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 dynamics of the insect and pathogen community on the oak tree Quercus robur and the below- and aboveground food web surrounding the perennial herb Plantago lanceolata. I am currently expanding my research to the diseases and insects on semi-wild coffee in SW Ethiopia, and started to explore new study systems associated with Sweden’s perennial plants. Overall, I am broadly interested how ecological and evolutionary interactions between plants, insects and microbes play out in a spatial setting.
University page | Twitter

Maria Faticov

PhD student

In August 2015, I received my Master’s Degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Helsinki University. In 2016, I started my PhD, where I investigate the distribution, drivers and role of microbes within a diverse food web on the pedunculate oak Quercus robur.
In 2018, I was a member of the communication group at our department.
University page | Twitter

Beyene Hailu

PhD student (co-supervisor)

I am a PhD student co-supervised by Ayco Tack (my main supervisor is Kristoffer Hylander). I received a Master’s degree in Nematology (European Masters of Science in Nematology, an Erasmus Mundus Program) from Ghent University in 2014. Since then I had been working at Jimma University (Ethiopia) until I joined Stockholm University as a PhD student in 2016. As my PhD project, I work on the major fungal diseases of coffee along a management gradient of the crop in its native range. I am mainly interested to understand how the variation in biotic and abiotic environmental drivers and coffee management along the gradient could affect the dynamics of the major fungal diseases of coffee.

Laura van Dijk

PhD student

I obtained my Master’s degree in Ecology and Biodiversity in 2017 at Stockholm University, and thereafter I started my PhD on plant-microbe-insect interactions. Specifically, my research focuses on oak trees and wood anemones, thereby investigating the diseases as well as herbivorous insects related to these plants. I am interested in the performance impacts of pathogens and herbivores when co-occurring on a host plant, as well as the chemical response of the plant to multiple attackers.

Alvaro Gaytán

PhD student

I am working in the project “Climate, life-history and a multitrophic food web on oak” and my objective is to understand how spatial and temporal variation in climate affects the voltinism of a diverse community of herbivores and parasitoids on oak and the consequences for food web structure and dynamics.

Biruk Nurihun

PhD student

I just started my PhD. My main interest is in the relationship between climate, biodiversity, coffee diseases and smallholder farmer’s livelihood in southwestern Ethiopia.

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.

David Åhlén

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 interests are the effects of management and habitat composition on arthropod community structure.

University page | Twitter | ResearchGate

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

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.

Ryan McClory

Master student

Originally from Bath, England. I am in the master’s programme ‘Ecology and Biodiversity’. Currently, I am writing a thesis for my field experiment exploring the influence of oak-sapling’s differing spring phenology and shade levels upon seedling growth, oak powdery mildew (Erisyphe spp.) and herbivory.

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. She thereby launched the yearly Stockholm oak survey. She also produced this lovely animation movie on the food web on oak.


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.

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

Niklas Wickander investigated the impact of spatial variation in soil temperature in a geothermal area in Iceland on the ecology and evolution of the perennial herb Bistorta vivipara, and now works at Naturens Hus / Bergianska trädgården.