EVEREST: Evolution and Ecology Research School Tübingen

The graduate programme EVEREST offers doctoral students interdisciplinary education in evolution and ecology. It promotes the scientific independence of participating students and facilitates the acquisition of key qualifications for research and career planning. Supervision by individual Thesis Advisory Committees (TAC) and evaluation by an External Advisory Board guarantee the quality of training within EVEREST.


EVEREST connects researchers in evolution and ecology from Tübingen and beyond through various activities such as the Hilgendorf Lecture and Meeting StEvE.


Want to know more? Check the formalities behind EVEREST in its key principles and their practical implementation in the EVEREST bylaws. Specific hints regarding registration, TAC formation or FAQ are available in our information for EVEREST students.


+++ News +++ News +++ News +++ News +++ News +++ News +++ News

18 Apr 2018


EVE seminar: Updated program SoSe 2018

We have updated the schedule for the Evolution and Ecology (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.

13 Feb 2018


PhD defence: Alexandros Karakostis has graduated

Everest PhD student Alexandros Fotios Karakostis successfully defended his PhD project. He demonstrated that morphometric traits among hand entheses reliably reflect two main types of manual occupation, precise versus powerful grips. His approach to a highly debated topic offers promising application to paleoanthropology and forensic anthropology. Despite an exceptionally short PhD phase (2 years), Alexandros already published the majority of his findings (Am. J. Phys. Anthrop. A, B, Swiss Gen. J.). Congratulations!

14 Dec 2017



Publication: Retinal anatomy and fish vision

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


10 Nov 2017

Meeting StEvE 2017 with 80 participants

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 StEvE pages.
12 Oct 2017

PhD retreat 2017 a big success

16 EVEREST PhD students participated in this year's PhD retreat. The event took place at the picturesque Burg Derneck on the Swabian Alb, and included guided tours to the former military training area near Münsingen and the stalactite cave Bärenhöhle.

Check the full report.


05 Oct 2017

Conference poster award to Judith Beier

EVEREST student Judith Beier has been awarded the Student Poster Prize at the 7th Annual Meeting of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution (ESHE) held in Leiden, Netherlands. Her poster presented the first comprehensive and quantitative analysis of "Skull trauma probabilities in Neanderthals and Upper Paleolithic modern humans", representing an important indicator for reconstructions of paleolithic lifestyles.



13 Sep 2017

Hilgendorf Lecture program WS 2017/18

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

Registration for Meeting StEvE 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!


29 Jun 2017

New student representative


The students of EVEREST have elected Judith Beier (Paleoanthropology) as their new representative to service for the coming 2 years. Judith will share duties with Lara Braun (Plant Ecology) and Kerttu Majander (Paleogenetics, in Jena).


Congratulations, and thank you for your support!


02 Jun 2017



Splendid weather conditions at a gorgious location spoiled the very first EVEREST grill party last night.


20 EVEREST members and students enjoyed a relaxed get-together - all agreed that this event must initiate a tradition, to be repeated soon!


A very warm thank you to our host Nick Conard and key organiser Chris Baumann!

02 Jun 2017

Hand entheses patterns archive human occupation

Reconstructing human lifestyle remains a prime challenge in archeology. New work by Alexandros Karakostis et al. (Am. J. Physic. Anthropol.) now validated a technique to infer prime occupational activity from hand entheses patterns. Individuals involved in intense manual labor during their lifetime presented a distinctive pattern of hand entheses, consistent with the application of high grip force. By contrast, individuals with less strenuous and/or highly mechanized occupations showed an entheseal pattern related to the thumb intrinsic muscles.
30 May 2017

Egyptian mummy genomes suggest increased Sub-Saharan ancestry in post-Roman periods

An international team of scientists including EVEREST student Alexander Peltzer successfully recovered and analyzed ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies dating from ~ 1400 BCE to 400 CE, establishing ancient Egyptian mummies as a reliable source for genetic material. The study (Nature Commun.) found that modern Egyptians share more ancestry with Sub-Saharan Africans than ancient Egyptians did. In contrast, ancient Egyptians were most closely related to ancient people from the Near East.
28 April 2017

First evidence for adaptive function of red fluorescence in fish

Many marine fish show striking red fluorescence, but whether these patterns are adaptive remains elusive. In new work by Ulrike Harant et al. (BMC Ecology), red fluorescent fish were more successful in catching copepods under red fluorescence-friendly ambient light spectra compared to broad-white illumination. This suggests that active photolocation might indeed be present in the tested species, and that red fluorescent colours provide and adaptive benefit in "red-deprived" marine environments.
07 April 2017

Andrea Schuster has graduated

EVEREST PhD student Andrea Schuster has successfully defended her disseration entitled "Individual differences in behaviour and cognition of Eurasian Harvest Mice".


Congratulations from the whole EVEREST team!

27 March 2017

A behavioral syndrome linking personality with cognition

Many animals exhibit correlated personality traits, then forming so-called behavioral syncromes. Andrea C. Schuster et al. (Front. Ecol.) now characterise a behavioural syndrome in Eurasian Harvest Mice. They found correlations between personality and spatial cognitive traits where fast behavioural types learned a spatial orientation task faster than slow types, and shyer harvest mice made decisions quicker than bolder mice. These data are among the first to provide insights into the relationship between personality and spatial cognition in animals.
09 March 2017

A novel form of eyeshine in marine fish

Eyeshine is the phenomenon of (seemingly) glowing eyes, e.g. cat eyes at night. Roland Fritsch et al. (Front. Zool.) describe a previously unknown form of eyeshine in the Mediterranean triplefin T. delaisi that is based on transmission of light through the head and optic nerve, thus termed optic-nerve-transmitted (ONT) eyeshine. Factors increasing ONT eyeshine intensity include locally reduced head pigmentation, a thin skull, and the potential light-guiding properties of the optic nerve. The authors suggest that ONT eyeshine is widespread among small fish species, and discuss how ONT eyeshine might affect visual performance and if it could serve a function.
03 March 2017

Animal personality in behaviour, but not cognition?

New work by Andrea C. Schuster et al. (Sci. Nat. / Naturwissenschaften) shows that Eurasian harvest mice behave consistently both within and between life-history stages, meeting two prerequisites to qualify animal personality. Personality traits (exploration, activity and boldness) were repeatable in juveniles and adults, and consistent before and after maturation, as well as before and after first sexual contact. In contrast, spatial recognition measured in a Y-Maze was only repeatable in adult mice and provided little evidence for consistency. This is among the first studies to investigate animal personality in a cognitive trait, and calls for further research on cognitive repeatability.
28 Feb 2017

Hilgendorf lecture: Programme SoSe 2017

  This summer's programme for the Hilgendorf lecture has been finalised. Please visit the Hilgendorf lecture website for timing, location and details of the three invited high profile talks spanning human evolution, ecosystem functioning, and bionics.
19 Jan 2017

New EVEREST board elected


The EVEREST steering committee has recently elected the members of the EVEREST board to service for the next 2 years.

Prof. Nico Michiels and Prof. Hervé Bocherens have been confirmed as speaker and vice-speaker of EVEREST.

Prof. Oliver Bossdorf and Prof. Katerina Harvati are new professorial members of the board.

The steering committee expresses its gratitude for the engaged 2-year service of Prof. Katja Tielbörger and Prof. Nicholas Conard as EVEREST board members.

16 Dec 2016

Modern Syphilis infections traced back to their  common ancestors

Syphilis is widely recognized as a re-emerging disease  spreading the globe. Its causative agent, Treponema pallidum, is non-cultivable, restricting research on its origin. Researchers from Zurich and Tuebingen Universities, among them EVEREST student Alexander Peltzer, applied ancient genomics to tackle create a first phylogenetic tree to infer evolutionary history of current Syphilis strains from 13 countries around the globe (Nature Microbiology). The study suggests that current Syphilis strains share a common ancestor between 1611 and 1859.
16 Nov 2016

Best practice in measuring sexual selection

Sexual selection is a key area of behavioural and evolutionary research. Most studies rely on summarizing metrics that quantify sexual selection, such as the Bateman gradient. EVEREST alumni Ines Häderer et al. (Methods Ecol. Evol.) scrutinize the methodology underlying these metrics, raise attention to systematic biases due to study design, and derive best-practice guidelines for future work.
15 Nov 2016

Phylogenetic patterns of fluorescence in fish

Red fluorescent pigments are widespread among benthic marine fish, but their adaptive function remains elusive. EVEREST alumni Tobias Gerlach and coworkers (Front. Ecol. Evol.) desribe the diversity of fluorescent patterns across marine fishes, and test whether their phylogenetic distribution is consistent with proposed adaptive functions. The data support the idea that fluorescence is involved in camouflage, active photolocation, and sexual signalling.
03 Nov 2016

New publication

A new study by Julia Geue et al. (Ecology and Evolution) indicates that environmental selection is a main driver of population divergence in house sparrows (Passer domesticus) in Romania and Bulgaria. This adds further evidence to the idea that adaptive evolution may be a major driver of population divergence.

27 Oct 2016

Meeting StEvE on Nov 4

The 2016 meeting of Students in Evolution and Ecology in Tübingen (meeting StEvE) takes place on Friday, 4 November. The meeting is open to the public, BSc and MSc student from any evolutionary and ecological discipline in particular. Please find all further details on our corresponding website.

05 Oct 2016

New publication

New work by Peter Pogoda et al. (Amphibia-Reptilia) enhances our understanding of sexual dimorphism in caecilians, snake-like amphibians with almost inexistent sexual differentiation. The new study reveals sex-differences in cloacal disc size and tail width, and describes unexpected cryptic, ontogeny-related variation in nuchal collars.


26 Sep 2016: New publication

Eleanor Gibson-Forty co-authors a study (Frontiers in Plant Science) that introduces a unique global change field experiment. Using rainout shelters, it simulates predicted changes in rainfall to understand how grassland ecosystems respond to climate change.


26 Sep 2016: Retreat

Some of our students just returned from a very successful PhD retreat to Blaubeuren. Watch out for a full update on our 'Information for Students, PhD retreat' page, soon.


23 Sep 2016: New publication

Martin Vallon et al. (Ecology and Evolution) study the evolutionary conundrum that brood-caring male fish routinely eat their own young. Egg cannibalism specifically targeted mould-infected eggs, while males could not distinguish eggs sired by themselves vs. sneaker-males.

21 Sep 2016: New publication

New work by Alexander Immel et al. (Scientific Reports) is the first to document how X-ray irradiation detrimentally affects the quantity and quality of DNA extracted from archeological finds. The study shows how to subject bones to computer tomography without affecting their aDNA.


20 Sep 2016

  Programme for Doctoral Seminar (Dose) and Hilgendorf lecture updated.

31 July 2016: PhD graduations

Christoph Wißing, Alissa Mittnik, Ines Häderer, and Alexandra Uhl have finished their postgraduate studies within EVEREST over the past 2 months. Congratulations!


17 Mar 2016: New publication

EVEREST student Tobias Gerlach et al. (Frontiers in Zoology) provide first evidence that marine fish can perceive the long-wavelength (red) fluorescence generated by their own pigments. This adds further evidence to the proposition that these colour patterns are adaptive.

EVEREST contacts


Prof. Dr. Nico Michiels
Animal Evolutionary Ecology (email)


Prof. Dr. Hervé Bocherens
Paleobiology, Vice Speaker (email)



Prof. Dr. Katerina Harvati


Prof. Dr. Oliver Bossdorf
Plant Evolutionary Ecology



Dr. Nils Anthes (email)


Dr. Dorothée Drucker (email)



University of Tuebingen

Faculty of Science

Institute of Evolution and Ecology

Auf der Morgenstelle 28 E

5th floor, room A32

72076 Tuebingen

Email: everest(at)uni-tuebingen.de