Navigation auf


Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies

PhD Program in Ecology

Completing a PhD research project in the joint University of Zurich (UZH) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, PhD Program in Ecology, in one of the internationally acclaimed research groups, enhances a student’s PhD experience. Students of this program are enrolled at either the UZH or the ETH. The program offers research training in the interdisciplinary field of ecology, general skills training for academic and non-academic excellence, and opportunities to interact with other doctoral students. The program includes a curriculum of at least 12 ECTS credits, teaching experience, and is usually completed within three to four years (full-time). It offers yearly graduate schools, courses on subject specific matters and on methods that are of direct use to the work of doctoral students. Additional courses on transferable skills prepare students for professional life, whether this is in an academic institution or not. Research seminars foster international collaborations and the exchange of experiences among doctoral students and experts from different fields of ecology.


Snow leopard ecology in Bhutan
Dechen Lham


Snow leopard caught on a camera trap in Lingzhi range, Jigme Dorji National Park, 2015 © Department of Forests and Parks Services, Thimphu, Bhutan

The snow leopard Panthera uncia is one of world’s rarest cats, and conservation of its remnant populations is faced with multiple threats and challenges, including habitat fragmentation and degradation, declining prey base, retaliatory killing, illegal trade, weak policies, insufficient transboundary cooperation, and lack of scientific information. Globally, snow leopards are found only in 12 countries. Bhutan lies at the southern periphery of the species’ range and represents an important corridor between the Indian and Chinese populations. In Bhutan, very little is known about the snow leopard’s ecology, and basic information on distribution, abundance, diet, and degree of conflict with rural communities are lacking. In my PhD project, I used ecological tools such as camera trap surveys to study the snow leopard’s distribution, site use, and density, and scat analysis to investigate their feeding ecology. I also used social tools such as interview-based questionnaire survey to evaluate human acceptance of the species and assessed socio-ecological suitable snow leopard habitat in Bhutan.


Photography for Scientists
Science and science communication rely heavily and extensively on photography. In this course organised by the PhD Program in Ecology, student scientists were taught how to be more "visually literate", empowering them to more effectively communicate their science.

Filmmaking for Scientists
In this course organised by the PhD Program in Ecology, students learnt how to prepare their own documentary films, including how to deal with camera and lighting, screenwriting/storyboard and film editing. At the end of the workshop, the PhD students prepared a short documentary film.

Weiterführende Informationen



Prof. Dr. Anna-Liisa Laine
Program manager:
Dr. Debra Zuppinger-Dingley

Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstrasse 190
8057 Zurich
Phone : +41 44 635 4778
Office: Y38-L-16
Email: phdecology(at)


Upcoming courses

Photo credit © Dechen Lham, Department of Forests and Parks Services, Thimphu, Bhutan

Semester program FS2023