The Bug-Network

Welcome to the Bug-Network (BugNet)!

We are a global collaborative research network that aims to assess the impact of invertebrate herbivores and pathogenic fungi on plant communities and ecosystems.

We have a number of collaborators all around the world but we are still looking for more! If you are interested in contributing to our understanding of the importance and context-dependency of biotic interactions, and would like to set up an exclusion experiment in your area for the long-term experimental study, please contact us! Participation in the comparative study is no longer possible.

BugNet research questions:

  1. How does the functional composition of invertebrate communities vary with abiotic and biotic drivers?
  2. How important are direct effects of climate vs. indirect effects of changes in the plant community?
  3. Do insect herbivores, molluscs and fungal pathogens differ in their impact on plant communities? And do they interact with each other?
  4. When do invertebrate herbivores and fungal pathogens have the strongest effects on plant communities (productivity, community composition and diversity)?

BugNet aims:

  1. To collect data on plant- and invertebrate functional community characteristics to investigate how the functional composition of invertebrate communities changes along abiotic and biotic gradients.
  2. To set up identical invertebrate herbivore and fungal exclusion experiments to quantify plant community and ecosystem responses to insects, molluscs and fungal pathogens in a wide range of herbaceous-dominated ecosystems, such as desert grasslands to arctic tundra, but also heathlands or Mediterranean shrublands.

The BugNet is run out of the University of Bern, the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF and the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (Switzerland).

Photograph taken by Anne Kempel and Andreas Gygax ©