Dept. of Ecology, SLU

Christer Björkman

Plant-insect interactions

Protecting trees against insects in future forests

Traditional plant protection involves the use of insecticides or resistant plant genotypes. Both approaches suffer from the risk of counter-adaptation in the pest. We work with novel plant protection tools. One is to identify plants with a high tolerance towards herbivory and another is to identify plants that enhances the effect of the natural enemies of the pest. Both methods are difficult for pests to adapt to, resulting in more sustainable solutions.

There is a tendency towards diversifying managed systems. In forestry, there is an interest to increase the amount of mixed forests. We study how the risk for insect pest damage and outbreaks differ in forests with different levels of heterogeneity, diversity and complexity.


Trophic interactions in a changing world

It is anticipated that climate change will lead to more damage by insects on plants. However, the evidence in support for this prediction is mixed. One likely reason is that also the host plants and natural enemies of the herbivores are affected by the same change. We describe patterns and investigate mechanisms within this area.

Global change will make trees become more exposed to combinations of herbivores. Very little is known about how trees respond to multiple stressors, like several herbivores. We investigate how trees respond to combinations of ungulate (moose) browsing and insect herbivory, and how browsing affect insect herbivores via changes in bottom-up processes (plant quality) and in top-down processes (predation pressure).


More about the Björkman group…