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Plant-Animal Interactions

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Head: PD Dr. Anita Risch

We are studying the distribution of and interactions among producers, consumers as well as decomposers and between these communities and their environment. We focus on food webs in real world ecosystems and thus mainly sample our data during experimental field campaigns. Data collection under controlled conditions in the greenhouse or experimental garden are, however, common add-ons hereby. We are mainly interested in the functioning of natural ecosystems and often conduct research in National Parks around the world. Our main study area is, however, the Swiss National Park. While working on basic research questions, we regularly consider applied aspects that are related to protecting or conserving endangered ecosystems.

Examples of research question of our research group assesses are:

How is species loss related to ecosystem processes and functions? Which species or species groups are particularly relevant for ecosystem functioning? Which effects are expected with the loss of such important species groups? How are aboveground organisms interacting with belowground organisms? Which abiotic and biotic conditions favor diverse ecosystems? Is global change (for example eutrophication, habitat fragmentation, climate) a thread for diverse ecosystems? How can diverse ecosystems be protected?