Department Systems Analysis, Integrated Assessment and Modelling


In the mechanistic model Streambugs we combine concepts of theoretical food web modeling, the metabolic theory of ecology, and ecological stoichiometry with the use of ecological trait databases about habitat requirements to predict the coexistence of invertebrate taxa in streams. The model describes population growth, death, and respiration of different taxa to estimate their occurrence or the dynamic development of their populations dependent on various environmental influence factors.

Software download as R package from Cran.

  • Model concept

Schuwirth, N., Reichert, P. (2013): Bridging the gap between theoretical ecology and real ecosystems: modeling invertebrate community composition in streams. Ecology 94, 368–379, doi:10.1890/12-0591.1. pdf


  • Model application to 36 sites of the Glatt catchment in the canton of Zurich to predict the occurrence of taxa and investigate the importance of environmental factors and biotic interactions for the predictive capacity of the model.

Schuwirth, N., Dietzel, A., Reichert, P. (2016): The importance of biotic interactions for the prediction of macroinvertebrate communities under multiple stressors. Functional Ecology, 30, 974-984. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12605 (open access)


  • Predicting effects of river restoration on the occurrence of macroinvertebrate taxa in the Thur and the Töss river applying Bayesian inference for model calibration and uncertainty assessment. This study was part of the Reform project (

Paillex, A., Reichert, P., Lorenz, A.W., Schuwirth, N. (2017): Mechanistic modeling for predicting the effects of restoration, invasion and pollution on benthic invertebrate communities in rivers. Freshwater Biology 62, 1083–1093. doi:10.1111/fwb.12927


  • Modelling effects of the insecticide thiacloprid on the community dynamics of macroinvertebrates in stream mesocosm experiments.

Kattwinkel, M., Reichert, P., Rüegg, J., Liess, M., Schuwirth, N. (2016): Modelling macroinvertebrate community dynamics in stream mesocosms contaminated with a pesticide. Environmental Science & Technology 50 (6), 3165–3173, doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b04068


  • Extension of the model streambugs to model the temporal dynamics of the benthic community composition in the Sihl river during hydropeaking experiments in combination with trait profile analyses.

Mondy, C., Schuwirth, N. (2017): Integrating ecological theories and traits in process-based modelling of macroinvertebrate community dynamics in streams. Ecological Applications 27 (4), 1365-1377. doi:10.1002/eap.1530