Walter Salzburger

Academic interests

I am interested in the evolution of animals, the adaptation of animals to their environments, and the generation of ecological, morphological, behavioral and genetic diversity. In particular, I am interested in the molecular basis of evolution, the processes that underlie adaptation, innovation, and speciation, and the evolution of genes and genomes during adaptive radiation and speciation.

Cichlid fishes are the most fascinating model organisms to me. These tropical freshwater-fishes show a Gondwanian distribution, with extant representatives in India, Madagascar, South- and Central America, and Africa. With more than 2'000 species that evolved in the last few million years only the species flocks of cichlids in the East African Great Lakes Tanganyika, Malawi and Victoria represent the most astounding examples of adaptive radiation and explosive speciation. I am interested in the evolution of the cichlids' unique biodiversity, in the intrinsic factors that underlie the cichlids' propensity for explosive speciation, and in the external (environmental) events that trigger their radiations. In particular, I am interested in the molecular genetic and genomic bases of the evolutionary success of cichlids.

A second line of my research focuses on the biology of European taxa, with special emphasis to Alpine animals. The Alps are the main mountain range in Central Europe and, as such, of great significance to the fauna and flora. I am interested in the bio-geographic history of several vertebrate groups in the Alps and surrounding regions and in the adaptation of these species to the Alpine environment.


  • Matschiner, Michael; Musilová, Zuzana; Barth, Julia Maria Isis; Starostová, Zuzana; Salzburger, Walter; Steel, Mike & Bouckaert, Remco (2017). Bayesian Phylogenetic Estimation of Clade Ages Supports Trans-Atlantic Dispersal of Cichlid Fishes. Systematic Biology.  ISSN 1063-5157.  66(1), s 3- 22 . doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syw076
  • Cortesi, Fabio; Musilová, Zuzana; Stieb, Sara M.; Hart, Nathan S.; Siebeck, Ulrike E.; Cheney, Karen L.; Salzburger, Walter & Marshall, N. Justin (2016). From crypsis to mimicry: Changes in colour and the configuration of the visual system during ontogenetic habitat transitions in a coral reef fish. Journal of Experimental Biology.  ISSN 0022-0949.  219(16), s 2545- 2558 . doi: 10.1242/jeb.139501
  • Gante, Hugo F; Matschiner, Michael; Malmstrøm, Martin; Jakobsen, Kjetill Sigurd; Jentoft, Sissel & Salzburger, Walter (2016). Genomics of speciation and introgression in Princess cichlid fishes from Lake Tanganyika. Molecular Ecology.  ISSN 0962-1083.  25(24), s 6143- 6161 . doi: 10.1111/mec.13767
  • Malmstrøm, Martin; Matschiner, Michael; Tørresen, Ole Kristian; Star, Bastiaan; Snipen, Lars-Gustav; Hansen, Thomas F; Baalsrud, Helle Tessand; Nederbragt, Alexander Johan; Hanel, Reinhold; Salzburger, Walter; Stenseth, Nils Christian; Jakobsen, Kjetill Sigurd & Jentoft, Sissel (2016). Evolution of the immune system influences speciation rates in teleost fishes. Nature Genetics.  ISSN 1061-4036.  48(10), s 1204- 1210 . doi: 10.1038/ng.3645
  • Meyer, Britta S.; Matschiner, Michael & Salzburger, Walter (2016). Disentangling incomplete lineage sorting and introgression to refine species-tree estimates for Lake Tanganyika cichlid fishes. Systematic Biology.  ISSN 1063-5157.  s 1- 20 . doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syw069
  • Baldo, Laura; Riera, Joan Lluis; Tooming-Klunderud, Ave; Alba, M. Mar & Salzburger, Walter (2015). Gut microbiota dynamics during dietary shift in eastern African cichlid fishes. PLoS ONE.  ISSN 1932-6203.  10(5) . doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127462 Full text in Research Archive
  • Colombo, Marco; Damerau, Malte; Hanel, Reinhold; Salzburger, Walter & Matschiner, Michael (2015). Diversity and disparity through time in the adaptive radiation of Antarctic notothenioid fishes. Evolutionary biology.  ISSN 0071-3260.  28, s 376- 394 . doi: 10.1111/jeb.12570
  • Cortesi, Fabio; Musilováa, Zuzana; Stieb, Sara M.; Hart, Nathan S.; Siebeck, Ulrike E.; Malmstrøm, Martin; Tørresen, Ole Kristian; Jentoft, Sissel; Cheney, Karen L.; Marshall, N. Justin; Carleton, Karen L. & Salzburger, Walter (2015). Ancestral duplications and highly dynamic opsin gene evolution in percomorph fishes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.  ISSN 0027-8424.  112(5), s 1493- 1498 . doi: 10.1073/pnas.1417803112
  • Matschiner, Michael; Colombo, Marco; Damerau, Malte; Ceballos, Santiago; Hanel, Reinhold & Salzburger, Walter (2015). The Adaptive Radiation of Notothenioid Fishes in the Waters of Antarctica , In Rüdiger Riesch; Michael Tobler & Martin Plath (ed.),  Extremophile Fishes.  Springer.  ISBN 978-3-319-13362-1.  The Adaptive Radiation of Notothenioid Fishes in the Waters of Antarctica.  s 35 - 57
  • Meyer, Britta S.; Matschiner, Michael & Salzburger, Walter (2015). A tribal level phylogeny of Lake Tanganyika cichlid fishes based on a genomic multi-marker approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  ISSN 1055-7903.  83, s 56- 71 . doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2014.10.009

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  • Baalsrud, Helle Tessand; Tørresen, Ole Kristian; Malmstrøm, Martin; Salzburger, Walter; Jakobsen, Kjetill Sigurd & Jentoft, Sissel (2015). The hemoglobin repertoire in the order of Gadiformes linked to depth adaptation.

View all works in Cristin

Published Sep. 9, 2014 1:10 PM - Last modified Sep. 17, 2015 1:57 PM