Lab Members

My lab is part of the Biometry & Environmental System Analysis group led by Carsten Dormann. The research team is constantly changing (temporal network dynamics: I am the persistent core species 😉 ).

The lab in July 2019
The lab on our retreat in summer 2019 (Jochen, Sylvie, Tobias, Benjamin, Hai-Dong). It happened to be the day when all-time temperature records were broken in Germany, which explains the essential water bottles and the slight hint of dizziness. We still had a productive day with talks, discussion and R tipps, and a little excursion.

Present lab members

PhD candidates

William Castillo started in 2022 as a member of the Research Unit REASSEMBLY and is co-supervised by Carsten Dormann and me. He will develop and test new models for fitting species interaction networks, building on previous attempts (e.g. tapnet). He is also closely interacting with theoretical modeling by Timo Metz and Barbara Drossel at TU Darmstadt, and with the many empirical researchers within the Research Unit doing field work in Ecuador.

MSc candidates

  • Isabel Richter: How do tree diversity and identity influence soil overwintering arthropods in monocultures and mixed stands?

BSc candidates

Past lab members

PhD candidates

Pic Benjamin Schwarz

Benjamin Schwarz joined the team in March 2017 and graduated in June 2021. In his PhD research, he studied temporal dynamics of plant-pollinator networks across different time scales. A special focus was on diel patterns in plant-pollinator interactions, a timescale that has often been neglected compared to seasonal phenology. In a large synthesis, he showed that network structure depends on the scale of temporal aggregation. He also used an experimental approach to understand diel network dynamics, proving early closure of Cichorieae flower heads as a key driver. He is now at the FVA Baden-Württemberg.

Sylvie Berthelot joined the team in February 2018 and graduated in January 2022. In her PhD research, she studied tree-arthropod interactions in the transatlantic IDENT network of tree diversity experiments. She focused on the interactive effects of tree diversity and native vs. exotic species origin on herbivory. She looked at different guilds of insect herbivores, including a bark beetle outbreak in the Freiburg site. Her work helps to better understand how tree diversity influences herbivory and how exotic tree species are integrated into native interaction webs (broadly speaking, the result being that exotic origin reduces herbivory more consistently than tree diversity does). See more on her page on our department website. Sylvie will start her new position as a study coordinator soon.

Hai-Dong Li was a visiting PhD student who joined the lab from June 2019 to June 2020. We have been (and continue) working together on multiple networks from fragmented forests in subtropical China, including plant-frugivore and plant-herbivore interactions. We have also started to develop approaches to analyze the interconnections between different networks, for example using the multilayer framework. Meanwhile, he has successfully defended his PhD and is a postdoc at the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. See more on his website.

MSc theses

  • Jakob Jentschke (2021): Effects of diurnal resource availability on the bee community in an agricultural landscape
  • Tobias Frühbrodt (2019): The effect of tree species richness and functional diversity on the spread of the sixtoothed spruce bark beetle (Pityogenes chalcographus) and its spatial characteristics
  • Deena Shrestha (2018): Do arthropod communities differ between exotic and native tree species?
  • Elena Weindel (2016): How does tree diversity influence habitat use and predation by insectivorous birds?
  • Mert Kavaklıoğlu (2016): Insect herbivore diversity in the IDENT tree diversity experiment

BSc theses

  • Luis Kremer (2020): Einfluss der Abhängigkeit von Beobachtungsereignissen auf quantitative Analysen von Pflanzen-Bestäuber-Netzwerken (EN: Influence of non-independent observations on quantitative network analysis)
  • Laura Becker (2018): Welchen Einfluss hat eine genestete Netzwerkstruktur auf die Stabilität mutualististischer Netzwerke unter Berücksichtigung der Konkurrenz um Mutualismuspartner (EN: effect of nestedness on stability of mutualistic networks considering competition for mutualists)
  • Leon Thoma (2018): How do novel species influence arthropod communities in mixed forests?
  • Clara Wild (2017): Stellung von Ackerwildkräutern im Pflanzen-Bestäuber-Nahrungsnetz und die Bedeutung von Habitatkomplexen für den Naturschutz (EN: plant-pollinator networks in a habitat complex)

Student assistants (Hiwis)

Although the team of Hiwis is changing fast, they are an essential part of the team, an invaluable help and contribute a lot to our research with reliable and independent work. Thank you to all for your great work!


If you would like to join my lab and develop a project that matches my research interests (in particular on timing and multi-species interactions), please contact me! If you are interested in ecological interaction networks, it might sound cool for you that here you would be at the source of the developers of the widely used bipartite R package. I’d be happy to assist you in developing an application for a PhD fellowship (I have successfully applied for several fellowships in the past).

If you are interested in doing an MSc or BSc thesis with me, see here.