Altermatt lab – Home


We are part of the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at University of Zurich as well as the Department of Aquatic Ecology at Eawag. With our work we want to understand how species occur in space and time, how they interact, and how processes such as species invasions, dispersal or climate change affect natural communities.

Metapopulation and metacommunity theory provide a conceptual framework for our research. We use both an experimental and a comparative approach, and integrate them with theoretical models. Depending on the question, we use a variety of study systems, ranging from protists (microcosm-experiments, see gallery), to aquatic invertebrates (field studies with amphipods, planktonic crustaceans, and freshwater insects), and Lepidoptera. Currently, we are especially interested how asymmetric dispersal and invasions affect diversity and species interactions in riverine systems.

Our research is centered around the following questions:

  1. 1.How do spatial dynamics affect biodiversity and ecosystem functioning? (focus on dendritic habitat networks)

  2. 2.How are species interactions affected by global changes?

  3. 3.How to fundamentally measure biodiversity using environmental DNA (eDNA)?

For the official site at University of Zurich, see here.


Welcome to the lab of Florian Altermatt

1) alpine river in the Yosemite National Park 2) adult stonefly (Perla grandis) 3) microcosm experiment with protists 4) the amphipod Gammarus fossarum feeding on leaf litter 5) larva of the Small Eggar (Eriogaster lanestris) feeding on blackthorne  (from top to bottom).

Lab News

  1. One new PhD student (Felix Moerman) and two new MSc students (Kathrin Holenstein & Remo Wüthrich) in the group. Welcome!

  2. 3 papers out in less than a week: Seymour et al., Deiner et al., and  Alther et al.

  3. August 2016: Samuel Hürlemann will be our new Technician, welcome!

  4. Moths evolve to avoid light: paper out in Biology Letters and highlighted in Science

  5. January 2016: Elvira’s eDNA paper out in ES&T incl. cover. congrats!

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