Plenary speakers

This year, we will host five plenary lectures.

Peter Linder, University of Zürich, Switzerland

LinderPeter Linder is an expert in plant diversity (taxonomy, anatomy, ecology), genesis (macro-evolution, niche diversification), persistence (community assembly, limiting niche similarity), and spatial patterns of plant communities (biogeography). His research mainly focuses on the Cape flora of South Africa and systematically on the Order of Poales, specifically on Poaceae and Restionaceae, but expands to many other plant families and geographical regions of the world. Peter Linder is currently professor at the Institute of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany in Zürich, where he directed the University Botanical Garden from 2001 to 2010.

Selected publications:

Linder, H.P., de Klerk, HM, Born, J, Burgess, ND, Fjeldså, J, Rahbek, C. 2012. The partitioning of Africa: statistically defined biogeographical regions in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Biogeography 39, 1189-1205

Antonelli, A., Humphreys, A.M., Lee, W.G., Linder, H.P. 2011. Absence of mammals and the evolution of New Zealand grasses. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278, 695-701

Crisp, M.D., Arroyo, M.T.K., Cook, L.G., Gandolfo, M.A., Jordan, G.J., Mcglone, M.S., Weston, P.H., Westoby, M., Wilf, P., Linder, H.P. 2009. Phylogenetic Biome Conservatism on a Global Scale. Nature 458, 754-756


Catherine Peichel, University of Bern, Switzerland

PeichelCatherine Peichel is a geneticist with interests in the genetic and genomic changes that underlie phenotypic evolution, including adaptation, sex chromosome evolution, behaviour and speciation. Her primary model is the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), which displays astonishing natural variation in courtship, parental care, social aggregation, aggression, predator avoidance and spatial learning. Her current work focuses on identifying the genetic and neural mechanisms that underlie the evolution of such behaviors. Catherine Peichel is full professor of evolutionary biology at the Institute of Ecology & Evolution at the University of Bern since August 1st 2016 – and successor of Heinz Richner, founder of the Biology’ Conferences.

Selected publications:

Conte G.L., Arnegard M.E., Best J., Chan Y.F., Jones F.C., Kingsley D.M., Schluter D., Peichel C.L. 2015. Extent of QTL reuse during repeated phenotypic divergence of sympatric threespine stickleback. Genetics 201, 1189-1200

Jiang Y, Torrance L, Peichel C.L., Bolnick D.I. 2015. Differences in rheotactic responses contribute to divergent habitat use between parapatric lake and stream stickleback. Evolution 69, 2517-2524

Arnegard M.E., Peichel C.L. et al. 2014. Genetics of ecological divergence during speciation. Nature 511, 307-311


Andrew Balmford, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Andrew BalmfordAndrew Balmford is a dedicated restoration and conservation biologist. His research focuses on the costs and benefits of conservation, how best to reconcile biodiversity conservation and farming, the reasons why nature is being lost, and examining what works in conservation. He tackles these issues through fieldwork, analyses of large databases, and modeling, and by working wherever possible with colleagues in other disciplines and with conservation practitioners. He co-founded the Cambridge Conservation Forum and he is closely involved in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

Selected publications:

Balmford A. 2012. Wild hope: on the frontlines of conservation success. University of Chicago Press

Balmford A., Green R., Phalan B. 2012. What conservationists need to know about farming. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279, 2714–2724

Phalan B., Onial M., Balmford A., Green. R.E. 2011. Reconciling food production and biodiversity conservation: land sharing and land sparing compared. Science 333, 1289–1291


Rosemary Gillespie, University of California, Berkeley, USA

GillepsieRosemary Gillespie is an evolutionary biologist, dedicated to understanding the evolutionary patterns and processes among populations and species. Her research primarily focuses on island communities, particularly on remote hotspot archipelagoes of the Pacific, in which drifting communities have changed over long periods of time. Such archipelagoes enable to take snapshots of evolutionary community history. Rosemary Gillespie is currently the president of the International Biogeography Society and professor at the University of California, in Berkeley (USA).

Selected publications:

Warren, B.H., Gillespie, R.G. et al. 2015. Islands as model systems in ecology and evolution: prospects fifty years after MacArthur-Wilson. Ecology Letters 18, 200-217

Brewer, M.S., Carter, R., Croucher, P.J.P, Gillespie, R.G. 2015. Shifting Habitats, Morphology and Selective Pressures: Developmental Polyphenism in an Adaptive Radiation of Hawaiian Spiders. Evolution 69, 162-178

Barnosky A.D., Gillespie, R.G. et al. 2012. Approaching a state-shift in Earth’s biosphere. Nature 486, 52–58


Tom Wenseleers, University of Leuven, Belgium – Darwin Lecture

WenseleersTom Wenseleers combines theory with empirical research to study the fundamental factors that drive cooperative social behaviour and other complex traits in nature. His research involves (epi)genetic and genomic approaches, as well as advanced chemical communication analysis in a diversity of organisms, including social insects (ants, bees and wasps), microorganisms and humans to better understand the so-called “major transitions in evolution”. He also tackles more applied questions related to honeybee diseases, swarm intelligence, and evolutionary robotics. Tom Wenseleers is an associate professor at the University of Leuwen (Belgium) since 2010.

Selected publications:

Van Oystaeyen A., […], Wenseleers T.  2014. Conserved class of queen pheromones stops social insect workers from reproducing. Science 343, 287-290

Ratnieks F.L.W., Foster K.R., Wenseleers T. 2006 Conflict resolution in insect societies. Annual Review of Entomology 51, 581-608

Foster K.R., Wenseleers T. 2006. A general model for the evolution of mutualisms. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 19, 1283-1293