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Research Topics

Flexibility matters: Interplay between trait diversity and ecological dynamics using plankton communities as model systems.

Diversity in functional traits enables populations and communities to adapt to changing environmental conditions. This influences their biomass dynamics and leads to eco-evolutionary or biomass-trait feedbacks. We study these processes in predator-prey systems by combining mathematical modelling with chemostat experiments and long-term data analysis.

Structure, stability and functioning of food webs

We use numerical simulations of complex food webs to investigate the effects of ontogenetic changes (e.g. growth in body size, niche shifts) of individuals or the dispersal of populations over a spatial network of habitat patches on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Meta communities, dispersal and local adaptation

The main focus lies in the distribution of zooplankton on a local (county) and regional (Europe) scale. We investigate the dispersal, local adaptation and genetic structure of populations mainly rotifers and cladocerans. To achieve our goals, we combine field work with laboratory studies and molecular genetics.

Invasion biology

We are interested in the underlying mechanisms for the invasion success of cyanobacteria in phytoplankton communities. Therefore, we apply laboratory microcosm experiments to investigate under different scenarios, e.g. predation or competition dominated systems, the role of the genetic identity and genetic composition on the invasion success of the invasive cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii.