Research

My research focuses on the importance of biodiversity for functioning, specifically focusing on processes within a food-web framework. I am interested in the consequences of changing biodiversity (species loss, invasions, altered relative abundances, altered functional diversity or trophic structure) for ecological communities and how energy flows through them. My work is conducted using mainly soft-sediment communities in a number of different marine ecosystems as study systems. Below, I describe ongoing projects.

Benthic food-web structure and function under environmental change: Food-web structural properties (e.g. diversity and complexity) are altered when communities are affected by environmental change and, consequently, the food web offers an excellent framework to assess impacts of climate change, eutrophication or disturbance on ecological communities. The challenge lies in identifying the functional consequences of a changing diversity with reorganization of interactions among taxa. Understanding the dynamics of response and effect traits among interacting species in communities displaying altered functionality should provide critical information on the importance of functional diversity for trophic processes. Studying food webs in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, the project combines topological food-web data and multiple biological traits of interacting species to determine the interconnectedness of trophic structure and community functioning, and how this relationship may change along gradients of environmental degradation and recovery. This work is MSc Pierre Olivier’s PhD project and part of the Horizon 2020 Innovative Training Network MARmaED (Marine management and ecosystem dynamics under climate change) 2015-2019.

I also co-supervise MSc Christina Henseler’s PhD work in the MARmaED network. Christina focuses on the importance of local habitats for maintaining structural and functional biodiversity of fish and invertebrate communities in coastal ecosystems and is looking into the invasive Round goby and how this newcomer fish fits into the Baltic Sea food webs.

Functional diversity driving trophic interactions in a changing coastal ecosystem: In her PhD, MSc Maïté Jacquot’s aims to understand the mechanisms behind trophic links under community change. In particular, the objective is to quantify changes in the structure and strength of trophic interactions following altered functional diversity in consumer assemblages in eutrophic coastal ecosystems undergoing climate change. Maïté is part of the FunMarBio doctoral student network at ÅAU and the work is conducted in collaboration with Dr Tiina Salo (Stockholm university, Johan Eklöf’s group) and Dr Martin Snickars (ÅAU) 2018-2022.

BONUS BLUEWEBS – Blue Growth boundaries in novel Baltic food webs:Together with Dr Lauréne Pécuchet and Dr Susanne Kortsch, I conduct retrospective analyses of Baltic Sea food webs to determine past and present status of the sea. Lauréne estimates temporal changes in the structure (abundances) and function (traits) of multitrophic assemblages, and Susanne uses ecological networks to assess how the structure of food webs in different Baltic Sea sub-basins has developed over time. The work is conducted within the BONUS BLUEWEBS consortium (2017-2020) with collaborators at Finnish Environment Institute, Stockholm University, Hamburg University, Kiel University, the Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment in Latvia, and the National Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Poland.

Trophic succession in restored salt marshes: I study temporal and spatial structuring of food webs, e.g. in a successional context. I determine rates and trajectories of food-web succession, and identify factors influencing trophic functioning using developing tidal wetlands as study systems. My study methods include quantification of benthic community structure coupled with community-wide metrics of isotopic niche dimensions and topological approaches for determination of trophic structure and functioning. This work is conducted together with professor Lisa A. Levin at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Read more HERE and HERE.