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

Kathrin Egger, Stephanie Eisenkölbl, Timo Förster, Nina Horngacher, Marco Köb, Bernd Mall, Lena Manzl, Nadia Parth, Romina Reinpold, Carina Schieder, Sandra Sequani, Stephanie Thalhammer, Kristina Wild

Previous lab members and guest researchers


University Course on Molecular Analysis of Trophic Interactions (MATI)

video of our research -> watch now!

Theses opportunities



DNA calculator


Our 5 latest papers

Roubinet E., Straub C.S., Jonsson T., Staudacher K., Traugott M., Ekbom B. & Jonsson M. (2015): Additive effects of predator diversity on pest control caused by few interactions among predator species. Ecological Entomology, 40, 362–371.  

Thalinger B., Oehm J., Mayr Hannes, Obwexer A., Zeisler C., Traugott M. (2015): Molecular prey identification in Central European piscivores. Molecular Ecology Resources. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12436.  

Traugott M., Benefer C.M., Blackshaw R.P., van Herk W.G. & Vernon R.S. (2015): Biology, Ecology and Control of Elaterid Beetles in Agricultural Land. Annual Review of Entomology 60, 313-334.  

Sint D, Thurner I, Kaufmann R, Traugott M (2015) Sparing spiders: faeces as a non-invasive source of DNA. Frontiers in Zoology 12.  

Kitz F., Steinwandter M., Traugott M. & Seeber J. (2015): Increased decomposer diversity accelerates and potentially stabilises litter decomposition. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 83 138-141. 

Complete list of publications


Active Projects

Previous projects