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

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).

18 Sep 2017




Publication: Determinants of genetic structure in African mammals

As part of a larger collaborative effort, Henri Thomassen and former MSc student Katrin Hils investigated the roles of Pleistocene refugia, rivers, and the environment in the diversification of African duikers. The study (BMC Evol. Biol.) highlights the historical impact of Pleistocene fragmentation and the current influence of environmental variation on genetic structure in medium-sized mammals. It helps in informing conservation decisions that take into account the adaptive potential required for responding to current and future habitat change.


13 Sep 2017

Hilgendorf Lecture: Updated program

We have updated the schedule for the Hilgendorf Lecture series in winter 2017/18. Please check details on our four internationally reknown speakers and their talks spanning from paleoanthropology and human evolution to pitfalls when experimentally studying traces of sexual and natural selection.


11 Sep 2017



Conference: Registration for Meeting StEvE 2017 now open

This year's Meeting StEvE, the Meeting of Students in Evolution and Ecology in Tübingen, takes place on Friday 10 November in the lecture hall Alte Aula. Please check the meeting website for full detail on organisation, program, and registration!


11 Sep 2017


Congratulations: Professorship offered to former coworker

PD Dr. Michael Heethoff, former research associate in the Department of Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates, has now been offered the chair in Evolutionary Animal Ecology at the university of Bayreuth.





25 Aug 2017

Funding: Toxicity of per- and polyfluorinated chemicals

Heinz Köhler and Rita Triebskorn (Animal Physiological Ecology) obtained a new project from the state of Baden-Württemberg aiming at setting thresholds for the consumption of previously less considered per- and polyfluorinated chemicals. Background is the current case of contamination of farmland around Rastatt and Baden-Baden which is investigated by an interdisciplinary research consortium.

15 Aug 2017





Publication: (Ultra-)Morphology of the Madagascar hissing cockroach

Most insect orders have dedicated tarsal morphologies to enhance adhesion and friction on various substrates. In the new work, Christian Schmitt and Oliver Betz (Cell Tissue Res) used electron microscopy to reveal structural evidence for the function of the pliable attachment pads of a cockroach in producing, storing, and secreting an adhesion-mediating secretion and releasing it to the exterior.

11 Aug 2017





Publication: Trout juveniles are affected by diclofenac residues in water

Being on the EU Watch List for emerging water pollutants the widely used analgesic diclofenac is discussed to be included as a substance of priority in the EU Water Framework Directive. Complementing this debate, Simon Schwarz (Animal Physiological Ecology) and colleagues report survival and behaviour of brown trout juveniles to be particularly sensitive to diclofenac in the ppb range (Sci Total Environ).


09 Aug 2017




Publication: Determinants of spatial genetic variation in animals

In new work (Cons. Biol.), Henri Thomassen and collaborators compared the spatial patterns of genetic variation in several birds, reptiles, and mammals in Southern California, finding species-specific contributions of anthropogenic and natural barriers to gene flow. These findings can help conservation planning in determining key drivers of population deterioration.


09 Aug 2017


Award: Stiftung für Mensch & Umwelt rewards "Bunte Wiese"

The initiative "Bunte Wiese" has received a special prize for urban conservation within the program "Wir tun was für Bienen", awarded by the foundation "Stiftung für Mensch & Umwelt". The Bunte Wiese initiative was founded in 2010 to promote habitats for plants and insects in urban areas, now taking care of 40 dedicated "colourful meadows" in Tübingen.


30 Jul 2017

Publication: First German guideline for comprehensive water quality assessment by means of biological effects

On behalf of the German Ministry of Education and Research Rita Triebskorn (Animal Physiological Ecology) and four colleagues compiled the first guideline for toxicological and ecotoxicological assessment of drinking water, surface water and wastewater on the basis of biomarkers and biotests in Germany (RiSKWa status paper).


24 Jul 2017


Funding: New DFG project on endophytic fungi and invasive plants

New DFG-funded research of the Plant Evolutionary Ecology group studies interactions between endophytic fungi, Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and native plants. Sigisfredo Garnica, Madalin Parepa, Oliver Bossdorf and cooperation partner Frank Waller (Würzburg) combine field surveys with greenhouse experiments to understand the role of endophytes in knotweed invasions.

23 Jul 2017


Publicity: Exhibition "Bunte Wiese" opens 03 August

The initiative "Bunte Wiese” (colourful meadow) opens a public exhibition on August 3rd. Explore meadows with all senses, taking advantage of spectacular photographs, a fun quiz, interactive exhibits, or guidance of establishing your own colorful meadow. Bunte Wiese is a long-term project for increasing biodiversity in public green spaces in the city of Tübingen.

18 Jul 2017

Publication: Nanoparticles protect midges from acute pesticide action

Following recent findings on the toxicity-diminishing function of non-adsorbing Al2O3 nanoparticles (PLOS ONE) Carla Lorenz et al. also found strongly absorbing zeolite nanoparticles to protect particle-feeding Chironomid midge larvae from the acute action of the neonicotinoid insecticide thiacloprid (Peer J).

03 Jul 2017


Workshop: CASCADE kick-off meeting

Project partners gathered in Tübingen for a one-day Planning Meeting on 13 June 2017 to review project objectives, implementation and the role of the science-stakeholder process. CASCADE is a project within the BioTip call of the BMBF. It develops science-based strategies for identifying and managing potentially irreversible losses of ecosystem services in the Jordan River region.

03 Jul 2017



Welcome: Assistant Professor Korinna T. Allhoff

We like to welcome Korinna Allhoff, a new assistant professor in the Plant Ecology group of Katja Tielbörger. Korinna is an expert on modelling ecological networks. She has strong interest in (long-term) responses of ecological networks to changing environmental conditions, e.g. due to global warming or species invasions.

28 Jun 2017


Award: Bunte Wiese retains status as UN biodiversity project

The initiative "Bunte Wiese” (colourful meadow) has been re-awarded the status of UN-decade project on biodiversity. Bunte Wiese is a long-term project for increasing biodiversity in public green spaces in the city of Tübingen. It has been initiated and run by students together with staff from the Institute of Evolution and Ecology (details).

22 Jun 2017

Publication: Heating and cooling of terrestrial snails

The shell of helicoid snails often displays a wide range of colour polymorphisms which are discussed to differ in respect to thermal absorption of solar radiation and thus being subject to climate selection. In a joint project with Le Havre University, France, members of the Animal Physiological Ecology group, however, showed shell pigmentation to be of minor importance for heating and heat loss in a moderate climate (J Therm Biol).

02 Jun 2017

Funding: Conservation strategies for farmland birds

Nils Anthes (Animal Evolutionary Ecology) received new funding by the Stiftung Naturschutzfonds Baden-Württemberg. A 3,5 year project in applied species conservation will accompany intense attempts to support Corn Bunting populations. This representative farmland inhabitant is on the verge of local extirpation in the federal state.

15 May 2017


Funding: 3 EvE projects within DFG biodiversity exploratories

Katja Tielbörger (Plant Ecology), Oliver Bossdorf and Niek Scheepens (Plant Evolutionary Ecology) have received funding within the 5th call of the DFG biodiversity exploratory programme. The projects investigate the interactions between changes in land use, organism diversity and ecosystem functioning.

10 May 2017

Research: Manfred Drack editor of new Biomimetics journal

Manfred Drack has been elected Associate Editor of the new Journal of Biomimetics in Engineering. Congratulations!

05 May 2017


Funding: BMBF-BioTip funding to Plant Ecology group

Jan Ruppert and Katja Tielbörger are part of a recently funded project within the BioTip call of the BMBF. NamTip will investigate ecological tipping points in rangelands of Namibia. It is a cooperation of several German and Namibian research institutes coordinated by the Rangeland Ecology group at University of Cologne.

28 April 2017


Publication: Adaptive function of red fluorescence in fish

Many marine fish show striking red fluorescence, but whether these patterns are adaptive remains elusive. Ulrike Harant et al. (BMC Ecology) show that red fluorescent fish were more successful in catching copepods under red fluorescence-friendly ambient light spectra, suggesting that red fluorescent colours contribute to active photolocation in "red-deprived" marine environments.

Jan 2017


Teaching: Botanik 2 - Flora und Vegetation SW--Deutschlands

This new advanced botany course (Kehl & Koltzenburg) will be offered for the first time in summer 2017. The course aims at deepening species knowledge and teaches standard vegetation classification methods. The course is open for MSc Geoecology and BSc Biology (3rd years).

Check details in Campus.

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


Heinz-R. Köhler

Vice Director

Katja Tielbörger


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