Highlights 2023 – part I


(top-left) Firew Bekele interviewing smallholder farmers about the opportunities for the production of Arabica coffee at high elevations in a changing climate, (top-right) Ayco Tack visiting Haramaya University and nearby coffee plantations in Harar region in Eastern Ethiopia, (bottom-left) Ditte Christiansen and Laura van Dijk placing out dataloggers in the Anemone metapopulation in the middle of a snow storm, and (bottom-right) Biruk Nurihun celebrating together with his opponent Ivette Perfecto and theoretical ecologist John Vandermeer after successfully defending his PhD thesis on ‘The relationship between climate, disease and coffee yield: optimizing management for smallholder farmers’.

Highlights 2022


(top-left) Alvaro Gaytán successfully defended his PhD thesis on ‘The effect of climate on oak-based species interactions’, (middle, top) The 20th (!) year of the annual survey of leaf miners, gallers and pathogens on the island Wattkast, (top-right) Beyene Zewdie preparing samples of coffee leaf rust-infected leaves for next generation sequencing, (bottom-left) PhD student Firew Bekele riding horse to his field site to interview smallholder farmers on the reasons why some parts of the landscape have become reforested, and others deforested, during the past decades and (bottom-right) Ayco Tack sampling biodiversity in streams in a new water project in southwestern Ethiopia.

Highlights 2021

(top-left) Beyene Zewdie collected a zillion of healthy and infested coffee leaves, berries, bark and roots in the area of origin of Arabica coffee in southwestern Ethiopia for analyses of the pathobiome, (middle, top) Collections of Arabica coffee berries, (top-right) A galler-mildew drink to celebrate the PhD defense of Maria Faticov on ‘Spatial and temporal ecology of oak-associated fungal communities’, and (bottom) The PhD defense of Laura van Dijk on ‘Interactions between plants, microbes and insects‘.

Highlights from autumn 2020

(top-left) As we could not travel to Ethiopia, we were very lucky that Tamiru Shimales, who did his MSc project in our lab, and local farmer Raya A/oli could survey our field sites to gather the climate loggers and record data on coffee yield this year! (top-right) As we go about on bicycle, our Stockholm survey on the impact of urbanization on the herbivore and pathogen community on oaks was more corona-proof. This year, we collected many acorns for Álvaro Gaytan, who will look into the urban ecology of seed predators (bottom-left) MSc student Emilia Regazzoni grinding oak leaves in liquid nitrogen for her project on the effect of plant-pathogen-insect interactions on gene expression and metabolites (bottom-right) Niklas Wickander published his MSc thesis on the ecological and evolutionary response of Bistorta vivipara to temperature and soil in a geothermal landscape in Hengladalir, Iceland

Other major events:

  • Laura van Dijk published her first PhD paper on the timing and asymmetry of plant–pathogen–insect interactions (PDF)
  • Beyene Zewdie defended his PhD on Fungal disease dynamics, genetic diversity and biodiversity-yield relationships along a gradient of coffee management in southwestern Ethiopia

Highlights from spring 2020

(top-left) PhD student Álvaro Gaytan is coordinating a European scale sampling project to understand how the flushing of new oak leaves during the growing season affects the microbes and insects that live on oak (top-right) PhD student Laura van Dijk investigates the impact of fungal diseases on pollination of Anemone nemorosa (bottom-left) Maria Faticov prepared libraries to sequence the microbial community associated with oaks leaves and roots, as well as the microbes associated with the oak’s leaf miners and gallers (bottom-right) PhD student Biruk Nurihun interviews a smallholder farmer about coffee fungal diseases, perceived changes in climate, and possibilities to adapt to climate change, with many curious onlookers

Other major events:

  • We were sad that postdoc Ahmed Abdelfattah left our lab…With good reasons though, as he had the opportunity to start an exciting Marie-Curie project in Graz!
  • Hannah Burger successfully defended her MSc thesis on the joint effect of top-down, bottom-up and environmental drivers on pest control on Arabica coffee in its native range
  • PhD student Adam Ekholm defended his PhD thesis on seasonal interactions between oaks and insects
  • PhD student Maria Faticov published her first paper on how climate and host genotype jointly shape tree phenology, disease levels and insect attacks (PDF)
  • We received funding from SIDA/VR to continue our interdisciplinary work in Ethiopia for several more years, in collaboration with Esayas Mendesil at Jimma University, Sileshi Nemomissa at Addis Ababa University, Erik Kjellström at SMHI, Lowe Börjeson from the department of Human Geography at Stockholm University, and Kristoffer Hylander at DEEP (Stockholm University).

Highlights from autumn 2019

(top-left) We now started to trap insects in fifty national parks across Madagascar using Malaise traps, and Ayco Tack visited Madagascar to launch the associated project on ecosystem functioning, which aims to (partly) answer the question of what all those insects are actually doing (www.insectbiomeatlas.com) (top-right) Postdoc Ahmed Abdelfattah designed a microcosm to grow our beloved oaks, to be used in a series of experiments on the origin and trajectory of belowground and aboveground microbial communities (bottom-left) MSc student Hannah Burger placed out 2400 clay caterpillars in southwestern Ethiopia to investigate the top-down control of herbivores on Arabica coffee (bottom-right) The survey of the spatial dynamics of the insect community on oaks on the island Wattkast in southwestern Finland went on for the sixteenth year in a row, and was this year organized from Stockholm

Other major events:

  • After a PhD and short postdoc, we are sad that Pil Rasmussen left our lab…but she started a nice new postdoc Denmark!

Highlights from spring 2019

(top-left) PhD student Biruk Nurihun carried out his first fieldwork on the link between climate, coffee diseases and yield, and is placing the first of hundreds of climate loggers in southwestern Ethiopia, which is the area of origin of Arabica coffee (top-right) BSc student Cerise van Leeuwen and intern Anaís Carpelan examining the impact of fungal diseases on insect herbivory and pollination in Anemone nemorosa, a study that is part of the PhD project of Laura van Dijk (bottom-left) Together with NRM, Uppsala and KTH, we launched a major project to sample insect diversity at 200 locations across Sweden for an entire year using Malaise traps, with the help of 100 volunteers (www.insectbiomeatlas.com) (bottom-right) Álvaro started a series of experiments to disentangle the impact of spring phenology and pathogen infection on the preference and performance of multi-generational insects feeding on oak, including one of our favourite leaf miners, Tischeria ekebladella

Other major events:

  • Ryan McClory successfully defended his MSc thesis on the impacts of phenology and shade on growth and survival of oak seedlings, and their interactions with pathogens and herbivores
  • Anaís Carpelan joined our group during spring and summer, and was of great help to many of us during Anemone, oak and other lab- and field experiments
  • Ahmed Abdelfattah joined our team as an independent postdoctoral fellow to work on the microbial community on oak
  • Cerise van Leeuwen, a BSc student from the Netherlands, visited us this spring to do fieldwork on the pathogens and herbivores of Anemone nemorosa

Highlights from summer 2018

(top-left) MSc student Ryan McClory, Laura van Dijk and (soon) visiting PhD student Jessie Mutz study the impact of spring and autumn phenology on oak seedlings and their attackers. (top-right) Pil Rasmussen is finalizing her PhD this autumn, and only went outdoors to record the Plantago lanceolata demography at the Stockholm PlantPopNet site at the rocky beach. (bottom-left) Our project on coffee in southwestern Ethiopia is slowly becoming long-term: we distributed a fact sheet on coffee leaf rust (PDF in English, PDF in Afaan Oromo) and a t-shirt with a depiction of the coffee diseases during this year’s field survey; and we hired a new PhD student! (bottom-right) PhD student Alvaro Gaytán has been busy at night catching moths for a new project on the relationship between climate, voltinism and the food web on oak

Other major & minor events:

  • Anna Barr successfully defended her master thesis on the effects of habitat and connectivity on the insect diversity of an urban oak community
  • Biruk Nurihun will start as a PhD student in our new project ‘The relationship between climate, disease and coffee yield: optimizing management for smallholder farmers‘, which is funded by Research Area 7 from the Bolin Centre for Climate Research
  • In late winter, MSc student Oliver Moss went to southwestern Ethiopia to measure coffee physiology, and BSc student Amelie Schober interviewed the local coffee farmers about their livelihood
  • Erasmus student Giada Centenaro visited us this summer, and has been a great help to many of us!
  • This summer, MSc student Tamiru Shimales has surveyed the insect community on coffee trees, and reared the leaf miner and its parasitoids; exciting to see what comes out!

Highlights from spring 2018

(top) This year we had our annual lab meeting in Tartu, Estonia, where we were invited for a symposium on Biotic interactions and biodiversity patterns across scales organized by Maarja Öpik. (bottom-left) The oak leaf miner Acrocercops brongniardella had a major outbreak in Stockholm area this year, and Maria Faticov wrote a Swedish and English fact sheet. (bottom-right) We started to recruit a hundred volunteers for our Wallenberg-funded project to chart the insect biodiversity in Sweden and Madagascar: click here for more info on how to subscribe as a volunteer.

Highlights from summer and autumn 2017

(Photo) Our first group selfie, taken during our annual group meeting, which was this time at Askö marine biological station.

Other major & minor events:

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