Functional Community Ecology

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We investigate the structure and functional composition of diverse plant, animal and bacteria communities within ecosystems and along environmental gradients. We are particularly interested in how functional plant traits affect the behavior, distribution and diversity of insects and bacteria. Additionally, we track the functional responses of plant species and whole communities to global change components such as climate warming and the spread of invasive species. These approaches allow us to comprehensively evaluate the mechanisms underlying ecosystem processes and the vulnerability of ecosystem services.

Interactions between species naturally do not occur in isolation but are embedded in complex communities. Thus, the frequency and net effect of pair-wise interactions usually are modulated by other sympatric organisms that may alter the phenotype and/or the behavior of one or both interaction partners. To understand such multi-trophic interactions, we investigate how bacteria associated with plants affect ecosystem functions such as plant–pollinator or plant–herbivore interactions.

In studies in the lab and in the field (e.g. in the Austrian Alps and in Hawai’i), we analyze and manipulate the phenotype of plant species (e.g. scent emissions, coloration, morphology), examine interaction networks, reveal the composition and diversity of bacterial communities (e.g. next generation sequencing) and observe the behavior of animals as response to plant traits. In order to analyze the complex data gathered in these studies we apply and develop novel statistical tools to quantify the phylogenetic and functional diversity of communities and the niche size of species.   

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Dynamic range boxes, dynRB:

A robust and nonparametric approach to quantify size and overlap on n-dimensional hypervolumes is now available as R package and is described in Methods in Ecology and Evolution. A tutorial that demonstrates the use of the R package dynamic range boxes dynRB can be downloaded here.  

 

Contact:

Dr. Robert R. Junker

Associate Professor

University Salzburg | Department of Organismic Biology | Hellbrunnerstrasse 34 | Room D-2.063 | 5020 Salzburg | Austria | Tel: +43/662/8044-5512 | FAX: +43/662/8044-142

robert.junker(at)sbg.ac.at

www.uni-salzburg.at/orgbiol/robert.junker

 

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