Plenary speakers

We will have 5 plenary speakers at Biology’16:

Yvonne Buckley, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

yvonneYvonne is seeking to understand the fundamental drivers of animal and plant population processes in a rapidly changing world. She uses these discoveries to provide support for environmental decisions in the areas of biodiversity conservation, invasive species management and habitat restoration. Her primary expertise is in comparative plant population dynamics, invasive plant management and predicting responses of populations to global change.

Selected publications:

Tanja Schwander, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

TSchwanderTanja aims to understand the diversity of reproductive systems in animals and the mechanisms underlying this diversity. She focuses on “unusual” modes of reproductions such as parthenogenetic systems in all-female lineages, partial genome elimination in bi-sexual species and systems with more than two sexes. She uses orthopteroid insects and thrips as model systems because these groups comprise many independently derived parthenogenetic lineages.

Selected publications:

  • van der Kooi C.J., Schwander T., 2014. On the fate of sexual traits under asexuality. Biological Reviews 89: 805-819
  • *Henry L., *Schwander T., Crespi B.J., 2012. Deleterious mutation accumulation in asexual Timema stick insects. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29:401-408 *co-first authors
  • Schwander T., Henry L., Crespi B.J., 2011. Molecular evidence for ancient asexuality in stick insects. Current Biology 21:1129-1134.
  • Schwander T., Leimar O., 2011. Genes as leaders and followers in evolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(3) pp. 143-15​

Catherine Graham, Suny at Stony Brook, NY, USA.

graham_largeCatherine’s research is in two main areas: empirical work focused on landscape and behavioral ecology, and bioinformatics/geographic information systems modeling to examine how current and historical environmental factors affect patterns of species distribution. At a landscape scale she examines how landscape- and local-level factors influence patterns of habitat use by animals. At a regional scale she is integrating museum data, environmental GIS layers, distributional niche models and phylogenetic information to better understand processes that may have led to current species distribution patterns.

Selected publications:

  • Wiens, J. J., & Graham, C. H. 2005. Niche conservatism: Integrating evolution, ecology, and conservation biology. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 36: 519–539.
  • Elith, J., Graham, C., et al. 2006. Novel methods improve prediction of species’ distributions from occurrence data. Ecography 29: 129–151.
  • Graham, C. H., & Fine, P. V. a. 2008. Phylogenetic beta diversity: linking ecological and evolutionary processes across space in time. Ecology letters 11:1265–77.
  • Graham, C. H., Parra, J. L., Rahbek, C., & McGuire, J. a. 2009. Phylogenetic structure in tropical hummingbird communities. PNAS 106 : 19673–8.

Raphaël Arlettaz, University of Bern, Switzerland


Raphaël works on biodiversity conservation and restoration issues. His current main research focus is on population biology of rare and endangered animal species of temperate, Mediterranean and Alpine biomes, and on community ecology of agro-ecosystems and Alpine ecosystems. His main goal is to understand the factors responsible for population declines and ecosystem degradation so as to formulate sound and cost-effective mitigation and restoration measures that are implementable by conservation practitioners. The emphasis is put on understanding ecosystem functionalities and resilience from the double perspective of biodiversity maintenance and agricultural or sylvicultural production.

Selected publications:

  • Pe’er, G., Dicks, L.V., Visconti P., Arlettaz R., et al. 2014. EU agricultural reform fails on biodiversity. Science 344 (6188): 1090-1092
  • Braunisch, V., Home, R., Pellet, J., Arlettaz, R. 2012. Conservation science relevant to action: a research agenda identified and prioritized by practitioners. Biological Conservation 153: 201-210
  • Chapron, G. & Arlettaz,R. Conservation: academics should’conserve or perish’. 2008. Nature 451 (7175): 127-127
  • Arlettaz, R., Patthey, P., Baltic, M., Leu, T., Schaub, M., Palme, R., Jenni-Eiermann,S. 2007. Spreading free-riding snow sports represent a novel serious threat for wildlife.

Heinz Richner, University of Bern, Switzerland


Heinz’s research over the past 25 years has been on the causes and consequences of the complex interactions between birds as hosts and some of their parasites. He uses experimental large-scale field studies to manipulate the factors of interest while randomizing all others to discover the selective forces acting on morphological, physiological, behavioral and life-history traits.

Selected publications:

  • Richner H., Christe P. & Oppliger A. 1995. Paternal investment affects prevalence of
    malaria. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (USA) 92: 1192-1194.
  • Oppliger A., Christe P. & Richner H. 1996. Trade-off between clutch size and parasite
    resistance. Nature 381: 565.
  • Tschirren B. & Richner H. 2006. Parasites shape the optimal investment in immunity. Proc. R. Soc. B 273: 1773-1777.
  • Basso A., Coslovsky M. & Richner, H. 2014. Parasite- and predator-induced maternal effects in the Great tit (Parus major). Behav. Ecol. 25: 1105-1114.