Master Studies in Ecology and Evolution

Ecology and Evolution - all in one picture

Content and Focus

Global change induces alterations in essentially all of the earth’s ecosystems. For example, anthropogenically caused climate change and the substantial direct effects of the human population on ecosystems are responsible for a decrease in biodiversity and an increase in natural resource limitation. The scientific disciplines ecology and evolution focus research on elements, structures, functions and changes within our biotic environment. Only a deep and scientifically based understanding of ecological and evolutionary processes will make possible the conservation, protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources. This includes the understanding of the interactions of the organisms among themselves and with their environment, as well as a conceptual grasp of the adaptive differentiation of species, populations and individuals in terms of their genetic characteristics, their ecology, morphology and physiological and their developmental and reproductive biology on a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. The curriculum of the MA Ecology and Evolution provides a thorough, forward-looking, and high-quality education in these areas. It is characterized by its integrative, experimental, interdisciplinary and internationally competitive approach to education and research.

Qualifications and potential areas of employment

The successful candidates of the MA Ecology and Evolution will be familiar with basic concepts and theories of ecology and evolutionary biology. Their knowledge, expertise and competences is compatible with the state of the art in the field of organismic biology and will serve as a solid base for future innovative strategies to design and conduct research projects and solve relevant problems in basic and applied research.

Students will be familiar with approaches to scientific questions and solutions in the field of community ecology, ecophysiology, behavioral biology, phylogenetics, biogeography, systematics, taxonomy, molecular ecology and evolutionary biology, evolutionary developmental biology, conservation biology and biotechnology. They will be able to design novel research projects at the interface of ecology/evolution and zoology/botany, interpret available knowledge in the light of new theories and critically evaluate existing research results.

Graduates will be able to employ and adapt specialized methodological and analytical approaches to new research questions to increase our knowledge in individual disciplines and in interdisciplinary science. The methodological/analytical spectrum includes experimental field and laboratory work, molecular techniques, chemical/analytical techniques, modern microscopy and multivariate statistics. They will have fundamental knowledge and competences in basic science and will be able to transfer this skill set to applied and developmental questions. Furthermore, they will be able to interpret, present (orally and in writing) and critically evaluate their innovative research results.

Graduates will understand the relevance of ecological and evolutionary research for human society and economics, will be able to apply the central elements of modern ecology and evolutionary biology  to interdisciplinary questions, and they will be able to contribute to finding solutions towards a sustainable use of resources relevant for our society.

The in-depth ecological and evolutionary education is of highest scientific and societal relevance and offers a broad range of professional opportunities to graduates:  

- Research and teaching in universities and other educational institutions.

- Employment in zoos, botanical gardens, museums, natural history collections and natural parks and protected areas.

- Contributions to the private and/or public-administrative sector, participation in political, economical and societal decision-making processes, e.g. in agencies dealing with nature and environmental protection, landscape conservation and energy supply (such as documentation and management of biodiversity, management of sustainability and resources, climate change research).

- Applied research, development and consulting in the pharmaceutical/medical sector, environmental chemistry, food-technology and –industry, agriculture, gen-technology, biotechnology, etc.

- Botanical and zoological forensics.

- Employment in media, scientific journalism, and publishing sectors.