Institut für Evolution und Ökologie

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: Structure and function of the mouthparts of blood-feeding bugs

24.06.2020 ► Tatjana Tull et al. from the ‘Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates’ group investigated the joint-free movements of the mouthparts of bloodsucking kissing bugs (Triatominae) using high-speed videography, microscopical and CT-techniques (Arthropod Structure & Development). In addition to describing new structures, this work furthers the understanding of the feeding process of these epidemiologically important insects and might aid in the development of steerable instruments for micro-invasive surgery.

Publication: Environmental effects on plant mixed mating systems

20.06.2020 ► Ellie Gibson-Forty and colleagues now provide equivocal evidence for a change in balance between selfing and pollinator‐mediated reproduction in annual Brassicaceae growing along a rainfall gradient (Journal of Systematics and Evolution).

Publication: Density dependence in plant-plant interactions

21.05.2020 ► New researchs by R.Zhang and K. Tielbörger (Nature Communications) shows how density-dependence tips the change of plant–plant interactions under environmental stress. [Press Release]

Publication: Plant secondary compounds and belowground interactions

12.05.2020 ► New research by Sara Tomiolo (Plant Ecology group) and co-workers (Trends in Ecology & Evolution) investigated Plant Secondary Compounds in Soils and Their Role in Belowground Species Interactions.

In the NEWS: Tourism and coral reef health

11.05.2020 ► A news feed including an interview of Prof. Michiels (Animal Evol. Ecol. group) addresses how Red Sea coral reefs may be affected by tourism lock-downs as those imposed by the current Corona crisis (

Biodiversity: Recommendations for insect-friendly mowing

30.04.2020 ► Since the frequent mowing of private, public and agricultural grassland significantly contributes to the current insect decline, in a current press campaign, the initiative "Colourful meadow" recommends later and less frequent mowing (see also Attempto online).

Nachruf: Professor Dr. Wilhelm Sauer

30.04.2020 ► Ein Leben für die Wissenschaft, Forschung und Lehre ist zu Ende gegangen: Professor Dr. Wilhelm Sauer, ein ausgewiesener Kenner der heimischen und fremdländischen Flora, ein weitgereister Professor für pflanzliche Systematik, Karyologie und Geobotanik an der Universität Tübingen, verstarb am 13. März 2020 im Alter von 85 Jahren. Die Universität Tübingen stellt einen ausführlichen Nachruf bereit.

Publication: Phylogenetic history of Crocodile Newts

24 Apr 2020 ► Peter Pogoda et al. (J. Anat.) applied geometric morphometrics to cranial morphology in extant and extinct crocodile newts. They provide comprehensive morphological support for the molecular phylogeny of these newts. The study further shows that life history traits correlate with head shape and that fossil Chelotriton show similarities in shape with some extant taxa allowing conclusions on its ecology.

Publication: Unraveling habitat preferences of two bumble bee species

20 Apr 2020 ► New work by Julia Geue et al. (Ecol. Evol.) shows that vegetation drives the distributional patterns of two closley related bumble bees (Bombus terrestris and B. lucorum) in Eastern Europe. Species distribution models (SDM) based on presence‐only data suggest a large overlap in their respective distributions. However, relative abundance indicated that the two species replace each other across elevation gradients.

Publication: Elevational gradients in beetle diversity

15.03.2020 ► Biodiversity studies across elevational gradients have a long tradition in ecology. New work by Oliver Betz et al. (Evol. Ecol.) addressed species richness, heterogeneity, niche occupation, and community similarity across a 2500-m elevational gradient of a mountain range in Northern Thailand. The study discusses the influence of orography, colonization, environmental filtering, and ecological radiation on the formation of rove beetle assemblages.

Job offer: Research Associate at the EVE institute

15.03.2020 ► The Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates group offers a temporary position for a Research Associate (Akademischer Rat auf Zeit): Details.



Publication: Antidepressant action in fish

15.03.2020 ► Due to the increasing use of neuroactive pharmaceuticals, antidepressants are commonly found in surface waters. In a new study, Michael Ziegler et al. (Animal Physiological Ecology group) focused on behavioural effects of the antidepressant citalopram on brown trout and found – concordant with the desired effect in human patients – an anxiolytic effect in fishes experiencing stress situations (PeerJ).

Defence: Bence Gáspár

11 Mar 2020 ► Bence Gáspár, EVEREST student in the plant evolutionary ecology group, has recently defended his PhD thesis on the "Evolutionary Consequences of Land Use - Epigenetic and Phenotypic Variation in Plantago lanceolata". His research has been conducted within the framework of the DFG-funded EpiDiv project. Congratulations!

Defence: Deike Lüdtke

11 Mar 2020 ► Deike Lüdtke, EVEREST student in the Comparative Zoology group, has recently defended her PhD project work entitled "Selection on Female Body Colouration through Male Mate Choice in Alpine Newts, Ichthyosaura alpestis". Substantial parts of her thesis have already been internationally published in Animal Behaviour, J. Herpetology, and Front. Ecol. EvolCongratulations!

Conference: Meeting StEvE 2019 a great success

15 Feb 2020 ► The Tübingen Meeting of Students in Evolution and Ecology (Meeting StEvE) 2019 has taken place on 06 Dec 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 by Mike Bruford on attempts to conserve genomic diversity of wild populations, and an excellent networking evening event, this event has once more been a great success. Prizes for the best oral presentations went to Alba Motes Rodrigo and Anna Kirschbaum, for the best poster presentations to Franziska Willems and Heike Hinneberg.

Thank you to all the organising team from the Comparative Zoology group!

Publication: Active sensing with light

22.01.2020 ► Small fish such as triplefins reflect sunlight sideways with their iris. Matteo Santon et al. now experimentally tested (Proc. B.) whether this mechanism can help to uncover cryptic predators. Treated triplefins approached well-camouflaged scorpionfish closer than controls. Visual models confirmed that detection distances are well within the naturally relevant range for these species. The study suggests active sensing to be widespread among small fishes. (J. Exp. Biol. Feature)

Publication: Book on biomimetics

17.01.2020 ► The lectures of the 60th Phylogenetic Symposium held in Tübingen in 2018 have now been published in a new biomimetics book together with several additional contributions of the field. The book especially focusses on how biomimetic research integrates with phylogenetics, functional morphology, and biomechanics.

Publication: Snails in hot and dry conditions

25.11.2019 ► Adaptation of land snails to heat involves thermodynamic, biochemical, cellular, physiological, behavioural, morphological, ecological and evolutionary processes. Yet, previous work usually considers different levels of biological organization in isolation. New work by Mona Schweizer et al. now assembles extensive literature information into a web of network parameters (Ecol. Evol.). The authors show the need for multicausal thinking to adequately reflect the complexity of these relationships.

Publication: Improved wastewater treatment techniques

17.11.2019 ► Treated wastewater is a major source for the release of micropollutants and bacteria into surface waters. Rita Triebskorn et al. (Env. Sci. Europe) now provide evidence for the prompt benefits of WWTP upgrades that employ, for example, powdered activated carbon. They conclude that further investment into this technique has great potential to enhance river ecosystem health, and thus ultimately drinking water quality.

Commission Member: Expert Panel on Trace Substances

23.10.2019 ► Rita Triebskorn (Animal Physiological Ecology group) has been appointed member of the Independent Expert Panel for the Assessment of the Relevance of Environmental Trace Substances by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. She is the only representative from academia among the 15 members of this panel.

Publication: Genomics of plant adaptation to climate change

18.09.2019 ► Climate change can make plants evolve rapidly. A new study published in Nature, led by Moises Exposito-Alonso from the MPI for Developmental Biology and coauthored by Oliver Bossdorf (Plant Evolutionary Ecology), found that experimental climate change exerts strong natural selection on Arabidopsis thaliana, and that future climate change will likely result in substantial losses of genetic diversity in Europe.

Publication: EU greening policy and habitat use by farmland birds

10.09.2019 ► European agricultural policy (CAP) aims at supporting farmland biodiversity, but the efficiency of current 'greening' measures remains poorly studied. EVE-researchers (Vogelwarte) now investigated how farmland birds use agri-environmental options during autumn and winter as key periods for annual survival, finding current 'greening' measures to be of limited attractivity. They suggest improvements for the upcoming CAP period.

Publication: Fungi communities along an altitudinal gradient

09.09.2019 ► Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are the most prominent plant mycobionts in the tropics, yet little is known about their diversity, species composition and factors driving AMF distribution patterns. Along an altitudinal gradient (1000-4000 m asl) in Ecuador, Ingeborg Haug et al. (PLoS One) found AMF communities to be dominated by Glomeraceae at lower altitudes but by Acaulosporaceae at higher altitudes. Further experimental studies should unravel the factors that determine the composition of the AMF communities.

Celebration: Summer event of the Biology department

29.07.2019 ► The EvE Institute hosted this year's summer party of the Biology department. During the official part of the event, the Biology assembly elected Oliver Bossdorf (Plant Evolutionary Ecology group) new speaker of Biology for the coming 2 years. Ingeborg Haug (Plant Evolutionary Ecology group) has been awarded the prize for best teaching in undergraduate Biology. Finally, three PhD students from within EvE - Mona Schweizer, Simon Schwarz (both Animal Physiological Ecology group) and Matteo Santon (Animal Evolutionary Ecology group) - received prizes of the Reinhold-and-Maria-Teufel-Stiftung for their excellent dissertations. Congratulations to everyone!

The official part was followed by a public party in the Botanical gardens, where about 100 students and staff from all Biology enjoyed a hot afternoon with cool drinks and chilled musing in a relaxed atmosphere.

Opening: 'Grüne Werkstatt"

29.07.2019 ► The Botanical Gardens have now officially opened the new building of the 'Grüne Werkstatt'. This iniative develops educational programmes to schools and other groups. It offers a broad range of botanical and ecological themed tours to provide hands-on experience with ecology in a very accessible and broad-reaching way. The new building will greatly facilitate this mission, and enhance the capacity for the dissemination of ecological knowledgt.

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!

Publication: How glyphosate and its associated acidity affect early development in zebrafish

24.07.2019 ► The issue of the effects of glyphosate on non-target organisms is highly debated. The Animal Physiological Ecology group in collaboration with the Organismic Interactions group investigated the toxicity of glyphosate on Danio rerio embryos taking into account its intrinsic acidity. The study (PeerJ 7: e7094) showed that the acute toxicity was mainly attributed to acidity, but on a sublethal level glyphosate at pH 7 induced considerable effects. In parallel, a potential prospective alternative to glyphosate, 7dSh, was tested without any adverse effects.

Publication: Novel type of pigment shield in miniaturized insect eye

17.07.2019 ► Tobias Mohr et al. from the Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates group used 3D reconstructions of serial-section transmission electron microscopy (ssTEM) to reveal that the sub-retinal pigment shield of Trichogramma evanescens is formed by extensions of the lateral rim pigment cells (J. Comp. Neurol.). The study reveals the first known case where lateral rim cells participate in a sub-retinal pigment shield in an insect eye. As neither pigmented extensions of secondary pigment cells, nor pigment granules in the extensions of the cone cell projections are present above the basal matrix in T.evanescens, the sub-retinal extensions of the lateral rim cells can be seen as a functional adaptation to miniaturization to maintain a proximal shielding function.

Dr. Merav Seifan Ambassador for the University Tübingen

03.07.2019 ► Dr. Merav Seifan, alumni researcher of the Plant Ecology group, has now been appointed Ambassador of the Tübingen University (attempto online). The University Ambassador title is awarded to research alumni whose connections to their alma mater are of outstanding quality and eminence. The ambassador network is part of Tübingen’s international research alumni relations within the framework of the University’s internationalization strategy.

UN Decade of Biodiversity: Project "Bunte Wiese"

03.07.2019 ► The initiative "Colourful Meadow" (Bunte Wiese) has again been acknowledged as a project within the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity by the jury of the German national committee of the UN Decade. Congratulations!


Teaching: New flyer on the EVE Master-program

24.06.2019 ► The Evolution and Ecology Institute developed a new flyer informing interested students about the structure and content of the Evolution and Ecology (EVE) Master program. Please download and share ...


Festivity: 50th anniversary Federsee field station

19.06.2019 ► On May 30 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Federsee research station. Past and current users got together with long-term neighbors and those who founded and further developed the station. In a festive and informal event many stories were exchanged, old ties got reinforced, and new connections made. We hope that the station will continue to inspire generations to come!.


Publication: Specificity of Bti biotoxins protects amphibians

07.06.2019 ► Current global declines of amphibian populations call for alternatives to conventional pest control. Scientists from the Animal Physiological Ecology group now tested a common Bti formulation at up to 100-fold field concentrations for its impact on European common frog larvae. The study (Ecotox. Environm. Safety) did not find any indication contradicting its safety for amphibians.