Modelling Ecosystem Interactions

Marine organisms are connected by diverse types of interactions. The architecture of these interactions regulates the functioning of ecosystems and, in turn, influences biodiversity. For instance, predator-prey relationships shape energy circulation in food webs thus, determining their resilience and stability. Understanding the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships through the modelling of ecological interactions is far from trivial. This is because most interactions vary during seasons and the exposure of ecosystems to multi-stressors (e.g. ocean warming, species invasion, overfishing and eutrophication) makes complicated the identification of cause-effect mechanisms.

Research in this theme is dedicated to (1) investigating the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning under the effect of global warming (Fig. 1); e.g. Pansch et al. Global Change Biol. 2018), (2) quantifying the impact of multi-stressors on food web structure and functioning (Fig. 2) e.g. Bodini et al. Limnol. Oceanogr. 2018) and (3) modelling socioecological networks to define how changes in ecosystem functioning affect the benefits nature provides to humans (Fig. 3); e.g. Kluger et al. Ocean. Coast Manage. 2019). Our studies are conducted using empirical data from experiments and field surveys. We apply different techniques that include network analysis, multivariate statistics and individual-based modelling. This research area is being led by Marco Scotti

Connections to OEB Research on identifying physical co-associations between microbes in pelagic systems (Needham, Poirier, Worden) and research in the Pelagic Interactions & Food Webs and The Dark Ocean Biosphere themes.