony on May 10, 2023, 6:00 p.m., in the hall of the Pfleghof (Schulberg 2, 72070 Tübingen). The event is public, registration is requested.
Registration
Link: Press release (German)
Press release: Science Communication Award (German) (PDF)

Publication: These fish change their colour for camouflage

06 March 2023 ► Some terrestrial animals are well-known for their colour change to better blend in with their surroundings. But this phenomenon is also present in animals under water, as Leonie John, Matteo Santon and Nico Michiels (Animal Evolutionary Ecology) show in this new publication (Frontiers in Zoology). In only a few seconds, the scorpionfish adjust to their background, not only in brightness, but also in colour.

Festschrift and symposium for Tübingen’s zoology professor Wolfgang Maier

17 December 2022 ► On the occasion of his 80th birthday, the festschrift " Vergleichende Entwicklungsgeschichte (Comparative History of Evolution)" was awarded to Professor Wolfgang Maier at a symposium on 17 December 2022. Mr Maier held the chair of Special Zoology at our institute from 1987-2007 (attempto online (German)).

New project: Eco-schemes for biodiversity conservation in organic farming

28 November 2022 ► Alfalfa and clover-grass leys reach substantial shares in organic crop rotation, but favor losses of ground-breeding farmland birds. The development of eco schemes to mitigate these effects is the goal of project “CLeVer” (Clover-grass and alfalfa in organic farming: Mitigating effects on endangered farmland birds). The project with partners from agriculture and conservation authorities and initiatives receives 2-year funding in a federal program to strengthen farmland biodiversity by the ministry of rural affairs, Baden-Württemberg.

Conference: Meeting StEvE 2022

28 October 2022 ► Different from previous editions, this year’s Meeting StEvE returned in a hybrid style allowing participants to join in presence and online. Organized by the Biogeology working group, the event counted more than 100 participants (64 in presence) including bachelor, masters and PhD students, as well as post-docs and professors from the University of Tübingen and collaborating institutes. A total of nine talks were presented along the three sessions of the event, followed by a dedicated session for the 11 posters that were displayed during the meeting.  

The Meeting StEvE 2022 also hosted a Hilgendorf Lecture with keynote speaker Prof. Eline Lorenzen of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Prof. Lorenzen gave an inspiring and exciting talk entitled “Arctic marine mammals in a post-Arctic world” about the dynamics of past and present populations of mammal species, in both marine and terrestrial environments, using ancient bimolecular analysis (including palaeogenomics and stable isotope analysis).

Finalizing the event, the prizes for the best presentation based on votes from the audience were awarded to Kim-Louise Krettek (best talk for “Genetic insights into the history of northern South America”) and Arianna Weingarten (best poster for “Ancient DNA retrieval from the Middle Pleistocene open-air site of Schöningen”). An after-meeting dinner at the Ratskeller to celebrate the successful event concluded the Meeting StEvE 2022.

New project: Simulation of bioaccumulation on the basis of chemical properties of organics

12 September 2022 ► To date the Pow, as a proxy for lipophilicity, is the only parameter that is used to estimate on the bioaccumulation potential of organic chemicals in biota. The aim of the new project 'BCF-Screen', headed by Katharina Peschke from the Animal Physiological Ecology group and funded by the German Federal Environment Agency, is to find properties or combinations of properties of organic substances that can be established as screening criteria for the detection of chemicals with a high bioaccumulation potential which, in the longer term, can be integrated into EU chemical regulation.

Publication: A technomorphic conceptualisation of biological ‘constructions’ and their evolution

09 September 2022 ► On the occasion of Prof. Wolfgang Maier’s round birthday, Manfred Drack and Oliver Betz (Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates) have contributed an article to his Festschrift in Vertebrate Zoology. The article deals with the evolution and evolvability of morphological ‘constructions’ from a technical perspective. Using analogies from engineering design, they are investigating how phenotypes can change in the course of evolution without losing robustness and performance.

Publication: A new fossil dryinid species from Rovno amber

06 September 2022 ► A team of researchers has discovered a new dryinid species in Rovno amber: Bocchus rex sp. nov. Using microscopic and microtomographic methods, Olmi et al. (Journal of Hymenoptera Research) have described the approximately 35-million-year-old animal in detail and provided an identification key to all fossil species of the genus Bocchus.

Publication: Effective conservation of the Owly Sulphur

06 September 2022 ► The Owly Sulphur is an enigmatic inhabitant of calcareous grasslands in southwestern Germany, but experiences ongoing population declines. Causes as well as effective conservation measures have now been investigated in a cooperation between the EvE Institute and regional Tübingen conservation authorities. Among others, the study (Naturschutz u. Landschaftspl.) highlights the relevance of access to bare ground, which requires targeted mowing or grazing regimes.

Publication: Microplastics and chironomid larvae

05 September 2022 ► The interactions of microplastics with pesticides in the environment are still largely unknown. Scientists from our institute (Stefanie Krais et al., Microplastics) have now found that polystyrene particles exert a certain protective effect against insecticide action in chironomid larvae, although there is no adsorption of the chemical, thiacloprid, to the plastic. The results of this study suggest that mechanically induced reductions of the resorptive capacity in the gut of the animals are responsible for this effect.

Publication: Disentangling the identity of Lebertia porosa Thor, 1900 using integrative taxonomy (Acari: Hydrachnidia)

25 August 2022 ► In the current interpretation the water mite Lebertia porosa Thor, 1900 (Acari: Hydrachnidia) was considered a species with Holarctic distribution, morphologically highly variable and extremely euryoecious. Based on populations from the type locality and from many other parts of Norway, Valentina Tyokosová, in cooperation with Elisabeth Stur, Torbjørn Ekrem (all NTNU Trondheim) and Reinhard Gerecke (AG Betz, "Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates") was able to demonstrate that a complex of at least seven species stands behind that name. Previously ignored differences in proportions of appendage segments allow morphological distinction between these species. The systematics of the subgenus Pilolebertia Thor, 1900 has to be reconsidered (European Journal of Taxonomy).

Prize: Doctoral Award of the Teufel Foundation

20 July 2022 ► One of the doctoral prizes of the Reinhold and Maria Teufel Foundation in Tuttlingen goes this year to Michael Ziegler for his ecotoxicological work on brown trout. Michael was able to show that the two environmentally relevant antidepressants citalopram and venlafaxine are already active in the parts-per-billion range in fish and above all influence their behaviour. Here, the anxiety-relieving effects are almost congruent with the effects intended for human patients.

Congratulations!

Ceremony: Successful EvE Master students in summer 2022

20 July 2022 ► During the EvE assembly today, our institute celebrated four MSc students who successfully finished their thesis projects during the summer semester 2022. Congratulations to Janina Vanhöfen and Anselm Lieb (both on the picture, with their advisors) as well as Maria Bertelsmann and Fabian Henn!

Awards: Best teaching in Biology 2022

20 July 2022 ► All three awards for best teaching, granted by the Biology Student Council, have this year been given to lecturers of the EvE institute. For teaching in compulsory modules, Biology students elected Ingeborg Haug for excellent teaching of plant families in Botany, and Henri Thomassen for guiding students through animal bauplans in Zoology. For elective modules, students valued the delivery of R coding and stats principles in Biostatistics-1, given by Nils Anthes

Congratulations!

Press release: Protecting grassland insects using modern mowing techniques

05 July 2022 ► In cooperation with the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection has released a press statement about the project “InsectMow” of the Universities of Hohenheim and Tuebingen. The article briefly introduces the project and its formation and outlines the need for a more insect-friendly mowing technique.

Link to the article (German): https://uni-tuebingen.de/en/universitaet/aktuelles-und-publikationen/attempto-online/newsfullview-attempto/article/mit-moderner-maehtechnik-insekten-im-gruenland-schuetzen/

Publication: Effects of EU eco schemes on farmland birds

15 June 2022 ► Based on an extensive meta analysis (Conservation Letters) Julia Staggenborg and Nils Anthes (Animal Evolutionary Ecology) now assessed the effectiveness of so called eco schemes, issued by the European Union to foster biodiversity. Farmland birds most strongly profited from multi-year measures, which provide reliable and permanent foraging and nesting sites. The study can inform stakeholders and decision-makers in politics and practical implementation to select the most beneficial conservation measures.

New project: Learning from nature – epistemological and ontological foundations of biomimetics

04 April 2022 ► In a new DFG project, Manfred Drack will investigate the theoretical foundations of biomimetics together with Ludger Jansen (University of Rostock). There are many examples of learning from living nature for technical applications (aeroplane, Velcro fastener, etc.). However, how exactly the processes of abstracting principles and subsequently concretising them in technical developments can be grasped has not yet been sufficiently investigated. In order to work towards a theoretical foundation of biomimetics, the project addresses both the epistemology and the ontology of biomimetics: How does biomimetics gain knowledge and about what?

Publication: Territorial seed or biodiversity?

04 April 2022 ► 20 experts from science and practice met for a workshop organized by the Competence Center Cultural Landscape at Geisenheim University. They developed a thesis paper on the implementation of § 40 that prescribes genetically native seed and planting material in the open countryside. The authors see the danger that by the strict implementation of this paragraph renaturations will have to make do only with a species-poor basic set of widespread plant species, which would largely affect faunistic diversity.

www.nul-online.de (German)

Publication: Water mites of the genus Lebertia Neuman, 1880 from the eastern Himalayas (Acari: Hydrachnidia: Lebertiidae)

11 March 2022 ►The water mites of the family Lebertiidae (Acari:Hydrachnidia) of the Himalayan mountains were widely unknown until present-day. Reinhard Gerecke (AG Betz, "Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates") and Harry Smit (Naturalis, Leiden) give now the first records of taxonomically well-defined representatives of the genus Lebertia from Bhutan and Nepal. All five species are new to science. The taxonmomic state of several further Asian Lebertia species is discussed (Acarologia).

Two new PhD students: Juan Millán and Manuel Fonseca

22 February 2022 ► Recently, two new PhD students have joined the institute. Juan Millán will try to answer the question how variation in the legislation and enforcement on the use of mammalian wildlife influences local levels of biodiversity. Manuel Fonseca works on landscape genomics of howler monkeys, studying the impact of habitat fragmentation on population connectivity, and establishing a reference map to genetically assign illegally poached individuals and pets to their locations of origin. Juan is supervised by Henri Thomassen and Nils Anthes, and Manuel is supervised by Henri.

 

New project: LIFE for Falcons

22 February 2022 ► As part of a large international collaborative project coordinated by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, Henri Thomassen received funding to work on the conservation of saker falcons in Bulgaria. The five-year project includes the establishment of new colonies of small mammals that are an important prey for the falcons, documenting and reducing the risk of poisoning from pesticides, placement of artificial nest sites, and raising awareness among local farmers and hunters.

 

Publication: Important areas to protect habitats in Romania are not the same as those for birds

22 February 2022 ► The prioritization of areas for conservation necessarily relies on measurable proxies (surrogates) that should represent all of biodiversity. Because mapping habitats from space is becoming increasingly easy, they may be a useful and quick way to measure biodiversity. Yet, the question remains how well habitats represent other levels of biodiversity. An international team led by Julia Geue and supervised by Henri Thomassen showed that habitats and birds in Romania are insufficient proxies for one another (PLOS ONE). The results imply that to adequately protect biodiversity in reserves, it should be measured at multiple levels.

 

Publication: Bumble bee populations more distinct than previously thought

22 February 2022 ► Buff-tailed bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) are important pollinators thought to move freely about the landscape, resulting in wide-spread gene flow. Yet, new work by Marcel Glück, Julia Geue, and Henri Thomassen (BMC Ecology and Evolution) shows that populations in Romania are genetically more distinct than assumed. The differences are likely related to local environmental conditions. The results will inform upcoming conservation prioritization efforts in the country.

 

Ceremony: Farewell to the EvE Master-students

18 February 2022 ► During the recent assembly of the EvE institute, we celebrated a small farewell ceremony for our 2021 cohort of Master students: Zitong Zhang, Sophie Weides, Marie Guggenberger, Jasmin Blumhardt, Niklas Bosch, Marcel Michel, Franziska Mück, Mirjam Rieger, Leif Rauhöft, Adrian Attinger, Zixin Li und Tatjana Tull.

Congratulations to our very successful thesis candidates!

 

New Project Launch – “InsectMow”: development of insect- and spider-friendly mowing technology

14 February 2022 ► Studies show that regular mowing of agricultural grassland kills a large proportion of the insects living there. This has significantly contributed to the decline of insects observed during the past decades. In the new project “InsectMow” of the Universities of Tübingen and Hohenheim, “insect-friendly” disc mowers are developed and tested. The project aims at attaining a better idea on the quantities of insect losses caused by intense mowing. In cooperation with engineers, technical solutions will be developed to reduce these losses by the application of effective scarecrows and modified disc mowers. The project is financed by the BfN in the framework of the Federal biodiversity program (https://biologischevielfalt.bfn.de/bundesprogramm/projekte/projektbeschreibungen/insectmow.html).

 

Publication: "Insect-friendly" mowing

02 February 2022 ► An underestimated factor that contributes to the decline of insects is the mortality, which is caused by mowing of grassland. A research team from Tübingen and Hohenheim compared the effect of a newly developed "insect-friendly" roadside mowing head with that of a conventional mowing head on insect mortality (J Appl Entomol). While mowing with a conventional mowing head caused considerable losses in arthropods, this effect can be mitigated or even offset by appropriate mowing technique, which prevents the loss of arthropods during the mowing process.

Publication: Flexible mouthparts enable extreme species richness of minute chalcidoid wasps

28 January 2022 ► A team of researchers (Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences) used state-of-the-art SR-µCT techniques to study a variety of parasitoid members of Chalcidoidea. These wasps have evolved flexible mandibles, giving them a unique evolutionary advantage. This can be considered a key innovation that has largely contributed to the evolution of today’s extraordinary species diversity (> 500.000 estimated species).

Publication: Distribution atlas of the water mites of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

20 January 2022 ► Based on long-term research projects in all types of waters, and over the whole area of the country, Luxembourg is the first european country that presents its water mite fauna (Acari: Hydrachnidia) in a distribution atlas. The authors, Reinhard Gerecke (AG Betz, "Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates"), Peter Martin (University of Kiel), Tanja Walisch and Guido Waltzberg (Musée national d’histoire naturelle, Luxembourg) provide distribution maps and information on habitat preference for all 209 species, for the more frequent ones also physciochemical parameters documented at their collecting sites.

Link for download

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.

Congratulations!

Press release

 

Conference: Online Meeting StEvE 2021

26 November 2021 ► This year's Meeting for Students in Evolution and Ecology (Meeting StEvE) was organized by the Plant Ecology group. Similar to last year, the meeting was a completely online event. More than 70 people participated, including bachelors, masters and PhD students as well as faculty from the University of Tübingen and collaborating institutes. The program comprised 3 sessions with talks from EVEREST students with topics covering a wide variety of fields within evolution and ecology.

As has become a tradition for Meeting StEvE, the audience was allowed to vote for the best presentation. Awards went to Vistorina Amputu (Remote sensing to assess rangeland condition), Leonie John (Body coloration of scorpionfish), and Dario Galanti (Natural epigenetic variation in plant defense).

The meeting was concluded by an inspiring keynote talk by Prof. Vigdis Vandvik from the University of Bergen who talked about combining altitudinal gradients and experiments to study global change impacts on plants. The meeting was concluded by a virtual meet-the-speaker event with Prof. Vandvik.

 

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).

 

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)

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.

Congratulations!

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.

Congratulations!

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".

Congratulations!

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).