The Bug-Network

Twitter @anne.kempel

Research interests

I am a community ecologist interested in the factors that maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Particularly, my work focusses on how biotic interactions, such as between plants and their enemies or mutualists, contribute to biodiversity maintenance, the distribution of plant species and the functioning of ecosystems, and how such interactions vary along abiotic or biotic gradients. My research combines experimental field and laboratory studies to investigate these questions at both large and small spatial scales.

Keywords: plant population and community ecology, global change ecology, biodiversity research, plant herbivore interactions, plant pathogen interactions, biotic interactions, plant abundance, invasive species, conservation


Education and academic career

08/2021 –  present 

Scientific Staff Member at SLF

01/2019 – 07/2021

Postdoctoral Research Assistant (80%) in the group of Prof. Eric Allan, Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern.
Projects: related to community ecology, plant-pathogen and herbivore interactions, invasion resistance


Research Fellow and Assistant (80%, Postdoc.Mobility Return Grant, SNSF), associated in the group of Prof. Eric Allan, Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern.
Project: Drivers and consequences of Phyllosphere microbiomes


Research Fellow (Advanced Postdoc.Mobility fellowship, SNSF) associated in the group of Prof. David Wardle, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå (Sweden)
Project: Plant-herbivore interactions along a strong environmental gradient


Postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Markus Fischer (100-60%), Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern
Project (FOEN funded): Ex-situ cultivation and introduction of endangered plant species - patterns and drivers of plant rarity


PhD within SNSF funded project: Experimental plant introduction: disentangling the roles of propagule pressure, soil disturbance and life-history traits, Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern.
PI + Advisor: Prof. Mark van Kleunen


Studies of Biology, University of Marburg (Germany), majors: Animal Ecology, Nature Conservation, Zoology


Kempel, A., C.N. Bornand, A. Gygax, P. Juillerat, M. Jutzi, L. Sager, B. Bäumler, S. Eggenberg & F. Fischer. 2020. Nationwide re-visitation reveals thousands of local extinctions among 713 endangered plant species. Conservation Letters. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12749

Schäfer, D., H. Vincent, M. Fischer & A. Kempel. 2020. Experimental introductions of eight rare and endangered plant species into the wild and the importance of genetic diversity for their success. Global Ecology and Conservation. 10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01240

Narimanov, N., Kempel, A., van Kleunen, M. & M. Entling. 2020. Unexpected sensitivity of the highly invasive spider Mermessus trilobatus (Emerton, 1882) to soil disturbance. Biological Invasions.

Vincent, H., C. N. Bornand, A. Kempel*°, and M. Fischer*. 2020. Rare species perform worse than widespread species under changed climate. Biological Conservation 246:108586. *Shared last authorship, °Corresponding author.

Kempel, A., H. Vincent, D. Prati, and M. Fischer. 2020. Context dependency of biotic interactions and its relation to plant rarity. Diversity and Distributions. 10.1111/ddi.13050

Cappelli, S. L., N. A. Pichon, A. Kempel, and E. Allan. 2020. Sick plants in grassland communities: a growth defense trade-off is the main driver of fungal pathogen abundance. Ecology Letters. 10.1111/ele.13537

Kattge, J., G. Bönisch, S. Díaz, … , A. Kempel, et al. 2020. TRY plant trait database – enhanced coverage and open access. Global Change Biology 26, 119–188.

Fanin, N., P. Kardol, M. Farrell, A. Kempel, M. Ciobanu, MC. Nilsson, MJ. Gundale, and DA Wardle. 2019. Effects of plant functional group removal on structure and function of soil communities across contrasting ecosystems. Ecology Letters 22, 1095-1103.

Malecore, E. M., W. Dawson, A. Kempel, G. Müller, and M. van Kleunen. 2018. Nonlinear effects of phylogenetic distance on early-stage establishment of experimentally introduced plants in grassland communities. Journal of Ecology 0, 1–13.

Soliveres, S., A. Lehmann, S. Boch, F. Altermatt, F. Carrara, T. W. Crowther, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, A. Kempel, D. S. Maynard, M. C. Rillig, B. K. Singh, P. Trivedi, and E. Allan. 2018. Intransitive competition is common across five major taxonomic groups and is driven by productivity, competitive rank and functional traits. Journal of Ecology 106, 852–864.

Kempel, A., A. Rindisbacher, M. Fischer, and E. Allan. 2018. Plant soil feedback strength in relation to large-scale plant rarity and phylogenetic relatedness. Ecology 99, 597–606.

Kempel, A., M. Razanajatovo, C. Stein, S. B. Unsicker, H. Auge, W. W. Weisser, M. Fischer, and D. Prati. 2015. Herbivore preference drives plant community composition. Ecology 96, 2923–2934.

Kempel, A., T. Chrobock, M. Fischer, R. P. Rohr, and M. van Kleunen. 2013a. Determinants of plant establishment success in a multispecies introduction experiment with native and alien species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110:12727.

Kempel, A., P. Nater, M. Fischer, and M. van Kleunen. 2013b. Plant-microbe-herbivore interactions in invasive and non-invasive alien plant species. Functional Ecology 27:498–508.

Chrobock, T., A. Kempel, M. Fischer, and M. van Kleunen. 2011. Introduction bias: Cultivated alien plant species germinate faster and more abundantly than native species in Switzerland. Basic and Applied Ecology 12:244–250.

Kempel, A., M. Schädler, T. Chrobock, M. Fischer, and M. van Kleunen. 2011. Tradeoffs associated with constitutive and induced plant resistance against herbivory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108:5685.

Kempel, A., A. K. Schmidt, R. Brandl, and M. Schädler. 2010. Support from the underground: Induced plant resistance depends on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Functional Ecology 24:293–300.

Schädler, M., R. Brandl, and A. Kempel. 2010a. “Afterlife” effects of mycorrhization on the decomposition of plant residues. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 42:521–523.

Schädler, M., R. Brandl, and A. Kempel. 2010b. Host plant genotype determines bottom-up effects in an aphid-parasitoid-predator system. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 135:162–169.

Kempel, A., R. Brandl, and M. Schädler. 2009. Symbiotic soil microorganisms as players in aboveground plant–herbivore interactions – the role of rhizobia. Oikos 118:634–640.

Kempel, A., H. Auge & E. Allan. Enemy impact on plant communities in a changing world. Preprints ID: preprints-24012

Master projects

If you are interested in biodiversity, community ecology, climate and global change, biotic interactions or conservation and you would like to do a Bachelor or Master Project in our group, then get in touch with me! Below are a few potential projects…

I am currently looking for one or two students who would like to investigate how the interaction of alpine tree species with soil microbiota change with climate and the addition of nitrogen, a major global change driver. You would perform a common garden soil-feedback experiment in an alpine botanical garden in Davos, and/or a field experiment in a famous, long-running experiment, the Stillberg afforestation, to test the hypothesis that soil microbes are more mutualistic or less pathogenic at harsh environmental conditions.

There are also always possibilities to do a Master project within the Bug-Network, a global research network that aims to better understand the impact of invertebrate herbivores and fungal pathogens on plant communities. This would involve field work in the Alps (plant id skills are advantageous but not a must) and labwork (assessing plant functional traits, sorting insects etc.) at the SLF in Davos. Contact me if you are interested!

I am also very interested in rare plant species and finding answer of why some species are rare and endangered, while others are common. In particular, I am interested whether biotic interactions with herbivores or pathogens can also drive rarity. We can think of a project in these lines, and assess e.g. herbivore damage or pathogen infestation in pairs of related common and rare plant species in the Alps.

If you are interested in ants, I have the perfect project for you! About 50 years ago, all ant hills in an area in Davos have been mapped. It would be interesting to resurvey those sites, and to see how whether ant hill numbers and locations have changed in response to climate warming.