Forschung & Projekte / Research interests & projects
The projects during my PhD thesis were embedded in the framework of the Biodiversity Exploratories of the German Research Foundation (DFG).
I conducted experiments in the laboratory and outdoor on the forest floor to scale from simple interactions of specific species to whole communities. Furthermore, with computer simulations I am aiming to unravel basal mechanisms and interactions in soil food webs. I am asking how does leaf litter diversity & stoichiometry affect the processing via the soil invertebrates? In more detail, how do species diversity, body size and leaf litter quality may alter the consumption rates of the detritivores? Accordingly, how does this interdependence scale up to other (higher) trophic levels? Detailed knowledge from the detritus-detritivore interactions will help to parameterize and extend dynamical bioenergetic population models.
- The functional response concept from predator-prey interactions was adapted and extended to the decomposer-litter interface. With this approach we were be able to quantify the decomposer feeding comparable to upper trophic level interactions. Further we revealed temperature and interference effects on the feeding behavior of indivduals.
- In collaborative work with other PhD students a field sampling of plot communities and analyses of leaf litter characteristics (physical and chemical properties) was conducted. From this data we revealed the community structure of soil food webs and the density distribution of populations in relation to the basal litter stoichiometry.
- A one-year lasting litter bag study on the forest sites of the project framework enabled the comparison of laboratory work, field community structure and computer simulations with natural leaf decay.
- In future work the experimental setup will be extended to a set of species combinations (decomposers*leaf litter) to achieve a broad range of the functional response parameters.
- In follow-up projects we aim to make predictions for litter decomposition by dynamic food-web modelling with the knowledge of the soil food webs on the forest sites of the biodiversity exploratories. Furthermore we will track the energy fluxes throughout the whole food webs.
After my Phd thesis I worked in the joint project by the University of Oldenburg and the Georg-August University of Göttingen entitled BEFmate , which addresses biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships across marine and terrestrial ecosystems employing meta-analyses, syntheses, ecological modeling and empirical experiments. The project is funded by the Ministry for Science and Culture of the state Lower Saxony (MWK Niedersachsen) and the Volkswagen Stiftung. Within this project framework I did research in the subproject B1 aiming to integrate models of biodiversity in terrestrial and marine ecosystem.
- In a first attempt, we tried to understand how the impact of disturbance alters B-EF relationships in multi-trophic communities. We used bioenergetics models to simulate how complex dynamics of populations of species of an artificially generated network (food-web) changed over time when exposed to disturbance events.
- One subsequent project will focus on the underlying stoichiometry of consumers and resources in these complex communities.
- Other planned follow-ups include the combination of powerful – in respect to their predictive capacity - theories (such as the Metabolic Theory of Ecology and the Dynamic Energy Breadth theory).
# Now, in the working group Animal ecology & multitrophic interactions, these projects will be continued and extended. Moreover, the focus on the topics in the explained in the section research (Research ) is key.
Embedded in the context of the Institute for Landscape Ecology (ILÖK) there are several excellent possibilities to collaborate in working-group-crossing projetcs, such as:
- Detecting the importance of wave-induced disturbance patterns for model communities.
- Mirroring and measuring in detail how climate change scenarios in microcosm-, mesocosm- and field experiments affect animal communities in the context to their environment.
- Intensifying detailed research on ecological stoichiometry across invertebrate species to detect intra- & interspecific variation in relation to their resources with the laboratory facilities at the institute.
- Coupling research conducted with vegetation ecology or landscape ecology questions to distribution patterns of animals in the same habitats.
- However, the existing infrastructure of several institutions in Münster (e.g. the LWL-Museum of Natural History or the ornithological society (Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten e.V. ))and the research stations (Rieselfelder , NABU ) in the surrounding nature conservation reserves allow to address very applied and species specific questions. I strongly advocate to establish close collaboration with these facilities.