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Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center

Mercator-PSC Publications

Scientific Publications


Ghazoul, J., Burivalova, Z., Garcia-Ulloa, J., King, L. (2015). Conceptualising forest degradation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30 (10): 622-632.

Robledo-Abad, C., H.J. Althaus, G. Berndes, S. Bolwig, E. Corbera, F. Creutzig, J. Garcia-Ulloa, A. Geddes, J. S. Gregg, H. Haberl, S. Hanger, R.J. Harper, C. Hunsberger, R. K. Larsen, Ch. Lauk, S. Leitner, J. Lilliestam, H. Lotze-Campen, B. Muys, M. Nordborg, M. Ölund, B. Orlowsky, A. Popp, J. Portugal-Pereira, J. Reinhard, L. Scheiffle, P. Smith (2015). Bioenergy production and sustainable development: science base for policy-making remains limited.

Abood, S. A., Lee, L. S. H., Burivalova, Z., Garcia-Ulloa, J., Koh, L. P. (2015). Relative contributions of the logging, fiber, oil palm and mining industries to forest loss in Indonesia. Conservation Letters 8 (1): 58–67.

Lee, J. S. H., Garcia-Ulloa, J., Ghazoul, J., Obidzinski, K., Koh, L. P. (2014). Modelling Environmental and Socio-Economic Trade-Offs Associated with Land-Sparing and Land-Sharing Approaches to Oil Palm Expansion. Journal of Applied Ecology 51 (5): 1366–77.

Savilaakso, S., Garcia, C., Garcia-Ulloa, J., Ghazoul, J., Groom, M., Guariguata, R.,  Laumonier, Y., Nasi, R., Petrokofsky, G., Snaddon, J., Zrust, M. (2014). Systematic review of effects on biodiversity from oil palm production. Environmental Evidence, 3(4).

Wich, S. A., Garcia-Ulloa, J., Kühl, H. S., Humle, T., Lee, J. S. H., Koh, L. P.  (2014). Will oil palm’s homecoming spell doom for Africa’s great apes? Current Biology 24 (14): 1659–63.

Garcia-Ulloa, J., Sloan,  S., Pacheco, P., Ghazoul, J., Koh, L. P.  (2012). Lowering environmental costs of oil-palm expansion in Colombia. Conservation Letters, 5, 366-375.


Hassold, S., Lowry, P. P.,  Bauert, M. R., Razafintsalama, A., Ramamonjisoa, L., Widmer, A.  (2016). DNA Barcoding of Malagasy Rosewoods: Towards a Molecular Identification of CITES-Listed Dalbergia
Species. PLOS ONE, 11 (6).

Burivalova, Z., Bauert, M. R., Hassold, S., Fatroandrianjafinonjasolomiovazo, N. T. and Koh, L. P. (2015), Relevance of Global Forest Change Data Set to Local Conservation: Case Study of Forest Degradation in Masoala National Park, Madagascar. Biotropica, 47: 267–274.


Bühlmann, T., Caprez, R., Körner, C., Hiltbrunner, E., Niklaus, P. A. (2017). Nitrogen fixation by Alnus species boosts soil nitrous oxide emissions. European Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 68, Issue 5, 740-748.

Bühlmann, T., Körner, C., Hiltbrunner, E. (2016). Shrub expansion of Alnus viridis drives former montane grassland into N saturation. Ecosystems 19, 968-985.

Bühlmann, T., Hiltbrunner, E., Körner, C., Rihm, B., Achermann, B. (2015). Induction of indirect N2O and NO emissions by atmospheric nitrogen deposition in (semi-)natural ecosystems in Switzerland. Atmospheric Environment 103: 94-101.

Hiltbrunner, E., Aerts, R., Bühlmann, T., Huss-Danell, K., Magnusson, B., Myrold, D., Reed, S., Sigurdsson, B., Körner, C. (2014). Ecological consequences of the expansion of N2-fixing plants in cold biomes. Oecologia: 1-14.

Bühlmann, T., Hiltbrunner, E., Körner, C. (2014). Alnus
viridis expansion contributes to excess reactive nitrogen release, reduces biodiversity and constrains forest succession in the Alps. Alpine Botany: 1-5.


Vorkauf, M., Marty, C., Kahmen, A. and Hiltbrunner, E. (2021). Past and future snowmelt trends in the Swiss Alps: the role of temperature and snowpack. Climatic Change. Springer, 165(3-4), p. 44.

Vorkauf, M., Kahmen, A., Körner, C. and Hiltbrunner, E. (2021). Flowering phenology in alpine grassland strongly responds to shifts in snowmelt but weakly to summer drought. Alpine Botany. Springer, 131(1), pp. 73–88. 


Schaub, S. (2022). Global relationships between time preference and environmental policy performance. Environmental Science & Policy: 128, 102–109.

Schaub, S., Finger, R., Buchmann, N., Steiner, V., & Klaus, V. H. (2021). The costs of diversity: higher prices for more diverse grassland seed mixtures. Environmental Research Letters, 16, 094011.

Schaub, S., Buchmann, N., Lüscher, A. & Finger, R. (2020). Economic benefits from plant species diversity in intensively managed grasslands. Ecological Economics, 168, 106488.

Schaub, S., Finger, R., Leiber, F., Probst, S., Kreuzer, M., Weigelt, A., Buchmann, N. & Scherer-Lorenzen, M. (2020). Plant diversity effects on forage quality, yield and revenues of semi-natural grasslands. Nature Communications, 11, 1–11.

Schaub, S., Huber, R. & Finger, R. (2020). Tracking societal concerns on pesticides – A Google Trends analysis. Environmental Research Letters (part of the Thesis Appendix)

Schaub, S. & Finger, R. (2020). Drought effects on hay and feed grain prices. Environmental Research Letters, 15, 034014. 

Schaub, S. (2020). Robustness Checks for Omitted Variable Bias. Robustness checks for omitted variable bias. The package includes robustness checks proposed by Oster (2019). 'robomit' replicates (and extends) function available in Stata (closed source) for use in R (open source).

Schaub, S. & Finger, R. (2019). Dataset: Feed price and SPEI data of South Germany and whole Germany. We provide here data on 1) monthly hay, feed wheat and feed barley prices in South Germany (=Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg) from August 2002 to March 2019 and 2) monthly Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) values for South Germany and in whole Germany from January 1991 to April 2019.

Schaub, S., Finger, R., Leiber, F., Probst, S., Kreuzer, M., Weigelt, A., ... & Scherer-Lorenzen, M. (2019). Data: forage quality and biomass yield of the Management Experiment set up within the Jena Experiment. This dataset contains measurements of above ground biomass yield and various forage quality variables of the subplots of the Management Experiment set up within the Main Experiment plots of a large grassland biodiversity experiment (the Jena Experiment; Roscher et al. 2004, Weigelt et al. 2009).


Vega, K., Kueffer, C. (2021). Promoting wildflower biodiversity in dense and green cities: The important role of small vegetation patches. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening: 62.

Vega, K., Schlaepfer, J., Kueffer, C. (2021). Discovering the wild side of urban plants through public engagement. Plants, People, and Planet; 00: 1– 13.

Kueffer, C., Vega, K., Bai, C., Karn, S., Schlaepfer, J. (2019). Urban ecology meets architecture and urban planning. [L’écologie urbaine rencontre l’architecture et l’aménagement].  Études urbaines 4: 52-54.

Frey, D., Vega, K., Zellweger, F., Ghazoul, J., Hansen, D., Moretti, M. (2018). Predation risk shaped by habitat and landscape complexity in urban environments. Journal of Applied Ecology, 55: 2343-235

PhD Theses


Maria Vorkauf – The ecological and economic impact of shifting snowmelt dates and summer drought in the Alps – defended on November 26, 2020. The doctoral thesis will be available under: as soon as the legal process has been completed.


Kevin Vega – Maintaining Wildflower Biodiversity in Cities – defended on September 28, 2020.


Sergei Schaub – Economic Perspective on Grasslands, Biodiversity and Weather Extremes – defended on May 26, 2020.



Kevin Vega – received the ETH Medal award 2021 (Outstanding Doctoral thesis).

Sergei Schaub received the Poster Award at the Annual Symposium of the World Food System Center in Zurich (October 25, 2017), Title: The value of species diversity in grasslands (DIVERSIGRASS)

Maria Vorkauf received the Poster Award (PDF, 1 MB) at the 18th Swiss Global Change Day in Berne (April 11, 2017), Title: The influence of snow cover duration on alpine plant phenology

 Sonia Hassold awarded by 3rd European Conference for the Barcode of Life (2012) for best oral presentation about the "Development and validation of a barcoding strategy to support identification, Tracing and trade regulation of Malagasy rosewood"

Public Engagement (Incl. Exhibitions, Science Fairs)


Presentation at Enviro Freeride Days: Busting powder with a purpose (March 17, 2021, Maria Vorkauf)

Public round table on "Skigebiete in der Schweiz. Visionen für die Zukunft." (organised by PSC and moderated by Lena Wilczek, Feb. 3, 2021), Invited speakers: Dr. Maria Vorkauf, Universität Basel, CH; Prof. Dr. Bruno Abegg, IMP-HSG (Research Center Tourism and Transport), Universität St. Gallen, CH; Thomas Egger, Direktor der «Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für die Berggebiete», Visp, CH; Dr. Boris Previsic, Universität Luzern, CH; Lois Hechenblaikner, Tirol, AT; Marie-Claire Graf, Swiss Youth for Climate, Zurich, CH

13. Grünforum des VLZ Verbund Lebensraum Zürich “Mehr Natur vor der Haustür – Was Vermieter und Mieter tun können”, Stadtgärtnerei Zürich (May 23, 2019, Kevin Vega)

Presentation at the ETH Netzwerk Nachhaltigkeit: Exkursion Biodiversität, ETH Hönggerberg (June 19, 2019, Kevin Vega)

Market stand about Green pioneers of the land: mosses and liverworts Workshop at the Fascination of Plant Days May 18, 2019, Tiago Meier

The public engagement project “Wo Samen fallen” has been taken over by Naturama (Kevin Vega)

Public round table on "Urban Agriculture: Fad or Future – should tomorrow`s cities grow their own food?" (organised and moderated by the 4 PSC-Mercator fellows, Oct. 24, 2019), Invited speakers: Prof. Giorgio Gianquinto, Bologna, IT; Dr. Heidrun Moschitz, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Frick, CH; Dr. Joëlle Salomon Cavin, U Lausanne, CH; Mark Zahan, Architect, CH

Presentation on the history and ecology of wild plants in the city of Zurich in collaboration with Dr. Alessia Guggisberg of the Herbarium at Treffpunkt Science City 2018

Presentation and mini-poster about DIVERSGRASS  at OLMA Sonderschau 2017 (Oct. 2017, Sergei Schaub) in collaboration with the PUBLIFARM project.

Citizen Science - Ausstellung zur partizipativen Forschung, Wo Samen fallen - Förderung und Vernetzung von Biodiversität in Städten (July 2017 – ongoing, Kevin Vega)

Presentation about Geschlechtsumwandlung in Papayas at the Scientifica (Sep 1 to 3, 2017, Tiago Meier)

Market stand about Wo Samen fallen – ein «Citizen Science-Projekt zum Mitmachen at the Scientifica (Sep 1 to 3, 2017, Kevin Vega)

 Määrt-Fäscht des Quartiervereins Oberstrass (June 16 and 17, 2017, Kevin Vega)

Newspaper Articles


Sergei Schaub Artenreichtum wird in der modernen Landwirtschaft oft mit geringer Produktivität in Verbindung gebracht. Tatsächlich lässt sich zeigen: Mehr Kräuter bedeuten fettere Milch NZZ (October 12, 2021)

Maria Vorkauf Alpine Pflanzen verlieren zunehmend weissen «Schutzmantel» Medien release Informationsdienst Wissenschaft (April 16, 2021)

Sergei Schaub ETH Zürich: Ist Artenvielfalt im Grasland ökonomisch? presented in the SchweizerBauer (March 4, 2021)

Maria Vorkauf – Follow up article after public round table: Auf Talfahrt: Corona gewährt uns einen Blick in die düstere Zukunft des Schweizer SkitourismusNZZ am Sonntag (February 6, 2021)

Maria Vorkauf und Erika Hiltbrunner,Wie verändert sich die Schneesicherheit künftig im Gebiet Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis? - Urner Wochenblatt, Skigebiete in der Schweiz. (February, 2021)

Sergei Schaub - Studie: Biodiversität lohnt sich finanziell auf intensiven Flächenpresented in the SchweizerBauer (March 8, 2020)

Sergei Schaub - Preserving or restoring rich grasslands can lead to a win-win situation- DIVERSGRASS presented in the SchweizerBauer (February 2, 2020)

Sergei Schaub – Biodiversität rechnet sich presented by Swiss Plant Science Web (University of Basel) News (February 11, 2020)

Project was presented in Walliser Bote (online,Maria Vorkauf)

Project was mentioned in an article about ALPFOR in the Andermatter, Summer 2018, p. 70, Maria Vorkauf

Project presented in image - Das Urner Magazin Nr. 27, Dec. 2017, Maria Vorkauf

Projects presented in Plant Science News, Spring 2017, No. 31 (PDF, 2 MB), Maria Vorkauf, Tiago Meier, Kevin Vega and Sergei Schaub

DNA-Analyse hilft gegen Tropenholz-Schmuggel. News article, 20 Minuten Newspaper, 12.09.2014 (Sonja Hassold project).


Policy Outreach


Guest lecturer Kevin Vega for Architect Doctoral Students, "Urban ecology in densifying cities" , Research Methods in Landscape and Urban Studies. ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, 2019 & 2020

Kevin Vega got invited to present at the conference - "Conserving plant biodiversity in cities: Islands of green in a sea of grey." World Biodiversity Forum, Davos, Switzerland (invited conference presentation), 2020.

Kevin Vega, oral conference poster, "Conserving plant species and genetic diversity in cities", Biodiversity 2020, Fribourg, Switzerland, 2020

Kevin Vega, conference poster "Sowing, mowing, blowing, and growing: Supporting plant biodiversity in Zurich and understanding the processes that shape it." The Nature of Cities Summit, Paris, France, 2019. 

World Food Systems Research Symposium, Poster Sex Reversal in Papaya, Tiago Meier & Ueli Grossniklaus, 2018

IUCN report on Oil palm and biodiversity: A situation analysis by the IUCN Oil Palm Task Force, John Garcia-Ulloa, 2018

Die Verbuschung des Alpenraums durch die Grünerle. Bühlmann T, Hiltbrunner E, Körner C. 2013. Factsheet (D/F), Akademien der Wissenschaften Schweiz, Bern.

Factsheet Grünerlen D (PDF, 852 KB)

Factsheet Aulne vert Grünerlen F (PDF, 854 KB)

Public Interviews


NZZ Artenreichtum wird in der modernen Landwirtschaft oft mit geringer Produktivität in Verbindung gebracht. Tatsächlich lässt sich zeigen: Mehr Kräuter bedeuten fettere Milch (Sergei Schaub, 12.10.2021)

SRF PI interviewed by SRF about the wild plants in the city and the “Wo Samen fallen” project (Kevin Vega, June 2019)

World Food System Center News (Sergei Schaub, January 2018)

Grün-Erlen-Alarm, TV report on SRF Tagesschau. (Tobias Bühlmann, 10.08.2013)

Colombia’s palm oil boost must account for environment and human rights concerns. CIFOR blog article based on an interview to CIFOR news (John Garcia-Ulloa, J, 14.03.2013)

Blog Entries and Contributions


Sergei Schaub – Agrarpolitik Blog Setzten mehr zukunftsorientiert Länder mehr auf umweltpolitische Leistungen? (Nov 2021)

Sergei Schaub – Agrarpolitik Blog Der Preis der Biodiversität (Sep 2021)

Tiago Meier – PSC Blog Engaging in the Science and Policy Dialogue Umweltbedingte Geschlechtsumwandlung in Papaya als transdisziplinäres Forschungsprojekt (September 2021)

Maria Vorkauf - PSC Blog Die ökologischen und ökonomische Konsequenzen des Klimawandels in den Alpen (April 2021)

Sergei Schaub - PSC Blog The Value of Species Diversity in Grassland (February 2021)

Kevin Vega - PSC Blog Maintaining Plant Biodiversity in Cities (September 2020)

Kevin VegaErhalt von Biodiversität in der Stadt Zürich (Departement D-USYS ETH, October 2020) Video.

Schaub, S., Huber, R., & Finger, R - Google Trends für die Agrarpolitik – Illustriert am Beispiel von Pestiziden. (Agrarpolitik-Blog, August 2020)

Sergei Schaub - Der ökonomische Mehrwert von Diversität im intensiven Graslan (Agrarpolitik Blog, January 2020)

Sergei Schaub - Wie wirkt sich Dürre auf Futterpreise aus? (Agrarpolitik Blog, January 2020)

Food System Stories (Blog): ‘The value of species diversity in grassland meets Vancouver, Canada (November 2018), Sergei Schaub

Atlas Obscura The many reasons biologists eat their study subjects, Kevin Vega

Agrarpolitik Blog Ist Diversität im Grasland ökonomisch wertvoll? (Sergei Schaub, December 2017)

Oil palm in Africa: an opportunity too good to miss? Garcia-Ulloa J, Lee JSH. 09.10.2014: Blog entry for ETH Zukunftblog.

Video portraits of the projects


Kevin Vega – Film. Erhalt von Biodiversität in der Stadt Zürich. Veröffentlicht auf dem PSC Blog “Engaging in the Science and Policy Dialogue, Oktober 2020,  sowie dem YouTube-Kanal des ETH Departments der Umweltsystemwissenschaften (


Tiago Meier – Film. Der Papaya auf der Spur: Umwelteinflüsse könnten die Papayaproduktion beeinträchtigen. Veröffentlicht auf dem PSC Blog “Engaging in the Science and Policy Dialogue und am 1. November 2021 in Deutsch und Spanisch auf dem UZH YouTube-Kanal:



Sergei Schaub – SGA Jahrbuch Agrarwirtschaft und Agrarsoziologie (Autumn 2017,, Only as hard copy available.


Juanita Schläpfer-Miller und Manuela Dahinden, Hrsg. (2020).Creative Camps – Verknüpfung von Kunst- und Wissenschaftsvermittlung. Mit Beiträgen von Gianna Brühwiler, Giulia Donati, Christian Ginzler, Oskar Hagen, Sabrina Flütsch, Joyce Kalumba, Mina Karrer, Renate Lerch und Alexandra Rosakis. Zürich-Basel Plant Science Center. ISBN: 978-3-907234-04-4 (refering to the project of Maria Vorkauf p. 53 and 70)

Other Publications


Küffer, Ch., Vega, K. – Der Gartenbau (10/ 2021). Förderung von Wildpflanzen in verdichteten Siedlungsräumen. PDF (PDF, 1 MB)

Schaub, S., Finger, R., Buchmann, N., Steiner, V., & Klaus, V. H. (2021). Data: German and Swiss seed mixture prices and characteristics. This dataset contains prices and characteristics (e.g., plant diversity, containing native ecotypes, designed for permanent grassland use, and organic certification) of seed mixtures from Germany and Switzerland collected in 2019 and 2020. For more details, see Schaub et al.

Sergei Schaub - Biodiversity yields financial returns. DIVERSGRASS and corresponding results presented by ETH News (DE, ENG February 7, 2020)

Kueffer, C., Vega, K., Bai, C., Karn, S., Schlaepfer, J. (2019) Urban ecology meets architecture and urban planning. [L’écologie urbaine rencontre l’architecture et l’aménagement (PDF, 1 MB)]. Études urbaines, 4: 52-54.

Kevin Vega - Project featured on Urban Nature Atlas

A podium discussion in association with a film screening of the documentary on the urban botanical history of post-war Berlin Natura Urbana by Matthew Gandy. This screening will be part of the LASER Talk (Christoph Kueffer, Kevin Vega)

Project was presented as part of the Zürcher Festspiele 2018 at the Festspielzentrum on the Münsterplatz (Kevin Vega)

Kevin Vega - Personal Twitter account


Weiterführende Informationen

Evaluation report PSC-Mercator Fellowship Program (2011–2021)

Evaluation report PSC-Mercator Fellowship Program (2011–2021)

Mercator Magazin

Mercator Magazin

Mercator Magazin No 1, 2015, Dialog, Zusammenarbeit, praktische Lösungen

Seite 26 bis 31: Erlebnisse für Politik und Praxis