Petrologie und Mineralische Rohstoffe

Research topic Ecology of Lepidoptera

Since 2019, the Petrology and mineral resources group has an additional research topic concerned with the ecological requirements of butterflies and moths in various European habitats. Specifically, we are interested in studies concerning

  • the regional distribution of specific butterfly or moth genera with regards to habitat variability
  • the connection between basement rock, soil, plant communities and Lepidoptera
  • the adaptation of butterfly of moth behaviour to climate change
  • the reaction of Lepidoptera to changes in land use (agriculture, forest management)
  • crystal growth of Ca oxalate during the larval stages of moths
  • colour change of butterflies as a reaction to changing environmental conditions

BSc and MSc theses are supervised by Prof. Gregor Markl in connection with a colleague from Biology, typically Prof. Oliver Betz. The topics typically involve more or less (typically more) extensive field work, which may take place around Tübingen or at localities specifically selected to investigate a specific research question. Such localities may be in Germany, the Swiss, French or Austrian Alps, in Spain or in Scandinavia. Typically, external experts from nature conservation administration, private consultant companies (Umweltbüros) or museums are involved in the research.

Anyone interested in writing a thesis on such topics should simply contact Prof. Gregor Markl ( for further details.

At the moment, the following topics are looking for interested candidates:

  1. Mapping of the distribution of Eriogaster lanestris near Donaueschingen (Baar) and near Rottenburg (Neckar) to understand the ecological requirements of this species in times of climate change. Lots of field work required, cooperation with a private company (Umweltbüro) at the Baar.
  2. Searching for the rare species Jordanita subsolana (almost extinct, but maybe progressing due to climate change?) using for the first time sexual attractants (pheromones) in Germany. Lots of field work required; a consecutive or a companion study could investigate the genetic diversity within this species, which may have colonized Germany from the East and/or the West. Collaboration with nature conservation authorities from the Saarland, Thuringia and Bavaria.
  3. Two capture-mark-recapture studies of Hipparchia semele in the Kaiserstuhl and in the Swiss Jura to recognize phenological changes and their relation to climate change. Lots of field work required; cooperation with nature conservation consultants and authorities in Freiburg and Basel.
  4. Habitat requirements of the rare tigermoth Arctia aulica at four localities in Germany. This species appears to spread out due to climate change, but this has to be confirmed. Lots of field work at the Mosel, in the Kyffhäuser, in the Eastern Rhön and at the Alb required.
  5. Zygaena communities depending on altitude and habitat in the Val d'Agnielles, Haute Provence, French Alps. Lots of field work required, cooperation with French nature conservation authorities and local specialists.
  6. Habitat requirements of the rare tigermoth Chelis cervini at two localities in the high Austrian Alps. Lots of high-Alpine field work required. Cooperation with a private nature conservation company from Innsbruck.
  7. Habitat requirements of the rare tigermoth Chelis cervini in the Swiss national park, Grisons. Lots of high-Alpine field work required, cooperation with the Swiss national park authorities.

Ongoing projects

Sophia Müller: Tagfalter in den Weidfeldern des Biosphärengebiets Südschwarzwald, im Speziellen P. arion.

Jonas Hobrack: Tagfalter in den Weidfeldern des Biosphärengebiets Südschwarzwald, im Speziellen M. didyma.

Gregor Markl, Gerhard Tarmann, Stefan Hafner, Stefan Birrer: Drastic decline of grassland species in Central Europe: the genus Jordanita as a type example.

Gregor Markl, Marianne Espeland, Hana Daneck, Anna Hundsdörfer, Franziska Patzold: Genetic variability of high-Alpine tigermoths: on the route to dating glacial events by a "genetic clock"?

Gregor Markl, Heinz Köhler: Colour changes of the Small tortoiseshell Aglais urticae as an adaptation to temperature variations.

Gregor Markl, Axel Hofmann, Heinz Köhler: Calcium oxalate crysatls in the larvae of Burnet moths (Zygaenidae): chemical and structural variability and the conditions of their growth.

Finished projects

Jan Schmitt: Die Glasflüglerfauna der Umgebung von Tübingen. BSc-thesis, publication in review at "Carolinea".

Robert Birch: A capture-mark-recapture study of Brintesia circe at the Spitzberg near Tübingen. BSc thesis University of Rottenburg, publication in review at "Ecological Entomology".

Wolfgang Wagner, Gregor Markl: The ecology of Pyrgus centaureae from Scandinavia. Publication in press at NEVA.

Gregor Markl, Gerhard Tarmann: Der Neufund des Grünwidderchens Jordanita subsolana in Mainfranken und seine Bedeutung für das Verständnis dieser Art. Publication submitted to NEVA.

Robert Birch, Gregor Markl, Thomas Gottschalk: Aestivation as a response to climate change: the Great Banded Grayling Brintesia circe in Central Europe. Publication submitted to "Ecological Entomology".

Projects planned for 2022

N.N.: The Burnet moth (Zygaenidae) community at Val d'Agnielles, Haute Provence, France: habitat niches and phenology changes along a gradient in altitude.



Markl, G., Segerer, A. H. & Tarmann, G. M. (2021): Ein neues Vorkommen des Distel-Grünwidderchens Jordanita subsolana (Staudinger, 1862) (Lepidoptera, Zygaenidae) bei Hammelburg/Saale nördlich von Würzburg. Nachr. entomol. Ver. Apollo, N.F. 42 (3), 147–153.

Birch, R. J., Markl, G. & Gottschalk, T. K. (2021): Aestivation as a response to climate change: the Great Banded Grayling Brintesia circe in Central Europe. Ecological Entomology 46, 1342–1352.

Wagner, W. & Markl, G. (2021): Pyrgus centaureae (Rambur, 1839) — a contribution to its larval ecology in Sweden (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae). Nachr. entomol. Ver. Apollo, N.F. 42 (3), 154–160.