Nadia Rytz

Master in Biology

Field of research

I am an MSc student in Biology at the University of Neuchâtel, in the functional ecology laboratory (LEF). After completing a Bsc in biology and ethnology at the same university, I decided to continue on the interdisciplinary path and to focus my studies on sustainable agriculture (and more generally the sustainability of ecosystems, whether managed by humans or not). Because of my great curiosity and my attraction for complex thought, I no longer count my interests. This interdisciplinary specialization in sustainable agriculture allows me to be as interested in natural systems, living beings and their functioning as in human systems and social issues revolving around sustainability.

I particularly like to be interested in the soil. If this material has long seemed to us to be only a support for living things and our activities, it has turned out to be an ecosystem in its own right, one of the most essential to life. In a dynamic exchange, the soil communities, at first sight invisible, perform many ecosystem services such as the degradation of organic matter and the redistribution of nutrients, essential for plant growth. In a context of global warming but also of sealing, pollution, soil desertification and therefore loss of biodiversity, it is very important to look into their preservation and increase our understanding of their functioning.

We know today that biodiversity increases the resilience of ecosystems and helps to overcome extreme environmental changes. The loss of this biodiversity is therefore an essential problem for the sustainability of ecosystems and their functioning. The same is true in the soil. By playing a central role in the decomposition of organic matter, the activity of soil organisms regulates the availability of assimilable carbon for plants and then determines plant (and therefore animal) diversity on the surface.

As part of my master's work, I joined the thesis project by Sarah Semeraro - the Swiss Mountain Soil Ecology Project - which seeks, among other things, to understand what is the relative contribution of different soil communities to the formation of humus and the functioning of the ecosystem along an altitude gradient. This information is very important, in particular to try to predict what the future of these soils could be, in a context of climate change, due to global warming.

Main themes

  • Altitudinal gradients
  • Arthropods
  • Humus forms
  • Functional ecology
  • Pedology and pedogenesis

Nadia Rytz



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