I am interested in four separate, but related, areas of ecology.
Part of my research is on drivers of ecological communities. In other words, what factors are important for structuring communities, what is the importance of natural disturbance, and how can human-induced disturbance influence species richness and composition? These questions are investigated both in terrestrial (forest) and aquatic environments, and at the intersect between aquatic and terrestrial systems.
Knowing what factors are important for structuring communities are highly relevant as a large number of studies over the past decade have shown that species richness and community composition are important regulators of ecosystem processes, functioning, and even the provision of services for humans (e.g. Gamfeldt et al. 2013). Hence, in part of my research I focus on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. In other words, is the number of species and/or the species composition important for regulating ecosystem processes, and what happens to the processes when species are lost or communities are changed?
I am also interested in the importance of aquatic subsidies – primarily of emergent aquatic insects – for terrestrial consumers. This research aims at quantifying the amounts of aquatic insects that end up in terrestrial environments alongside different types of aquatic systems, measure the influence of these aquatic-derived resources on terrestrial consumers (invertebrates and birds), and, finally, assess the consequences of human-induced perturbations for this flow of resources from water to land, and for the terrestrial consumers that depend on these resources.
Lastly, residues of pharmaceuticals enter aquatic systems everywhere, but little is known as to how these influence aquatic organisms and food webs. In a newly started collaboration between the ecology and chemistry departments, we investigate how low concentrations of pharmaceuticals, that are found in natural systems, might influence behaviors of aquatic organisms and what consequences this might have for entire aquatic communities. These investigations are performed on fish and aquatic invertebrates.