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Photographs:
Sibet Riexinger (1), Thorsten Balke (2,3)

Research Projects

Spatial community ecology in highly dynamic landscapes: from island biogeography to metaecosystems [DynaCom]

Summary

Under rapidly changing environmental conditions, the dynamics of ecological communities are driven by the interplay of regional processes (dispersal, colonization) and local interactions (competition, trophic interactions, mutualisms). This interplay is reflected in major theoretical frameworks ranging from the equilibrium theory of island biogeography to metaecosystem concepts, which cover a wide range of deterministic and stochastic forcing of spatial and local dynamics. These theoretical advances are contrasted by limited empirical assessments, which do not allow testing the core predictions on local and regional community dynamics.

The major scientific gap motivating DynaCom is the lack of a trait-based food-web perspective in a spatial  context. Information on multiple trait dimensions is needed to predict dispersal, resource acquisition and tolerance to rapid environmental changes across trophically interacting organisms. This trait information will be integrated into spatially structured food-webs (meta-food webs), guided by allometric (size-related) and stoichiometric (resource-use related) frameworks across all subprojects (objective 1). The subprojects cover marine and terrestrial food web compartments (autotrophs, primary consumers, predators) to allow a high level of generalization across a broad range of organismal types.

Therefore, experimental and observational  infrastructure has already been established in the Wadden Sea, where terrestrial and marine food webs coexist in the coastal zone. Moreover, the Wadden Sea is a highly dynamic environment with strong stochastic forcing, which allows extending existing theories to nonequilibrium conditions (objective 2). DynaCom will confront the predictions from trait-based theory and the empirical studies with macroecological patterns at larger (global) spatial scales, aiming for a more general view on spatial community dynamics (objective 3). By integrating trait-based and food web approaches with spatial ecology, DynaCom promises to disentangle the relative role of dispersal and local trophic dynamics in establishing food webs and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes.

Contact (Spokesperson)

  • Prof. Dr. Helmut Hillebrand, Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg

Subprojects

Central Infrastructure and Coordination Project Z
Infrastructure, Sensors, Database/Coordination/Management Aplication

Terrestrial compartments

Aquatic compartments

  • Subproject 4: Spatial algae-resource dynamics
  • Subproject 5: Trait-based marine consumer metacommunities| 5.1: Invertebrates | 5.2: Fish

Modelling

Macroecological Projects

  • Subproject 8: Functional island biogeography of vascular plants
  • Subproject 9: Trait-based spatial community ecology of island birds

Synthesis:

Project Structure

Project structure of DynaCom. Based on a central infrastructure and
coordination project Z, empirical assessments of terrestrial (green)
and aquatic (blue) compartments of the coastal food web are analysed.
Extension of spatial community dynamics to global patterns is conduc-
ted by two macroecological projects (violet). Integration of trait data
(arrows) is performed via two synthesis subprojects (red) focussing
either on allometric relationships (top-down integration) or on resource
-use constraints (bottom-up constraints). These in turn provide predictions
for global scale patterns.

Duration (1st Phase):            01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

Cooperation

Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg:    

  • Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM)
  • Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences (IBU)

Georg-August-University, Göttingen:

  • Faculty of Biology and Psychology (BIO)
  • Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology (FOR)
  • Faculty of Agricultural Sciences  (AGR)
  • Faculty of Business and Economics  (WIR)

iDiv German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research Halle-Jena-Leipzig

  • Group  Theory in Biodiversity Science - EcoNetLab
  • Group Physiological Diversity

National Park Authority, National Park Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony, Wilhelmshaven

Senckenberg

  • Research Centre Biodiversity and Climate, Frankfurt (BiK-F)
  • Marine Research, Wilhelmshaven (SaM)

Technical University of Munich

  • Research Department Ecology and Ecosystem Management

Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster

  • Institute of Landscape Ecology
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