Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

EVEREST: Evolution and Ecology Research School Tübingen

The graduate programme EVEREST offers doctoral students interdisciplinary education in evolution and ecology. It promotes the scientific independence of participating students, facilitates the acquisition of key qualifications for research and career planning, and enhances networking options within and beyond Tübingen. Supervision by individual Thesis Advisory Committees (TAC) and evaluation by an External Advisory Board guarantee the quality of training within EVEREST.


Conference: Etho2020 registration open

08.10.2019 ► Registration and abstract submission are now open for the 15th annual Meeting of the Ethological Society, held in Tübingen 18-21 February 2020. The meeting is jointly hosted by local researchers working in Zoology, Neuroethology, and Hominin evolution. Keynote speakers include Zanna Clay, Iain Couzin, Judith Korb and Ana Silva. Early bird registration closes 15 Jan 2020, abstract submission on 30 Nov 2019.

Defence: Anubhav Mohiley

29 Jul 2019 ► EVEREST PhD student Anubhav Mohiley (Plant Ecology group) has successfully defended his PhD project. Anu investigated how plants can adapt to soil contaminations with heavy metals, and ultimately even take advantage of their accumulation in plant tissue to benefit during interspecific competition. Congratulations!

Defence: Jessica Starke

25 Jul 2019 ► EVEREST PhD student Jessica Starke (Earth Systems Dynamics group) has now successfully defended her PhD project. Jessica used cosomogenic radionuclides to reconstruct and quantify surface processes such as denudation rates along climatic and topographic gradients in South America. Congratulations!

Publication: Osteological variation in salamanders

09 July 2019 ► Descriptions of both the within- and between-species variation in external morphology is key to modern systematics. However, the degree to which this variation is linked to internal features - such as bone morphology in vertebrates - is much less understand. PhD student Peter Pogoda and colleagues (Zool. Anz.) used µCT-scans to reveal that osteological characters strikingly differ in the degree of intraspecific variation in a basal salamandrid salamander.


08 July 2019 ► More than 30 PhD students and faculty participated in the recent EVEREST BBQ, this year hosted by the Plant Ecology group on their 'experimental gardens' at the Heuberger Torweg.
A warm thank you to Angela Gürtel and all her supporters for organizing this relaxed event, and Katja Tielbörger for hosting us!

Regulations: New Key Principles and Bylaws for EVEREST

26 June 2019 ► The PhD commission of the Science Faculty has now approved the new EVEREST regulations as manifested in our Key Principles to regulate the general structure of our graduate program. In parallel, the EVEREST steering committee has also updated our Bylaws, which specify "every-day business" in the program. Both documents are available on our EVEREST info pages.

Publication: Chimpanzees spontaneously dig out food

22 May 2019 ► Tool use is one of the key innovations that initated the success of early hominin lineages, but its evolutionary origin remains poorled understood. New research by EVEREST PhD student Albo Motes Rodrigo (PLoS One, Primates) now shows that chimpanzees spontaneously use a repertoire of tools use behaviors to excavate for buried food without needing demonstrations. This behavior, also performed by early hominins, had never been directly observed before, so the study provides the first analysis of this behavioral form using direct evidence.

Award: Image Competition of BMC Ecology

26 March 2019 ► EVEREST PhD student Matteo Santon has been awarded runner up in the 2018 image competition of BMC Ecology. His image - "Hungry dugongs have no table manners" - shows a Red Sea sea cow and its pilot fish foraging in one of the few remaining large  sea-grass patches near Marsa Alam (Egypt).

Defence: Matteo Santon

22 Feb 2019 ► EVEREST PhD student Matteo Santon (Animal Evolutionary Ecology group) has now successfully defended his PhD project on "Visual detection of a cryptic predator by its prey fish". Matteo used controlled field experiments combined with visual models to explore the conditions under which so called 'ocular sparks" can enhance vision in the context of predator detection. Part of his work as already been published (J. Vision, Scientific Reports). Congratulations!

Symposium: Research in Museums

20 Feb 2019 ► This year's “Research in Museums Mini-Symposium” will be held at the Paleontological collection of the Uni Tübingen on Mon/Tue 25/26 March 2019. The meeting focuses on the study of form-to-function relationships using museum specimens representing living and extinct species, with a particular taxonomic focus on terrestrial vertebrates. Please find details in the meeting program. Registration is informal via e-mail.

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.

Defence: Åshild Vågene

13 Dec 2018 ► Åshild Vågene now defended her PhD in Palaeogenetics entitled Genomic Insights into Pre- and Post-Contact Human Pathogens in the New World. Åshild documented the rise of tuberculosis in South America before European settlement, and identified the pathogen causing a major disease outbreak in Mexico during the 16th century. Congratulations to an excellent work!

Conference: Meeting StEvE 2018 a great success

11 Dec 2018 ► The Tübingen Meeting of Students in Evolution and Ecology (Meeting StEvE) 2018 has taken place on 23 Nov. With approx. 90 participants, a highly diverse program of oral and poster presentations spanning the fully range of evolutionary research in Tübingen, a remarkable Hilgendorf lecture on the human ancient past, and an excellent networking evening event, this event has once more been a great success. Thank you to the organisers from the Paleoanthroplogy group!

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'.


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  

PhD retreat: Report and pictures of the 2018 event

15 Nov 2018 ► Laura Limmer and Nina von Schepdael provide a summary of this year's EVEREST PhD retreat into the northern Vosges mountain range. Find details on the events webpage.

Publication: Precision, not brute force in Neanderthals hand use

28 Sep 2018 ► Using a novel 3D method to precisely analyzing manual muscle attachments, EVEREST alumni Alexandros Karakostis and coworkers now  provide evidence of habitual precision grasping in Neanderthal hand bones (Science Advances). Rejecting the previous hypothesis that Neanderthal daily activities relied mainly on brute grip force, these findings agree with recent archaeological indications that indicate a more complex Neanderthal culture than held for long. Check out the video from Science magazine that nicely illustrates these new finds!

Publication: Osteological basis for sexual size dimorphism SSD

10 Sep 2018 ► While SSD is typically studied on external morphology only, EVEREST PhD student Peter Pogoda established novel osteologcial methods based on high-resolution micro Computer Tomography to seek the origin of sexual dimorphism in a terrestrial salamander. His comprehensive multivariate analysis (J. Morphol.) may help us understand the evolution of male and female morphology in a phylogenetic context.