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.


Publication: Feeding apparatus of Staphylinine beetles

27 May 2024 ► A new study by Erich Spiessberger and collaborators in Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny provides descriptions and image plates based on scanning electron micrographs of 36 species of rove beetles. The authors establish groundplan features of the mouthparts for the Staphylinine group and discuss their putative function. Geometric morphometric analyses explain mandible shape variations, showing a trend towards a falcate shape with a narrow base, typical of some predatory species..

Defence: Leonie John

16 May 2024 ► Leonie John, EVEREST student in Animal Evolution and Ecology, has now successfully defended her dissertation project, in which she investigated "Camouflage Strategies in Cryptic Predatory Fishes" in largely field-based experimental work. Leonie has already published some of her key findings in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, and Ecology and Evolution.


Defence: Mario Mata-González

26 Jan 2024 ► Mario Mata-González, Everest student in Archaeological Sciences and supervised by Prof. Dr. Nicholas J. Conard and PD Dr. Britt M. Starkovich, has now successfully defended his dissertation on human subsistence strategies in the Zagros Mountains during the Late Pleistocene. Mario has already published some of his key findings in Quaternary Science Reviews, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, and Scientific Reports.


Event: Meeting StEvE 2023

21 Dec 2023 ► The 2023 edition of “Meeting StEvE” hosted > 90 participants from across all EVEREST research groups, including many current BSc and MSc students who may enter the graduate program in the near future. Eleven oral and thirteen poster presentations covered the entire spectrum from ancient alligatoroid taxonomy and human prehistory to short-term dynamics of species interaction networks.  
Our Hilgendorf speaker, Prof. Marc Naguib from the University of Wageningen, provided highly engaging insights into the secrets of vocal communcation in brids, spanning from German great tits over Swiss nightingales to Australian zebrafinches, in a talk entitled “Birds in space and time: the role of communication and movement for understanding animal societies”.
Presentation quality of this year’s meeting StEvE was just stunningly high, imposing a difficult task on voters for presentation awards. The prize for the best oral presentation was awarded to Bram van der Schoot (“Enhanced predator detection by means of red fluorescence in a small fish species”), for the best poster presentation Frank Reis (“Drivers of natural microbiome variation in Lotus corniculatus”). Congratulations!

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.

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.


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.


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.


Defence: Judith Beier

13 July 2021 ► Judith Beier, EVEREST student in Paleoanthropology, has successfully defended her dissertation on cranial trauma in Neanderthal and modern human fossil remains. Part of her work has been published in Nature and the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.


Defence: Franziska Willems

6 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!

Defence: Anna Kirschbaum

1 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.

Defence: Julia Geue

18 December 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.

Defence: Chris Baumann

24 November 2020 ► Chris Baumann, EVEREST student in Zooarcheology, has now successfully defended his PhD project. Chris has used stable isotope analyses and archeological tools to investigate the foraging ecology and interactions with humans of paleolithic red and arctic foxes in southwestern Germany. His work generated several publications, including papers in PLoS One, Archeol. and Anthropol. Sci., and Quaternary Science Reviews.

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.

12 Years of Hilgendorf Lecture

14 October 2020 Stimulated by its 10th anniversary in 2018, Ingmar Werneburg has now compiled a brief overview of the goals and history of the Hilgendorf Lecture series. The text has been published in the newsletter of the German Society for Biological Systematics (GfBS)

Defence: Alba Motes Rodrigo

08 July 2020 ► Alba Motes Rodrigo, EVEREST student in the ERC Stonecult project (Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology group), has now successfully defended her PhD project. Alba investigated tool use in great apes using novel experimental approaches, to derive information about the evolution of early hominin technology and cognition. Her work resulted in several publications, including papers in PLoS One and Biology Letters.

Defence: Gillian Wong

17 June 2020 ► Gillian Wong, EVEREST student in zooarchaeology (Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology group), has now defended online her work on human paleoecology during the Magdalenian in the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany. Her research has generated several publications, including a paper in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.