Professor of Ecosystem Management

News & Events


OPAL is funded

Oil Palm Adaptive Landscapes, a 6-yr research program spanning Indonesia, Cameroon and Colombia, is funded by SNF/SDC. Interdisciplinary & participatory, biodiversity & ecosystem services, livelihoods, policy, and development - we have it all! Starting in 2015, and recruiting soon.

New book

Forests: A Very Short Introduction
- pre-order now at OUP!

Sustainability Blog

The Future of Milk | 2 Sept 2014

Reforestation: a chance for farmers | 3 June 2014

Future farmers | 19 December 2013

Dark side of coffee | 11 November 2013

In the Media

Die Pflanze unseres Lebens (The plants of our lives) | NZZ am Sonntag | 23 February 2014 | Article on our oil palm work (in German).

New Publications

Born, J. et al. (2015) Differential responses of seedlings to microtopography. Biotropica, in press.

Born, J. et al. (2014) Differing life history characteristics support coexistence ... . Biotropica, 46, 58-68.

Braaker, S., et al. (2014) Habitat connectivity shapes urban arthropod communities... Ecology, 95, 1010-1021.

Finger, A. et al. (2014) Genetic connectivity of a moth pollinated tree in a fragmented habitat ... PLOS One. see here

Frei, E., et al. (2014) Plant population differentiation and climate change... Global Change Biology, 20, 441-455.

Ghazoul, J. (2014) Ecological dynamics in fragmented landscapes. Oxford Bibliographies in Ecology see here

Ismail, S.A., et al. (2014) Forest trees in human modified landscapes... PLOS One, 9, e89437.

Kaiser-Bunbury, C., et al. (2014) ... the structure of plant-pollinator networks. Ecology, in press.

Ecology and Ecosystems Seminar Series




Jaboury presented a plenary talk at the Rainforest Ecology, Diversity and Conservation conference in Kota Kinabalu, sponsored by Yayasan Sabah.

After the conference, Jaboury, James Margrove and Chris Philipson cogitated in the field.

Sepilok panorama
Sepilok panorama


Group hike in dry meadows of Schaffhausen, followed by wine tasting.


The Ecosystem Management Group and ETH is hosting the 2015 Annual meeting of the Society for Tropical Ecology
From the 7th to 10th April 2015

You can find out more hereLink_to_GTO_Page



Group trip to Papiliorama - we all now have great photos of tropical butterflies from central Switzerland.


After 18 months of effort, we are very pleased to be awarded a 6-year r4d project to work on oil palm landscapes in Indonesia, Cameroon and Colombia. We start in March 2015, and will be recruiting soon.

June and July

Field courses in Serbia and Switzerland, conference in Cairns, fieldwork started in earnest in Malaysia, several new PhD students ... Institute excursion in Serbia (again) ... So much to report, but no time.


James scoops second place Merian Award GTOE

Congratulation James for winning the second place Merian Award for best student presentation at the Annual meeting of the Society for Tropical Ecology (GTOE) in Freising. We enjoyed a wonderful meeting and are excitied to host the 2015 meeting here in Zurich!

Workshop on Genetic Diversity and meeting Aichi target 13 of the CBD in Fukuoka Japan

Chris Kettle was invited to a 2 day workshop in Fukuoka Japan, organised by Tet Yahara and Makiko Mimura from Kyushu University. This workshop had the aim to discuss and define a set of priorities in research and policy to push forward the national strategies of countries as signatures of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to meet Aichi target 13 which is "By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity." Ultimately we aim to do two things: write a report defining the reasons why conservation policy needs to address genetic diversity explicitly in addition to species level diversity and second, influence policy through the CBD. During these two days we made a good start.

Workshop on Oil Palm Landscapes

From 4 to 6 February we ran an intensive workshop in preparation for a grant submission on oil palm landscapes. We were joined in Zurich by our consortium partners from Indonesia, Cameroon and Colombia. We managed to get a lot done, while also finding time for good food and several drinks. There is much yet to do, but we have a great team and the confidence to do it!


New Nature paper on the importance of pathogens for tree species co-existence

Congratulations to Robi for the publication of his latest Nature paper which demonstrates the import role that pathogenic fungi can play in negative density dependence of tropical tree species. Bagchi R, Gallery RE, Gripenberg S, Gurr SJ, Narayan L, Addis CE, Freckleton RP, Lewis OT: Pathogens and insect herbivores drive rainforest plant diversity and composition. Nature, 22nd January 2014, doi: 10.1038/nature12911 For more info read here

Netted Stinkhorn
Netted Stinkhorn

Jaboury nominated as President-Elect of ATBC 2014-2016.

The electronic ballots have been counted, and the ATBC are pleased to welcome new President-Elect Jaboury Ghazoul and 2014-2016 Councilors Jennifer Powers, Kyle E. Harms, Yadvinder Malhi, and Nobby Cordeiro.

Prof Richard Ennos Visits EM Group to discuss collaborations and give a seminar

We were delighted to welcome Richard Ennos Prof of Ecological Genetics from the University of Edinburgh to the EM group on 22nd of January. Richard gave a great seminar explaining the recent work they have been doing applying a phenotypic approach to explore patterns of genetic variation in pinus sylvestris across its range in Scotland.
Abstract: Predicting the response of tree populations to future changes in climate requires an understanding of the extent and geographic patterns of adaptive genetic variation in natural populations. In this talk I will outline the various approaches that can be taken for studying adaptive genetic variation (genomic, transcriptomic and phenotypic) together with their strengths and weaknesses. I will then describe how we have been using a phenotypic approach, involving physiological measurements and fast phenotyping, to study adaptive genetic variation in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) across its natural range in Scotland, and the practical implications of the results for seed sourcing.

Richard and a Scots Pine
Richard and a Scots Pine

Prof Vojtech Novotny kicks off the 2014 EM seminar Series

Why are tropical plant-insect food webs so complicated? The Ecosystem Management group were delighted that Vojtech could take the time to come visit us before flying off for his annual field campaign in Papua New Guinea. Thanks Vojtech for an inspiring seminar and for the entertaining stories and stimulating discussions over lunch and during the evening over drinks.
The extraordinary diversity of insects in tropical forests translates into even larger diversity of their trophic interactions in plant-herbivore food webs. Here we describe the challenges of food web censuses in tropical forests, using examples from our field work in Papua New Guinea, and explore experimental and analytical approaches to their analysis. In particular, we are interested how local food webs are assembled from regional species pools and how they maintain their complexity, particularly in comparison with analogous food webs from temperate zone forests.

Novel and traditional forest inventories in Campo Pajoso Bolivia

Raffael Bienz is currently in the field conducting the work for his masters thesis where he is exploring the use of drones as a tool for forest inventories of the Chaco forest of Bolivia. Raffael is supervised by Claude Garcia and Chris Kettle and working with the organisation Pajoso Sostenible in Campo Pajosos. Below you can see one of the first maps generated from data collected by Raffael using the drone and some images from the field



Global Landscapes Forum

Jaboury was invited to the Global Landscapes Forum in Warsaw (16-17 November), courtesy of Robert Nasi. Lots of interesting discussions, but a complete nightmare to get a hotel room for a couple of days on account of the COP meeting. Wholesome and hearty Polish food (thanks Robert) and a warm welcome (thanks Poland!).


Droning over autumnal Swiss forest

Chue Poh has been trialing the latest acquisition by the EM group, a Maja drone for high resolution aerial photographs for part of her research on remote sensing to evaluate forest carbon stocks. As with all fieldwork, things don’t always go to plan….. On this occasion the drone decided to land in the top of a 30 m high spruce tree. Fortunately, one of the more senior members of the EM group was able to rescue the drone using skills acquired earlier in his career, (thanks Chris).

The rescue

Short term scientific mission of Andrea at INRA, Avignon

Andrea visited INRA for two weeks to work with her collaborator, Sylvie Oddou-Muratorio, on the environmental association analyses in European beech. The analyses look promising: first indications for local adaptations were found using SNPs in genes of known functions and over 50 climatic and edaphic related environmental variables. This exchange was financially supported by the COST action “MaP-FGR: Forest genetic resources of peripheral/marginal populations”.



Jaboury joins the UK Expert Committee on Forest Science

The UK Forestry Commission Expert Committee on Forest Science has been convened in September 2013 to provide independent, expert advice on the provision of science to support the objectives of British forestry. Jaboury is very pleased to have been selected to join this committee, and looks forward to contributing to the development of forest science in the UK in this capacity.

Sinan has left us!

Sinan is moving on after two years at ETH Zurich. We believe it was the fondue in Gruyere that finished him off. He started a job in September somewhere in the United States (I think Washington area but its all the same to us) with the US Forest Service. We wish him the best for that job and for the future. We'll miss his sense of humour and his advice and help with anything concerning remote sensing. We look forward to crossing paths again sometime.

Ainhoa joins the group

We are pleased to welcome Dr Ainhoa Magrach into the Ecosystem Management group. Ainhoa, from Spain, joins us in Switzerland, having come from Australia, to work on ecosystem service modelling in India (phew!).


... be serious , does anything ever happen in August?


Beinn Eighe Conservation Management course

This year's Conservation Management course in early July was blessed with typical Scottish west coast sunshine. As usual we all had a great time courtesy of Eoghain Maclean at Anancaun, with entertainment ably provided by John Weir, and considerable tolerance displayed by Sarah Lewington. We traversed mountains, forded streams, braved the sea, and grappled with deer, all in the pursuit of new knowledge. Many thanks to all the contributors for their time - every day was fascinating and fun. Thanks especially to Dick Balharry, who has contributed to every course so far, and continues to challenge our preconceptions.


Workshop on oil palm and biodiversity

A very productive and interesting 3-day workshop (June 3-5) on biodiversity and certification in oil palm landscapes was concluded with (yet another) fine meal and scintillating conversation. Claude, Jaboury and John were joined by Gill Petrokofsky, Martha Groom, Michal Zrust, Sini Savilaakso and Jake Snaddon. Thanks to CIFOR for funding, and Claude and Sini for organising. We look forward to continuing this collaboration in the coming months.

Article on our work in India in ETH Life

Peter Rüegg has written an article highlighting some of our work in India on coffee agroforestry systems: German, English


New paper in PNAS on the complexities of valuing pollination services in coffee agroforestry

Our new paper in PNAS (Boreux et al. 2013) emphasises that crop productivity is improved by ecosystem services, including pollination, but this should be set in the context of trade-offs among multiple management practices. In a coffee agroforestry system in Southern India we found that pollinator abundance improves coffee production but that other management interventions affected pollinator abundance and crop production to a far greater degree than tree cover. This is good news for farmers who can maintain pollination services and crop production despite land use changes, but not such good news for conservationists keen to retain high tree cover and associated biodiversity in agroforestry regions.

Ten principles for Ecosystem Management

In our recent paper in PNAS we (i.e. a group of mostly white male western scientists ably led by head honcho Jeff Sayer) tell you (i.e. rest of the world) how to go about managing your landscapes for the benefit of, well, everyone and everything. Simply follow the 10 instructions and all problems will be solved. Easy. (Sayer et al. 2013)

Plant Fellowship for Dr Robert Bagchi

Well done Robi on being appointed a Plant Fellow through the EU cofunded International Postdoc Fellowship Programme in Plant Sciences. The title of his project is Using spatial patterns of trees to build mechanistic models of species distributions in tropical forests. And thanks to the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center for coordinating this initiative.


GTÖ meeting, April 2013, Vienna

Claire, Sascha, Jaboury and Chris enjoyed the recent German Tropical Ecology Society meeting in Vienna in April, where they were joined by Aline. All presented papers of remarkable insight and stunning clarity. The event was marred only by an incident involving Sascha and a lion at the Vienna Natural History Museum. Despite the loss, the behind-the-scenes tour courtesy of Frank Zachos was greatly enjoyed, and only minor damage incurred.

"I hardly touched it"
"I hardly touched it"
Chris contemplating the fate of an earlier, failed, PhD student
Chris contemplating the fate of an earlier, failed, PhD student
Aline gets a surprise at the clothes store
Aline gets a surprise at the clothes store
Claire and Aline in a more relaxed moment (prior to the eventful trip to the Museum)
Claire and Aline in a more relaxed moment (prior to the eventful trip to the Museum)
Sascha's unfortunate incident with the lion
Sascha's unfortunate incident with the lion


Congratulations Sascha on the defence of his PhD

Yes indeed, Sascha finished his PhD and defended his work on April 11th with gusto in the face of persistent, technical and inquisatorial questioning. For the time being he remains attached to the group as a source of entertainment.

Congratulations to the Biochange Students who have all successfully defended their PhD theses!

Esther Frei and Philippe Matter both defended their PhD theses on the 4th of March in a busy and happy day for the Ecosystem Management group. Thomas Hahn successfully defended his PhD thesis one week later on the 12th of March.

Esther successfully defended her PhD thesis, titled "Adaptation and Plasticity of Plant Populations in the Swiss Alps in the Context of Climate Change", on the 4th of March 2013. Esther gave an excellent presentation of her work and was examined by Prof. Bernhard Schmid and Dr. Irène Till-Bottraud. We had coffee and cake after her successful defense!

Philippe successfully defended his PhD thesis, titled “ Estimating contemporary pollen-flow and associated outbreeding effects on herbaceous plant populations along altitudinal gradients”, on the 4th of March 2013. Phil’s thesis was examined by Dr. Juan-Jose Robledo-Arnuncio, and Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer. We enjoyed and excellent presentation and an equally good apero after the event.

Thomas successfully defended his PhD thesis, titled “Low impact of altitude and landscape composition on patterns of genetic variation in semi-dry grassland plants”, on the 4th of March 2013.Thomas’s thesis was examined by Prof. Rolf Holderegger and Dr. Lutz Eckstein, co-examiner. After an excellent presentation Thomas made a sterling performance answering a wide range of questions from the examiners... and riding his bike!

Dr. Frei, Dr. Hahn and Dr. Matter wearing their new thesis-defense hats!

Welcome to Chue Poh!

We welcome Chue Poh Tan to the Ecosystem Management Group. Chue Poh is keen to estimate above-ground biomass using remotely sensed data in tropical forest. She will work closely with Jaboury Ghazoul, Lian Pin Koh, Chris Kettle and James Smith. The project will provide insights on the relationship of ecological and environmental variables on AGB distribution, and will contribute to the development of AGB estimation using high resolution LiDAR and low-cost UAVs, both of which are necessary for the effective implementation of REDD+.


Sascha has submitted!

Congratulations to Sascha Ismail who Submitted his PhD for Examination entitled “Fragmentation genetics of tropical tree species in an agro-forest landscape” His PhD defence will be held on the 11th April 2013.


Welcome to Emma Morgan

We welcome Emma Morgan to the Ecosystem Management Group who is already out in the field starting to investigate “Demographic and genetic processes underlying regeneration in the endangered Seychelles palm Lodoicea maldivica (coco de mer), supervised by Dr. Chris Kettle, Prof. Peter Edwards (Plant Ecology Group) and Dr. Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury (Aarhus University. The project will apply detailed field ecological surveys and molecular ecological methods to investigate pollen dispersal, dioecy and restricted seed dispersal, in shaping the patterns of demographic structure and genetic diversity in naturally regenerating stands of this species.


Robi Bagchi and Maike Nesper starting in the EM Group!!!

We welcome Robert Bagchi, a new Oberassistent in the Ecosystem Management Group since November 2012. Robi is interested in the mechanisms that maintain species coexistence and diversity in tropical ecosystems and how human activity might disturb these mechanisms. He will be working closely with Jaboury and Chris on these topics in both Borneo and India. He joins ETH after doing post-doctoral work on the importance of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning (at the University of Zurich), the role of fungal pathogens on maintaining plant diversity in tropical forests (at University of Oxford) and the potential effects of climate change on bird species conservation (at Durham University).

Maike Nesper also started in the group as a PhD student in November. She is working on how trees in coffee agroforestry systems intreact with the coffee crop in terms of competition and facilitation of nutrient and pollination processes. She will be working closely with Smitha Krishnan and Dr Kushalappa in the beautiful Kodagu region in southern India. She joins the group having completed her Masters thesis on the relationship between soil degradation of pastures and nutrient stocks in the deforested Amazon region of Colombia in Emmanuel Frossard's Plant Nutrition group.

Readers in Environmental Thinking: Course Announcement

Its fifty years since Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, 40 years since the Meadows' published Limits to Growth, and 100 years since the birth of David Brower of Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth fame. How many of us know of these people, and how many of us are aware of their immense legacy for the environmental movement, and environmental science? Now is a great time to learn more about these seminal characters and their work by joining the Readers in Environmental Thinking course (Fridays 15:00 - 17:00, CHN G42). All are welcome - just send Jaboury an email to register your interest.

He's done it again!

Well done Sascha, for winning (again) the best presentation prize at the ITES r-Day (24 September 2012).


Welcome, Claude Garcia

Claude Garcia joined the Institute on 1 August 2012 as the leader of the Forest Management and Development group which is affiliated to the Ecosystem Management professorship. Claude's position is co-funded with CIRAD, and his role, among other things, will be to facilitate collaboration between ETH Zurich and CIRAD, and in so doing build the FORDEV group into a new successful unit.

Good luck!!

Until we find a better photograph of Claude, this will have to do...


New Grants

Two new projects will start at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013.

Jaboury Ghazoul, Claude Garcia and Christoph Küffer have been awarded grant funded by the Mercator Foundation through the ETH World Food Systems Centre on the ecological functions provided by trees in Indian coffee agroforest systems. The work represents a continuation of the long collaboration with Prof. Kushalappa and Prof. Uma Shaanker in India, and also involves Dr Smitha Krishnan (former PhD student) as project manager. We are pleased that Maike Nesper has accepted the PhD position and will start in November 2012.

Chris Kettle and Peter Edwards were awarded an ETH grant to work on the reproductive biology of Coco-de-Mer in the Seychelles. Emma Morgan will start as a PhD student on this project in early 2013.

Society for Conservation Biology Asia conference, Bangalore, August 2012

Congratulations to Sascha Ismail who won the best speaker award at the SCB-Asia conference held in Bangalore (7th-10th Aug 2012)! He presented on Identifying conservation priorities for an endangered tropical tree in complex forest agro-ecosystem.


Congratulations Dr. Firesenai Sereke!

Congratulations to Firesenai Sereke who successfully defended his PhD thesis " TRANSDISCIPLINARY DEVELOPMENT OF AGROFORESTRY SYSTEMS" on the 22nd of December. We wish Senai all the best for the future.

Congratulations Dr. Aline Finger!


Congratulations to Aline who successfully defended her PhD thesis, titled: "Ecological and genetic processes underlying Allee effects among tree populations in the context of divergent population histories", on the 15th of December 2011. She will continue on with a SNSF funded post-doctoral fellowship at the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh with Pete Holligsworth to work on New Caledonian Araucaria species.

VIPCA MolEcol Conference in Vienna

Congratulations to Phil who won the best presentation award for his talk “Historical and Contemporary Gene-Flow along an Altitudinal Gradient in Trifolium montanum” presented at the Vienna International conference on Molecular Ecology 4-7th February 2012.

Jaboury's sabbatical in Down Under!

in August, Jaboury returned from sabbatical in Cairns, Australia, where he interfered in various field projects and invited himself on field excursions. These included visits to populations of the amazing Nepenthes mirabilis pitcher plants, and trips to study lianas in rainforest fragments on the Atherton Tablelands with Mason Campbell and Bill Laurance, and where he came face to face (literally) with tree kangaroos and pademelons. He also tried to figure out the reproductive biology of Davidson’s plum (Davidsonia pruriens), an edible fruit native to eastern Australia. Back at James Cook University he had fun contributing to the Masters course in Development Practice run by Jeff Sayer and Intu Boedhihartono. The weekends were spent on camping trips to explore the magnificent Agathis trees, the weird figs and banksias, and the svelte eucalypts. Oh yes, and he made some progress with his dipterocarp book.

Nepenthes mirabilis (Courtesy of Gary Wilson)
Nepenthes mirabilis (Courtesy of Gary Wilson)

Jaboury's softer side
Jaboury's softer side

Camping at Davies Creek
Camping at Davies Creek

Ficus virens (Atherton Tablelands)
Ficus virens (Atherton Tablelands)

While at JCU Jaboury gave a presentation which was greeted with rapturous applause. See for yourself: Seminar


Congratulations to Dr. Charlotte Klank!

Congratulations to Charlotte Klank on her successful completion of her PhD on Nov. 14, 2011 , entitled “Trollius europaeus in a fragmented landscape: Reproductive success, genetic diversity and trait differentiation in a nursery pollinated plant”. We wish her all the best for her next steps as a conservation biologist to raise public awareness as there are many habitats which need special attention.

Congratulations to Dr. Born!

Congratulations to Julia Born on completion of her PhD, entitled “Mechanisms of coexistence and maintenance of species diversity in tropical forests: the paradox of generalist species”. Julia has gone on to work at the Forest Resources and Management group at WSL.

Congratulations to Dr. Hennig and Dr. Krishnan!

Congratulations to both Ernest Hennig and Smitha Krishnan for their successful completion of their PhD studies! Ernest passed his doctorate exam on his thesis entitled 'Plant Diversity Effects on Plant-Pollinator Interactions in Urban and Agricultural Settings', while Smitha completed her doctoral thesis entitled 'Pollinator services and coffee production in a fragmented landscape mosaic’. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors and to continue their good work on saving bees around the world!


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© 2015 ETH Zurich | Imprint | Disclaimer | 18 June 2015