This project is currently my main group’s project. Through my previous SNF projects, robust distribution data have been collected on plants and insects in an intensively sampled study area of the Swiss Alps. These data were used to develop models for the current and future (under climate change) distribution of plant and insect species, and to attempt predicting communities by stacking individual species’ predictions (S-SDMs), according to community modelling schemes, such as the SESAM framework. Important limits to such species and assemblage modelling were however identified.

Specific aims

In this follow-up SESAM’ALP project, I aim at overcoming these limitations by: (i) developing very-high-resolution environmental maps, and accordingly improve associated species distribution predictions, for the study area; (ii) test novel ways to quantify and integrate biotic interactions in S-SDMs and implement the use of macroecological environmental constraints on S-SDMs; (iii) integrate information from larger scales (e.g. invading/colonizing species, uncovered part of the niche) at the regional scale, (iv) test these approaches through novel virtual simulations ; and (v) use these improved models to develop novel regional multi-drivers scenarios of global change impact on plant and insect communities at very high-resolution in the Alps. Methods. Advanced statistical modelling and spatial analyses will be used to improve assemblage and macroecological modelling, and to test and quantify biotic interactions. Dispersal modelling will be used for predicting future distributions of native species, and to model the spread of invasive species. Scripts will be developed for the virtual ecologist approach.

Expected value of the proposed project

The knowledge gained at the end of the project, and the new innovative approaches, tools and datasets delivered, should foster important advances in our capacity of modeling and predicting communities across entire landscapes. In particular, it should allow addressing partially the question: will plant and insect communities evolve into novel assemblages under global changes?


Global change, plant and insect communities, species distribution models, assemblage modelling, macroecological models, biotic interactions, integrating scales, very high resolution mapping, environmental carrying capacity, virtual simulations, artificial data, Swiss Alps.



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Rui Fernandes (PhD student)

Heidi Mod (Postdoc)

Daniel Scherrer (Postdoc)

Olivier Broennimann (Staff scientist)

Antoine Guisan (Prof)

Biophore - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 41 60
Fax +41 21 692 41 65