We conduct research in three key areas: understanding the intricate relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, exploring the role of individual-level traits in determining organismal responses to environmental change, and addressing effects of global change drivers alongside ecological restoration on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning across ecosystems. Our work combines controlled experiments, observational studies, and global data synthesis.
Food web structure & ecosystem function
Research efforts have long focused on how biodiversity influences ecosystem function, with recent attention turning toward multitrophic biodiversity and the provisioning of multiple ecosystem functions. What still remains poorly understood is how interactions among trophic groups are linked to specific functions as well as ecosystem multifunctionality, especially in real-world ecosystems. We are addressing this challenge by investigating energy fluxes among trophic groups in food webs, as energy flux represents ecosystem functions carried out by different consumers. We do this using a combination of approaches including controlled experiments, observational studies, and global data synthesis.
Global change & ecological restoration
Humans are causing unprecedented changes to biodiversity through drivers such as habitat modification, introductions of invasive alien species, and climate change. Understanding and predicting ecological responses to these global change drivers can be extremely difficult due to interactions among drivers of change and interactions among species and the ecosystem functions they carry out. Ecological restoration is vital for repairing human impacts on ecosystems, but this can be similarly challenging when considering the trophic complexity of natural systems. In the EcoDiv lab, we are investigating how a range of global change drivers alter multitrophic species assemblages and the multiple functions and services they provide. We also study how ecological restoration repairs and reinstates biodiversity and ecosystem functioning across terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Functional traits & ecosystem processes
Functional traits have long been known to be important for the way that organisms perform. For example, body size determines predator-prey interactions, movement behaviour, and ecological processes; knowledge of scaling relationships between body size and these ecological properties therefore opens possibilities for predicting ecosystem responses to environmental change. We are investigating a range of questions around the role of morphological and life history traits in determining the responses of organisms to environmental change and consequences for ecosystem functioning. This research ranges from microbes to vertebrates, allowing us to draw conclusions across environmental contexts and ecological scales.