Ecological Networks and Global Change Research Group
Welcome to the Ecological Networks and Global Change research group (EcoNetGC). We investigate the structure, dynamics and functioning of networks of species interactions, and the consequences of different components of global change on them. We study different network types (predator-prey, host-parasitoid, free-living mutualists, and bacterial symbionts and their hosts) and global change components (climate change, habitat loss). To answer our questions we use a multidisciplinar perspective, using concepts, models and techniques from ecology, evolution, physics, genetics, or molecular biology. We adopt an integrative approach, combining mathematical and simulation models, analyses of large datasets, and manipulative experiments on mesocosms.
- Structure, dynamics and fragility of ecological networks: We study the networks of interactions among species in different ecosystems. We search for universal patterns in their structure, which reflect evolutionary and ecological processes, and we also investigate the eco-evolutionary dynamics of these networks. Ecological networks are fundamental for predicting the effects of different perturbations that eventually trigger species extinctions..
- Ecology, evolution and robustness of microbe-host interaction networks: One of the biggest challenges in eco-evolutionary studies of species interaction networks is to introduce the largest component of biodiversity on Earth: prokaryotes. Using next-generation sequencing techniques, we are addressing this challenge. focusing on the fascinating complex system composed of sponge and corals hosts and their associated prokaryotes.
- Climate change effects on community structure and the carbon cycle: Climate change is real. There is ample evidence that ecological responses are already occurring at the individual species level. But scaling from populations through to communities, let alone ecosystems, will be challenging. We use ecological theory and manipulative mesocosm experiments to investigate the effects of climatic warming on community structure and ecosystem service supply.
- Network complexity and ecosystem functioning: Biodiversity loss and the disruption of species interactions affects the functioning of ecosystems. We investigate how changes in species interactions and species traits results in further changes on ecosystem functions, like pest control and the carbon cycle.
- Habitat loss and species invasion in ecological networks: Habitat loss and degradation is still the major cause of biodiversity loss worldwide. Invaders and exotic species are more likely to be established within degraded habitats containing less biodiversity. Using a network perspective, we are investigating theoretical and experimentally these combined effects and the resulting emerging ecosystems.
- The spatio-temporal dimension of ecological networks : Ecological networks are dynamic, although most studies use static versions of them to identify structural properties. This hampers our ability to tease apart natural network variation through time and space, in comparison to variation caused by human-induced disturbances as habitat loss or climate change. We investigate whether and how these patterns hold through different temporal (seasonal, interannual, deep-time) and spatial (local to global) scales.
Jose M. Montoya is director of the Ecological Networks and Global Change Research Group, working with PostDoctoral fellows including Miguel Lurgi, and PhD students: Nuria Galiana and Carmen Astudillo.
The group is based at the Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling, in the
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