Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

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: TGF-β signalling in Marisa cornuarietis

13.02.2019 ►The process of torsion and the formation of a coiled shell are hallmarks in gastropod evolution. Shell internalization has evolved convergently multiple times in numerous molluscan clades, including various gastropod families. Using Marisa cornuarietis as a model species, Amanda Link et al. (Animal Physiol. Ecology) could show that TGF-β signalling is involved in torsion, shell development and also in shell positioning (Featured paper in J. Moll. Stud.).

Funding: NamTip project funded by BMBF

08.02.2019 ► NamTip aims to foster an improved understanding of degradation processes leading up to desertification tipping points (DTPs) in dry (Namibian) rangelands. The subproject located at the Plant Ecology group will focus on primary productivity and soil seedbank dynamics near DTPs and aims to identify potential early warning signals. Two PhD and several BSc/MSc projects will be available during the 3-year runtime (2019-2022).

Publication: Visual contrast sensitivity in a benthic fish

04.02.2019 ► Spatial resolution is a key property of eyes when it comes to understanding how animals perceive visual signals. In the current paper (J. Vision), Matteo Santon et al. describe the contrast sensitivity function of a small, benthic marine triplefin fish, using an optokinetic reflex approach. Compared to other fish, the authors conclude that such reflex seems to be adapted to process low spatial frequency information from stimuli in the peripheral visual field and show that small marine fish can feature excellent contrast sensitivity at optimal spatial frequency.

Publication: Traction performance in burying beetles

23.01.2019 ► Using a 2 × 3 experimental design, Liesa Schnee et al. (Evol. Biol. of Inverebrates) compared friction and traction forces between two Nicrophorus burying beetle species with different attachment abilities during climbing. Performance differed on smooth surfaces but not on micro-rough and rough surfaces. The study (Beilstein J. Nanotechnol.) suggests that even subtle differences in the adhesion-mediating secretion in closely related species might result in qualitative performance shifts.

Theses opportunities: Updated overview for Plant Ecology

21.01.2019 ► The Plant Ecology group has updated their overview on theses opportunities for BSc and MSc candidates, with a focus on the 2019/2020 period. This complements the general overview on theses opportunities across the EVE research groups

Publication: 3D reconstruction of Trichogramma ommatidium

16.01.2019 ► Stefan Fischer et al. used serial-sectioning transmission electron microscopy (ssTEM) to present a 3D reconstruction at ultrastructural level of a complete ommatidium of a miniaturized insect compound eye (Arhrop. Struct. Dev.). This is the first compound eye study containing volumetric and numerical analyses, revealing insights into the number, size and distribution of cell organelles in ommatidia. The study unveils spatial constraints and adaptations in miniaturized compound eyes and allows to propose cell type specific miniaturization limits depending on metabolic activity of the cells.

Publication: Toxicity of the drug metformin in fish

07.01.2019 ► The antidiabetic drug metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals worldwide and can be detected in surface waters in the low µg/L concentration range. Stefanie Jacob et al. (Animal Physiological Ecology) studied the effects of the pharmaceutical in brown trout larvae. Metformin reduced the weight, enhanced the hepatic glycogen content and changed the composition of the gut microbiome in the test organisms (Env.Sci.Europe).

Publication: Review on the relevance of nano- and microplastics for freshwater ecosystems

14.12.2018 ► Plastic pollution nowadays is an intensely but controversially and, often, rather emotionally discussed issue of environmental concern – both in the scientific community and the general public. In this paper, Rita Triebskorn, Stefanie Krais, Hannah Schmieg and Heinz Köhler from the Animal Physiological Ecology group together with a consortium of collaborating colleagues critically review the state of research today and assess the environmental relevance of small plastics pollution in streams and lakes (Trends in Analytical Chemistry).

Publication: Litter meadow specialist butterfly profits from early mowing

11.12.2018 ► Subalpine litter meadows are traditionally under an autumn harvesting regime. New work by Myrielle Hely et al. (Naturschutz u. Landschaftspl.), however, indicates that current nutrient influx increasingly deteriorates egg deposition habitats for a litter meadow specialist butterfly, the skipper Carcharodus flocciferus. To maintain litter meadow biodiversity, and given difficulties in limiting nutrient influx, the authors suggest optimised early mowing routines to complement conservation actions.

Commission member: Evaluation of Substances Hazardous to Waters (KBwS)

06.12.2018 ► Prof. Rita Triebskorn from the Animal Physiological Ecology group has been appointed as a member of the Commission for the Evaluation of Substances Hazardous to Waters (KBwS). The Commission advises the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and the German Environment Agency (UBA) with respect to toxicity assessment of water pollutants. The commission has assembled on 28 Nov 2018.

Welcome Dr. Maria Májeková

01.12.2018 ► Maja Májeková, a plant ecologist from Slovakia, has now joined the Plant Ecology group as an Assistant Professor. Maja will be involved in various Plant Ecology teaching, and expand her research on the relationships between temporal stability, synchrony and plant strategies. She combines field work on semi-natural gradients with long-term field experiments and greenhouse experiments. Welcome!

Goodbye Dr. Michal Gruntman

30.11.2018 ► Sadly, Michal Gruntman is leaving the Plant Ecology group by the end of November 2018, after 8 years in Tübingen. Michal will take up a senior researcher position at the Ben Gurion University in Tel Aviv, Israel. This is an excellent career move for Michal and allows her to establish an independent lab group. We will greatly miss a lovely colleague, teacher and student supervisor, and wish her all the very best and lots of success for the future!

PhD defence: Eleanor Gibson-Forty

19 Nov 2018 ► Eleanor Gibson-Forty has successfully defended her PhD project on 'Intraspecific variation in plant-animal interactions of the Brassicaceae family along a steep rainfall gradient in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin'.


Prize: PhD Award for Carla Lorenz

14 Nov 2018 ► Already in summer 2018, Carla Lorenz of the Animal Physiological Ecology group has received one of the prestigous  awards of the Reinhold and Maria Teufel-Stiftung, for her PhD entitled "Der Einfluss von Nanopartikeln auf die akute Toxizität des neonikotinoiden Insektizids Thiacloprid auf Zuckmückenlarven (Chironomus riparius)". 


Publication: New evidence for male mate choice based on visual cues

16 Nov 2018 ► Male (vs. female) mate choice remains an understudied phenomenon. Using mate preference trials, EVEREST student Deike Lüdtke and Katharina Foerster from the Comparative Zoology group found that male Alpine newts, Ichthyosaura alpestris, spend more time courting colourful, large females as well as less colourful but responsive females (Animal Behaviour). These findings stress the need to consider multiple cues and female compensation mechanisms when investigating male mate choice.

Publication: No support for the "dangerous life" stereotype in Neanderthals

15 Nov 2018 ► Using a quantitative meta-analysis, EVEREST student Judith Beier and co-workers from Paleoanthropology and Animal Evolutionary Ecology refute the previous hypothesis that Neanderthals, compared to Upper Paleolithic modern humans, experienced more traumatic cranial injuries (Nature). The view that violent social interactions and close-range hunting characterised an exceptionally harsh Neanderthal lifestyle thus needs reconsideration. > Uni Tübingen press release  

Publication: Structure and function of the ovipositor of a parasitoid wasp

14 Nov 2018 ► Benjamin Eggs et al. (BMC Zoology) from the Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates group combined microscopical and microtomographical studies with muscle and leverage analyses to investigate the structure and function of the musculoskeletal ovipositor system of the parasitoid ichneumonid Venturia canescens. This work complements our understanding of a key feature that likely determined the evolutionary success of the megadiverse Ichneumonidae (> 24,000 hitherto described species) and parasitoid hymenopterans in general.

Publication: Stress tolerance determines facilitative plant responses

23 Oct 2018 ► Plant–plant interactions are reciprocal: they include effects on but also responses to direct neighbours. However, how exactly specific traits determine effect and response in facilitative interactions has not been studied experimentally. This new work by Ruichang Zhang and Katja Tielbörger from the Plant Ecology group (New Phytologist) reveals how between-plant interactions vary with salt tolerance traits along a salinity stress gradient.

Publication: Ancient DNA contamination varies with skeletal element type

26 Sep 2018 ► Ancient DNA fragements are increasingly used to reconstruct evolutionary history from excavated animal remains. A key step in these analyses is the validation of an ancient DNA origin, and an assessment of contamination with modern DNA. This collaborative work (Scientific Reports) of Paleogeneticists and Evolutionary Ecologists reveals how DNA content and bone fragment type affect contamination estimates.

Hilgendorf Lecture: Semester program 2018-19

25 Sep 2018 ► With the winter semester approaching, EVEREST again offers a series of high profile lectures with international guest speakers, this time with a focus on evolutionarly phenomena revealed by paleobiological and pleontological approaches. Dates, times and topics are all on the lecture series website.

Welcome: Neta Manela guest researcher in plant ecology

18 Sep 2018 ► We welcome Neta Manela, a guest PhD student form Ben Gurion University in Israel hosted by the Plant Ecology group under a Minvera grant. Neta will perform a common garden-experiment investigating the effect of smoke exposition on different ecomorphs of plant scpies from a steep climatic gradient.

Funding: PHION - New project on the pH-dependent toxicity of pollutants

14 Sep 2018 ► The cellular uptake and toxicity of ionizable substances strongly depends on their dissociation degree which, in turn, is pH-dependent. The present joint project of the Animal Physiological Ecology group with the University of Athens, funded by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) will systematically generate toxicity and accumulation data and aims at developing models that allow extrapolation of the toxicity of ionizable substances for different pH values.