This year's best master’s thesis award was given to Clément Duckert for his work entitled " Morphological and molecular taxonomy of Euglypha – Toward a calibration of the molecular clock ", conducted at the Universities of Neuchâtel and Lausanne.
The genus Euglypha is composed of testate amoebae that can be found in a broad variety of soil and freshwater environments. Because of their small size, species identification can be reliably achieved only based on good quality light or scanning electron microscopy. Clément and co-workers demonstrated that the species Euglypha rotunda (the most common and widespread member of the genus) is not monophyletic based on morphology as well as molecular data. Their molecular clock analysis showed that the genus Euglypha appeared during the Jurassic and that some of these species have diverged very recently. This thesis convinced the jury by its thorough application of modern systematic methods to a poorly known taxon.
This year the best master’s thesis award was given to Lea Waser for her work entitled "From a lost world: phylogeny of the genus Ansonia Stoliczka, 1870 (Lissamphibia: Anura: Bufonidae) and the description of a new species including its morphometric discrimination", conducted at the Naturhistorisches Museum der Burgergemeinde Bern.
During herpetological surveys carried out in the interior of Sarawak, East Malaysia, several individuals of a small species of frogs (genus Ansonia Stoliczka 1870) were collected on the Usun Apau plateau and in the Gunung Hose mountain range. An integrative taxonomic approach comprising phylogenetic (2.4 kb mitochondrial rDNA fragment, Bayesian Inference and Maximum Likelihood, >5.1 % to its closest relative) and morphometric analyses (25 measurements, multivariate ratio analysis and linear discriminant analysis), as well as morphological comparisons support the status of a new species.
This year best master’s thesis award was given to Lucie Cauwet for her work entitled " Morphology, function and evolution of male genitalia (hemispermatophores and spermatophores) in the Superfamily Scorpionoidea Latreille, 1802 (Chelicerata, Scorpiones)", conducted at the Université de Genève & Muséum d’histoire naturelle de la Ville de Genève. This thesis presents a thorough examination of scorpion spermatophores and hemi-spermatophores: Lucie explored structural homologies across the order and proposed a revised nomenclature for scorpion spermatophores and hemi-spermatophores. She also used a maximum parsimony reconstruction of their evolution by mapping characters on an existing phylogeny, and retrieved synapomorphies for taxa at different phylogenetic levels.
This year, we also rewarded a second Master thesis, Anahita Aebli, for her work entitled “Assembly of the Madagascan biota by replicated adaptive radiations: Case studies in Leguminosae-Mimosoideae”, conducted at the Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zürich. Anahita investigated geotemporal trajectories of diversification in Madagascan mimosoid legumes via a comparative study of two species-rich Madagascan clades, the informal Dichrostachys group and Mimosa. She used genome-wide RADseq data to reconstruct densely sampled phylogenies for these two clades, and inferred for both groups a contemporaneous late Miocene colonization of Madagasacar followed by an early burst of diversification.
This year best master’s thesis award was given to Ralph Bolliger for his work entitled "Etude de la forêt de Beanka, une formation karstique de l’ouest de Madagascar: composition floristique et biogeographie", conducted at the Université de Genève & Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève.
This thesis summarized six months of fieldwork on this little-known karstic region, and resulted in a global floristic analysis of the forest, along with the description of species new to science.