FANTI-SIZE: FAcilitated Niche creation Through Indirect interactions in SIZE structured ecological communities: ontogenetic asymmetries and alternative-stable-states
FANTI-SIZE is a Marie Curie Experienced Researcher Fellowship awarded to Tom Cameron, working with Professor Lennart Persson, and hosted by Umeå University. Working on this project is a visiting Master's student from the University of Amsterdam, Hanna ten Brink.
The theme of the project is to understand the role of size structure in prey populations in facilitating indirect interactions between predators in freshwater communities. And more specifically how Intraguild predation and Facilitation emerge from size and stage structured communities. I would argue that by influencing the size distribution of prey populations and communities, founder predator species can influence the likelihood of invasion and persistence of subsequent species; leading to Alternative Stable States.
We are working in structured freshwater lake communities and I am interested specifically in the interaction between YOY European Perch and the macrozooplankton predator Bythotrephes longimanus via their shared zooplankton prey, Holopedium gibberum (See Photos).
During this two year project I will specifically address the following objectives using a mix of laboratory and field mesocosm and structured biomass population modelling.
1. Experimentally determine the ontogenetic asymmetry in candidate species and how their interactions with each other reciprocally influence size structured vital rates (i.e. survival, growth, recruitment, reproduction etc.).
2. Analyse a theoretic framework that is initially specific to my food web community that can be used to generate predictive hypotheses to test under specific environmental conditions in field mesocosm.
3. Understand under what conditions the absence of indirect facilitative effects prevents the invasion of secondary consumers into a community.
4. Harmonise small scale experimental results with field based observations over a longer temporal scale; more explicitly I aim to test the generality of my conclusions from Objectives 1-3 so that they can be placed into a wider context of Alternative Stable States.