Community Ecology Research

People

Our lab hosts a diverse group of enthusiastic scientists, with a broad expertise and knowledge. The different backgrounds, including field ecologists, theoreticians, and molecular ecologists, are a strength of our lab and provide a productive working atmosphere.

 

Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt

Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt

Associate Professor of Aquatic Ecology

I’m interested in linking community ecology processes, such as species-interactions and dispersal, with biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at larger, regional scales. Much of my interest is on metacommunity and meta-ecosystem dynamics in dendritic, river-like networks. Learn more about my research and teaching.

Besides my interest in conceptual community ecology, I’m also a keen naturalist. My pleasures are–as Vladimir Nabokov said once–the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting (with the camera).  Read more about my passion for Lepidoptera.

Dr. Roman Alther

Dr. Roman Alther

Senior Research Assistant

As a research assistant in the Altermatt lab, my goal is to establish well-founded knowledge about the distribution and diversity of native and non-native amphipod species in Switzerland. I want to gain a deeper insight into processes forming biodiversity patterns over time and space. Dendritic aquatic systems represent a suitable study system wherein different ecological and evolutionary mechanics, such as dispersal, invasion and speciation, can be studied.

Dr. Rosetta C. Blackman

Dr. Rosetta C. Blackman

Postdoc

I am fascinated by rivers: understanding the processes within then, the connection to the landscape around them and how this shapes biodiversity. Having used traditional morphological techniques to assess plant, algae and macroinvertebrate biodiversity for many years, my aim now is to utilise rapidly developing molecular tools, such as environmental DNA (eDNA), to detect all levels of biodiversity at a catchment scale. eDNA offers an unprecedented opportunity for ecologists to gain an insight into all levels of biodiversity and it with this technique that I want to develop a holistic approach to river ecosystem assessment in order to conserve and protect freshwater habitats. 

Raphaël Bossart

Raphaël Bossart

Lab Technician

I am a research technician at the department of Aquatic Ecology (Eco) at Eawag, where I work for different research groups. Being interested in natural sciences, I am happy to be part of a department that studies aquatic ecology from different perspectives. In the Altermatt lab, I am mainly involved in molecular biology assays and laboratory work.

Jeanine Brantschen

Jeanine Brantschen

PhD student

As I have always been affiliated with water bodies and the underwater world, my studies revolve around aquatic ecosystems. Generally, I’m interested in how biodiversity is distributed in riverine networks. My research aims to use environmental DNA as a tool to characterize aquatic communities and analyse their composition and function in the context of whole river ecosystems. In this era of -omics technologies, I see environmental DNA as a promising molecular technique and I want to relate it to classical methods applied in biomonitoring. Beyond the general interest to better understand the distribution of biodiversity, I aim to further understand the link between genes and ecosystems, for example, how genetic diversity contributes to the functioning of ecosystems and how functions are encoded genetically.

Dr. Morgane Brosse

Dr. Morgane Brosse

Postdoc

With backgrounds in geosciences and paleontology, I specialized in biodiversity crises from the past. I am fascinated by evolution, extinction/radiation processes, and how they are linked to environmental drivers. My goal in the Altermatt lab is to document the effects of the ongoing climate change on aquatic systems (biotic as well as abiotic). Beyond summarizing knowledge and predicting trends, we aim to help policy- and decision-making about how to deal with this challenge.

Dr. Luca Carraro

Dr. Luca Carraro

Postdoc

Owing to my engineering background, I am keen on using as-simple-as-possible mathematical formulations in a bid to describe the complexity of environmental phenomena. Specifically, my research interests lie at the interface between hydrology and riverine ecology. I am currently focusing on elaborating models of transport and decay of environmental DNA in river networks aimed at reconstructing the upstream spatial distribution of rare or invasive species. Other projects I have worked on were dealing with spatially-explicit epidemiological models of waterborne diseases of fish, and models of stream temperature suited to ecohydrological applications.

Eva Cereghetti

Eva Cereghetti

PhD student

As a PhD student in ecology, I am keenly interested in how interactions within and between species and their surrounding environment affect ecosystems at different scales. My work in the Altermatt Lab will focus on amphipods meta-communities and their key function as leaf litter decomposers. The aim of my research is to investigate colonization and movement patterns of amphipods in Swiss streams – whose dendritic structure offers a great potential for spatial analyses – and to shed light on how the interaction between native and invasive species is shaping amphipods’ biodiversity and ecological function.

Francesca Cerroti

Francesca Cerroti

MSc Student

I’m a MSc student at the University of Zurich. I just finished my bachelor’s degree in biology and I will do my MSc at UZH/Eawag. I have always been very interested in the effects of environmental changes on organisms and the consequences that these alterations can have on the entire ecosystem and biodiversity. In my project, I will use amphipods in small tributaries to study ecological dynamics in the context of global changes, with a focus on meta-ecosystem dynamics.

Jessica Colombo

Jessica Colombo

MSc Student

I’m a master student in Ecology at the University of Zurich. The goal of my thesis is to analyze how species react to different environmental stressors such as salinity at phenotype and genotype level. In particular how this affects the interspecific interactions within a community and if varies among different species. The model organism that we will use are different protists species.

Dr. Luis J. Gilarranz

Dr. Luis J. Gilarranz

SNSF Ambizione Fellow

My global aim is to understand the factors that shape biodiversity in space. Species interactions, dispersal, and perturbations rule community dynamics. Those factors determine the health of the system at each location. Specifically, I am interested in the role of dispersal networks for population persistence and perturbation buffering. By not considering only one species, but communities as a whole, I explore the biogeography of interactions. My goal is to determine how dispersal routes influence the spatial distribution of ecological networks. The existence of several interaction networks scattered across the landscape also allow me to study the effect of anthropogenic stressors on the stability of ecological networks. This research line is very much related with information flow and risk assessment in complex systems. This is why using tools developed for studying ecological phenomena, my collaborators and I have been able to provide insight on socioeconomic systems.

Dr. Lynn Govaert

Dr. Lynn Govaert

Postdoc

My main research interest involves the dynamical interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes and how these processes shape population, community and ecosystem properties. I am strongly interested in developing methods and models that can assess the contributions of ecology and evolution to trait dynamics at the population, community and ecosystem level, and how these theoretical developments can be integrated with experimental approaches. In my current project I will mainly focus on how individual level variation can influence community structure and ecosystem functioning, together with the influence of spatial structure.

Samuel Hürlemann

Samuel Hürlemann

Lab technician

I am a biology lab technician with a broad experience in molecular biology and cell culturing techniques. I am interested in environmental sciences and lab methods used therein. My main responsibilities are running the microbiology and protist lab, support molecular and field work and being involved in planning and running experiments.

Dr. Claire Jacquet

Dr. Claire Jacquet

Postdoc

I’m broadly interested in the general mechanisms leading to the emergence and persistence of biodiversity at the ecological and macro-ecological scale. My research aims at predicting ecosystem resilience to perturbations in spatially structured systems to improve environmental decision-making. I combine theoretical modelling, data analysis and microcosm experiments to achieve this goal. In my current project, I study the effect of spatial network structure on metacommunity composition and stability. I focus on the functional traits related to species mobility in order to link species coexistence mechanisms acting at the community and metacommunity scale.

Silvana Kaeser

Silvana Kaeser

Lab technician

I am a research technician at the department of Aquatic Ecology (Eco) at Eawag, where I work for different research groups. I have a strong interest in the taxonomy of aquatic invertebrates as well as algae and in their use as biological indicators in aquatic ecosystems. My other focus lies on understanding the impacts of invasive species on local ecosystems. In the Altermatt lab, I am in charge of the amphipod collection, the protist collection and the flow through systems (e.g. used for keeping amphipods). Furthermore, I am involved in experimental studies (amphipods, protists), field work and other projects with aquatic invertebrates.

Andrin Krähenbühl

Andrin Krähenbühl

Research Assistant

My interests are mainly focused on aquatic ecology and evolution. Seeing species communities as structured and highly interactive networks enables me to investigate a wide range of organisms often times finding similar underlying mechanisms shaping intra- and interspecific ecological and evolutionary patterns. As a scientific assistant at the Altermatt Lab my goal is to test and establish experimental laboratory facilities and standardized methods suitable for successfully keeping and hopefully also rearing various populations of amphipods. Besides my scientific interests I’m a passionate fisherman enjoying nature and fishing for amphipod feeding fish.

Gioia Matheson

Gioia Matheson

Administrative Assistant for all matters related to Eawag

My love for water in every form has brought me to the department of Aquatic Ecology at Eawag. Here I take care of people and finances. I like the multi-cultural and scientific environment and enjoy working with so many young and talented people. With my work I want to contribute my share to a more sustainable world. 

 

Felix Moerman

Felix Moerman

PhD student, co-supervised by Prof. F. Altermatt, Prof. A. Wagner & Dr. E.A. Fronhofer

My main area of interest is the study of eco-evolutionary dynamics of species during range expansion and invasions. I’ve been strongly interested in the way ecological changes can quickly feedback in evolutionary responses and during my master thesis I studied phenotypic changes in spider mites during experimental range expansion. Over the course of my PhD, I will further investigate evolutionary responses during range expansions and invasions using the protist Tetrahymena thermophila as a model species. By combining microcosm experiments, extensive genomic analyses and numerical analyses, I aim to gain further understanding of both the genomic basis of evolutionary adaptations in moving populations, as well as how these changes feed back in population dynamics and performance.

Isabel Schöchli

Isabel Schöchli

Administrative Assistant for all matters related to University of Zurich

My special topics in administration are personnel and finances, especially solving complex cases – since they have a strong tendency to come my way and find me, wherever I am. While dealing with such complex cases, I like to be a part of a network within different departments of University of Zurich. I very much like to work and be together with international scientists and learn more about their research as well as their culture. This not only broadens my mind but also gives me more good arguments when it comes to my being an interpreter between the scientists and the non-scientist world.

Remo Wüthrich

Remo Wüthrich

Research Associate

As diving professional I became fascinated by aquatic ecosystems and the species communities living therein. My current work focuses on freshwater ecosystems. Placing emphasis on aquatic invertebrates that live on the bottom of the body of water (macroinvertebrates), I’m interested in studying natural and manmade processes that form diversity patterns and shape species’ distribution and dispersal. My current project aims to synthesize the on-going national monitoring projects in Swiss lotic water systems and to develop visionary strategies how BAFU can improve them.

Bahar Yildirim

Bahar Yildirim

MSc student (Co-supervised with Prof. Dr. Bernhard Truffer)

I am a MSc student in quantitative Environmental Sciences at the University of Zurich. In the scope of my master thesis I am examining regional discourses about decentralized wastewater treatments in rural areas of eastern Germany. Therefore, I am analyzing newspaper reports by conducting a discourse network analysis. Within the context of global water challenges, I am very interested in the evolution of wastewater technology. Thus, I wish to gain valuable insights into the possibilities of transitions in the sector of wastewater management.

 

Lab Alumni already dispersed

  • Dr. Elvira Mächler (Semester student, MSc student, scientific assistant, PhD student) – September 2011 to February 2020
  • Franziska Wolf (Research Internship) – January to February 2020 – now MSc studies at UZH
  • Nicole Bongni (MSc student) – January 2019 to January 2020 – now internship at Kanton Aargau, Departement Bau, Verkehr und Umwelt
  • Eilísh Richards (Msc student) – January 2019 to January 2020 – now research assistant at ETHZ
  • Teddy Nakato (MSc student) – January 2019 to January 2020
  • Dr. Isabelle Gounand (Postdoc) – February 2015 to December 2019 – now CNRS researcher (CR) at the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences of Paris
  • Heng Zhang (visiting scientist) – October 2019 to December 2020 – now Peking University
  • Géraldine Keat (Research Internship) – November and December 2019
  • Tianna Peller (visiting PhD student) – June and July 2019 – PhD student at McGill University
  • Dr. Chelsea J. Little (PhD student) – November 2014 to June 2019 – now Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at UBC
  • Angela Jenny (MSc student) – July 2018 to June 2019
  • Dr. Kristy Deiner (Research Associate) – June 2018 to February 2019 – now Assistant Professor and ERC Starting Grant holder at ETH Zurich
  • Manja Schleich (Student Assistant) – November 2018 to December 2018 – now doing a MSc project at University of Zurich
  • Dr. Rubén del Campo Gonzales (visiting Postdoc)  September 2018 to November 2018 – Postdoc at IGB, Berlin
  • Xing Xing (Research Assistant) – November 2017 to November 2018
  • Kathrin Holenstein (MSc student/Scientific Assistant) – January 2017 to September 2018 – now PhD student at CEFE in Montpellier, France
  • Julian Stauffer (Research Internship) – June 2018 to September 2018 – now doing a MSc at University of Zurich
  • Olaf Rodrigues (Semester Student) – May 2018 to July 2018 – now doing a MSc at ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Dr. Mary O’Connor (Sabbatical Guest) – August 2017 to July 2018 – Professor at University of British Columbia
  • Simon Benateau (Research Associate) – September 2017 to May 2018 – LinkedIn
  • Dr. Emanuel A. Fronhofer (Postdoc) – April 2013 to December 2017 – now CNRS researcher at Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier, France
  • Dr. Eric Harvey (Postdoc) – February 2015 to August 2017 – now NSERC postdoc at University of Toronto
  • Lynn Govaert (visting PhD student) – May 2017 to July 2017 – University of Leuven – now back in the Altermatt lab as a postdoc
  • Martina Ramel (MSc student) – November 2015 to December 2016
  • Dr. Cene Fišer (visting scientist) – September to December 2016 – University of Ljubljana
  • Dr. Andrea Giometto (PhD student, Postdoc) – October 2011 to September 2016 – now Postdoc at Harvard
  • Sereina Gut (Technician) – October 2015 to August 2016 – now MSc student (Biomedicince) at UZH
  • Dr. Maslin Osathanunkul (visiting scientist) – May to June 2016 – lecturer at Chiangmai University
  • Fabienne Santschi (MSc student) – September 2015 to May 2016 – now working at Canton of Zurich
  • Simon Flückiger (Zivi) – September 2015 to May 2016 – now MSc student at ZHAW
  • Vid Svara (visiting scientist) – October 2015 to January 2016 – now PhD student at Helmholtz Leipzig
  • Katharina Kaelin (MSc student) – September 2014 to December 2015 – now working at the Statistical Office of the Canton of Zurich
  • Pravin Ganesanandamoorthy (lab technician) – September 2013 to July 2015 – now student at ZHAW
  • Dr. Kristy Deiner (Postdoc) – October 2012 to June 2015 – thereafter postdoc at Cornell University (website)
  • Nicolai Nitsche (MSc Student) – May 2014 to October 2014 – now in pharmaceutical research (Abbvie)
  • Dr. Mathew Seymour (PhD student) – May 2011 to October 2014 – now postdoc at Bangor University, Bangor.
  • Dr. Jan Klecka (SCIEX Postdoc) – August 2013 to August 2014 – now junior group leader at Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
  • Dr. Francesco Carrara (PhD student) – January 2011 to December 2013 – now postdoc at MIT and ETH with Roman Stocker
  • Lea Caduff (biology apprentice) – March 2013 to August 2013 – now a technician at Eawag, Switzerland
  • Roman Alther (M.Sc. project student) – March 2012 to May 2012 – back again in the Altermatt lab for PhD and now as Senior Research Assistant (website)
  • Marta Reyes (research technician) – January 2012 to May 2012 – now a technician at Eawag, Switzerland