Applied and Trophic Ecology

Our work addresses the ecology of animals in natural and managed ecosystems and the role these organisms play in providing ecosystem services. We seek to understand mechanisms governing the structure and functioning of natural communities through integration of molecular techniques and stable isotope analysis with laboratory and field experiments. A major objective is the analysis of food web interactions. Current work explores, for example, food web structure and dynamics in pioneer communities within Alpine glacier forelands or how generalist predators respond to invasive earthworms. Other work addresses how plant diversity affects the dietary choices of soil-dwelling insect pests in Central Europe or whether the roots of exotic grasses sustain the larvae of endangered moths in Australia. DNA-based techniques also provide a powerful means to identify soil invertebrates, the basis to answer questions on biodiversity/species-identity effects for soil formation or plant protection. Our research is embedded in collaborative projects with scientists from several European countries, the USA, Peru, Nepal and Australia.



Group members


MSc Students

Stephanie Eisenkölbl, Nina Horngacher, Lena Manzl, Armin Obwexer, Nadia Parth, Sandra Sequani, Stephanie Thalhammer, Christiane Zeisler

Previous lab members and guest researchers


University Course on Molecular Analysis of Trophic Interactions (MATI)

Theses opportunities



DNA calculator


Our 5 latest papers

Raso L., Sint D., Mayer R., Plangg S., Recheis T., Brunner S., Kaufmann R. & Traugott M. (2014): Intraguild Predation in Pioneer Predator Communities of Alpine Glacier Forelands. Molecular Ecology 23, 3744-3754.  

Wallinger C., Staudacher K., Schallhart N., Mitterrutzner E., Steiner E.-M., Juen A. & Traugott M. (2014): How generalist herbivores exploit belowground plant diversity in temperate grasslands. Molecular Ecology 23, 3826-3837.  

Eitzinger B., Unger E. M., Traugott M. & Scheu S. (2014): Effects of prey quality and predator body size on prey DNA detection success in a centipede predator. Molecular Ecology 23, 3767-3776.

Raso L., Sint D., Rief A., Kaufmann R. & Traugott M. (2014): Molecular identification of adult and juvenile linyphiid and theridiid spiders in Alpine glacier foreland communities. PlosOne, 9 (7): e101755. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101755  

Gomez-Polo P., Traugott M., Alomar O., Castañé C., Rojo S. & Agustí N. (2014): Identification of the most common predatory hoverflies of Mediterranean vegetable crops and their parasitism by multiplex PCR. Journal of Pest Science, DOI 10.1007/s10340-013-0550-6.

Complete list of publications


Active Projects

Previous projects