Fishes are the most diverse group of vertebrates, are key players in aquatic ecosystems, provide a diverse set of ecosystem services, and are sensitive to environmental change. We study their ecology, evolution and conservation. We work with fish diversity from traits and genes in populations to the diversity of species assemblages, their change through time and the ecosystem consequences. We are particularly interested in understanding the evolution of endemic diversity within individual ecosystems, such as the radiations of cichlid fish in African lakes and the radiation of whitefish in the lakes around the European Alps. We are a single research group led by Ole Seehausen at the University of Bern but Ole also leads the Department Fish Ecology and Evolution at the Eawag Center for Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry, Kastanienbaum, where we currently host three other research groups that are all associated with the IEE too. The work of the Eawag department is motivated by the aim to contribute to the emerging synthesis between evolutionary biology and ecosystems ecology. There we also host the Swiss Fisheries Advisory Service.
NatComm - Population size changes and selection drive patterns of parallel evolution in a host–virus system
When single cell algae Chloralla variablis and their deadly counterpart, a chlorovirus compete, the outcome is the same across replicated trials: After repeated periods of decline and growth most algae cells become resistant. According to scientist from the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and the Eawag at Kastanienbaum, evolution repeats itself and results in similar traits if started from the same conditions. However, in each of the trials different mutations occurred in the algae. The scientist showed that evolution of phenotypic characteristics is parallel even if the underlying genes evolve divergently.