Master Research Unit Biodiversity & Ecosystems for MSc Environment and Natural Resources
Are the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem performance important to you? In the MRU Biodiversity & Ecosystems you engage yourself in balanced use and protection concepts.
This specialisation (Master Research Unit MRU) examines and explores terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In terrestrial systems, the enhancement of biodiversity in urban and rural areas is becoming increasingly important. Knowledge of the factors affecting biodiversity and their interactions is in demand for the practical implementation of measures that form part of the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Switzerland.
Aquatic ecosystems are among the most vulnerable ecosystems. The sustainable development and revitalisation of bodies of water, as required by the Swiss Water Protection Act, requires a fundamental understanding of complex aquatic-terrestrial links.
As a Master of Science ZFH in Environment and Natural Resources specialising in Biodiversity & Ecosystems, you will ...
- be able to examine complex questions concerning biodiversity using appropriate methods and to formulate scientific answers.
- be able to quantify changes in key ecosystem processes and propose practical measures.
- know how to apply the concept of ecosystem performance to issues in urban and rural areas.
- be able to negotiate strategies for the development of biodiversity and ecosystems based on research results.
Would you like to know where your career path could take you after graduation? We present an outlook on our career page.
As part of your Master's thesis, you will develop your own ideas and concepts to solve scientific challenges. This will enable you to tackle complex issues independently in your future professional life. You will be able to apply and develop scientific methods, even in new or multidisciplinary contexts.
You will write your Master's thesis within your chosen research unit. The content of the thesis can be adapted to your interests and the current project status. The following selection in German and English gives an insight into the possible subjects.
Research groups at the Institute of Environment and Natural Resources
You will spend half of your study time in the research group of your choice. This allows for individual specialization and gives you a deeper insight into research and development work. Already during your studies you will build up a professional network with our partners from industry and research. You will complete your Master Studio (Project Work 1 and 2 as well as Master Thesis) in the selected research group.
Soil Ecology Research Group
"We are committed to the sustainable use of soil as a resource and to the long-term preservation of soil fertility. We deal with the ecology of soils and their protection against pollution. Our research group is well-networked and works on practical projects with various external partners." Beatrice Kulli, Head of Research Group
- Soil organisms and their reaction to disturbances
- Protection of the soil against contamination and compaction
- Raising awareness of the soil resource in public and spatial planning
Research Group for Open Space Management
"We are address issues relating to the sustainable development of urban ecosystems. We pursue a broad-based research strategy that integrates ecological, social and economic aspects; from planning, through construction to long-term development." Florian Brack, Head of Research Group
- Promotion of biodiversity in settlement areas
- Life cycle costs of open spaces
- Innovations for an inclusive use of open spaces
Research Group for Geoinfomatics
"80% of all information has a spatial reference, which is particularly relevant in the environmental sciences. We research geoinformatics solutions for the digital future of environmental sciences. Together with our partners from other research groups, we develop tailor-made geoinformatics and data science solutions for the collection, storage and analysis of spatiotemporal information - with practical applications ranging from site searches for wind turbines to floodplain monitoring and agriculture 4.0." Patrick Laube, Head of Research Group
- Geodata collection and ecological monitoring with drones / remote sensing
- Location analyses with geographical information systems and geodatabases
- Data science and application development for the processing of spatio-temporal information
Research Group for Green Care
"We deal with urban green spaces from a socio-spatial perspective and with their contribution to the promotion of health, quality of life and social integration. In particular, we deal with socially sustainable outdoor living spaces, urban gardening, care farming, social agriculture and garden therapy. In doing so, we use a broad spectrum of mainly qualitative research methods such as participant observations, qualitative interviews, local, spatial and social analyses, as well as participatory processes." Petra Hagen Hodgson, Head of Research Group
- Potential of green spaces and the use of green spaces for social, mental and physical health
- Urban gardening, social agriculture (care farming)
- Garden therapy
Sustainability Communication / Environmental Education Research Group
"The state of biodiversity and ecosystem services depends on human activity. We analyse what motivates people to take action and how this can be changed in a sustainable direction. In order to find effective solutions, we combine techniques of behavioural psychology, education, communication and art." Urs Müller, Head of Research Group
- Methods and techniques of behavioural change
- Effect-oriented communication, storytelling
- Environmental education and education for sustainable development
Ecohydrology Research Group
"The protection and sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems requires the integration of various interests such as biodiversity, land use, hydropower production and flood prevention. With this goal in mind, we research and develop foundations and solutions at the interface of science and practice - together with internal and external research partners, companies and authorities." Michael Döring, Head of Research Group
- Structural and functional relationships in aquatic ecosystems
- Spatial analysis, modelling and monitoring of rivers and floodplain landscapes
- Renaturation and sustainable use of water bodies
Phytomedicine Research Group
"We develop new strategies and methods for biological crop protection and seek application-oriented solutions for practical use. We work with beneficial and harmful organisms in the micro- and macrocosm, and focus on agricultural crops and horticulture." Jürg Grunder, Head of Research Group
- Development of new biological pesticides and control strategies against diseases and pests
- Optimised use of pesticides through monitoring and new consulting concepts
- Monitoring and regulation of harmful organisms using traps and fragrances
Urban Ecology Research Group
"We deal with the climate adaptation of cities to climate change and biodiversity in settlement areas, with impact controls, concept development and various biomonitoring procedures with case-specific animal groups. We investigate, for example, the functionality of amphibian control systems and tunnels, and how buildings can be systematically given near-natural planted surfaces - to promote biodiversity, but also in the context of urban adaptation to climate change." Stephan Brenneisen, Head of Research Group
- Biodiversity in settlement areas
- Biomonitoring and ecological potential of green roof areas in Switzerland and worldwide
- Climate adaptation of cities
Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Research Group
"Modern techniques have made conservation genetics an integral part of research today. Together with other research groups, we investigate the biodiversity of wild animals, plants, fungi and bacteria so that we can draw conclusions about their distribution or to prove ecological relationships." Theo Smits, Head of Research Group
- Population genetics of wild animals, plants, fungi or bacteria
- Molecular ecology using metagenomics and eDNA-based methods
- Identification of plants or wild animals using barcoding methods
Environmental Planning Research Group
"The expansion of our settlement and infrastructure areas, new technologies, the increase in leisure activities in nature, the 24-hour society, etc. raise the pressure on nature and the environment. Partly in cooperation with other research groups, we explore socio-ecological systems where there are conflicting interests between construction, nature and leisure/tourism, and seek sustainable solutions for the protection and use of our habitats." Reto Rupf, Head of Research Group
- Entomological monitoring as a basis for habitat management
- Use of new technologies in environmental planning (e.g. drones, augmented reality)
- Behavioural analyses in outdoor sports as a basis for the development of environmentally and socially compatible management concepts
Urban Ecosystem Design Group
"We deal with ecological design for resilient, environmentally-friendly and sustainable (comprehensive) urban green and blue infrastructures and corridors. The overall aim of our research is to bring ecological knowledge into the design process (planning) to support and implement urban biodiversity within the context of climate change." Nathalie Baumann, Group Leader
- Developing ecosystem design and ‘nature based solutions’ for urban spaces
- Researching the ecology of novel urban ecosystems
- Interaction of urban flora and fauna
Vegetation Ecology Research Group
"We deal with the analysis of vegetation, condition and changes in botanical diversity, as well as efficient measures for species protection, nature conservation management and renaturation. In doing so, we use a wide range of methods of vegetation surveys and other observational data, experiments, large databases (ecoinformatics) and statistical modelling, and work regionally, nationally and internationally." Jürgen Dengler, Head of Research Group
- Evidence-based nature conservation
- Plant diversity and its change
- Ecoinformatics and vegetation database
Wildlife Management Research Group
"Wildlife and humans live in close proximity in Central Europe. This means there are differing demands, often leading to resource conflicts for the same space. We analyse underlying ecological processes and develop practical solutions." Roland Graf, Research Group Leader
- Roaming and activity patterns, as well as habitat selection, of wild hooved animals as a basis for resolving conflicts of use
- Monitoring of mammals and birds - method development and application
- Promotion of endangered vertebrate species