Titleimage: Institute of Ecology and Evolution

The Institute of Ecology & Evolution at the University of Bern is devoted to research and teaching in all aspects of ecology and evolution, and aim to provide a scientific basis for the understanding and preservation of our living world. We study the mechanisms by which organisms respond to and interact with their environment, including phenotypic responses at individual level, change in gene frequencies at population level, change in species composition and abundance at community level, and the functioning of whole ecosystems. 

The institute has core research facilities, including several different field stations in Switzerland, extensive aquarium and animal husbandry facilities, and state-of-the-art molecular genetics laboratories. It also maintains institutional bonds with the Eawag Centre of Ecology, Evolution & Biogeochemistry, the Natural History Museum of BernInstitute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, the Swiss Ornithological Institute, and the Doctoral School in Ecology & Evolution of Western Switzerland.

News and Events


Divergence of developmental trajectories is triggered interactively by early social and ecological experience in a cooperative breeder – PNAS

In a three-year experimental study published in PNAS, Stefan Fischer, Barbara Taborsky and further students of Barbara’s group revealed that divergent social trajectories within species can arise non-genetically, that is by developmental plasticity, through early postnatal interactive effects of social and non-social environmental factors. Theory predicts that, in contrast to eusocial animals, reproductively totipotent cooperative breeders should not specialize early for a particular life history trajectory. Yet this paper shows that in a cooperatively breeding cichlid the interactive influence of early social and predator experience induces two divergent life history trajectories: submissive individuals that delay dispersal, and helper individuals that disperse early. Read more on this paper in commentary by B.A. Carlson published in PNAS.


New professor of evolutionary biology

Prof Dr Catherine (Katie) Peichel started as a new professor of evolutionary biology at the Institute of Ecology & Evolution on August 1st. Katie is a geneticist with interests in the genetic and genomic changes that underlie phenotypic evolution, including adaptation, sex chromosome evolution, behaviour and speciation. Before joining the IEE, Katie led a research group at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle for many years, and she was an affiliate professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. In Bern Katie will continue this line of research. She is the successor of Heinz Richner who retired last year.
Welcome Katie!


(PDF, 294KB)

Dr Buri is the third member of our research group who has been considered for this award in the past eight years.

On March 17th 2016 at 17:15 the official awards ceremony will take place in Bern at the UniS building (Schanzeneckstrasse 1, main lecture hall).



More News