E&E Seminar: Integrative food-web research across scales

In nature, organisms do not exist in isolation. They interact with surrounding biotic and abiotic components to form complex ecological networks, such as food webs. It is the states and dynamics of these networks that then foster biodiversity at the community level or beyond. Yet, the behavioural mechanisms underlying the interactions are not often directly associated with their ecological consequences at higher levels. Meanwhile, biodiversity can exhibit patterns at even larger spatio-temporal scales, but the structure of biotic interactions underlying biodiversity has been overlooked at such scales. The presentation will cover my attempts to address these gaps. First, I will demonstrate how organism-level behavioural theory can be applied to provide mechanistic understandings of food-web formation and dynamics at the community level. Second, I will share some newly discovered spatio-temporal patterns of food webs at a landscape scale, as well as their ecological implications. I will finalise with the future scope of an integrative perspective that goes across biological and spatio-temporal scales mentioned, in both terms of making scientific advances and dealing with real-world biodiversity challenges.

Biography

My academic interest lies at the intersection of animal behaviour and community ecology. Specifically, I am particularly curious about how behaviours could scale up to determine community-level ecological phenomena such as the structure and dynamics of complex ecological networks. I received my PhD from Imperial College London, where I studied how foraging behaviour influences food webs with Profs Samraat Pawar and Jason Tylianakis. I was subsequently a postdoctoral researcher at EAWAG with Prof Florian Altermatt, studying multiple types of ecological networks at the landscape scale in Switzerland and Germany. I joined IEEB National Taiwan University as an Assistant Professor in 2023.