Ayco Tack

Principal investigator

I am broadly interested in the ecology and evolution of species interactions.  For this, I have worked extensively on the spatial and temporal dynamics of the insect and pathogen community on the oak tree Quercus robur and the below- and aboveground food web surrounding Sweden’s perennial herbs, such as the beautiful fungi on the wood anemone, the ribwort plantain and the bird’s eye primrose. Outside of Sweden, a key interest is on the relationship between climate, insects, and diseases on semi-wild coffee in SW Ethiopia, and the consequences for farmers’ livelihoods and biodiversity. In the Insect Biome Atlas project, we examine the diversity, distribution and function of the insect community across Sweden and Madagascar. Overall, I am broadly interested in how ecological and evolutionary interactions between plants, insects and microbes play out in a spatial setting.
University page | Twitter

Beyene Hailu

Postdoctoral researcher

My current research focuses on microbial diversity on coffee in southwestern Ethiopia. I am mainly interested to understand the spatial and local variation in microbiomes associated with the different parts of the coffee plant (i.e., the leaves, berries, stems/bark and roots) and root-associated soils. In my native country Ethiopia, the Afromontane forests in the southwestern part of the country include the native ranges of Arabica coffee, and coffee grows as an understory shrub along a broad gradient of management that includes wild or only-little-managed coffee, smallholder farmers landraces with medium management and intensively managed coffee plantations. Along this gradient of management, I have previously studied on the dynamics of the major fungal diseases on coffee, diseases and natural enemy interaction, the relationship between coffee genetic variation and major fungal diseases, and plant biodiversity – coffee yield relationships.

See my Google scholar or ResearchGate for more details.

Laura van Dijk

Postdoctoral researcher

I am currently working as a postdoc for the Insect Biome Atlas project, a collaborative project between the Swedish Natural History museum, Stockholm University and SLU Uppsala, aimed at describing the insect fauna across seasons in both Sweden and Madagascar. During this project, I am interested in describing insect biomass and the composition of insect communities through space and time, the effects of landscape and climate on the composition of insect communities, as well as the consequences for ecosystem functioning.

Biruk Nurihun

PhD student

I am a PhD student at Stockholm University working on the project “The relationship between climate, disease and coffee yield: optimizing management for smallholder farmers.” In this project, I am mainly focusing on the relationship between climate, fungal diseases, biodiversity, and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in southwest Ethiopia. More specifically, I am interested in investigating the impact of climate on coffee fungal diseases and yield, as well as how climate and management interact to shape disease levels and yield, and how smallholder farmers perceive and are impacted by climate change, as well as how they are changing, or planning to change, their management to cope with or adapt to the impacts of climate change.

David Åhlén

PhD student (co-supervisor)

In 2019 I started my PhD studies at Stockholm University, which are co-supervised by Ayco Tack (my main supervisor is Peter Hambäck). I received a MSc in Ecology and Biodiversity at Stockholm University in 2016, where I worked on the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. In my PhD projects I am working on biodiversity and predator-prey interactions of arthropods on wetland shorelines in the agricultural landscape of two regions in Sweden. My main interest is the effects of management and habitat composition on arthropod community structure.

University page | Twitter | ResearchGate

Lisse Goris

In 2023 I started my PhD on oak fungal microbiomes and their relationship with oak macrobiomes. The goal is to integrate the oak microbiome into the oak ecosystem by elucidating relationships and patterns between and within the oak micro- and macrobiomes. To achieve this, I study oak micro- and macrobiomes across different spatiotemporal scales in Sweden and across Europe. I focus on Quercus robur and its fungi and insects. Before starting my PhD I obtained a MSc in Global Change Ecology at Ghent University.

Francesco Zignol

Postdoctoral researcher

I am currently a researcher at DEEP working on a collaborative project that aims to understand the relationship between climate, pathogens, and coffee yield in the Afromontane mountains in southwestern Ethiopia. My research focuses on investigating the spatiotemporal variability of the microclimate in relation to its geographical characteristics. In addition, I study how these local-scale climate conditions are expected to evolve over the next decades in response to global-scale climate changes predicted by state-of-the-art climate models.

Firew Bekele

PhD student (co-supervisor)

I am a PhD student supervised by Sileshi Nemomissa and Ayco Tack. I received a Master’s degree in Plant Biology and Biodiversity Management from Addis Ababa University in 2017. My areas of research interest include forest biodiversity conservation and management, natural and manipulated regeneration of degraded lands, biodiversity of cultural landscapes, soil seed banks and their implications to restoration ecology, plants of social, economic and cultural importance, biodiversity and climate change, and prescribed fire.

Obsu Hirko Diriba

PhD student (co-supervisor)

I started my PhD studies in 2022 at Stockholm University, and I am co-supervised by Ayco Tack (my main supervisor is Kristoffer Hylander). In my PhD research, I am interested to understand water quality/quantity, biodiversity in watercourses and water use by smallholder farmers along a land use gradient and identify synergies and tradeoffs related to water use in an era of climate change and modernization in southwest Ethiopia.

Andreas Avendaño Lillkvist

Master student

For my master thesis in Ecology and Biodiversity, I investigate how local and spatial factors influence insect and pathogen communities on urban trees, and if observed effects can be generalized among tree species. Specifically, I work with four urban tree species (Quercus robur, Sorbus aucuparia, Acer platanoides, and Tilia sp.) and their associated leaf miners, gallers, and fungal pathogens.

Robert Goodsell

Postdoctoral researcher

I am a quantitative ecologist with broad interests in population and community ecology. I am particularly interested in how population and community dynamics play out over regional scales, in response to variation in environmental, phenotypic, and anthropogenic drivers. Currently, I am a postdoc working at the Swedish Natural History Museum, in collaboration with Stockholm University and SLU, on the Insect Biome Atlas project. My role involves investigating the major drivers of Swedish insect community diversity and structure using joint species distribution models, and how we use these models to design robust monitoring programs for the future.

Maansi Sharan

Master student

I am an Uppsala University graduate student majoring in ecology and conservation. I’m now researching bacterial endosymbionts connected to herbivores and parasitoids in the oak food chain for my thesis.

Past members / Lab alumni

Pil Rasmussen

Postdoctoral researcher

My work focuses on plant-associated soil communities. Specifically, I look into spatial patterns of plant-associated soil microbes; their dispersal abilities; how abiotic (e.g. climate, soil pH and nutrients) and biotic factors (e.g. plant genotype and root-associated fungi) can affect them; and what consequences they can have on aboveground communities.

Ahmed Abdelfattah

Postdoctoral researcher

My research mainly focuses on microbial communities associated to plants. I am interested to understand their community structure, function, and interaction with their host and the environment. Previously, I studied the fungal communities of several agricultural crops, including olive, citrus, strawberries, grape, wheat, and apples. Currently, I am studying the microbial community of oak trees with a special focus on their spatial distribution within and among trees, mechanisms of microbial inheritance, acquisition and transmission from the environment.
Google scholarOrchid ID | Researchgate

Maria Faticov

PhD student

I did my PhD at Ayco Tack’s group where I studied the drivers of the spatial patterns and temporal dynamics of plant-associated microbial communities. From early 2022, I am a postdoc in the labs of Isabelle Laforest-Lapointe (Sherbrooke University, Canada) and Alain Paquette (University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada). My project is part of a larger network of related projects that aim to uncover the distribution and role of urban microbiomes for human health. I am eager to understand the distribution and temporal dynamics of diverse microbial communities (i.e., fungi, bacteria and viruses) across neighborhoods with different socio-economic status in several cities of Quebec. Furthermore, from a more theoretical point of view, I explore how modern ecological theory that has been widely applied to macroorganisms can be used to predict the dynamics of microorganisms.

Lab pageGoogle scholar | Twitter

Adam Ekholm

PhD student (co-supervisor)

I study how insect communities build up in space and time. In my research, I am particularly interested in the role of plant phenology (bud burst and leaf senescence) in structuring insect communities. As my study system, I use the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) and a subset of its insect community consisting of leaf miners and gall wasps.

Alvaro Gaytán

PhD student

I got my PhD at the plant-microbe-insect lab working in the project “Climate, life-history and a multitrophic food web on oak” where I explored how spatial and temporal variation in climate affects a diverse community of herbivores and fungi on oak and the consequences for food web structure and dynamics. I am now continuing my research career investigating Quercus-associated communities of arthropods and fungi.



Ryan McClory

Master student

For my master’s thesis in ‘Ecology and Biodiversity’, I completed a field experiment exploring the influence of oak-sapling’s differing spring phenology and shade levels upon seedling growth, oak powdery mildew infection (Erisyphe spp.), and herbivory; I published the results in 2021. I am now a PhD candidate at the University of Reading researching the mechanistic drivers of oak masting.

Twitter | ResearchGate

Abebe Woldesenbet

Master student (co-supervisor)

My main interest is in the diversity and ecological drivers of nematode communities, for which I sampled hundreds of coffee trees in southwestern Ethiopia, including both trees in natural forests and trees in plantations with lower shade levels.

Anna Barr

Master student

Anna Barr investigated the local and spatial factors that shape the distribution of leaf miners and gallers on oak within an urban context, which was published in 2021 in Landscape and Urban Planning. She thereby launched the yearly Stockholm oak survey. She also produced a lovely animation movie with a student booklet and teacher’s guide on the oak food web. She now works as the oak teaching specialist for Learning Among the Oaks, a program with The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County in California, USA.

LinkedIn | ResearchGate


Oliver Moss

Master student

Oliver Moss studied the impact of the abiotic and biotic environment on coffee tree physiology and beneficial root microbes in southwestern Ethiopia. He has since worked as a research assistant at Lund University, making transgenic plants that produce insect pheromones. He is now doing a PhD at SLU Alnarp, working on reducing antinutritional compounds in rapeseed using CRISPR-Cas9.

Jessie Mutz

PhD student (visiting)

Jessie Mutz from Florida State University visited us in the autumn semester of 2018. She investigated the patterns and drivers of the within and among tree variation in autumn phenology, as well as the consequences for interactions with plant pathogens and insect herbivores

Etsuko Nonaka

Postdoctoral researcher (hosting)

Etsuko Nonaka is an ecologist and modeler who is interested in the interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes, especially in a spatial context. She uses different kinds of modeling approaches to understand how population dynamics and spatial genetic structure relate to each other and how evolutionary changes can occur in spatially structured populations or metapopulations. She received her PhD from Umeå University in 2014, and has been a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki (2014-2017) and Stockholm University (2018).
Google scholar

Niklas Wickander

Master student

My work was investigating the impact of spatial variation in soil temperature on the ecology and evolution of the perennial herb Bistorta vivipara in a geothermal area in Iceland. I graduated in 2017 and my thesis was published in Oikos in 2020. I am currently doing a PhD at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ecology of plant-soil interactions in subtropical grasslands. The PhD is part of a larger project called EthiopiaGrass (https://www.nibio.no/en/projects/ethiopiagrass).

Emilia Regazzoni

I am a master student within genetic and molecular plant sciences at Stockholm University, currently writing my thesis on the transcriptional and metabolomic changes occurring in oaks in response to infestation by fungi and/or insects.

Xenia Gomm

I am a master’s student in the Bolin Center’s Climate Science program. Previously, I did a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with computer science as an applied subject. I wrote my master thesis related to the climatic impact on coffee plants in Ethiopia.

Giada Centenaro

PhD student (visiting)

The fascinating interplay between environmental factors, plants, soil, and soil fungal communities in forest ecosystems is the main subject of my scientific research. Currently, I am studying how the soil fungal communities respond to forest management in different Mediterranean forests.