The Doctors Trio

We left behind quite an exciting couple weeks. PopEcol fledged its first cohort of PhDs. Tina, Sam and Koen successfully defended their four years of research and received their doctoral degrees.

They are not only our first PhD fledglings, but also among the founding members of PopEcol. It was difficult to say bye to the trio, who has been with us since the beginning of our group. We can only hope that this separation anxiety gets easier with future fledglings.

We wish them all the best for their future (and very much hope to be a part of that future)! 🙂

Here are the proud carriers of the amazing PhD hats:

Tina Cornioley

Thesis title: “Trait-mediated effects of climate on the population dynamics of the wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)”








Sam Cruickshank

Thesis title: “Dealing with uncertainty in amphibian and reptile population monitoring for conservation”








Koen van Benthem

Thesis title: “Trait-based mechanistic and phenomenological approaches for predicting population dynamics”


Arpat’s Antrittsvorlesung

Our Lab is proud to announce Arpat’s “Antrittsvorlesung” (inaugural lecture), which will be held Monday, 11 November 2013 at 5 pm at the University of Zurich.

I thought I post it on our blog to put some extra pressure on Arpat… 😉

inaugural lecture Ozgul

Do not miss that out… apparently the apèro afterwards is really nice! Oh, yeah and of course the lecture will be absolutely amazing

Mollie Brooks, our new quantitative ecologist

We have a new quantitative ecologist joining our ranks, Mollie Brooks, who is a recent PhD graduate from University of Florida, Gainesville. Fresh out of Ben Bolker’s group, Mollie is bringing with her much needed skills in statistical and demographic analysis, and to our pleasant surprise, in baking!

During her postdoc, Mollie will contribute to our research projects on early warning signals and resurrecting past eco-evolutionary responses.


Gabriele receives the Claraz Research Grant

One of our gentlemen carrying a GPS collar + crittercam.
One of our gentlemen carrying a GPS/crittercam collar.

Congratulations to Gabriele for receiving the well-deserved Georges und Antoine Claraz Donation for his brown bear project in north-eastern Turkey. Yet another bear will be carrying our GPS collars.

Here’s a cool article on Georges Claraz, a Swiss naturalist (1832–1930) who pioneered the first expeditions to northern Patagonia.

Jérôme Guélat, our new GIS specialist from

A warm welcome to Jérôme Guélat, who is starting his PhD degree in February. Jérôme’s PhD is an exciting collaboration with Dr. Marc Kéry from the Swiss Ornithological Institute, where Jérôme has been working as a GIS specialist. For his PhD, he will investigate the spatiotemporal dynamics of breeding bird populations across Switzerland using a hierarchical model and disparate data collected over large spatial and temporal scales. We are looking forward to having him on board as our spatial analysis expert and embassador of the Vogelwarte.

Cindy Canale, our new eco-physiologist

Together with Dr. Aurelie Cohas and Prof. Dom Allain (University of Lyon), who have been working on an Alpine marmot population in French Alps for over 20 years, we have been thinking on a research plan to investigate the physiological, behavioural and demographic responses of the rotund rodents to environmental change. All we needed was an eco-physiologist, who would help us to better understand the hibernation physiology, and Dr. Cindy Canale stepped on to the scene. Cindy wrote an excellent fellowship proposal, all the while chasing lemurs in Madagaskar, and we just learned that she won the prestigious Marie Curie Postdoctoral Award. She is joining our ranks in February. A big welcome to our group and congratulations for the well-deserved award!

Stefan Sommer, our new rotifer meister

Many long-term studies on larger vertebrates provide us with only a single time series to study population dynamics. To test all the interesting hypotheses arising from these studies, we have to shrink those systems into tubes and replicate under different treatments. For this, with the invaluable help of Dr. Diego Fontaneto (Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Italy), we chose the rotifers as our experimental system. It didn’t take too long for us to realize that we needed expert help. And that help arrived as a swiss-army-knife of a guy: Stefan Sommers, our research associate, rotifer-meister, orchestrator of our microcosm lab!

Gabriele Cozzi, our new movement ecologist

Gabriele Cozzi, an almost-done PhD student in the Schmid Group, came to my office one day with bunch of stinky gps collars and asked me if we could make any use of these.

20121211-230525.jpgCouple weeks later, he was hugging not-so-teddy bears in Northeastern Turkey. One thing led to another, and Gabriele is now (his successful defence in Feb permitting) a postdoc in our group specialising on animal movement ecology. His research plans are shaping up and will involve carnivores as dangerous as meerkats and as cuddly as bears.