(Picture: Simon Rowell)

Interspecific interactions, taking place in agroecological ecosystems, are central to my scientific interests. My current research in biosafety is dedicated to crop and environment protection. By a combination of molecular, field, experimental and social approaches, I study the environmental impact of introduced and/or invasive insect species.

Society evolution and its « new » environmental issues is central to my work. Global warming and the steady increase of international commercial activities impact the geographic distribution of many species. Global commercial exchanges erases bio-geographical boundaries between ecozones and allow the frequent movement of many organisms no longer confined to their natural geographic distribution. My research highlights general biological invasion processes that can only be fully understood in the light of social sciences. For example, the last line of defence against invasive insect is phytosanitary inspections at international airport and maritime ports. Understanding the logic of inspection choices or the risk perceptions of different inspectors is crucial to understand the full picture of biological invasions.

Biological control is an alternative to pesticides and GMOs to control pest insect outbreaks. As any other technology, it comprises environmental risks. I am  applying and developing environmental risk assessment procedures for improved biosecurity in the implementation of biological control in Switzerland and Europe. In particular, I work on the invasive chestnut gall wasp Dryocosmus kuriphilus and its biological control agent, Torymus sinensis, an exotic parasitoid. This model system highlights the importance of sound biology knowledge and the need to study economical, legal as well as societal aspects for a comprehensive cost-risk-benefit analysis of the situation. The way the public perceives the problem, the role of actors such as regulators, scientist or chestnut growers in the construction of the problem may influence its outcome. Being able to throw biological as well as social aspects of the problem into the balance should help regulators in their decision process, and is a step in the direction of more participatory processes and attitudes in the administration of science.

Why a blog?

Science isn’t just about publishing in high impact journals. Scientific research is also about informing the public about new findings. This blog is ment to provide an overview of my agroecology research, to present peer review research along with general audience article, article written by scientific journalists but also scientific-artistic projects. I am currently exploring the use of blogging to prepare my lectures on ethnobiology and agroecology. Visit us @ http://www.unine.ch/agroecologie

Alex Aebi

Maître d’Enseignement et de Recherche en agro-écologie, affilié au Laboratoire de Biologie du Sol et à l’Institut d’Ethnologie de l’Université de Neuchâtel.

Contact details:

Université de Neuchâtel
Institut de Biologie
laboratoire de Biologie du Sol
Emile-Argand 11
2000 Neuchâtel

+41 (0)32 718 31 47