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    2023-03-28, Archive
  • Women in Science campaign 2023

    Women pioneers in research yesterday and today

    From February to June 2023, we will present one of our current women professors and one international pioneer of the research field - because women in science need to be seen. With this initiative and its diverse program, we want to bring science closer to EVERYONE and inspire the next generation in particular.

    MNF's Women in Science campaign with Prof. Meredith (Merry) Christine Schuman - Prof. Corinna Ulcigrai  - Prof. Alexandria (Ali) Liang - Prof. Ravit Helled - Prof. Catalina Pimiento Hernandez.

    Korinna Esfeld, Dr.
    Email Author

    www.mnf.uzh.ch

    www.mnf.uzh.ch

    2023-02-27, News
  • Less fake news but increasing polarization on Twitter

    Social media is transforming political communication dynamics. Together with an international team of researchers, Alexandre Bovet want to better understand the role of these new dynamics in politics.

    Social media has been transforming political communication dynamics for over a decade. Any social media user has the potential to directly reach millions of users, in a few minutes, and influence political campaigns. Such control over political discussions used to be the privilege of just a few persons, principally journalists. On social media, they now have to compete directly with politicians, users spreading fake news, and members of the public for our attention. To better understand the role of these new dynamics in politics, together with an international team of researchers, Alexandre Bovet, Assistant Professor in Quantitative Network Science at the Department of Mathematics and the Digital Society Initiative, analyzed nearly a billion tweets sent during the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections.

    The team measured the volume of politically biased content and the number of users propagating such information. By reconstructing the networks of news diffusion they were able to identify news influencers, i.e. the users with the greatest ability to spread news in the Twitter network. Collecting data from two subsequent elections enabled the team to see trends in participation, polarization, and stability of different kinds of influencers. In a broader sense, it revealed the role that the social media platform played in the elections.

    On the positive side, they measured a decrease in the number of tweets and users propagating fake and extremely biased news in 2020 compared to 2016, probably due to the measures put in place by Twitter to tackle such content. But they also revealed an increase in polarization, at the level of the top influencers and of the average users, in 2020, i.e. users were less likely to share information from other users with opposite political ideologies. This indicates increasing echo chambers for users with a lack of contrary views.

    They also observed interesting changes in the top news influencers. Between 2016 and 2020, for influencers with center and right-leaning political ideologies, the number of influencers affiliated with media organizations (journalists and accounts belonging to news outlets) declined by 10%, replaced mostly by politicians. On the other hand, influencers spreading fake news, who were largely comprised of users not affiliated with political or media organizations in 2016, have been replaced in good part by new users affiliated with media organizations that emerged between 2016 and 2020. This change in the news media landscape on Twitter indicates a shift in the relative influence of journalists and political organizations as well as a professionalization of the disinformation industry.

    This research reveals the quickly changing dynamics of social media platforms. It also asks the question of how platforms should be designed and regulated in order to control the increase of polarization and echo chambers.

    Alexandre Bovet was joined in the research by Boleslaw Szymanski, James Flamino, and Brendan Cross from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Alessandro Galeazzi of the University of Brescia and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Stuart Feldman of Schmidt Futures, Michael W. Macy of Cornell University, Zhenkun Zhou of the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, Hernán A. Makse and Matteo Serafino of the City College of New York.

     

    Top, the latent ideology of the top five influencers of each category is shown as a box plot representing the distribution of the ideology of the users who retweeted them. Bottom, the distributions for the users are shown in green and the distributions for the top 100 influencers of each news media category (computed as the median of the ideology of their retweeters) are displayed in purple. Box plots indicate the median and the 25th and 75th percentiles of the distributions with whiskers indicating the 5th and 95th percentiles. The sample size used for the computation of each box plot is reported to their side. Pie charts next to the influencers’ names represent the news categories to which they belong (weighted by their respective CI ranks in each category). (link to figure: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-023-01550-8/figures/6)

    Alexandre Bovet
    Email Author

    Website

    Department

    @BovetAlexandre

    2023-06-27, Sci. Publication
  • Arthropods in species-rich forests contribute to improved productivity

    An international team of Chinese, German and Swiss researchers has shown that forests with higher tree species richness tend to have a greater diversity of arthropods. In addition, the study shows that higher tree diversity promotes productivity, due to the suppression of herbivores by enemy arthropods. The results have recently been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

    An international team of Chinese, German and Swiss researchers has shown that forests with higher tree species richness tend to have a greater diversity of arthropods. In addition, the study shows that higher tree diversity promotes productivity, due to the suppression of herbivores by enemy arthropods. The results have recently been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. These findings underscore the importance of arthropod diversity as a mediator of tree diversity effects on forest productivity. The work suggests that managing forests for increased productivity will require both increased tree diversity and multitrophic diversity.

    Forests are home to 80% of terrestrial plant and animal diversity, making them a crucial component of global biodiversity conservation. However, biodiversity in forests is under serious threat from anthropogenic disturbance and climate change. Species-rich groups, such as arthropods, are declining dramatically due to the degradation of forests and loss of plant diversity. Most studies on biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) relationships have focused solely on plant diversity, neglecting the impact of the diversity of other trophic groups. In consequence, it remains unclear how the diversity of herbivores and their enemies affects ecosystem functions. Given the importance of forests to providing essential ecosystem services and global biodiversity, it is vital to understand these interconnections and take action to protect them.

                Using five years of data on aboveground herbivorous, predatory, and parasitoid arthropods along with tree growth data within a large-scale forest biodiversity experiment in southeast China (BEF-China), the authors reveal that the effects of increased tree species richness were consistently positive for species richness and abundance of herbivores, predators, and parasitoids. This finding is consistent with a previous study from another large grassland biodiversity experiment (Jena Experiment) and reinforces the importance of conserving plant diversity for preserving arthropod diversity.

    However, in contrast to the bottom-up control of arthropod diversity by plant diversity in the grassland study from central Europe, the new study in the species-rich forests of south-east China reveals that higher tree diversity can enhance the top-down control of enemies over herbivores, thereby contributing to increased productivity. An earlier study conducted at the same sites demonstrated that increasing plant diversity can promote forest productivity directly. The new study further shows that increasing plant diversity can also indirectly increase forest productivity by promoting arthropod diversity and trophic interactions. Prof. Xiaojuan Liu, a former postdoc at UZH and last author of the study, says, “this underscores the critical role of conservation efforts aimed at preserving biodiversity in forests.”

    Overall, although several recent studies have documented declines in terrestrial arthropod biodiversity, few have explored the consequences for ecosystems. “This work closes this gap by revealing the important role of arthropod diversity in BEF relationships”, says Prof. Bernhard Schmid, one of the senior authors of the study.

     

    Article: Yi Li, Bernhard Schmid, Andreas Schuldt, Shan Li, Ming-Qiang Wang, Felix Fornoff, Michael Staab, Peng-Fei Guo, Perttu Anttonen, Douglas Chesters, Helge Bruelheide, Chao-Dong Zhu, Keping Ma, Xiaojuan Liu. Multitrophic arthropod diversity mediates tree diversity effects on primary productivity. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 2023.

    Article link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-023-02049-1

     

     

    Bernhard Schmid
    Email Author

    https://www.geo.uzh.ch/en/department/Staff/bernhardschmid

    https://www.geo.uzh.ch/en.html

    @BWSchmid

    2023-06-27, Sci. Publication
  • 1 million from the Werner Siemens Foundation for project idea

    With their project on the development of green hydrogen, Greta Patzke and David Tilley are among six project groups to receive 1 million Swiss francs from the Werner Siemens Foundation (WSS). On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the WWS had announced an ideas competition for a WSS research center "Technologies for Sustainability". In doing so, they are funding a WSS research center that will research and develop technologies for sustainable resource use. The center will be endowed with a total of 100 million Swiss francs for a funding period of ten years. This decision will be taken in December 2023.

    KE
    Email Author

    https://www.news.uzh.ch/en/articles/news/2023/wss_million_chemistry.html

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de.html

    2023-05-04, Awards and Honors
  • The countdown is on! - Titan arum flowers in Botanical Garden UZH!

    After four years, the time has come again, the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum, arum) begins to unfold its inflorescence. It will only take a few more days until the huge flower is fully open and emits its special scent - carrion smell. When it does, the plant will bloom for only 48 hrs.

    After four years, the time has come again, the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum, arum) begins to unfold its inflorescence. It will only take a few more days until the huge flower is fully open and emits its special scent - carrion smell. When it does, the plant will bloom for only 48 hrs.

    When exactly this will be the case, we do not know yet. Perhaps over ascension? On the website of the Botanical Garden you can see the current state of development of the inflorescence. Once the flower is open, the tropical house will remain open in the evening until 9 pm.

     

    A few more facts?


    The largest flower in the world

    The larger the underground corm, the larger the inflorescence. In its native Sumatra, with a corm of about 100 kg, the inflorescence can grow up to 3 meters high and wide. In our case, the corm weighs 12 kg and the inflorescence will be correspondingly smaller - it will grow about 1 meter high.

     


    Pollination thanks to the smell

    The spectacle lasts only two days: a large spathe with a spadix in the middle unfolds and fills the tropical house with the smell of carrion. In its native habitat, the plant uses this to attract carrion beetles, which drop into the spathe and pollinate the many small flowers in the lower half of the spadix.

     


    Flowering pause for several years

    This is followed by a dormant period of several months, after which a leaf is produced that can grow up to 5 meters high. This allows the plant to photosynthesize to regenerate the corm. It can take years before the plant blooms the next time.

    Botanischer Garten der Universität Zürich, Caroline S. Weckerle
    Email Author

    https://www.bg.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://www.bg.uzh.ch/de.html

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/botanischer_garten_zurich/

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bg.uzh.ch

     

    2023-05-21, Event
  • "frighteningly beautiful pictures" – facts&forecasts on climate change

    From June 1 to July 2, 2023, "erschreckend schöne Bilder" will be on display at Photobastei Zurich. They stage facts and forecasts about the climate crisis in an impressive and striking form. The exhibition is organized by the Fachklasse Grafik Luzern and the Department of Geography of the University of Zurich.

    For decades, scientists have been warning about the influence of humans on the Earth's climate system. But it takes a lot of persuasion to get an entire society to rethink and act. Which innovative forms of communication are suitable to make scientific facts vivid and to reach and touch people outside the scientific community? In a cooperative project with the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich, students from the Lucerne Graphic Design class presented facts and forecasts about climate change in a striking way. The aim was to provide food for thought in the current debate by illustrating the dramatic dimensions of climate change in a surprising way.

    Within this framework, 36 "frighteningly beautiful pictures" were created - between 2019 and 2022, in two workshops, with 25 students. The images are based on reports by the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, the National Centre for Climate Services NCCS, as well as reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change"), to which researchers from the University of Zurich have contributed significantly.

    Magdalena Seebauer
    Email Author

    https://www.photobastei.ch/exhibition/exhibition-details?id=109

    https://www.geo.uzh.ch/de/events/erschreckend-schoene-bilder.html

    @uzh_geo

    2023-06-01, Event
  • Honorary doctorate for Maude Barlow

    On the occasion of UZH's Dies Academicus on 29 April 2023, Maude Barlow was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The faculty thereby honors Maude Barlow's commitment to the recognition of the fundamental human right to water. She is also a founding member of the Blue Community, which UZH joined in May 2022.

    On the occasion of UZH's Dies Academicus on 29 April 2023, Maude Barlow was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The faculty thereby honors Maude Barlow's commitment to the recognition of the fundamental human right to water. She is also a founding member of the Blue Community, which UZH joined in May 2022.

    KE
    Email Author

    https://www.uzh.ch/cmsssl/de/explore/portrait/awards/hc/2023/mnf.html

    Dekanat

    @UZH_Science

    2023-05-05, Event
  • Integrating Diverse Forms of Knowledge in Health Care Research

    Dr. Chloe Pasin, fellow at the Collegium Helveticum, is organising a workshop on Tuesday June 20: Integrating Diverse Forms of Knowledge in Health Care Research. How can interdisciplinary studies in health help bridge between the biomedical field and other academic fields as well as non-academic settings to expand our global understanding of health and address health inequalities?

    Dr. Chloe Pasin, fellow at the Collegium Helveticum, is organising a workshop on Tuesday June 20: Integrating Diverse Forms of Knowledge in Health Care Research. 

    How can interdisciplinary studies in health help bridge between the biomedical field and other academic fields as well as non-academic settings to expand our global understanding of health and address health inequalities? This is the main question, which this workshop wants to discuss. Structured around two panels, the workshop seeks to bring experts from various fields into dialog with each other.

    Chloé Pasin
    Email Author

    https://collegium.ethz.ch/veranstaltungen/?event=13031&cat=upcoming

    Collegium Helveticum

    @ChloePasin

    2023-06-02, Event
  • 3-2-1 Go Euclid!

    What is dark matter? What drives the accelerating expansion of our Universe? These and more questions could be answered by Euclid, the European Space Agency (ESA) space mission which is set to launch in July 2023. Several UZH researchers are actively involved in the project and will tell us more in the Space Café. Join us on June 16, 2023, at Irchel Campus (room Y16-G-15).

    The UZH Space Hub, in collaboration with the Euclid members at Institute for Computational Science , will be organizing a special Space Cafe event dedicated to Euclid next month. Euclid is an ESA mission designed to map the large-scale structure of the Universe with unprecedented accuracy. It aims to tackle the most pressing open questions in Cosmology, including the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

    As the launch of Euclid is scheduled for the first half of July, we would like to take this opportunity to share with you the objectives of the Euclid mission and what we expect to discover over the next decade. Moreover, this event will serve as a celebration of the imminent launch, and we would be delighted to have you join us.

    The event will take place on June 16th at the Irchel Campus, starting at 2:30 pm. It will feature short presentations from the Euclid members, followed by an Apero commencing at approximately 4:30 pm. To view the full program, please visit the following link: https://www.spacehub.uzh.ch/en/events/SpaceCafe/Euclid.html.

    We kindly request that you register via the webpage, as it will assist us in planning the catering. However, spontaneous participation is also welcomed.

    We hope to see many of you there, as your presence will make the event even more enjoyable.

    Francesca Lepori
    Email Author

    https://www.spacehub.uzh.ch/en/events/SpaceCafe/Euclid.html

    https://www.spacehub.uzh.ch/en.html

    UZHspacehub

    2023-06-07, Event
  • Why become an astrophysicist?

    In a talk followed by an Apéro, Prof. Ravit Helled will talk about her career in science, the fascination of astrophysics, the importance of participating in space missions, and the qualities required to become an astrophysicist.
    KE
    Email Author

    https://www.ema.uzh.ch/de/register/why-become-an-astrophysicist.html

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de/events.html

    @UZH_Science

    2023-06-08, Event
  • Life Science Core Facility Day

    The UZH technology platforms support research with a wide range of services and promote know-how transfer and interdisciplinary cooperation.

    The UZH technology platforms support research with a wide range of services and promote know-how transfer and interdisciplinary cooperation. They will present at the Life Science Core Facility Day at Irchel on 22nd August 2023 starting 2PM. Some examples will be presented of what they offer and how they can support you to get best results out of your research.

    No registration, no fees.

    -
    Email Author

    https://www.research.uzh.ch/en/infrastructure/platforms.html

    https://www.research.uzh.ch/en/infrastructure/platforms.html

    2023-07-26, Event
  • Swiss 3Rs Day

    The Swiss 3Rs Day is a full-day event featuring 13 speakers from industry, academia and animal welfare organisations. This year the keynote speech will be held by Hannah Harrison on In vitro modelling of breast cancer metastasis and niche priming (Manchester University). Topics covered will range from culture of care to digitalization of in vivo studies,

    The 2023 Swiss 3Rs Day will be taking place at USI, Lugano on September 19th. Registration is now open: https://www.eventbrite.ch/e/615686724567

    The Swiss 3Rs Day is a full-day event featuring 13 speakers from industry, academia and animal welfare organisations. This year the keynote speech will be held by Hannah Harrison on In vitro modelling of breast cancer metastasis and niche priming (Manchester University). Topics covered will range from culture of care (Thomas Bertelsen, Novo Nordisk) to digitalization of in vivo studies (Eoin O' Connor, Roche), zebrafish welfare (Chloe Stevens, RSPCA) and many more exciting 3Rs-related topics. Stay tuned for the full speaker schedule and vendors.

    (1-day continuing education accreditation​ will be given for attendance).

     

    Abstracts for Poster Submissions can be sent to info@swiss3rcc.org

    Regular abstracts should have max 250 words and preferred graphical abstracts a min 300 dpi.

    The deadline for abstract submissions for posters is August 19th.

     

    Paulin Jirkof
    Email Author

    https://www.tierschutz.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://www.tierschutz.uzh.ch/de.html

    2023-07-26, Event
  • feminno – female innovation and career development in Sciences

    Are you a female scientist or alumna and interested in entrepreneurship training? Then apply for the feminno entrepreneurship program.
    Flyer feminno – female innovation and career development in Sciences

    Are you a female scientist or alumna and interested in entrepreneurship training? Then apply for the feminno entrepreneurship program. feminno offers mentoring and career development for female scientists interested in innovation and addresses female researchers from Life Sciences, Natural Sciences, Tech and Humanities. It is a program for aspiring female founders with lots of female coaches, mentors and role models from the industry and the start-up world. The program starts in September 2023 comprising a Career retreat, Innovation seminars, Trainings (Innovation Workshop, Negotiation skills for conflict situations, business deals), Company visits and exploratory workshops and the Closing event with the feminno community.

    More info on the program is found here: www.feminno.ch

    To apply use thus link: https://lnkd.in/eJvq4qGH (Deadline is July 30, 2023)

    -
    Email Author

    www.feminno.ch

    -

    2023-07-26, Event
  • Women in Herpetology

    Gözde Cilingir, PostDoc in the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, contributed to the book "Women in Herpetology: 50 Stories from Around the World".
    book cover

    Gözde Cilingir, PostDoc in the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, contributed to the book "Women in Herpetology: 50 Stories from Around the World". The project and book gathered 50 women from different cultures and backgrounds who shared their life, career and passion for amphibians and reptiles. In this way, they collectively put a spotlight on the diversity of women in the field of Herpetology.

    Gözde Cilingir
    Email Author

    https://www.womeninherpetology.com/

    https://www.ieu.uzh.ch/en.html

    https://twitter.com/fgcilingir

    2023-08-30, News
  • Scientifica 2023

    The Scientifica is the science festival of the UZH and ETHZ. This year, researchers will again inspire young and old! This year's theme? "What holds the world together."

    Scientifica is the science festival of the UZH and ETHZ. This year, researchers will again inspire young and old! This year's theme? "What holds the world together."

    All information on the website: https://scientifica.ch/en/

    -
    Email Author

    https://scientifica.ch/

    -

    2023-08-27, Event
  • FameLab Switzerland Final 2023

    Join us for an evening of captivating scientific presentations by young researchers from EPFL, ETHZ, University of Basel and University of Zurich.
    FameLab Final 2023

    Experience an evening of captivating scientific talks by young researchers from EPFL, ETHZ, University of Basel and University of Zurich. Ruchi Manglunia, Institute of Quantitative Biomedicine UZH, Michael Herzog, Institute of Microbiology ETH and Anish Kirtane, Institute of Biogeochemistry and Environmental Dynamics ETH from Zurich will participate in the national final. At FameLab young scientists have 3 minutes to inspire the audience with a scientific presentation.
    The winner will represent Switzerland at the international FameLab competition.

    Free admission. No registration needed.

    More about FameLab her: www.famelab.ch

     

    Silvie Cuperus
    Email Author

    https://www.lifescience-zurichevents.uzh.ch/en.html

    Life Science Zurich

    2023-08-21, Event
  • Future Plan(t)s - Art meets Science - 25 August to 10 September 2023

    An exhibition of 18 artists at the SAE Greenouse Art-Lab
    Future Plan(t)s

    The future of our plants is one of the greatest challenges that humanity is facing. How do 17 renowned artists respond to this current discourse and the future of plants?

    What is the future of plants and their interaction under the drought conditions of climate change? Should plants adapt or diversify to climate change? Will they lose their food base? Can our soil, seeds and water be conserved?

    In this exhibition the artists reflect on these questions in the Greenhouse Art-Lab of the SAE Sustainable Agroecosystem Group at ETH Zurich.

    The artworks, installations and performances will try to raise awareness about the future of plants, soil, food, food and water. These artistic contributions will be encouraged through a process of connecting with the research group to learn more about sustainable agroecosystems research.

    Location: SAE Greenouse Art-Lab, Häldeliweg 19, 8044 Zürich.

    Opening hours: Friday, 17:00 to 22:00, Saturday and Sundays, 10:00 to 18:00

    Silvie Cuperus
    Email Author

    Silvie Cuperus

    Life Science Zurich

    2023-08-27, Event
  • Future Plan(t)s - exhibition side events: LASER TALK I

    Future of Soil – Plant interactions: Tuesday, 29 August 2023, 18:30 to 22:00 Location: SAE Greenhouse Art Lab, Häldeliweg 19, 8044 Zürich

    In connection with the exhibition Future Plant(s) Life Science Zurich is hosting together with the SAE Sustainable Agroecosystems Group ETH two Laser Talks. Join us for these interesting talks in English with artists and scientists about "The Future of Soil - Plant Interactions" and "Resilience, Nutrition, Food Systems". For more information, please see our website.

    Register for the talk on 29 August here

    The talks will be in English.

    Dr. Silvie Cuperus
    Email Author

    LASER TALKS at Future Plan(ts) Exhibition

    Life Science Zurich

    2023-08-28, Event
  • Future Plan(t)s - exhibition side events: LASER TALK II

    Resilience, Nutrition, Food Systems, Tuesday, 5 September 2023, 18:30 to 22:00. Location: SAE Greenhouse Art Lab, Häldeliweg 19, 8044 Zürich

    In connection with the exhibition Future Plant(s) Life Science Zurich is hosting together with the SAE Sustainable Agroecosystems Group ETH two Laser Talks. Join us for these interesting talks in English with artists and scientists about "The Future of Soil - Plant Interactions" and "Resilience, Nutrition, Food Systems". The talk will be held in English. For more information, please see our website.

    Register for the talk here.

    Dr. Silvie Cuperus
    Email Author

    Future Plan(ts) LASER TALKS

    Life Science Zurich

    2023-08-28, Event
  • ZEIT Podcast climate policy

    In a podcast for the German ZEIT, Prof. Kai Niebert explains what works to stop the climate crisis, what role education (does not) have, why the actions of the "Last Generation" are a dead end and also what the Friday for Future achieved.

    In a podcast for the German ZEIT with political editor Petra Pinzler and science editor Stefan Schmitt, Prof. Kai Niebert discusses the research and the work of the research team. It's about what works to stop the climate crisis, what role education (doesn't) have, why the actions of the Last Generation are a dead end and also what the Fridays for Future have achieved.

    https://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/2023-08/kai-niebert-klimapolitik-protest-krisenpodcast

    Kai Niebert
    Email Author

    https://www.ife.uzh.ch/de/research/niebert.html

    https://www.ife.uzh.ch/de.html

    2023-08-25, News
  • Symposium to Commemorate Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist K. Alex Müller

    On 21 September 2023, a symposium will be held in the UZH auditorium to commemorate Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist K. Alex Müller

    High-temperature superconductivity is as fascinating as it is promising – for basic research and when it comes to developing novel technologies for use in power stations, medical technology, traffic engineering or computer technology.
     
    Superconductors are materials that enable electrical current to flow without resistance below a certain temperature – the so-called transition temperature. Conventional superconductors have very low transition temperatures of max. -250 degrees Celsius. In 1986, K. Alex Müller and J. Georg Bednorz discovered copper oxides that become superconductive at the comparably “high” temperature of -140 degrees. This new class of superconductors is referred to as high-temperature superconductors. In the following year, in 1987, the two researchers were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their groundbreaking discovery.
     
    K. Alex Müller was a fellow at IBM’s research lab in Rüschlikon and professor at the University of Zurich. He died in January 2023 at the age of 95. UZH and IBM Research are jointly organizing a public symposium to commemorate the award-winning researcher and dedicated instructor.

    21 September 2023, Aula (KOL-G-201), Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zurich

    Registration required: UZH Event Portal

     

    UZH Kommunikation
    Email Author

    https://www.uzh.ch/de/events/events/university/gedenkanlass-k-a-muller

    Dekanat

    2023-08-25, Event
  • Lecture «What’s in a name? Bias in peer review»

    On 25 September 2023 the Gender Equality and Diversity UZH organizes in collaboration with the URPP Equality of Opportunity the lecture «What’s in a name? Bias in peer review».

    On 25 September 2023 UZH Gender Equality and Diversity organizes in collaboration with the URPP Equality of Opportunity the lecture «What’s in a name? Bias in peer review». The lecture is given by Prof. Stefan Palan, University of Graz. His research focuses on human behavior in general and on human behavior in a financial context in particular. He has recently also focused more and more time on studying and speaking about the peer review and scientific publication process and how to make it more equitable and fair.

    For more information and registration please visit: https://www.gleichstellung.uzh.ch/de/ueber_uns/grundlagen/diversity/netzwerk/meeting3.html

    UZH Gleichstellung und Diversität
    Email Author

    https://www.gleichstellung.uzh.ch/de/ueber_uns/grundlagen/diversity/netzwerk/meeting3.html

    https://www.gleichstellung.uzh.ch/de.html

    @UZH_GLK

    2023-08-25, Event
  • Exhibition to Commemorate K. Alex Müller

    An exhibition in the Lichthof Irchel will provide insights into the outstanding research and life of K. Alex Müller.

    From 19 September (opening event at 4:00pm) to 14 October, an exhibition in the Lichthof Irchel will provide insights into the outstanding research and life of K. Alex Müller. The exhibition describes the phenomenon of superconductivity, in particular high-temperature superconductivity, and shows where superconductivity is used in technical applications in everyday life.

    Katharina Müller
    Email Author

    Exhibition K. Alex Müller

    https://www.physik.uzh.ch/en.html

    @UZHPhysics

    2023-08-30, Event
  • Appointment symposium OHI

    The APTT Appointment symposium for the newly founded One Health Institute of the UZH on September 21st with presentations by the candidates.

    You are cordially invited to the appointment symposium related to the APTTs “One Health with focus Epidemiology” and “One Health with focus Evolution” of the One Health Institute.


                   
    Thursday, September 21st 2023

    08:30 am – 05:00 pm

    University of Zurich, Campus Irchel Nord (Tierspital)

    TFA 00.44

    OHI
    Email Author

    https://www.onehealth.uzh.ch/en/events.html

    https://www.onehealth.uzh.ch/en.html

    2023-09-07, Event
  • Wissen to go – abends im Zoologischen Museum UZH

    Ab September 2023 ist das Zoologische Museum am Donnerstagabend von 17:30 bis 20:00 Uhr geöffnet.

    Ab September 2023 ist das Zoologische Museum am Donnerstagabend von 17:30 bis 20:00 Uhr geöffnet. Nehmen Sie um 18 Uhr an einer halbstündigen Führung teil, diskutieren Sie mit Naturfilmern oder eignen Sie sich an einem Kurzvortrag neues Wissen an! Das Angebot richtet sich an Erwachsene, ist kostenlos und kann ohne Anmeldung genutzt werden.


    September 2023
    07.09.    Führung: Wie «echt» sind unsere Tiere? – Präparation
    14.09.    Führung: Masterpieces – die Kunst der Natur
    21.09.    Vortrag: Seit wann bestäuben Insekten Pflanzen?
    28.09.    Führung: Tierisch laut: Wie klingt die Natur?

    Oktober 2023
    05.10.    Vortrag: Tierische Forensik in der Rechtsmedizin Zürich*
    12.10.    Führung: Fossilien unserer Ahnen – wie wir zu besonderen Zweibeinern wurden
    19.10.    Führung: Neues über Meeressaurier aus der Schweiz
    26.10.     Film: «Ornis» mit dem Filmemacher Alex Zimmermann (Dauer 80 Min.)**

    November 2023
    02.11.    Vortrag: Meeresungeheuer – Mythos und Wirklichkeit*
    09.11.    Vortrag: Goldene Schätze: Vielfalt der Goldfische dank Domestikation und Evolution
    16.11.    Führung: Präparate erzählen Geschichten
    23.11.    Film: «Krähen – Nature is watching us» mit dem Filmemacher Martin Schilt (Dauer 90 Min.)**
    30.11.    Führung: Was Dinosaurier und Coronaviren gemeinsam haben

    Dezember 2023
    07.12.    Führung: Was darf's denn sein? – Trouvaillen auf dem Silbertablett
    14.12.     Vortrag und Preisverleihung «Wertvolle Naturschutzarbeit»: Fledermäuse – verborgene Vielfalt am Nachthimmel*

    *eine Zusammenarbeit mit der Zoologischen Gesellschaft Zürich
    **eine Zusammenarbeit mit BirdLife Zürich

    Zoologisches Museum der Universität Zürich
    Email Author

    https://www.zm.uzh.ch/de/fuehrungen/WissenToGo.html

    https://www.zm.uzh.ch/de.html

    2023-09-07, Event
  • Annual Open Innovation in Life Sciences 2023 Conference

    Registrations Open for the Annual Open Innovation in Life Sciences 2023 Conference (Hybrid edition: virtual conference + in-person networking apéro) | 26th - 27th Oct

    Registrations are now open for the 6th Annual Open Innovation in Life Sciences conference (#OILS23), taking place this year on 26th - 27th October 2023.

    Register now to delve into the world of open science and its challenges and success stories on the Innovation Day, plus a program tailored to enhance your professional journey on Career Day. 

    The virtual event spans across two thrilling days, packed with:

    Riveting Panel Discussions on topics, such as patient-oriented research and Science communication in the age of social media
    Engaging Keynote Speakers including Joseph Borg (Spaceomix)
    Informative Workshops to help you build a scientific pitch, manage conflicts in complex situations, and more!
    Innovation Pitches to share your start up idea for a chance to win an amazing prize (and of course, glory!)
    Virtual 1:1 Networking Meetings to find potential collaborators or catch up with old friends  
     

    While the content is virtual, the #OILS23 conference will host a Networking Evening Apéro at Lichthof UZH Irchel (26th Oct) to connect with other scientists and science enthusiasts.

    Master students can attend the virtual conference entirely for free! Just provide the student details during the registration and join the discussion on open science and innovation.

    Check out the #OILS23 conference website for the complete agenda!

    helen.stauffer@lifescience.uzh.ch
    Email Author

    Annual Open Innovation in Life Sciences 2023 Conference

    Life Science Zurich

    2023-09-13, Event
  • Mastering iPSC: Insights from iPSZürich & STEMCELL Technologies

    SAVE THE DATE! On November 7th the iPSZürich committee in collaboration with STEMCELL Technologies will present a special day, fully dedicated to iPSC research. Whether you are an expert, a beginner or even just considering working with iPSC, this day will have something to offer!
    flyer of the event

     

     

    Ambra Villani
    Email Author

    iPSZürich Lecture Series

    https://www.mls.uzh.ch/en.html

    2023-10-14, Event
  • BioVisionCenter Symposium, November 9th - 10th

    This kick-off Symposium aims at celebrating the launch of the BioVisionCenter by highlighting current initiatives for bioimage analysis and identifying opportunities to connect across the bioimage analysis community. The Symposium will feature invited talks from local stakeholders as well as national and international leaders in the field, and will offer ample time for networking and discussions.

    Dear all,
    We would like to inform you about an exciting upcoming event – the BioVisionCenter kick-off symposium, happening on the 9th and 10th of November.
    As part of our efforts to foster the growth of the bioimage analysis community, we are cordially inviting all interested members of the University of Zürich to participate in this exciting event.
    The BioVisionCenter is a newly-created structure co-founded by the Friedrich Miescher Institute and the University of Zürich with its primary objective to centralize activities related to the processing of complex bioimage datasets. More details can be found in our website: https://www.biovisioncenter.uzh.ch/en.html.
    The BioVisionCenter kick-off symposium aims at celebrating our launch and strengthening collaborations within our scientific community. It will bring together renowned bioimage analysis experts who will share their insights, present ongoing initiatives, and discuss emerging trends. It will be an excellent opportunity for scientific researchers, students, and professionals to network, exchange ideas, and explore potential ways to connect further.
    Visit https://www.ema.uzh.ch/en/register/biovisioncenter-symposium.html to find out more about the symposium and register, either virtually or in person.
    We have attached a flyer with more details about the symposium. Please feel free to distribute this flyer to your colleagues and anyone else who might be interested in attending.
    We look forward to seeing you at the BioVisionCenter Symposium!
    The BioVisionCenter team
    Universität Zürich
    BioVisionCenter
    Winterthurerstrasse 190
    CH-8057 Zürich

    valentina.marcelli@mls.uzh.ch
    Email Author

    https://www.biovisioncenter.uzh.ch/en.html

    https://www.mls.uzh.ch/en.html

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/joel-l%C3%BCthi-322366a7_next-generation-bioimage-analysis-workflows-activity-7124741335365902336-mFiG?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

    2023-11-04, Event
  • Winning Project for “PORTAL UZH” Selected

    The planned new building called PORTAL UZH is a key part of the mid- to long-term development of Irchel Campus. The conclusion of the architectural competition marks the first step in making the plans a reality.

    Over the next quarter of a century, Irchel Campus will be fundamentally modernized and expanded, and its building density increased. The planned “PORTAL UZH” will be a linchpin in these developments. The new building will make it possible for the campus’ technical and logistical infrastructure to be modernized, as well as providing additional space needed for teaching and research.

    Directorate for Real Estate and Facility Management
    Email Author

    https://www.news.uzh.ch/en/articles/news/2023/portal-uzh.html

    Direktion Immobilien und Betrieb

    2023-12-12, News
  • Nature Communications by Melika Payvand (INI): Neuromorphic Mosaic

    Despite millions of years of evolution, the fundamental wiring principle of biological brains remains preserved...

    Despite millions of years of evolution, the fundamental wiring principle of biological brains remains preserved: Dense local and sparse global connectivity, aka small-worldness, optimizing both computation and the utilization of the underlying biological substrate. Inspired by these principles, we introduce Mosaic: a 2D analog systolic array comprised of densely connected, small neuron tiles (RNNs), which communicate with proximity neighbour RNNs through tiny distributed routers. Mosaic uses both computing and routing locally on novel memory technologies to achieve orders of magnitude reduction in routing energy compared to current accelerators.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-44365-x

     

    Melika Payvand
    Email Author

    https://www.ini.uzh.ch/en/research/groups/EIS.html

    https://www.ini.uzh.ch/en.html

    2024-01-10, Sci. Publication
  • MNF Shark Bay Dolphin Research in SRF Einstein

    The SRF television program Einstein shows the dolphin research of the Evolutionary Genetics Group.

    If you have ever wondered what it is the dolphin researchers from our Evolutionary Genetics Group and Shark Bay Dolphin Research are doing in the field, check out SRF Einstein "Im Bann der Delfine", available for streaming.

    Part 1 and Part 2

    Michael Krützen
    Email Author

    https://www.sharkbaydolphins.org/

    https://www.aim.uzh.ch/en/research/egg.html

    2024-01-10, News
  • Swiss scientists win time on top European supercomputer

    Scientists with the Square Kilometer Array Switzerland (SKACH) consortium will use the largest ever allocation of node hours on Europe’s LUMI-G supercomputer to conduct a simulation looking at the role of turbulence and gravity in the universe.

    Scientists working with the Swiss arm of the international Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO), the world’s largest and most sensitive radio observatory currently under construction, have been awarded 5.500.000 node hours on the LUMI supercomputer in Finland for 12-months. When they come online, SKAO telescopes will look at the history of the Universe as far back as the Cosmic Dawn, when the very first stars and galaxies formed.

    With funding from the Platform for Advanced Scientific Computing and SERI as part of the SKACH consortium, the researchers have developed a leading-edge hydrodynamics code called SPH-EXA that is capable of simulating the behavior of fluids and plasmas on supercomputers, important because the universe consists mostly of gases and plasmas. Now, with the node hours awarded on Europe’s largest supercomputer, the code will create a simulation to investigate the formation of protostellar cores, the progenitors of stars like our own Sun.

    “Understanding this will help us to know the distribution of masses of stars which has important implications for the observable properties of galaxies. The other thing we are hoping to do with this project is study mixing, that tries to uncover why there is an apparent homogeneity in stellar clusters which is not really well understood,” explained Rubén Cabezón, astrophysicist and scientific programmer at the Center for Scientific Computing (sciCORE) at the University of Basel, part of the SKACH team and principal investigator in SPH-EXA.

    “This is equivalent to the largest turbulence simulation that has been ever done but for the first time we are including self-gravity, which is what we need for the stellar cores to collapse, and which is a major challenge, because it requires a lot of computational power to actually do the calculations with gravity,” he continued.

    Another important element of the project is testing the code itself. Florina Ciorba is a Professor of High-Performance Computing at the University of Basel, also part of the SKACH team and principal investigator in SPH-EXA.  

    “I’ve dreamt of having access to such a huge machine allocation for an application and my objective is to see how the simulation behaves as a software code on that machine. I'm interested if there are any bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the way the simulation uses the system,” Ciorba explained. “Certain phenomena don't show at small scale but they will appear and be visible at large scale and I want to understand what happens in the time that we predicted the simulation will take.”

    During its operation, the SKAO will collect unprecedented amounts of data, requiring the world’s fastest supercomputers to process this in near real time. This simulation experiment is helping to drive the development of codes, enhanced by High-Performance Computing and machine learning techniques, to handle these large data streams.

    “With this code and the resolution that we can achieve thanks to the LUMI-G allocation, we can model interstellar turbulence using particle-based fluid dynamics, which has always been problematic in the past, and this is instrumental to be able to follow the formation of stars,” added Lucio Mayer, Head of the Institute for Computational Science at the University of Zurich also part of the SKACH team and principal investigator in SPH-EXA.

    Those closely involved with the project, including Ralf Klessen, professor for theoretical astrophysics at Heidelberg University, a pioneer in computational astrophysics, believe its multi-disciplinary nature is a real strength. “Progress at the very forefront of science relies on bringing together expertise in many different research fields. In our case, the envisioned simulations and their adequate interpretation depend on input from computer science, applied mathematics and data analysis, as well as theoretical astrophysics and observational astronomy. This combination opens new pathways towards better understanding how star and star clusters form in the turbulent multi-phase interstellar medium in galaxies such as our Milky Way.”  

    Rubén Cabezón says the entire SPH-EXA team was ecstatic when they learned about the LUMI-G allocation, “There is so much science that can come from this, not only on astrophysics and cosmology, but also in computer science and this is what makes it so interesting. It's going to be a very, very exciting time.”

    Developed for the EuroHPC Extreme Scale Allocation Call the LUMI-G allocation was awarded for the project: “TGSF: The Role of Turbulence and Gravity in Star Formation, Unveiling the sonic scale with Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics".

    The SKACH SPH-EXA team behind the proposal is: 

    Project management:
    Lucio Mayer – PI, Cosmology, Computational Astrophysics, SPH specialist
    Rubén Cabezón – Co-PI, Computational Astrophysics, SPH specialist, Developer of SPH-EXA –

    Florina Ciorba – Co-PI, Computer Science, High-Performance Computing, Load Balancing Specialist

    Software development, Simulations & Data analysis:
    Sebastian Keller – Computational Scientist, HPC, Developer of SPH-EXA
    Osman Seckin Simsek – Computer Science, HPC, Developer of SPH-EXA
    Jonathan Coles – Computational Scientist, Cosmology, Developer of SPH-EXA
    Noah Kubli - Computational Astrophysics, Developer of SPH-EXA

    Visualization & Data analysis:
    Yiqing Zhu – Computational Science, Scientific and HPC visualization specialist

    Data management & Transfer, CI/CD & Testing:
    Jean-Guillaume Piccinali – Computational scientist

    Partners:
    Ralf Klessen – Star Formation, Computational Astrophysics (Heidelberg University) 

    Domingo García-Senz – Computational Astrophysics, SPH specialist

     

    Florina Ciorba, Professor of High Performance Computing at the University of Basel, Lucio Mayer, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Zurich, and Rubén Cabezón, Senior Scientist at the computing center (sciCORE) of the University of Basel. Photo from www.cscs.ch
    E. Rembelska
    Email Author

    Prof. Lucio Mayer

    Department of Astrophysics

    2024-01-16, News
  • Bring colour into the winter: The Food Hub at Irchel

    Do you want to purchase sustainably produced fruits, vegetables and much more directly at your place of study or work? The Food Hub at Campus Irchel makes it possible. It is offered by the Sustainability Task Force of the UZH Department of Geography. he MNF supports it with a "Make Irchel More Sustainable!" grant.

    Read the full article in the GIUZ Blog! (in German only)

    Sustainability Task Force, Department of Geography
    Email Author

    Bring Farbe in den Winter: Der Food Hub am Irchel

    Organic Food Hub at Irchel

    2024-02-06, News
  • Sense of belonging in the working environment

    Lecture and Panel Discussion "Sense of belonging in the working environment: How diversity research can be transferred into good practice at UZH" (21 March 2024 )

    Research of the UZH Center for Leadership in the Future of Work shows how people wish to feel at work. How can this be transferred into good practice in the academic everyday life of a research group?  How can people in a leadership role interact with their team members in order to live diversity and to really create an inclusive atmosphere? This network event would like to show significant UZH diversity research expertise on one side – and the successful transfer/implementation in our own organization on the other.

    On Thursday, 21 March 2024 starting at 16.00 in RAA-G-01 («small aula»)

    Abteilung Gleichstellung und Diversität
    Email Author

    https://www.gleichstellung.uzh.ch/de/ueber_uns/grundlagen/diversity/netzwerk/20240321.html

    https://www.gleichstellung.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://twitter.com/AGL_UZH

    2024-02-09, Event
  • Network Evening in the Irchel Bar

    On the occasion of this year's "International Day of Women and Girls in Science", the Faculty's Gender Equality Committee and the Faculty's 2024 Verena Meyer guest professor Prof. Dr. Leigh Johnson invite all students, PhDs, PostDocs, researchers, lecturers, staff and professors of the Faculty for a networking evening.
    Sara Petchey
    Email Author

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de/fakultaet/gleichstellung/kampagne.html

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://twitter.com/UZH_Science

    2024-02-11, Event
  • Can Large Language Models Help Us Combat Online Misinformation?

    As the quantity of misinformation online eclipses the capacity fact-checkers, LLMs may hold the promise of verifying content automatically. The study investigates into the performance of LLMs in fact-checking tasks.
    Accuracy of GPT-3.5 & GPT-4 overtime on the PolitiFact dataset. Yearly rolling average of the accuracy of LLMs over Time. The blue line indicates the context condition, and the orange line indicates the no-context condition.

    The research paper "The Perils & Promises of Fact-checking with Large Language Models" by Dorian Quelle and Alexandre Bovet evaluates the use of GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 for fact-checking. With the proliferation of misinformation, fact-checking has become a crucial but resource-intensive task. The study investigates whether LLMs can assist in this endeavor by autonomously verifying claims, retrieving relevant context via Google, and explaining their decision-making process. The article compares the performance of GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 across two data-sets, under conditions with and without additional contextual information. 

    Key findings reveal that GPT-4 generally outperforms GPT-3.5 in accuracy, particularly when additional context is provided. However, the accuracy significantly varies based on the language of the claim and the nature of the veracity. The study found that translating non-English claims into English before processing them through the models often resulted in better performance, highlighting language as a critical factor in the effectiveness of LLM-based fact-checking. The inclusion of contextual data notably improves the models' accuracy, suggesting the importance of external evidence in the verification process.

    Despite these promising results, the research underscores the inconsistency in the models' accuracy and the challenges associated with ambiguous verdicts. It suggests that while LLMs can support fact-checking processes, they are not infallible and should be used with caution. The paper advocates for further research to understand the conditions under which LLMs succeed or fail in fact-checking tasks. Moreover, it emphasizes the potential of LLMs to enhance the efficiency of human fact-checkers by providing preliminary assessments and rationales, thereby facilitating a more informed and quicker verification process.

    In conclusion, this study offers insights into the capabilities and limitations of Large Language Models in the context of fact-checking. It highlights the importance of contextual information and the challenge of language dependence in improving the accuracy of these models. For those interested in exploring this research further, the full study can be accessed here.

    Dorian Quelle
    Email Author

    https://democracy.dsi.uzh.ch/member/dorian-quelle/

    Department of Mathematical Modeling and Machine Learning

    2024-02-23, Sci. Publication
  • Eons in a Blink: Processes in proteins unchanged for a billion years

    For around four billion years, life on Earth has been developing in a fascinating evolutionary process. But how do proteins, the molecular machines in cells, change over this incredibly long period of time? In a groundbreaking study, researchers at the University of Zurich have unraveled the influence of a billion years of evolution on the pace of these molecular machines.
    Proteins are the elementary building blocks of life. In their function as molecular machines, they fulfill vital functions in all species - whether in humans, fishes, or in life forms that are already extinct.

    For around four billion years, life on Earth has been developing in a fascinating evolutionary process. But how do proteins, the molecular machines in cells, change over this incredibly long period of time? In a groundbreaking study, researchers at the University of Zurich have unraveled the influence of a billion years of evolution on the pace of these molecular machines. The results, published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), provide a unique look at the influence of evolution on the most elementary building blocks of life.

    Over the course of billions of years, life on Earth has thrived and adapted, evolving to occupy every conceivable niche on our planet. The diversity of life that has emerged through evolution goes beyond what the naked eye can observe, such as different skull shapes and bone sizes, and beyond discernible variations in metabolism and sensory organs. Molecular characteristics change, too, notably seen in the structural alterations of proteins, the smallest building blocks of life - molecular machines inside cells.

    In a recent study, researchers at the University of Zurich (UZH) have gained a fascinating insight into the effects that hundreds of millions of years have on these molecular machines. How much do proteins change over an incomprehensibly long period of time? The results, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shed light on the effects of evolution over a period of one billion years. "Proteins are molecular machines that fulfill essential tasks in the cells of all living organisms. Proteins are dynamic, they constantly change their shape," says biochemist Philipp Heckmeier, who initiated and led the project. "Do the dynamics, the pace of the machines in human proteins function just as quickly as in similar mouse, fish or coral proteins, i.e. in life forms whose evolutionary divergence is hundreds of millions of years?"

     

    Whether human, mouse, chicken, fish, mussel or coral - the basic processes in an oncologically relevant protein family are almost identical

    To find this out, the researchers investigated a protein family that is essential for the survival of cells and is at the center of current cancer research, the BCL-2 family. Using a molecular switch that they were able to turn on with laser light, they "destabilized" ten closely related proteins.  This causes the protein to briefly rearrange - a response to "being knocked out of step". The researchers in the laboratory of Professor Peter Hamm (UZH) were able to resolve this response over time using infrared spectroscopy.

    "For all the proteins studied, the response begins in the nanosecond range. One nanosecond corresponds to one billionth of a second, i.e. 0.000 000 001 seconds - an almost unimaginably short period of time," says Heckmeier. In their experiment with ten proteins from different animal species, the researchers found that they all leave a species-specific but very similar "footprint" when they are brought out of step. "We found the same footprint for all the proteins we examined, regardless of whether the protein came from a human, a mouse, a chicken, a zebrafish, a mussel or a coral. Even though there are hundreds of millions of years of evolution between these species. This is remarkable!", says the researcher.

     

    Artificial intelligence predicts almost identical protein structures

    Using artificial intelligence (Google's AlphaFold), the scientists were able to predict that not only the dynamics of the proteins are highly conserved, but also their structure. Heckmeier suspects: "The studied protein is particularly conserved because it is a molecule that is essential for the survival of tissue-forming animals. If its structure, timing or function changes just a little, the living organism can no longer maintain tissue and dies."

    Further insights gained by researchers suggest that the degree of conservation for a process is linked to how strongly it is coupled to the function of the protein. The scientists found that a functionally less important process can drift and slow down over time without affecting the function of the protein. The process was presumably exposed to a lower selective pressure in the past.

    The research results shed new light on the time scales in which life on Earth changes. "Here we observe the effect of a billion years on processes that take place in a billionth of a second. We are building a bridge between the shortest timescales of life to the longest. Unimaginably many generations of living beings must have passed on the same information over and over again so that protein pace has been conserved in an unchanging form. Over a billion years."

     

    Literature:

    P.J. Heckmeier et al.: A billion years of evolution manifest in nanosecond protein dynamics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Feb 2024. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2318743121

    Philipp J. Heckmeier (Postdoctoral Researcher at Hamm Group)
    Email Author

    Reserach on Ultrafast Dynamics of Proteins @ UZH

    Department of Chemistry (Homepage)

    Philipp Heckmeier (Twitter/X)

    2024-02-27, Sci. Publication
  • Public lecture by Leigh Johnson our Verena Meyer Visiting Professor

    Public lecture: Digging in the drylands: Valuing labor and landform in nature-based solutions Tuesday, 19 March 2024, 16.00-17.00 Room Y25-H-38 Irchel
    SP
    Email Author

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://twitter.com/UZH_Science

    2024-03-17, Event
  • Birds use valleys and passes to cross the Alps

    A team from GIUZ and the Swiss Ornithological Institute studied how migratory birds cross the Swiss Alps for the first time using year-round radar measurements: migration intensities, flight altitudes, speeds and directions were monitored. It turned out that migratory birds use the Alpine valleys and adjacent passes as passages.
    Map overview of the study region. The map shows the location of the mountain ranges of the Jura and the Alps with the Swiss lowlands in between. The study sites where ornithological radars were installed are marked with purple circles. Relevant valleys (red) and mountain passes (yellow) are marked and labelled. The inset map shows the larger-scale topography of the Jura and the Alps. Mean migration traffic rates of both years are shown in the legend panel. (DTM by Farr & Kobrick, 2000).

    Every autumn, more than two billion migratory birds leave their breeding grounds in Europe. On their journey south, the Alps represent a particular barrier. While many birds widely circumvent the Alps, others choose the direct route to reach the wintering grounds south of the Sahara more quickly. Until recently, it was not exactly known how many birds cross the Alps and how they do so. Visual observations suggest that migratory birds fly primarily along Alpine valleys to avoid crosswinds and larger climbs.

    However, most birds migrate at night, making migration difficult to observe. Traditionally, researchers count the silhouettes of passing birds against the full moon, a method that is both time-consuming and time-limited.

    Efficient and accurate measurement with modern radar systems

    Highly specialised radar systems help researchers measure bird migration. They record birds up to 1,500 metres above the ground and provide precise numbers on bird migration. The team led by first author Simon Hirschhofer used two such scanners in the Swiss Inn- and Urseren Valley, and another scanner in the northern foothills of the Alps near Sempach. The results of the study confirm that migratory birds orientate themselves on the local topography of the valleys when crossing the Alps. The birds use valleys and adjacent mountain passes as passages through the Alps. Occasionally, this can locally lead to enormous migration peaks, where more than 20,000 birds pass by a valley section in an hour.

    The results of the study have important implications for the protection of migratory birds in the Swiss Alps. Valleys and mountain passes are also potential locations for wind power plants. Collisions with wind turbines already pose a danger to migratory birds. "Radar technology should be used to monitor the intensity of migration locally," suggests Simon Hirschhofer. "At times when many birds are travelling, the turbines could be temporarily shut down. Or such locations could generally be avoided for wind energy generation." This would allow thousands of birds to travel safely from their winter quarters to their summer quarters and back.

    Simon Hirschhofer, Felix Liechti, Peter Ranacher, Robert Weibel, Baptiste Schmid: High-intensity bird migration along Alpine valleys calls for protective measures against anthropogenically induced avian mortality; Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 2024, https://doi.org/10.1002/rse2.377

    Simon Hirschhofer
    Email Author

    https://www.geo.uzh.ch/en/units/gis/staff/hirschhofersimon

    https://www.geo.uzh.ch/en.html

    2024-03-21, Sci. Publication
  • Invasive species impacts transcend ecosystem boundaries

    Invasive species have profound impacts on biodiversity. A study led by UZH researchers reveals the impacts of invasive species commonly transcend major ecosystem boundaries, such as the aquatic-terrestrial interface, influencing biodiversity across larger spatial extents than previously recognized.
    A common invasive species, the Himalayan Balsam (Impatients glandulifera), can be observed at the boundary of a Swiss stream. (Image: Florian Altermatt)

    Invasive species are pervasive worldwide, reaching staggering numbers and having dramatic impacts on the ecosystems they invade. New research from the University of Zurich and Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, sheds light on the broader spatial dimension of the ecological influence of invasive species, revealing that their effects often extend beyond the boundaries of invaded ecosystems.
     
    "Ecosystems engage in regular exchanges of organisms, nutrients, and other materials across their boundaries, making them intricately connected" explains Dr. Tianna Peller, a postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study. “For example, leaves flow from forests to rivers, and seabirds transfer nutrients from the ocean where they feed to islands where they shelter. Ecologists have long known these exchanges can shape the biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems. However, we have rarely questioned how invasive species affect these ubiquitous exchanges.”
     
    By synthesizing evidence from around the world, the study demonstrates that invasive species significantly alter the exchange of organisms, energy, and materials between ecosystems. “By modifying what flows across ecosystems’ boundaries, invasive species can have ecological impacts far beyond the ecosystem they invade, up to 100 kilometers away in some cases”, say the study’s authors. “While we often classify invasive species as being aquatic or terrestrial, our findings suggest the effects of invasive species often transcend the aquatic-terrestrial interface.”
     
    Overall, the study underscores the importance of considering the broader spatial context when assessing the ecological impacts of invasive species. “Invasive species are recognized as one of the five predominant threats to global biodiversity and ecosystems”, says the study’s senior author, Professor Florian Altermatt. “By understanding how invasive species affect exchanges between ecosystems, management efforts can be better targeted to mitigate their effects”.
     
    The study is published in the prestigious journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. It gives the first overview of the relevancy of cross-ecosystem effects of non-native invasive species and may have direct implications for the management of ecosystems. In particular, the study indicates that invasive species cannot only be managed and viewed within classic ecosystem compartments, such as marine, terrestrial or freshwater. Rather, their management requires a more holistic perspective. This research also corroborates that the classic aquatic-terrestrial interface is much more integrated than previously thought.

    Original publication:

    Peller, T. & Altermatt, F. (2024) Invasive species drive cross-ecosystem effects worldwide, Nature Ecology & Evolution, DOI:
    https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-024-02380-1. PDF

    Invasive species (red) have cross-ecosystem effects: (1) Invasive lake trout feed on native trout, causing their population to decline and disrupting their migration from lakes to rivers. This eliminates an important source of prey for river dwellers such as bears. This has an impact on the food web on land, as the bears have to feed on other prey, such as juvenile elk. The invasion of lake trout also has an impact on distant lakes: birds that fed on native trout before the invasion of lake trout shift their foraging to lakes with sufficient available prey. (2) The displacement of native algal forests by invasive green macroalgae alters the quality of macroalgal detritus that is washed from coastal to deeper marine ecosystems where it is an important food source. This affects the quantity and diversity of macrofauna. (3) Invasive terrestrial plants, which displace native forest plants, introduce novel chemical substances into the forests, which are washed into ponds, where they reduce the growth rate of zooplankton. This changes the dynamics of the food web in the ponds. (Graphic: Morgane Brosse, Eawag)
    Tianna Peller and Florian Altermatt
    Email Author

    https://www.altermattlab.ch/

    Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies

     

    @altermatt_lab

    2024-04-04, Sci. Publication
  • SHiP experiment approved

    Just over ten years after its initial proposal, the SHiP experiment has been approved by the CERN management to start data taking in the next decade! The SHiP experiment is designed to search for extremely weakly interacting particles by using an incredibly intense beam of protons available at the LHC.
    SHiP collaborators looking very happy having heard about the approval!

    A new experiment SHiP has just been given the green light by CERN to proceed. The experiment is designed to search for so-called "hidden particles", named as such because they barely interact with ordinary matter. An example of this is the search for a heavy neutrino, which is a kind of neutral electron that could solve some of the pressing open questions such as to what is the mysterious material Dark Matter. The search for hidden particles complements the existing experiments at CERN, which instead look for signs of heavy new particles (such as what we do at the LHCb experiment here in UZH). 

    The experiment was co-founded by Prof. Nicola Serra and was supported by an SNF-Starting grant in the design phase, where Martina Ferrillo and Dr. Iaroslava Bezshyiko made vital contributions. The approval of the CERN management moves the experiment into the finalization of the design and construction phase – what an exciting time to be part of the experiment!

    The group here at UZH has been hugely involved in SHiP since its inception, where the first collaboration meeting took place here in Zurich in 2013. The group also led vital studies for the experiment design that was submitted to CERN for approval. Prof. Serra now has his work cut out as physics coordinator of the experiment - this is where the real work begins!


    Patrick Owen and Katharina Müller

    Katharina Müller
    Email Author

    https://www.physik.uzh.ch/en/groups/serra.html

    https://www.physik.uzh.ch/en.html

    https://twitter.com/UZHPhysics

    2024-04-16, News
  • Gabriela Schaepman-Strub selected as National Champion for Switzerland of the Frontiers Planet Prize

    The Frontiers Planet Prize celebrates breakthroughs in sustainability science, rewarding solutions that show measurable potential to help humanity remain within the boundaries of the Earth’s ecosystem. Prof. Gabriela Schaepman-Strub has been selected as National Champion of Switzerland for this prize (Vegetation type is important predictor of Arctic summer land surface energy budget)
    23 national champions of the frontiers planet prize 2024

    Through our synthesis study, we identified surface energy flux measurements, formed the Arctic-SEB group, and analysed drivers of fluxes. Running flux towers in the Arctic is extremely challenging, resulting in a very low density of long-term flux measurements over Arctic terrestrial surfaces. Such observational networks however are critical to understand energy and carbon feedbacks between the atmosphere and land surface, under thawing permafrost, increasing tundra fires, and industrial development. Our study shows that changes of Arctic vegetation types due to climate change or land use change through industrial development will feed back to climate and permafrost through summer surface energy fluxes.

    Link to Nature Communications study

    Planetary Boundaries addressed:
    Biosphere integrity, Novel entities, Climate change, Land system change, Biogeochemical flows

    23 national champions of the frontiers planet prize 2024
    gabriela.schaepman@ieu.uzh.ch
    Email Author

    https://www.frontiersplanetprize.org/editions-second-edition

    https://www.ieu.uzh.ch/en/research/ecology/spatial.html

    https://earthsystemscience.org/

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/gabriela-schaepman-strub-2298404_earthscience-sustainability-climatechange-activity-7188136388930809856-UPTe?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

    2024-04-22, Awards and Honors
  • Honorary Doctorate of the Faculty of Science for Prof. Dr. Beate Heinemann

    The Faculty of Science of the University of Zurich is awarding an honorary doctorate to Prof. Dr. Beate Heinemann for her outstanding scientific achievements in experimental elementary particle physics, her pioneering role in the search for new particles and her associated contributions to the planning of future particle accelerators.

    Prof. Dr. Beate Heinemann is a world-leading scientist in experimental particle physics working at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) and at the University of Hamburg and was awarded this honor on the occasion of the 191st Dies Academicus of the University of Zurich.

    Prof. Heinemann received her PhD from the University of Hamburg in 1999. As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Liverpool, she worked on the CDF experiment at Fermilab and was soon appointed Physics Coordinator. In 2008, she was appointed to a professorship at the University of California Berkeley, where she played a key role in preparing the data analyses for the ATLAS experiment at CERN, which was being set up at the time. At both CDF and ATLAS, she played a leading role in the search for new elementary particles and led the ATLAS collaboration as co-spokesperson from 2013 to 2017. In 2016, she was appointed to a professorship at the University of Freiburg in conjunction with a position as a senior scientist at DESY. She has been Director of Particle Physics at DESY since 2022 and a full professor at the University of Hamburg since 2023.

    Video:

     

    KE
    Email Author

    https://www.news.uzh.ch/de/articles/news/2024/dies-academicus.html

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://twitter.com/UZH_Science

    2024-04-30, News
  • Science and Nature Festival

    On Saturday, June 8, 2024 from 12:00-17:00 we celebrate the Science and Nature Festival on the Irchel campus of the University of Zurich. Under the motto "Discover | Explore | Celebrate Diversity", an afternoon full of inspiration, activities and encounters will take place.

    On Saturday, June 8, 2024 from 12:00-17:00 we celebrate the Science and Nature Festival on the Irchel campus of the University of Zurich. Under the motto "Discover | Explore | Celebrate Diversity", an afternoon full of inspiration, activities and encounters will take place.


    All our institutes will present themselves and there will be plenty of experiments, workshops, guided tours, plays and lectures. The scientific program will be enriched by music and food trucks and you can vote for the best photo in a photo competition!

    RA
    Email Author

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de/oeffentlichkeit/mnf-festival.html

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de.html

    2024-04-29, Event
  • MNF Science Photo Contest

    As part of the Science and Nature Festival, the Faculty of Science is organizing a photo competition.

    Share your passion for science and photography.

    Whether amateur or professional, take your camera, seize the moment and take part in the MNF Science and Nature Festival photo contest. What do you do as a scientist? What are you studying? What is your research object? What memorable moments and encounters have you had?

    Your photo will be exhibited at the MNF Science and Nature Festival 2024, may win a prize and become an MNF postcard!

    How does it work? All further information can be found here: https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/en/oeffentlichkeit/mnf-festival/photo-contest.html


    No photo ready? You can choose the winners at the Science and Nature Festival on June 8, 2024. Or take part in the vote on the website.

    RA
    Email Author

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de/oeffentlichkeit/mnf-festival/fotowettbewerb.html

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://twitter.com/UZH_Science

    2024-04-30, Event
  • Team Effort Award 2023

    At this year's Dies Academicus, the Airmiles Group of the Department of Geography (GIUZ) of the Faculty of Science was awarded the Team Effort Award 2023 for its pioneering role in reducing flight-related emissions at UZH. Our congratulations!
    Image: Ethan Welty

    With the Team Effort Award, the University of Zurich honours the Air Miles Group of the Department of Geography (GIUZ) for its pioneering role in reducing flight-related emissions at UZH. Air travel accounts for a large proportion of UZH's greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2017, countless hours of voluntary work have been spent at the GIUZ collecting, analysing and publishing the flight data of employees and guests on an annual basis. In 2020, the Air Miles Group used this data to set reduction targets for the GIUZ and developed strategies to achieve them, as well as an advisory service for members of the department. The Air Miles Group thus raised awareness of an issue that is also very important from a university-wide perspective.

    Kommunikation
    Email Author

    https://geo.uzh.ch/en/department/sustainability/air-miles.html

    https://www.mnf.uzh.ch/de.html

    https://twitter.com/UZH_Science

    2024-04-30, Awards and Honors
  • Navigating Unseen Roads: Exploring the Impact of Bias on Academic Women’s Career Trajectories

    What does it mean for female founders to build start-ups and spin-offs as opposed to their male peers? Do conscious and unconscious bias play a role? A female founder sharing her story after a decade in entrepreneurship. Registration necessary!

    What does it mean for female founders to build start-ups and spin-offs as opposed to their male peers?
    Do conscious and unconscious bias play a role?
    A female founder sharing her story after a decade in entrepreneurship.

    Andreia R. Fernandes thrives in a dynamic portfolio career spanning entrepreneurship, advisory roles, authorship, speaking engagements, coaching, and facilitation.

    As the founder of SEABRAND International, she adeptly connects the realms of Leadership and Strategy, serving as a business curator passionate about optimizing success at individual, team, and organizational levels. She works with Start-ups as well as multinational companies across industries.
    With a focus on strategic and leadership enhancement, Andreia delves into areas such as coping with failure in entrepreneurial and cultural contexts, portfolio careers, and their impact on fulfillment. Committed to diversity, she offers coaching and spearheads global startup accelerator programs, such as the Global Women Entrepreneur Week, while also lending support to startups as an investor and board member. As a trusted advisor and coach, she empowers a diverse clientele – from diplomats to entrepreneurial professionals – in crafting fulfilling career paths and overcoming challenges to build optimal teams. www.andreiafernandes.com, www.seabrand.ch

    This event is co-organized by the Office Gender Equality and Diversity, University of Zurich and ETH Diversity, ETH Zurich, partners in the Femspin project.

    Christiane Löwe
    Email Author

    Registration

    https://www.gleichstellung.uzh.ch/de.html

    2024-05-10, Event
  • 41st Paul Karrer Lecture and Award Ceremony: Prof. Dr. Katalin Karikó

    Developing mRNA for Therapy Messenger RNA was discovered in 1961 and it took 60 years until the first mRNA became FDA-approved product in the form of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. These discoveries led to the development of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine that has helped to fight the global pandemic and opened the door for developing breakthrough therapeutics for incurable diseases and unmet medical needs.

    The Laureate

    Prof. Dr. Katalin Karikó is professor at University of Szeged and adjunct professor of neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, where she worked for 24 years. She is former senior vice president at BioNTech SE, Mainz, Germany, where she worked between 2013-2022.  She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Szeged, Hungary, in 1982. For four decades, her research has been focusing on RNA-mediated mechanisms with the ultimate goal of developing in vitro-transcribed mRNA for protein therapy. She investigated RNA-mediated immune activation and co-discovered that nucleoside modifications suppress immunogenicity of RNA, which widened the therapeutic potentials of mRNA. She co-founded and from 2006-2013 served as CEO of RNARx, a company dedicated to develop nucleoside-modified mRNA for therapy. Her patents, co-invented with Drew Weissman on nucleoside-modified uridines in mRNA is used to create the FDA-approved COVID-19 mRNA vaccines by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna to fight the pandemic. For her achievement she received many prestigious awards, including the Peter Speiser Award, Jeantet-Collen Prize, Reichstein Medal, Solvay Prize, Paul Ehrlich Prize, the Breakthrough Prize and the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Just after having accepted to be the Paul Karrer Awardee 2024 Katalin Karikó received the Nobel Prize in Medicine 2023 together with Drew Weissman “for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.”

    Ramona Erni
    Email Author

    41st Paul Karrer Lecture and Award Ceremony

    Department of Chemistry

    2024-06-10, Event
  • What makes us human? New exhibition at Science Pavilion UZH

    In our new exhibition we explore what makes us human and the similarities between us and other species. Dive into the current research of the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology.
    Promotional poster for the exhibition "What makes us human?" - nutcracker from the Ore Mountains with walnuts.

    What makes us human? What forms and characteristics do communication, cooperation and culture take in the animal kingdom? How do researchers investigate these complex relationships in primates and other animals?

    For centuries, researchers from all disciplines as well as musicians, artists and poets have been studying the uniqueness of our species. This question has also shaped the research of the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology since its beginnings 125 years ago.
    In this exhibition, you will discover the differences and, above all, the similarities between other animals and us.
    Would you like to find out more about current anthropological research at UZH and enter into dialogue with us? Then explore the exhibition as part of a guided tour.

    Flyer of the exhibition "What makes us human?"
    Science Pavilion UZH
    Email Author

    Science Pavilion UZH

    Faculty of Science UZH

    Science Lab UZH Instagram

    2024-05-16, News
  • Mathilde Martin received the prize for the best PhD of the year 2023 from the SFECA

    Mathilde Martin, IEU, received the prize for the best PhD of the year 2023 from the French Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (SFECA) at the SFECA annual colloquium, held in Albi, France. She was rewarded for the originality and quality of the work she carried out during her PhD (2019-2023) on the acoustic communication network of the Cape fur seal.

    Mathilde Martin is a postdoctoral researcher in the Communication and Cognition in Social Mammals research group of the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich. She is currently interested in deciphering how close calls produced by meerkats during foraging reinforce group cohesion and what information these vocal signals convey between emitters and receivers.

    On the 24th of May 2024, Mathilde Martin received the prize for the best PhD of the year 2023 from the French Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (SFECA) at the 53rd edition of the SFECA annual colloquium, held in Albi, France. She was rewarded for the originality and quality of the work she carried out during her PhD (2019-2023) on the acoustic communication network of the Cape fur seal. Her work involved describing the species’ vocal repertoire, evaluating the degree of individuality in the seals’ vocalisations, and investigating individual vocal recognition at several levels of the communication network.

    Congratulations and all the best for your current projects at the University of Zurich!

    mathilde.martin@uzh.ch
    Email Author

    https://www.ieu.uzh.ch/en/research/behaviour/cognition.html

    https://www.ieu.uzh.ch/en.html

    2024-05-30, Awards and Honors
  • Remi Abgrall has been selected as the winner of the ECCOMAS Prandtl Medal

    Rémi Abgrall has been selected as the winner of the ECCOMAS Prandtl Medal for outstanding and sustained contributions to the area of computational fluid dynamics. ECCOMAS is a scientific organization founded in 1992, grouping together European associations with interests in the development and applications of computational methods in applied sciences and technology.
    Rémi Abgrall

    Rémi Abgrall is a distinguished mathematician and academic, known for his extensive contributions to the field of numerical analysis, particularly in the numerical discretization of hyperbolic problems. He is an alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud (now part of ENS Lyon) in France, where he studied mathematics. After completing his Ph.D. at the 'Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique' of CNRS at École Normale Supérieure in Paris, he worked as a research engineer at ONERA (The French Aerospace Lab) and then as a research scientist at INRIA (French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation).

    In 1996, Abgrall joined the University of Bordeaux as an associate professor. He was promoted to full professor in 2001 and became a distinguished professor in 2008. That same year, he became a research director at INRIA. In 2014, he moved to the University of Zurich, where he continues his research and academic activities.

    Abgrall's work focuses on the numerical discretization of hyperbolic problems, including the compressible Euler equations, multiphase flow equations, and the Hamilton-Jacobi equation. He has a significant interest in working with general unstructured meshes and high-order schemes, advancing methods used for solving complex mathematical problems in fluid mechanics and related areas.

    He is or has been the editor of several specialized journals, including the Journal of Computational Physics (as Editor-in-Chief), Journal of Scientific Computing, M2AN (Mathematical Modelling and Numerical Analysis), M3AS (Mathematical Models and Methods in Applied Sciences), Mathematics of Computation, Communications in Computational Physics, and Computers and Fluids.

    Abgrall has received numerous honors and awards, such as the GAMNI Prize from the French Academy of Sciences and being named a SIAM Fellow in 2022. He was awarded an advanced ERC (European Research Council) grant in 2008. In the current year, he received the Prandtl Medal from ECCOMAS for his "sustained and outstanding contributions in the field of fluid mechanics".

    ECCOMAS, the European Community on Computational Methods in Applied Sciences, is a scientific organization that brings together European associations with interests in the development and application of computational methods in science and technology.

    Rémi Abgrall's career is marked by significant academic achievements, influential research, and leadership in the mathematical and computational science communities. His contributions continue to impact the field of numerical analysis and its applications in various scientific domains.

     

     

     

     

    Prof. Dr. Rémi Abgrall
    Email Author

    Personal Homepage

    Homepage I-Math

     

    Hompage I-Math

    Announcement of Eccomas Awardees 2024

    2024-06-12, Awards and Honors
  • Measure of niches shows great apes experience the least competition; marmosets and tamarins the most

    A team of researchers at the University of Zurich and the University of Cambridge calculated niches of 191 primate species in a seven-dimensional space. They used this to show how primate niches evolved and calculate which groups of primates experience the highest levels of between-species competition.
    Chimpanzee in the Kalinzu Forest in Uganda (photo by Kathelijne Koops).

    Niches are a notoriously widely used, but ill-defined, concept in evolutionary biology. There are multiple definitions, spanning from ‘the resources an animal needs to survive’ to ‘what an animal does in its environment’ to ‘the location in which a species can continue to increase in numbers’. Many definitions, paired with difficulties in going from abstract definition to measured variable, has made it historically difficult to ‘measure’ niches for groups of animals.

    In the study, published in Nature Communications Biology, the UZH and Cambridge researchers have provided a new way to calculate primate niches. They collected data on 11 traits (including average body size, life history, diet, habitat breadth, and climate) for 191 primate species, and calculated where species fit within a seven-dimensional space made up of these variables.

    This collaborative effort includes Prof Kathelijne Koops from the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology and Prof Catalina Pimiento from the Department of Paleontology at the University of Zurich. Prof Koops is a primatologist working on the evolutionary origins of great ape behaviour, with a focus on tool use and culture; and Prof Pimiento is a computational paleobiologist working on the diversification and extinction mechanisms of marine life, especially sharks and marine megafauna. This unusual cross-disciplinary collaboration led to a novel use of an analytical approach previously applied to marine megafauna and sharks, now applied to non-human primates.

    “Taking into account different types of variables in a single analysis means we essentially combined all definitions of niches”, Laura van Holstein, joint lead author of the paper, said. “From this, we showed, first of all, that Asian and African monkeys, and great apes, are the most diverse groups when all of these variables are taken together. You might not have expected this, because, for example, if you only look at one variable – body size – great apes aren’t that diverse: they are all fairly large for primates. But when you consider all variables, great apes are much more diverse than, say, South American monkeys”.

    The team then ran phylogenetic comparative analyses to ask how primate niches change over evolutionary time. They show that, instead of traits evolving independently, primate evolution happened through natural selection for optimal combinations of traits. “This is interesting because many studies focus only on the evolution of a single trait,” said Pimiento, “but this is not necessarily the way evolution works.”

    The team then used the seven-dimensional space to calculate which species undergo the most between-species competition, and which species the least. “Species cannot live in the same place and occupy the exact same niche,” Pimiento explained. “This between-species competition is an important driver of evolution: if species compete intensely, then the outcome is either than one evolves a different combination of traits to occupy a different niche, or it goes extinct.”

    Species that are closer to each other in the seven-dimensional niche space, the authors reasoned, therefore likely experience more competition. They found that South American tamarins and marmosets experience high levels of competition. “This is a surprising and intriguing result,” according to Koops, “because we know that these species often associate with each other in big mixed-species groups in the wild. So how are they dealing with the negative evolutionary consequences of competition that great apes have managed to escape?”

    In contrast, great apes experience low levels of competition from other primates. “Great apes have clearly found a unique niche space compared to other primates: they are the least primate-y primates. This means they avoid the negative evolutionary consequences of between-species competition,” explained Koops.

    These results have implications beyond evolutionary biology, according to the authors. Van Holstein: “Niches describe what an animal is doing in an environment: its role and what it needs. Ecosystem stability depends on niches being filled. Going forward, we can use our seven-dimensional space to understand which species will represent the biggest losses in terms of niche uniqueness: the species that, if they were to go extinct, would cause an above-average loss of unique ecosystem functions. This may help in conservation prioritization.”

    Prof Catalina Pimiento and Prof Kathelijne Koops at the University of Zurich (photo by Kathelijne Koops).
    Prof. Dr. Catalina Pimiento Hernandez and Prof. Dr. Kathelijne Koops
    Email Author

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-024-06324-0

    https://www.pim.uzh.ch/en.html
    https://www.aim.uzh.ch/en.html

    @PimientoGroup
    @KathelijneKoops

    2024-06-12, News