My research focuses on major ecological questions that affect how our future on this planet (and others) will look. A large part of my research looks at insects and their role in a sustainable food production system. In a sustainable system, the insects are healthy and have little or low impact on the environment. Even though much is yet to be discover in this field, the ability of many insects to utilise resources that humans cannot, indicates that this type of system may bring about a better resource use in the future.
I also work with insects in the wild and how in a human altered world we can understand and counteract species extinctions. I do this by studying what makes conservation introductions successful, how invasive species spread and how land use affects species.
My work includes both large-scale and small-scale experiments, genetic analyses, predictive modelling and theory development. Its stakeholder focus is broad and ranges from academic development, to local community work, government policy and industry standards. A large part of my work is trans-disciplinary and as a member of SLU:s Futures Lab we collaborate on ways for sustainable Futures.
I am the head organiser and teach on the course Naturvårdsbiologi - Conservation Biology BI 1244
I also teach on the courses: Tillämpad naturvårdsbiologi - Applied conservation biology BI1318, Evolution & Ecology BI1393 and the course Grundläggande zoologi, evolution och husdjurens historia - Basic zoology, evolution and the history of domesticated animals BI1312
I supervise master projects within ecology in a wide spectrum of areas and in different taxa
Recent theses are:
Hedda Björk Ericsson "The effect of group size on growth rate in the house cricket (Acheta domesticus)"
Caroliné Olofsson "Changed behavior in the house cricket Acheta domesticus: predetermined or an effect of learning?"
John-Christophe Hessler Frelinckx "Behavioural study of the house cricket (Acheta domesticus): individual boldness and personality"
Douglas Hunter "Feeding the 45 million: substituting soybean meal with insect meal within EU poultry & egg production"
Main projects currently running:
Insects in circular systems - on Earth & in Space
A sustainable food production incorporates all aspects of the production system. Striving towards a circular system where resources are used and re-used and where waste products are few or none is how this can be achieved. One of the main sustainability benefits using insects as a food is that insects can utilise materials for food that humans cannot and also break down what we consider as waste. The potential of insects to feed on food bi-products reduces the pressure on the amount of land that is needed for feed production and opens up for food production systems in new locations. The overarching goal of this project is to increase our ecological understanding of insect- plant-based circular systems. We are interested in systems both on Earth and systems that could work for space travel and planetary colonisation. The general ideas of the systems are similar, but the environments are very different and so are the demands.
Insects as a food source - sustainability & health
Food systems based on insects are not sustainable by default. Insects as food is promising, but we have yet to understand how these systems should look like for the insect species that are to be utilised. Our studies examine how individuals respond to different husbandry factors and relate these to sustainability criteria and animal development and health. As insect-rearing facilities shift into mass-rearing, individual insects are likely to experience situations where some of their needs are not sufficiently met or they are subjected to new pathogens or disease exposure pathways. Our research examines what microorganisms are present in reared insects and how this affect the insects health and behaviour. We need this knowledge so we can begin to design rearing methods to counteract the effects.
I am keenly aware of the value of interdisciplinary collaborations to enhance the scope and research quality. I am also active in sharing my research and experiences with students continuously in my teaching and supervising, and by participating in projects and developmental activities run by governments, communities & industry.
I am the current President of the Nordic Chapter of SCB (Society for Conservation Biology) https://www.facebook.com/groups/935894109863348/
Member of the Species Survival Commission SSC and the IUCN Conservation Translocation Specialist Group (CTSG).
Member of: Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), Ornithological Society of New Zealand, the Orthopterists’ Society, Oikos, the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA), the International Society for Gravitational Physiology (ISGP)
Current supervisor for:
PhD student Sara Capitán, "Insect- and plant-based circular systems" Main supervisor.
Previous supervisor for:
PhD student Juliana Dániel Ferreira. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. 2018-2021. Assistant supervisor
Post Doc Tiago Teixeira. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 2020-2021.
Post Doc Laura Riggi. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 2018-2021.
PhD student Lina Lönnberg. 2011-2019. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Main supervisor.
PhD student Phalla Miech. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and CelAgrid Cambodia. 2014-2018. Assistant supervisor
PhD student Lina Ahlbäck. Department of Ecology and (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences). 2014-2017. Assistant supervisor
Lic student Lina Ahlbäck. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. 2011-2014. Assistant supervisor
PhD student Emma Göthe. Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. 2009-2013. Assistant supervisor
PhD student Matt Hiron. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 2009-2013. Assistant supervisor
PhD student Karin Ahrné. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 2009. Assistant supervisor
Post Doc Peter Kanuch. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 2008-2010
PhD student Sonja Preuss. 2008 -2012. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Main supervisor
Selected Recent Publications:
Low M, Eksell I, Jansson A, Berggren Å. 2022. Viral infection changes the expression of personality traits in an insect species reared for consumption. Scientific Reports 12:9503. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-13735-8
Kanuch P, Lundhagen-Cassel A, Preuss S, Nordlander G, Berggren Å. 2022. Parapatric Genetic Lineages Persist in a Multiply Introduced Non-native Bush-Cricket. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 10:812079. DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2022.812079
de Miranda J.R, Granberg F, Onorati P, Jansson A, Berggren Å. 2021. Virus prospecting in crickets - discovery and strain divergence of a novel Iflavirus in wild and cultivated Acheta domesticus. Viruses 13:364. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13030364
Riggi L, Lundin O, Berggren Å. June 2021. Mass-flowering red clover crops have positive effects on bumblebee richness and diversity after bloom. Basic and Applied Ecology 56 (1859) DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2021.06.001
Svanberg I, Berggren Å. March 2021. Insects as past and future food in entomophobic Europe. Food, Culture and Society DOI: 10.1080/15528014.2021.1882170
Kaňuch P, Berggren Å, Cassel-Lundhagen A 2020. A clue to invasion success: genetic diversity quickly rebounds after inotrduction bottlenecks. Biological Invasions https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-020-02426-y
Vaga M, Berggren Å, Jansson A. 2020. Growth, survival and development of house crickets (Acheta domesticus) fed flowering plants. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed https://doi.org/10.3920/JIFF2020.0048
Kaňuch P, Kiehl B, Cassel-Lundhagen A, Laugen A.T, Low M, and Berggren Å. 2020. Gene flow relates to evolutionary divergence among populations at the range margin. PeerJ 8:e10036(3) DOI:10.7717/peerj.10036
Riggi L.G.A and Berggren Å. 2020. Small field islands systems include a large proportion of the regional orthopteran species pool in arable landscapes. Journal of Insect Conservation 24: 695-703 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-020-00245-z
Vaga M, Berggren Å, Pauly T and Jansson A. 2020. Effect of red clover-only diets on house crickets (Acheta domesticus) growth and survival. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed 6: 179-189. DOI:10.3920/JIFF2019.0038
Svanberg I and Berggren Å. 2019. Ant schnapps for health and pleasure: the use of Formica rufa L. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to flavour aquavit. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 15: 1-6. DOI:10.1186/s13002-019-0347-7
Berggren Å, Jansson A and Low M. 2019. Approaching ecological sustainability in the emerging insects-as-food industry. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 34 (2) DOI: