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URPP Global Change and Biodiversity


News list

  • Soils and forests as natural carbon sinks

    Cyrill Zosso, Nicholas Ouma Ofiti, Guido Lars Bruno Wiesenberg, Michael W.I. Schmidt of the URPP GCB  published the results of their research in Nature Geoscience. The study highlights the major significance of relying on soils and forests as natural carbon sinks as one of the key strategies in the fight against global warming.

  • Grassland Ecosystems Become More Resilient with Age

    Bernhard Schmid and colleagues novel results suggest that over time evolutionary processes in diverse plant communities select the most ‘collaborative’ plant genotypes among the different species, thus increasing division of labor, community productivity and ecosystem stability published in Nature communications

  • Bernhard Schmid received the Zhongguancun Award for International Cooperation

  • The Arctic under pressure: Man-made changes in the Arctic and Switzerland's role.

    Gabriela Schaepman-Strub and Patricia Holm composed the section on biodiversity and changing ecosystems in Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) report on increasing pressure on the Artic.

  • Annabelle Constance's research on the Aldabra Atoll was included as an article in the Automation and Digitalization section of Technische Rundschau

     Keller-pressure loggers are being used to monitor conditions in the Mangrove forests of Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles

  • Blue and green food webs respond differently to elevation and land use

    Florian Altermatt and co-authors investigated how green and blue food webs are structured and how they change in response to climatic and human influences

  • Vegetation type is an important predictor of the arctic summer land surface energy budget

    Jacqueline Oehri and Gabriela Schaepman-Strub: scientific evidence that the type of vegetation covering the land surface does matter for summer energy fluxes

  • Exposure to drought during previous generations increases complementarity between offspring of different grassland species

     making them more resilient to subsequent drought. 

  • Sofia van Moorsel awarded the Advancement of Young Academics Funds (FAN)

    Sofia van Moorsel was awarded her award for her project - Unraveling the genetic diversity of an economically and ecologically important aquatic plant. the FAN awards are support excellent young researchers at the University of Zurich in their academic career.

  • What is biodiversity for you? The University of Zurich (UZH) featured URPP GCB researchers on Biodiversity Day

    UZH highlighted the URPP GCB on social media to mark Biodiversity Day on 22 May 2022

  • Plant biodiversity can monitored using imaging spectroscopy

    Plant communities can be reliably monitored using imaging spectroscopy, which in the future will be possible via satellite.

  • Martin Oliver Reader and co-authors demonstrate evidence for decoupling of ecosystem service bundles with the built infrastructure in a global analysis of ecosystem service modification in deltas

    Their study examines the extent to which societies have become decoupled from their local ecosystem services across delta systems due to the modification of natural processes.

  • URPP GCB members participate in briefing at Swiss Parliament

  • How to measure the pressure on our eco-system

    Annabelle Constance's work on the Aldabra Atoll is featured as a showcase for the instruments being used in their project on the Atoll.

  • Jin-So Kim takes up a new position as assistant professor tenure track

  • Annina Michel promoted to research group leader in the Department of Geography

  • Jordi Bascompte awarded the Ramon Margalef Prize!

    Jordi Bascompte received this prestigious award for his mathematical work on the description of biological network

  • Felix Morsdorf awarded SNF grant with Kurt Bollmann

    The study will link functional traits maps of Lägern forest with field measured diversity

  • Anna Schweiger and co-authors found that spectral complementarity of plants predicts individual as well as plant community productivity.

    Spectral complementarity can reveal resource-use complementarity.

  • Eva Knop talked about the negative effect of artificial light at night on diurnal plant-pollinator interactions on 3SAT TV

    During the summer insects die from a single streetlight each night during the summer months.

  • Annabelle Constance and coauthors determined that the area of mangrove forest has increased on the Aldabra Atoll over the last 21 years

    Annabelle Constance and coauthors research on the extent of change of protected mangrove forest on the Aldabra Atoll was featured in a recent Seychelles broadcasting corporation broadcast and published in Global Ecology and Conservation

  • Biodiversity in agriculture, mixtures of varieties of a single crop and their benefits

    Pascal Niklaus and co-authors review the practical and conceptual challenges inherent in the development of variety mixtures, and discuss common approaches to overcome these.

  • Maria J. Santos promoted to Associate Professor of Earth System Science

  • Jakob Pernthaler's research was included in a Russian television show 'The Life of Others'

    Jakob talked about the research they are doing at the limnological station at the Lake of Zurich, one of the seven URPP GCB test sites.

  • Gabriela Schaepman-Strub is the new Scientific Director at Swiss Polar Institute

    Gabriela Schaepman-Strub is specialised in Arctic biodiversity and ecosystem functions, applying experiments, modelling, and remote sensing and has been involved in SPI activities since the institute was formed.

  • Hanneke van 't Veen​​​​​​​ wins best student presentation at IASC 2021 Commoning the Anthropocene conference

    Hanneke van 't Veen​​​​​​​ wins best student presentation at IASC 2021 Commoning the Anthropocene conference. The conference focused the on common property systems to land use and other shared resources (commoning) roles in the Anthropocene.

  • Landscape services and basic landscape knowledge

    A new website explains the under­standing of „landscape services“ and lists re­commen­dations and good practice examples – an outcome of a research project by the Space, Nature & Society unit with the University of Lausanne.

  • Michael Schaepman talks about how remote sensing can help protect biodiversity at American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting 2021

    Leading researchers from a variety of fields came together at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2021 with the theme: Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems. The virtual conference featured a talk by UZH President Michael Schaepman on how remote sensing can help protect biodiversity.

  • Florian Altermatt elected to Foundation Board of InfoFauna/CSCF

    InfoFauna/CSCF hosts the Swiss database on all faunistic data.

  • Florian Altermatt in 'Talk of the day' on Swiss Radio talks about the river flea shrimp, Pro Natura's 'Animal of the Year' drawing attention to water pollution.

  • Almost 2 million square meters of near-natural space has been acquired over the last year and a half as part of Mission B for more biodiversity

    URPP GCB's Florian Altermatt in his role for the Swiss Biodiversity Forum explains what Mission B has achieved and how Swiss biodiversity is doing today.

  • Florian Altermatt features on Swiss television about how animals become city dwellers

    In no time animals and plants adapt to the city.

  • Environmental DNA can determine river biodiversity!

    Florian Altermatt and co-authors have combined environmental DNA (eDNA) samples and hydrological methods to accurately determine the biodiversity of a river in Switzerland.

  • URPP GCB’s Florian Altermatt, president of the Swiss Biodiversity Forum, on Swiss TV news talking about the decline in insect numbers

    60 % of insects are endangered or potentially endangered.

  • ABCD: All continents, balanced gender, low carbon transport and diverse backgrounds

    These criteria should shape scientific conferences of the future

    A new format for conferences aims to facilitate much-needed change in science. Researchers from all over the world, from all gender and from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, are to be explicitly invited to scientific conferences and research networks.

  • Species loss is detrimental for forest stand volume and these effects strengthen with age in forests

    URPP GCB 's Pascal Niklaus, Bernhard Schmid and co-authors found that directed species loss may severely hamper productivity in already diverse young forests in a recent publication in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

  • The first World Biodiversity Forum takes place in Davos, Switzerland in February 2020

    The unprecedented decline in species diversity and the impact of such a loss of diversity on ecosystems and human well-being is not as acknowledged as much as the threats of climate change.  Strategies to address the alarming rate of biodiversity loss is on the program at the World Bio­di­ver­si­ty Fo­rum.

  • Improved Functioning of Diverse Landscape Mosaics

    Biodiverse ecosystems generally function better than monocultures. Jacqueline Oehri, Gabriela Schaepman-Strub, Bernhard Schmid and Pascal Niklaus of the URPP GCB, show that the same is true on a larger scale: Having a mix of different land-covers improves the functioning and stability of a landscape – irrespective of the plant species diversity, region and climate.

  • Maria J. Santos talks on RTP televison

    Maria J. Santos discusses climate change, the environmental themes at WEF 2020 and the inaurgural World Biodiversity Forum in 2020.

  • Annabelle Constance awarded a grant from WIOMSA for her research project on the Aldabra Atoll

  • NHK World (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) reports on URPP GCB research, including Borneo and Swiss field studies.

  • An Honory Doctorate awarded to environmental physicist Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar by the Faculty of Science, University of Zurich

  • Alizée Le Moigne awarded best talk prize at the 6th Fresh Blood for Freshwater conference

  • Gabriela Schaepman-Strub appointed as Associate Professor for Earth System Science at the University of Zurich

  • Annabelle Constance wins best poster award at Biology'19 in Zurich, Switzerland.

  • Fanny Petibon awarded prize at the EARSeL Workshop in Brno, Czech Republic.

  • Cross-ecosystem carbon flows have been ignored until now, but they have important global effects.

    URPP GCB's Florian Altermatt and co-authors  at Eawag and Zurich University have synthesised for the first time the amounts of carbon transported between many different ecosystems. According to this global synthesis, spatial flows of carbon can be very large – and their significance has previously been underestimated.

  • Small Genetic Differences Turn Plants into Better Teams

    Diverse communities of plants and animals typically perform better than monocultures. URPP GCB's Pascal Niklaus, in collaboration with Samuel Wuest, has now found have now been able to identify the genetic cause of effects published in Nature Ecology and Evolution . 

  • Emily Solly, a Postdoc in the URPP GCB recently received a SNSF Ambizione Grant

    Her project is entitled "When trees die: Understanding how plants and microbes interact and influence soil biogeochemical processes"

  • URPP GCB's Florian Altermatt was on air on Swiss Radio "Morgenstund" talking about biodiversity and global change

    Professor Florian Altermatt of the URPP GCB is vice-president of Forum Biodiversität.

  • Alpine and Arctic tundra are warming 2-3 times faster than average

    Alpine and Arctic tundra are warming 2-3 times faster than average. How does vegetation react to this warming? What do plant traits tell us about changes in plant strategies?

  • The complex interplay between ecosystems, species and genes to measure biodivesity and global change

    Remote sensing expert Michael Schaepman wants to use a new aerial sensing method to investigate the complex interplay between ecosystems, species and genes. It could help measure global biodiversity

  • URPP GCB Florian Altermatt appointed as Associate Professor for Aquatic Ecology at the University of Zurich

    Florian Altermatt was appointed Associate Professor for Aquatic Ecology at the University of Zurich in the University Research Priority Programme on Global Change and Biodiversity. Florian has been an affiliated member of the research programme since 2013.

  • Alizée Le Moigne's project funded by Polar Access Fund 2018 offered by the Swiss Polar Institute

    Diversity of microbial community structure and function in Arctic thermokarst ponds: 3 weeks in north-eastern Siberia, in the Kytalyk nature reserve.

  • Species-Rich Forests Better Compensate Environmental Impacts

    Forests offset CO2 emissions, planting a mixture of tree species will store much more carbon than if monocultures were planted.

  • Rethinking our relationship with Nature

     "Rethinking Our Relationship with Nature", a new research project led by Anna Deplazes-Zemp which is supported by  a grant by the Nomis Foundation. Should we conserve nature because of the resources it provides or should we conserve it for its own sake.

  • Evolution of facilitation requires diverse communities

    In a recent paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution, Debra Zuppinger-Dingley and co-authors found that the evolution of facilitative interactions in plants requires biologically diverse communities.

  • Charcoal: Major Missing Piece in the Global Carbon Cycle

    Most of the carbon resulting from wildfires and fossil fuel combustion is rapidly released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Researchers at the University of Zurich .......

  • The Nagoya Protocol could backfire on the Global South

    In a new article in 'Nature Ecology and Evolution', Deplazes-Zemp argue that the Nagoya Protocol could backfire on the Global South.

  • Gabriela Schaepman-Strub to represent Switzerland in the Arctic’s Council biodiversity working group, CAFF

    Gabriela Schaepman-Strub was motivated by EDA and CAFF to represent Switzerland in the Arctic’s Council biodiversity working group CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna).

  • Artenvielfalt macht Landschaften robuster

    Artenreiche Lebensräume sind stabiler gegenüber Schwankungen der Umweltbedingungen als solche mit geringer Biodiversität. Dass diese bisher experimentellen Erkenntnisse auch für reale Ökosysteme gelten, haben Forschende der Universität Zürich nachgewiesen. (Natur und Umwelt, Tierwelt 10, 2018)

  • URPP on Global Change and Biodiversity New Assistant Professorship in Earth System Science

    URPP on Global Change and Biodiversity welcomes Maria J. Santos as Assistant Professor in Earth System Science. This professorship allows the University of Zurich to boost its research into human-induced global change.

  • URPP Global Change and Biodiversity member selected as International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) fellow

    Congratulations to Stanislav Ksenofontov, a PhD in the URPP Global Change and Biodiversity, has been selected as an International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) fellow for the social and human working group.

  • Mapping Functional Diversity of Forests with Remote Sensing

    Productivity and stability of forest ecosystems strongly depend on the functional diversity of plant communities.


  • Biodiversity protects against drought

    Biodiverse communities of trees are better at coping with phases of drought than uniform monocultures.

  • bioDISCOVERY News: Natural Assets Definition Workshop

    Natural Assets Definition Workshop held in Bern, Switzerland.

  • Diverse Landscapes are more productive and adapt better to Climate Change

    Ecosystems with high biodiversity are more productive and stable towards annual fluctuations in environmental conditions than those with a low diversity of species. They also adapt better to climate-driven environmental changes.

  • Swiss researchers from the URPP GCB are digitizing the forest!!

    Researchers would like to make the changes in forests visible.

  • Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt elected vice-president of the Forum Biodiversität Schweiz of SCNAT

  • SNSF Scientific Image Competition results have now been released

    The winning images of the SNSF Scientific Image Competition have now been released. A photo of Fabien Schneider at the URPP GCB testsite in Borneo was selected in the category “Women and men of science”.

  • University of Zurich to become global centre for biodiversity research

    From 2017, the University of Zurich will assume the International Project Office of bioDISCOVERY. UZH was chosen particularly because of the concentration and interdisciplinary nature of the University Research Priority Program “Global Change and Biodiversity”.

  • Gabriela Schaepman-Strub about her expeditions to Siberia

    Gabriela talks about her research in the Siberian tundra at the talk show Wissenschaft Persönlich.

  • Biology'16

    This year's Biology 16' conference was held in Lausanne. Biology meetings take place every year to celebrate Darwin’s birthday and to share the latest scientific research in ecology and evolution. This year the conference was held at the University of Lausanne, 11 - 12 February 2016.

  • Lunch Seminar with Dr. Lars Larsson

    URPP-GCB lunch seminar with Marcus Hall on 8 October Dr. Lars Larsson, a visiting researcher, will be talking about historical landscape changes in Central Asia.

  • Scientifica 2015 – Light and Biodiversity

    URPP at Scientifica 2015 – Light and Biodiversity The open doors event ‘Scientifica’ of UZH and ETH during the first September weekend 2015 attracted over 25’000 people, including invited guests. The URPP GCB presented the interaction of light and biodiversity from leaf to canopy and landscape scale.

  • Interdisciplinary cooperation to measure biodiversity from space

    Interdisciplinary cooperation to measure biodiversity from space call made by Prof. Dr. Andrew K. Skidmore of the ITC Faculty of the University of Twente and colleagues around the world, including scientists from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, today (22 July 2015) in Nature

  • Gabriela Schaepman-Strub joined the Committee on Polar and High altitude research

    We are glad to announce that Gabriela Schaepman-Strub was recently invited to become a member of the Swiss Committee on Polar and High altitude research (here)

  • Lunch Seminar with Mikey O'Brien

    Postdoc Mikey O'Brien working on Projet 4 together with Kentaro Shimizu, Bernhard Schmid and Ang Cheng Choon will give a talk titled "Mast flowering in lowland forests of Borneo: a unique scientific opportunity".

  • Journal Club

    The main goal of the journal club will be to discuss interdisciplinary studies related to the six biomes covered by the URPP GCB.

  • Nagoya Protocol – access and benefit sharing of biodiversity

    Sylvia Martinez from the University of Basel introduced the access and benefit-sharing scheme of the Nagoya protocol and its implication for researchers during a URPP GCB lunch seminar. Sylvia Martinez was herself part of the Swiss delegation in the negotiations of the Nagoya protocol and coauthored an excellent brochureon access and benefit sharing for the Swiss Academy of Science.

  • Lunch meeting: Lake Zurich and Seasonality

    Project Leader Jakob Pernthaler and PhD Yana Yankova working on Project 2 will present their work on seasonality.

  • A dedicated forest phenology monitoring network

    The estimation of forest phenology based on variables derived directly by nearby cameras has been shown to be fruitful and feasible.

  • Phenology Symposium

    On October 24, 2014 the URPP GCB organised a Phenology Symposium.

  • Plant communities produce greater yield than monocultures

    Diverse plant communities are more successful and enable higher crop yields than pure monocultures, a European research team headed by ecologists from the University of Zurich Priority Research Program on Global Change and Biodiversity has discovered.

  • Solar Energy to the Siberian Site

    A solar panel system was set up in summer 2014 in support of the Siberian field campaigns of the URPP on ‘Global Change and Biodiversity’.

  • Keynote Talk at the Austrian Statistical Society

    Reinhard Furrer gives a keynote talk at the annual meeting of the Austrian Statistical Society.

  • Livelihoods and Global Change Perceptions in 4 Siberian Villages

    From June to August 2014, Stanislav Ksenofontov performed 47 semi-structured in-depth interviews with local indigenous people.

  • Second URPP GCB field season at the Siberian test site

    This year, the field season at the Kytalyk site started beginning of May. Inge Juszak visited the site and reestablished two automatic measurement stations for solar radiation, thermal radiation and soil temperature.

  • Giant Tortoise Exclosures on Aldabra

    Tortoise turf is a (by island standards) species-rich micro-plant community that is heavily cropped by herds of grazing giant tortoises. Exactly how tortoise grazing structures this plant community is unknown.

  • Lunch Meeting Jennifer Bartmess & Leonard Alaza

    PhD student Jennifer Bartmess with field assistant Leonard Alaza will give a research update after recent work in Sabah, Malaysia.

  • MoU between the URPP GCB and EU BON

    On April 23, 2014 the URPP GCB and the EU BON signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for future cooperation and networking.

  • Lunch Meeting: Malaysia

    Project Leader Norman Backhaus will talk about his past and current research in Malaysia and wants to discuss ideas for future research topics on Wednesday, 7 May 2014.

  • Geo-X Biodiversity Day 2014

    Have a look back at this year's GEO-X  Biodiversity Day, organized by the Swiss Federal Office Enivorment (FOEN) and the Swiss Academy of Sciences (scnat).

  • Lunch Meeting: Siberia Test Site

    Project Leader Gabriela Schaepman-Strub will introduce the Siberia Test Site on Thursday, 6. March 2014.

  • Lunch Meeting: Borneo Test Site

    Micky O'Brien and Kentaro Shimizu will introduce the Borneo Test Site on Tuesday, 20. February 2014.

  • Memorandum of Understanding

    The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia and the University of Zurich.

  • URPP GCB at the Geo-X and Ministerial Summit

    The Swiss Federation organises a special event on biodiversity on January 14 and will exhibit throughout the week at the Swiss Pavilion. The URPP GCB is present at the Swiss Pavilion together with the NPOC and many others.

  • Siberia Expedition

    The 2013 expedition to Eastern Siberia has now started. The goal of the expedition will be to assess global change drivers on biodiversity.

  • Contribution to Scientifica 2013

    The URPP on Global Change and Biodiversity will have a booth at the Scientifica 2013. Visitors will be taken through three studies of local, at risk ecosystems.

  • SRF4 interviews Gabriela Schaepman-Strub

    Gabriela was interviewed by the SRF4 about her work in the Siberian tundra.

  • Siberia Expedition

    The 2013 expedition to Eastern Siberia has now ended. The expedition was a great success. For more information please have a look at our blog posts.

  • Breakfast with Terry Chapin

    In occasion of the visit of Terry Chapin to the University of Zurich, the GCB PhDs and Postdocs held on September 19th a breakfast discussion about science, gender and  career.