Staff

Roman Alther

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About Me

When growing up in the city, going out into nature was always an astonishing experience to me, because of the richness in biological forms I could observe. Consequently, when I first started my studies in biology I was driven by the very same questions which many other ecologists and evolutionary biologists have pondered for a long time, and which are still not fully resolved: Why are there so many species, and how do they continue to coexist and persist? And what are the main mechanisms that shape communities and determine the distribution of life in space and time?

As Senior Researcher in the Altermatt lab, I’m involved in teaching, supervision, and many of the lab’s research activities. My research focuses on amphipod systematics and faunistics, both in epigean and subterranean ecosystems, with a focus on Switzerland. Amphipods as model organisms help me to gain a deeper insight into processes forming biodiversity patterns over time and space. More specifically, dendritic aquatic systems represent a suitable study system wherein different ecological and evolutionary mechanics, such as dispersal, invasion and speciation, can be studied. Subterranean habitats are unique ecosystems with a long-lasting evolutionary history and interesting both from a biogeographic and ecosystem functioning perspective, but currently under anthropogenic stress.

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Projects

Assess the distribution and genetic structure of all amphipod species in Switzerland.

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Curriculum Vitae

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Publications

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Ilg, C., & Alther, R. (2024). Ökologischer Zustand von Schweizer Bächen. Die meisten der untersuchten Bäche erfüllen ihre Rolle als Lebensraum für Tiere nur eingeschränkt. Aqua & Gas, 104(4), 46-52. , Institutional Repository
Knüsel, M., Alther, R., & Altermatt, F. (2024). Pronounced changes of subterranean biodiversity patterns along a Late Pleistocene glaciation gradient. Ecography, e07321 (10 pp.). doi:10.1111/ecog.07321, Institutional Repository
Knüsel, M., Alther, R., Locher, N., Ozgul, A., Fišer, C., & Altermatt, F. (2024). Systematic and highly resolved modelling of biodiversity in inherently rare groundwater amphipods. Journal of Biogeography. doi:10.1111/jbi.14975, Institutional Repository
Mammola, S., Altermatt, F., Alther, R., Amorim, I. R., Băncilă, R. I., Borges, P. A. V., … Malard, F. (2024). Perspectives and pitfalls in preserving subterranean biodiversity through protected areas. npj Biodiversity, 3, 2 (9 pp.). doi:10.1038/s44185-023-00035-1, Institutional Repository
Saccò, M., Mammola, S., Altermatt, F., Alther, R., Bolpagni, R., Brancelj, A., … Reinecke, R. (2024). Groundwater is a hidden global keystone ecosystem. Global Change Biology, 30(1), e17066 (20 pp.). doi:10.1111/gcb.17066, Institutional Repository
Schneider, A. S., Knüsel, M., Alther, R., & Altermatt, F. (2024). Grundwasserbiodiversität: Makroinvertebraten in Schweizer Grundwasserökosystemen - Vorkommen, Vielfalt und Biomasse. Aqua & Gas, 104(3), 16-21. , Institutional Repository
Stoch, F., Knüsel, M., Zakšek, V., Alther, R., Salussolia, A., Altermatt, F., … Flot, J. F. (2024). Integrative taxonomy of the groundwater amphipod Niphargus bihorensis Schellenberg, 1940 reveals a species-rich clade. Contributions to Zoology. doi:10.1163/18759866-bja10064, Institutional Repository
Alther, R., Krähenbühl, A., Bucher, P., & Altermatt, F. (2023). Optimizing laboratory cultures of Gammarus fossarum (Crustacea: Amphipoda) as a study organism in environmental sciences and ecotoxicology. Science of the Total Environment, 855, 158730 (9 pp.). doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158730, Institutional Repository
Couton, M., Hürlemann, S., Studer, A., Alther, R., & Altermatt, F. (2023). Groundwater environmental DNA metabarcoding reveals hidden diversity and reflects land-use and geology. Molecular Ecology, 32(13), 3497-3512. doi:10.1111/mec.16955, Institutional Repository
Couton, M., Studer, A., Hürlemann, S., Locher, N., Knüsel, M., Alther, R., & Altermatt, F. (2023). Integrating citizen science and environmental DNA metabarcoding to study biodiversity of groundwater amphipods in Switzerland. Scientific Reports, 13(1), 18097 (13 pp.). doi:10.1038/s41598-023-44908-8, Institutional Repository
Knüsel, M., Borko, Š., Alther, R., Salussolia, A., Flot, J. F., Altermatt, F., … Stoch, F. (2023). Phylogenetic structure and molecular species delimitation hint a complex evolutionary history in an Alpine endemic Niphargus clade (Crustacea, Amphipoda). Zoologischer Anzeiger, 306, 27-36. doi:10.1016/j.jcz.2023.07.001, Institutional Repository
Martin, P., Knüsel, M., Alther, R., Altermatt, F., Ferrari, B., & Vivien, R. (2023). Haplotaxis gordioides (Hartmann in Oken, 1819) (Annelida, Clitellata) as a sub-cosmopolitan species: a commonly held view challenged by DNA barcoding. Zoosymposia, 23, 78-93. doi:10.11646/zoosymposia.23.1.10, Institutional Repository
Alther, R. (2022). Amphipodes. In Connaissance de l’environnement: Vol. UW-2220-F. Espèces exotiques en Suisse. Aperçu des espèces exotiques et de leurs conséquences. État 2022 (pp. 29-30). Bern: Office fédéral de l’environnement OFEV. , Institutional Repository
Alther, R. (2022). Amphipods. In Environmental studies: Vol. UW-2220-E. Alien species in Switzerland. An inventory of alien species and their impact. Situation as of 2022 (pp. 29-30). Bern: Federal Office for the Environement FOEN. , Institutional Repository
Alther, R. (2022). Flohkrebse. In Umwelt-Wissen: Vol. UW-2220-D. Gebietsfremde Arten in der Schweiz. Übersicht über die gebietsfremden Arten und ihre Auswirkungen. Stand 2022 (pp. 29-30). Bern: Bundesamt für Umwelt (BAFU). , Institutional Repository
Jardim de Queiroz, L., Doenz, C. J., Altermatt, F., Alther, R., Borko, Š., Brodersen, J., … Seehausen, O. (2022). Climate, immigration and speciation shape terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity in the European Alps. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 289(1980), 20221020 (10 pp.). doi:10.1098/rspb.2022.1020, Institutional Repository
Studer, A., Knüsel, M., Alther, R., Hürlemann, S., & Altermatt, F. (2022). Erfassung der Grundwasserflohkrebse. Studie zur Artenvielfalt und Verbreitung im Einzugsgebiet der Töss. Aqua & Gas, 102(4), 14-19. , Institutional Repository
Alther, R., Bongni, N., Borko, Š., Fišer, C., & Altermatt, F. (2021). Citizen science approach reveals groundwater fauna in Switzerland and a new species of Niphargus (Amphipoda, Niphargidae). Subterranean Biology, 39, 1-31. doi:10.3897/subtbiol.39.66755, Institutional Repository
Alther, R., & Altermatt, F. (2021). Die unterirdische Flohkrebsfauna der Schweiz. La faune souterraine d'amphipodes de Suisse. Stalactite, 71(1), 72-81. , Institutional Repository
Alther, R., Fronhofer, E. A., & Altermatt, F. (2021). Dispersal behaviour and riverine network connectivity shape the genetic diversity of freshwater amphipod metapopulations. Molecular Ecology, 30, 6551-6565. doi:10.1111/mec.16201, Institutional Repository
Alther, R., & Weber, R. (2020). "Wir rechnen mit weiteren Entdeckungen". Pro Natura Magazine (1), 7-8. , Institutional Repository
Alther, R., Bongni, N., Borko, Š., Fišer, C., & Altermatt, F. (2020). Reiche Grundwasserfauna. Pilotstudie fördert Artenvielfalt zutage. Aqua & Gas, 100(7/8), 36-42. , Institutional Repository
Tabi, A., Pennekamp, F., Altermatt, F., Alther, R., Fronhofer, E. A., Horgan, K., … Saavedra, S. (2020). Species multidimensional effects explain idiosyncratic responses of communities to environmental change. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4, 1036-1043. doi:10.1038/s41559-020-1206-6, Institutional Repository
Altermatt, F., Alther, R., Fišer, C., & Švara, V. (2019). Amphipoda (Flohkrebse) der Schweiz. Checkliste, Bestimmung und Atlas. Fauna Helvetica: Vol. 32. Neuchâtel: info fauna. , Institutional Repository
Alther, R., Thompson, C., Lods-Crozet, B., & Robinson, C. T. (2019). Macroinvertebrate diversity and rarity in non-glacial Alpine streams. Aquatic Sciences, 81(3), 42 (14 pp.). doi:10.1007/s00027-019-0642-3, Institutional Repository
Falniowski, A., Prevorčnik, S., Delić, T., Alther, R., Altermatt, F., & Hofman, S. (2019). Monophyly of the Moitessieriidae Bourguignat, 1863 (Caenogastropoda: Truncatelloidea). Folia Malacologica, 27(1), 61-70. doi:10.12657/folmal.027.005, Institutional Repository
Mächler, E., Little, C. J., Wüthrich, R., Alther, R., Fronhofer, E. A., Gounand, I., … Altermatt, F. (2019). Assessing different components of diversity across a river network using eDNA. Environmental DNA, 1(3), 290-301. doi:10.1002/edn3.33, Institutional Repository
Alther, R. (2018). Diversity and distribution of Amphipods in Switzerland (Doctoral dissertation). Universität Zürich, Zürich, 258 p. , Institutional Repository
Alther, R., & Altermatt, F. (2018). Fluvial network topology shapes communities of native and non-native amphipods. Ecosphere, 9(2), e02102 (14 pp.). doi:10.1002/ecs2.2102, Institutional Repository
Fišer, C., Alther, R., Zakšek, V., Borko, Š., Fuchs, A., & Altermatt, F. (2018). Translating Niphargus barcodes from Switzerland into taxonomy with a description of two new species (Amphipoda, Niphargidae). ZooKeys, 760, 113-141. doi:10.3897/zookeys.760.24978, Institutional Repository
Pennekamp, F., Pontarp, M., Tabi, A., Altermatt, F., Alther, R., Choffat, Y., … Petchey, O. L. (2018). Biodiversity increases and decreases ecosystem stability. Nature, 563(7729), 109-112. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0627-8, Institutional Repository
Alther, R., Fišer, C., Konec, M., Švara, V., & Altermatt, F. (2017). Das Hölloch: ein Flohkrebs-Hotspot in der Schweiz. Le Hölloch: un hot spot des amphipodes en Suisse. Stalactite, 67(1), 18-24. , Institutional Repository
Alther, R., Fišer, C., & Altermatt, F. (2017). Description of a widely distributed but overlooked amphipod species in the European Alps. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 179(4), 751-766. doi:10.1111/zoj.12477, Institutional Repository
Fišer, C., Konec, M., Alther, R., Švara, V., & Altermatt, F. (2017). Taxonomic, phylogenetic and ecological diversity of Niphargus (Amphipoda: Crustacea) in the Hölloch cave system (Switzerland). Systematics and Biodiversity, 15(3), 218-237. doi:10.1080/14772000.2016.1249112, Institutional Repository
Altermatt, F., Alther, R., & Mächler, E. (2016). Spatial patterns of genetic diversity, community composition and occurrence of native and non-native amphipods in naturally replicated tributary streams. BMC Ecology, 16, 23 (11 pp.). doi:10.1186/s12898-016-0079-7, Institutional Repository
Robinson, C. T., Thompson, C., Lods-Crozet, B., & Alther, R. (2016). Chironomidae diversity in high elevation streams in the Swiss Alps. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 188(3), 201-213. doi:10.1127/fal/2016/0891, Institutional Repository
Robinson, C. T., Alther, R., Leys, M., Moran, S., & Thompson, C. (2015). A note on the trophic structure of alpine streams in the Wind River Mountains, Wyoming, USA. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 187(1), 43-54. doi:10.1127/fal/2015/0730, Institutional Repository
Altermatt, F., Alther, R., Fišer, C., Jokela, J., Konec, M., Küry, D., … Westram, A. M. (2014). Diversity and distribution of freshwater amphipod species in Switzerland (Crustacea: Amphipoda). PLoS One, 9(10), e110328 (12 pp.). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110328, Institutional Repository
Alther, R. (2013). The contribution of tributaries to macroinvertebrate diversity in glacial catchments (Master thesis). 47 p. , Institutional Repository

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Address

E-Mail: roman.alther@eawag.ch
Phone: +41 58 765 5638
Fax: +41 58 765 5802
Address: Eawag
Überlandstrasse 133
8600 Dübendorf
Office: BU G17

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Focalpoints

  • Amphipoda
  • Community ecology
  • Spatial dynamics

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