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

SNSF Scientific Image Competition 2023

Congratulations to Francesca Angiolani, PhD student at the Behavioural Ecology Division! Her image “Searching for a good father” won the first prize in the category "Object of Study" in the SNSF Scientific Image Competition 2023. She even had a second image awarded by the committee. The picture “Cognition roulette” displays a Tokay gecko during a spatial learning experiment in a radial arm maze.


Volz Award Winners 2022

The Volz Award for 2022 has been awarded to Annika Freudiger (best publication from MSc thesis: Ecological variation drives morphological differentiation in a highly social vertebrate) and Zuyao Liu (best publication from PhD thesis: Chromosomal Fusions Facilitate Adaptation to Divergent Environments in Threespine Stickleback). They both presented their work as part of the seminar Lecture Series in Ecology and Evolution on November, 1st, 2022. The board of directors congratulates them for their success and whishes them all the best for their upcoming scientific career.


Teaching award

Congratulations to 4 teachers from our Institute, who have received a Science faculty award for their excellent teaching in Fall semester 2021:

- Prof. Dr. Madhav P. Thakur (Advanced concepts in Ecology and Evolution)
- Prof. Dr. Raphaël Arlettaz (Conservation Biology research practical)
- PD Dr. Jean-Yves Humbert (Conservation Biology research practical)
- PD Dr. Veronika Braunisch (Conservation Biology research practical)


New paper in PNAS

In their experimental study, Sakshi Sharda, Tobias Züst, Matthias Erb and Barbara Taborsky showed that mothers that had been exposed to predator videos during egg maturation laid heavier and more nutrient-rich eggs. The offspring hatching from these eggs had a 50 msec faster flight reflex at an age of three months compared to the control treatment, revealing an adaptive egg-mediated maternal effect on behaviour.

Introduction to Genetic Analysis

Katie Peichel is an author on the new edition of the Introduction to Genetic Analysis textbook

The 12th edition of the Introduction to Genetic Analysis textbook has just been released. Katie Peichel revised and updated the chapters on Genetics and Genomics, Developmental Genetics, Chromosomal Changes, and Evolution. She added content on next-generation sequencing methods and analyses, as well as an evolutionary perspective on genetic analyses in non-traditional model organisms throughout these chapters. Katie was honoured to be an author on the same textbook (5th edition) she used as an undergraduate studying genetics at UC Berkeley many years ago!


Ole Seehausen and Laurent Excoffier are Highly Cited Researchers 2019

Each year the Web of Science group identifies the world’s most influential researchers, demonstrated by the production of multiple highly-cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year. Congratulations to Ole Seehausen and Laurent Excoffier for being Highly Cited Researchers for 2019. This means that 2 of the 12 highly cited researchers at the University of Bern are members of the IEE. Our IPS colleague Markus Fischer also made this list, so 3 of these researchers are members of the Department of Biology!


NatureComm - The coincidence of ecological opportunity with hybridization explains rapid adaptive radiation in Lake Mweru cichlid fishes

Joana, Ole and colleagues published a paper in Nature Communications in which they ask what is more conducive to adaptive radiation into new ecological niches: isolation from related lineages (reduced competition), or contact between related lineages with hybridization generating genetic variation? They did this by studying several cichlid species radiations that had hitherto remained unknown. The greater biotic isolation in Lake Bangweulu would predict fewer constraints by competition yet no lineage had radiated in that lake. In nearby Lake Mweru, where related lineages from different river systems met and hybridized, all hybridizing lineages radiated. The authors conclude that in this system, large amounts of genetic variation generated by hybridization, may have been more important for adaptive radiation than reduced competition.



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