Institut für Evolution und Ökologie

Welcome to the Institute of Evolution and Ecology!

Research and teaching in EvE focuses 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.


Institute NEWS

20 May 2018


Book Release: Rove beetle evolution and ecology

Rove beetles (Staphylinidae) are common soil biota inhabiting litter and deeper soil layers. They are among the most diverse and speciose groups of insects. Edited by Oliver Betz (Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates), Ulrich Irmler and Jan Klimaszewski, this is the first comprehensive book treating many aspects of rove beetle evolution and ecology, phylogeny and systematics, ecology and conservation, and reproduction and development.


15 May 2018


Exhibition: Virtual tour through Bionics museum exhibition

The bionics exhibition of transregio project (TRR 141) at the natural history museum in Stuttgart now closes - but a virtual guided tour through the museum hall now remains open online. Please check this link.

09 May 2018


Publication: Daytime eyeshine contributes to pupil camouflage in a marine fish

Eyeshine generated by ocular reflectors behind the retina enhance eye sensitivity in dim light, e.g. in cat pupils at night. In some cryptice fish families, eyeshine is visible only during the day, forgoing this option. Using field underwater spectroradiometry and visual modelling, Matteo Santon et al. (Sci Reports) describe a vertebrate that features daytime eyeshine to reduce the conspicuousness of its large unobstructed pupils to the perspective of a prey species. This mechanism likely optimises the trade-off between camouflage and vision.

30 Apr 2018

PhD Defence: Philipp Unterweger

Philipp Unterweger has successfully defended his dissertation project on the perception and ecological value of urban biodiversity. Some aspects of his dissertation have already been published in Urban Science, Heteropteron, and J. Hymenoptera Res.



25 Apr 2018

Workshop: open source software in morphology

End of September (24.09.-28.09.2018) a workshop by the Morphology Group of the German Zoological Society (DZG) entitled "Application of Open source software packages for processing and analysis of morphological datasets" will be organized by Stefan Fischer (Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates group) in Tübingen. Registration and agenda (german).

18 Apr 2018


EVE seminar: Updated program SoSe 2018

We have updated the schedule for the EVE seminar series in the summer semester 2018. Presentations take place every Tuesday at 12:00 (st!) in lecture hall N12 (Auf der Morgenstelle 28). For exceptions and program details check the EVE seminar pages or follow @EvE_seminars on Twitter.

11 Apr 2018

Hilgendorf lecture: program SoSe 2018

We have updated the schedule for the Hilgendorf Lecture series in summer 2018. Please check details on our three internationally reknown speakers and their talks spanning from human evolution to metacommunity ecology.

26 Mar 2018


Publication: Jumping mechanisms in a weevil

Next to walking and flying, locomotion in beetles also includes more specialized types such as jumping. Combining micro-CT, fluorescence microscopy and highspeed videography, K.Nadein & O.Betz (Evol. Biol. of Invert. group) investigated the structure and function of the jumping apparatus of the weevil Orchestes fagi (Arthropod Struct Devel). Kinematic parameters, joint power and the duration until full hind tibia extension suggest a catapult-like mechanism. The input of elastic strain energy appears mediated by a resilin-bearing elastic extensor ligament connecting the extensor tendon and the tibial base.

26 Mar 2018

Funding: New project on Bti endotoxin safety for amphibians

The Bacillus thuringiensis serotype israelensis (Bti) endotoxins of the Cry and Cyt groups are of worldwide use in mosquito control and, as biological agents, applied to wetlands on a large scale. Bti endotoxins are commonly accepted to act specifically against larval stages of certain dipterans. Contracted by the Steinbeis-Transfer Center for Ecotoxicology and Ecophysiology, the Animal Physiological Ecology group investigates – in view of relevance to species conservation – the presumed innocuousness of Bti to amphibians.

05 Feb 2018


Publication: Historic samples reveal origin of monkeypox infections

Infectious diseases that originate from multiple wildlife hosts can be problematic to manage, in particular given limited understanding of their epidemiology. In collaborative research, Henri Thomassen et al. (RSOS) screened > 1000 museum specimens of five species of African rope squirrel to examine the historical distribution and prevalence of monkeypox virus (MPXV). The earliest MPXV infections dated to 1899, half a century earlier than previously thought. Contrary to common belief, this indicates that historic pox-like outbreaks in primates may have been caused by MPXV rather than smallpox.

22 Jan 2018

Publication: Mowing effects on insect hibernation

A new study by Philipp Unterweger and co-workers (BioRisk) reveals the importance of unmown grassland to support hibernating insects. Significantly more insect individuals and species eclosed from unmown urban meadows after hibernating in flower heads, stems, tufts or leaf biomass. The study highlights the contribution of reduced management regimes in mitigating insect biomass losses and efficient insect conservation.

05 Jan 2018





Publication: Decision-making in plants under competition

Plants can respond to light competition in three strategies: vertical growth, promoting competitive dominance; shade tolerance, maximizing performance under shade; or lateral growth, offering avoidance of competition. Researchers at the Plant Ecology group tested the hypothesis that plants can choose between these responses, according to their abilities to competitively overcome their neighbors. Their results (Nature Communications) support this hypothesis and demonstrate decision-making abilities in plants.

> Univerity Press Release

19 Dec 2017




Publication: Theoretical clarification of biomimetics

Biomimetics is primarily a practical endeavour where biologists and engineers seek optimized technical products and processes. The theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the knowledge transfer – with implications also for Biology – have thus far been poorly investigated. Within the SFB-TRR 141, Manfred Drack et al. (Bioinspiration & Biomimetics) now addressed this gap. A “technomorphic” approach is used to reveal the importance of  an accurate understanding of functions and working principles.

14 Dec 2017



Publication: Retinal anatomy informs about fish vision and lifestyle

Environment and lifestyle exert selective pressure on, and shape the evolution of, visual systems. Eye anatomy thus often reveals speciali-sations to ecological niches and light environments. Roland Fritsch et al. (Front. Neuroanatomy) analysed retinal anatomy of the benthic Mediterranean fish Tripterygion delaisi using retinal wholemounts and histology. The spatial distribution, patterns, and density of photo-receptors and retinal ganglion cells revealed a pronounced fovea and other adaptations to a micro-predatory and crypto-benthic lifestyle.

08 Dec 2017




Workshop: Conservation strategies for farmland birds

40 researchers, ornithologists and representatives of local conservation authorities met at the University of Tübingen to initiate efficient agro-environmental schemes (AES) supporting the Corn Bunting, a highly endangered target species of farmland bird conservation. Scientific surveys to evaluated AES efficiency will be coordinated within the MAGer project hosted by the Animal Evolutionary Ecology group.

07 Dec 2017



Publication: evaluating the limits to neuronal miniaturization in insects

Most studies on the limits to miniaturization in insect brains rely on 2D-data, histological sections imaged by light microscopy, or electron micrographs of ultrathin sections imaged by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Stefan Fischer et al. (Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates) now tested (J.Comp.Neurol.) the validity of transferring 2D-information to the third dimension by using a 3D image stack from serial-section TEM (ssTEM) of the optic neuropiles of the miniature parasitic wasp Trichogramma brassicae and evaluated the limits to neuronal miniaturization in insects.

16 Nov 2017


Conference: Meeting StEvE 2017 a big success

More than 80 students and scientists attended this year's Meeting of Students in Evolution and Ecology (StEvE) in Tübingen, hosted by the Plant Evolutionary Ecology group. Please find a short summary and pictures on the StEvE pages.

14 Nov 2017




Publication: Ecomorphological niche evolution in Stenus beetles

Using Phylogenetic Generalized Least Squares (PGLS), researchers at the Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates group studied the functional and ecological relevance of adhesive mouthpart morphology in 14 predatory Stenus rove beetles (Zool. J. Linn. Soc.). They revealed how interspecific differences in the surface area of adhesive pads (paraglossae) at the labial tips affect the adhesive forces during predatory attack and thus prey-capture success.

13 Nov 2017

Publication: Calibration of a popular biotest

The fish embryo toxicity test with the zebrafish is one of the most frequently applied ecotoxicological tests worldwide. In a recent study, Mona Schweizer (Animal Physiological Ecology) and colleagues have published data on the thermal sensitivity of one of the most sensitive endpoints of this test, the heart rate, which can be used for calibration purposes (Bull Environ Contamin Toxicol).

06 Nov 2017

Experiment: Set-up of large plant trait experiment finished

The Plant Ecology has set-up a new experiment within the HEDGE2 project on plant traits responses to common grassland management practices at Heuberger Tor. In the last weeks 2880 pots were dug into the heavy soil and sown with 30 common grassland species. PhD student Ronja Ratzbor is eagerly awaiting germination of seeds.

19 Oct 2017

Exhibition: Baubionik in Stuttgart

On October 18, the special exhibition baubionik – biologie beflügelt architektur opened at the natural history museum Schloß Rosenstein in Stuttgart. It displays the results of the first DFG-funding phase for the Collaborative Research Council TRR 141 “Biological design and integrative structures”. The Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates group (Oliver Betz) is partner in this project.

18 Oct 2017




EVE seminar: Updated program

We have updated the schedule for the EVE seminar series in the winter term 2017/18. The presentations are every Wednesday at 17ct in lecture hall N10. For exceptions and program details check the EVE seminar pages.

10 Oct 2017

Publication: Advanced wastewater treatment improves fish health

Conventional technology fails on effectively removing micropollutants from wastewater. In a seven years study, members of the Animal Physiological Ecology group for the first time showed the beneficial effects of activated carbon-based advanced wastewater treatment on the health status of fish abundant in the connected river (Sabrina Wilhelm et al., Aquat Toxicol, project SchussenAktivplus).

EvE Professorships

Animal Evolutionary Ecology

Nico Michiels

Animal Physiological Ecology
Heinz-R. Köhler

Rita Triebskorn

Sandra Dietz (JD)

Comparative Zoology
Katharina Foerster

Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates
Oliver Betz

Plant Evolutionary Ecology
Oliver Bossdorf

Plant Ecology
Katja Tielbörger

EvE contacts


Oliver Bossdorf

Vice Director

Nico Michiels


Brigitte Hinderer
Fon +49-(0)7071-2972610
Fax +49-(0)7071-295344


Institute of Evolution & Ecology

University of Tübingen

Auf der Morgenstelle 5

D-72076 Tübingen

Evolution and Ecology seminar


Wednesdays 17ct-18:30, Lecture hall N10.

Current programm