Plant-pollinator 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-pollinator interactions at night, and how the directly and indirectly affect plant-pollinator 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, one of the current key questions we ask is what how artificial light at night directly and indirectly affects plant-pollinator community processes. Furthermore, we are interested in the different pathways of how artificial light at night might indirectly affect pollination during daytime.


Land use 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, and what the underlying mechanisms are.

As part of a large project (www.allema.ch), that systematically monitors plant and habitat diversity at the national scale, we currently put a focus on mechanisms that determine plant and insect diversity at the landscape scale. 

Furthermore, we put a focus on how the landuse changes affect insects and the services they provide. Doing so we are interested in local community processes, but also in processes at larger spatial scales. The latter is particularly important given the current concerns of a drastic insect decline worldwide. To understand processes of changes in insect abundances and distributions as the larger scale, we model national wide databases going back to the 1970s. On the other hand, in collaboration with the Swiss Ornithological Station we apply a novel approach by using information from radar to quantify abundances, movements and changes of aerial insect biomass.