Plant-invertebrate communities and the impact of artificial light at night

It is estimated that species active at night constitute more than half of the world’s biodiversity. Despite this, we currently know very little about their ecological role. So a major focus of our research group is on plant-invertebrat interactions at night, and what their role is for community processes.

At the same time light pollution is rapidly increasing around the globe, potentially threatening particularly night active species. Artificial light at night is most often a consequence of altered land use, such as urbanization. Thus, we ask how artificial light at night directly and indirectly affects plant-invertebrate community processes, and what the underlying mechanisms are. In particular, we are interested in the different pathways of how artificial light at night might indirectly affect plant-invertebrate interactions during daytime.

Global change and the temporal and spatial distribution of biodiversity

The growing world population leads to major land use changes both in agroecosystems and in urban ecosystems. The general key question we are interested in is, what the consequences of these land use changes are for biodiversity, species interactions and ecosystem functioning.

As part of a large project (, that systematically monitors plant and habitat diversity at the national scale, we currently put a focus on patterns of plant, butterfly, and bird diversity at the landscape scale. 

Furthermore, we are interested in how global change affect the abundance and diversity of insects and the services they provide. Doing so we are interested in local community processes (using mesocosm approaches), but also in processes at larger spatio-temporal scales using large datasets. The latter is particularly important given the current concerns of a drastic insect decline worldwide. For example, to understand processes of changes in insect abundances and distributions, we model information going back to the beginning of the 20th century. On the other hand, in collaboration with the Swiss Ornithological Station we use information from radars to quantify abundances, movements and changes of aerial insect biomass at large spatio-temporal scales.