Daniel Montoya

Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling
Station d’Ecologie Théorique et Expérimentale du CNRS
09200 Moulis, France

Phone: +33 (0) 5 61 04 03 60
Email: daniel.montoya@sete.cnrs.fr

Research interests

My research aims to understand the structure, dynamics and functioning of biological communities: how biodiversity and species interactions affect community structure and stability, and how they affect the functioning of ecosystems. My work sits at the interface of pure and applied ecology, and investigates community ecology questions in the context of theory, fieldwork and experiments.

Structure and dynamics of complex ecological networks
Most research in ecological networks relies on static snapshots of species interactions. Yet, communities are dynamic, species interactions are forged and broken up over the assembly process (or following disturbances), and this likely has effects on the functioning and stability of ecosystems. I am interested in exploring how and why the structural properties of biological communities change, as well as in investigating the dynamics and stability of complex networks of networks (Lurgi et al. In press, Montoya et al. 2015).

Response to perturbations (e.g. habitat loss, climate change, invasions)
Ecological interactions are key to understanding the effects of perturbations on ecological communities. As Janzen (1974) remarked in the so-called ‘empty forest’ hypothesis, in addition to the loss species, habitat loss also leads to the loss of inter-specific interactions. This changes the structure of ecological networks, which in turn affects their stability, functioning and further responses to different or similar on-going perturbations. My work explores what factors confer more resistance to species in face of perturbations, and the effects of climate change, invasions and habitat destruction in complex food webs (Montoya et al. 2008, Montoya et al. 2010, Russo et al. 2014).

Community patterns in space and time
What factors drive the observed patterns in biological communities? How do these patterns change at different spatial and/or temporal scales? What explains this possible variation? My work aims at investigating the relationships between local and landscape scales, the spatial structure of species interaction networks, and the historical drivers of contemporary and ancient ecological networks (Montoya et al. 2007, 2009, Nenzen et al. 2014, Montoya et al. 2015).

Restoration ecology
Given that anthropogenic disturbance of natural habitats has led to large-scale loss of both biodiversity and ecosystem functions, restoration is usually targeted as a powerful solution to revert this trend. The practice of ecological restoration, however, is usually based on local understanding of how particular communities or ecosystems work, without any real reference to a recognized body of theory or generalized framework. Thus, developing a sound theoretical foundation based on current knowledge and concepts from community ecology theory (food web theory, metacommunity theory, biodiversity-ecosystem functioning) will give restoration ecology the opportunity to be able to provide general approaches that can be tried and tested in different systems and places. Moreover, restoration provides important insights into the way that ecological communities are assembled and function (Montoya et al. 2012, Ribeiro et al. 2015).

Agro-ecosystems are characterized by a high human dominance and impacts (pesticides, habitat fragmentation), spatial heterogeneity (mosaics of crops and semi-natural habitats), and frequent temporal changes (annual crops), and thus they represent a prime example of where a better understanding of the spatial dynamics and temporal stability in the provision of ecosystem services (ES) will be most fruitful. One of the agro-ecology paradigms relies on the hypothesis that reducing reliance on agrochemicals (i.e. pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers) will result in increasing biodiversity. The provision of ES that rely on biodiversity, such as pollination and pest control, may help maintaining crop production and compensate the reduction of agrochemicals. Testing this hypothesis needs to understand the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and how spatial and temporal arrangement of the agro-ecosystem modifies this relationship and the magnitude and the stability of ES. This is a joint project (CNRS & INRA), and our objectives are two-fold: (i) to develop a theoretical framework of stability of multiple ES in heterogeneous landscapes, and (ii) to offer new perspectives on landscape management that better take into account the spatiotemporal dynamics of the aforementioned ES, as well as the stability of ES in addition to the magnitude in their provision.

From Bregtanolle & Gaba 2015

Summary CV

- 2015 – Postdoctoral Incoming Fellow, INRA Dijon, INRA Chize & CNRS Moulis.
- 2014 - 2015 – Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Biological Sciences, Life Sciences Building, University of Bristol.
- 2012 - 2014 – Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol.
- 2010 - 2012 – Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (Funder: Spanish Ministry of Education and Science), School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol.
- 2005 - 2009 – PhD. ‘Space and Species: On the Relationships between Spatial Processes and Diversity Patterns in Trees’. University of Alcala, Spain. Funded by Spanish Ministry of Science.


  • Meli P., Holl, K.D., Rey-Benayas J.M., Jones H.J., Jones P.C., Montoya D., Moreno-Mateos D. (2017) — A global review of past land use, climate, and active vs. passive restoration effects on forest recovery. PLoS One 12(2): e0171368. Download
  • Moreno-Mateos D., Barbier E.B., Jones P.C., Jones H.P., Aronson J., López-López J.A., McCrackin M.L., Meli P., Montoya D. and Rey-Benayas J.M. (2017) — Anthropogenic ecosystem disturbance and the recovery debt. Nature Communications 8:14163. Download
  • Emer C., Memmott J. Vaughan I.P., Montoya D. and Tylianakis J.M. (In press 2016) — Species roles in plant–pollinator communities are conserved across native and alien ranges. Diversity and Distributions. Download
  • Lurgi M., Montoya D.and Montoya J.M (2016) — The effects of space and diversity of interaction types on the stability of complex ecological networks. Theoretical Ecology 9, 3-13 - [doi: 10.1007/s12080-015-0264-x]. Download
  • Ribeiro F., Furtado R., Montoya D., Memmott J., Pizo M.A. and Rodrigues R.R. (2015) — The restoration of tropical seed dispersal networks. Restoration Ecology 23, 852-860.
  • Montoya D., Yallop M.L. and Memmott J. (2015) —Functional group diversity increases with modularity in complex food webs .Nature Communications 6:7379.
  • Russo L., Memmott J., Montoya D., Shea K. and Buckley Y.M. (2014) —Patterns of introduced species interactions affect multiple aspects of network structure in plant-pollinator communities. Ecology 95, 2953-2963.
  • Nenzen H., Montoya D. and Varela S. (2014) — The impact of 850,000 years of climate changes on the structure and dynamics of mammal food webs. PLoS ONE 9(9), e106651.
  • Montoya D., Rogers L. and Memmott J. (2012) — Emerging perspectives in the restoration of biodiversity-based ecosystem services. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27, 666-672.
  • Alburqueque F.S., Olalla-Tárraga M.A., Montoya D. and Rodríguez M.A. (2011) —Environmental determinants of woody and herb plant species richness patterns in Great Britain.Ecoscience 18, 394-401.
  • Montoya D., Alburquerque F.S., Rueda M. and Rodríguez M.A. (2010) —Species response patterns to habitat fragmentation: do trees support the extinction threshold hypothesis? Oikos 119,1335-1343.
  • Montoya D., Purves D.W., Urbieta I.R. and Zavala M.A. (2009) —Do Species Distribution Models explain spatial structure within tree species ranges? Global Ecology & Biogeogr.18, 662-673.
  • Bini L.M et al (Montoya D. as mid author) (2009) — Coefficient shifts in geographical ecology: an empirical evaluation of spatial and non-spatial regression.Ecography 32, 1-12.
  • Montoya D. (2008) —Habitat loss, dispersal, and the probability of extinction of tree species. Communicative & Integrative Biology 1:2, 146-147.
  • Montoya D., Zavala M.A., Rodríguez M.A. and Purves D.W. (2008) —Animal versus wind dispersal and the robustness of tree species to deforestation.Science 320, 1502-1504.
  • Montoya D., Rodríguez M.A., Zavala M.A., Hawkins B.A. (2007) —Contemporary richness of Holarctic trees and the historical pattern of glacial retreat.Ecography30, 173-182.
  • Hawkins B.A. et al (Montoya as mid author) (2007) —A global evaluation of Metabolic Theory as an explanation for terrestrial species richness gradients.Ecology 88, 1877-1888.
  • Hawkins B.A., Montoya D., Rodríguez M.A., Olalla-Tárraga M.A. and Zavala M.A. (2007) —Global models for predicting woody plant richness from climate: comment. Ecology 88, 255-259.