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ClimHerb - Infuence of changes in plant-herbivore interactions on alpine plant communities under climate change


Many herbivores, such as butterfly larvae, are shifting their distribution poleward and to higher elevation in response to climate change. As a consequence, climate change may induce new interactions between species that never co-occurred or evolutionary shifts in the functional traits of species. However, shifts in trophic interactions across trophic levels have been poorly investigated and may play a primary role in how community will be impacted by climate change. The present study aims at understanding how alpine plant community and plant resistance to herbivores respond to increased herbivore pressure and changes in biotic interactions under climate change. To address these questions, we simulated the effect of increased herbivore pressure at high elevation by artificially increasing the abundance of orthopteran individuals in a controlled field experiment. We also set up OTC (open top chambers) greenhouses to measure the effect of increasing temperature on the plant community.

Project details

Project duration

2014 - 2018

Project lead

Prof. Dr. Loïc Pellissier


Additional information

Research area

Loïc Pellisier’s research focuses on understanding and modelling past and future landscape dynamic and its link to biodiversity. He uses the fundamental knowledge in ecology and evolution of landscape biodiversity patterns provided by his research to improve sustainable management of natural resources. One of his research interests is the interaction between species, and  how species assemblages respond to climate change. He also investigates the impact of climate change on ecosystems including the Arctic tundra and the marine realm. His current research objectives are to improve methods of modelling biodiversity across landscapes and to track change in the landscape more accurately with remote sensing technologies.

Curriculum Vitae

Loïc Pellissier has been Assistant Professor (with Tenure Track) of Landscape Ecology at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems at ETH Zurich and at WSL since July 2015.

He was born in Martigny, Switzerland, in 1984.

Loïc Pellissier studied at the University of Lausanne and completed his PhD in 2012. He then led a postdoctoral research project at the Arctic Research Center (Roskilde), which is affiliated to Aarhus University in Denmark. From 2013 to 2015 he was research group leader at the University of Fribourg.


Patrice Descombes