Reassembly of species interaction networks

Resistance, resilience and functional recovery of a rainforest ecosystem

​DFG-funded Research Unit REASSEMBLY (FOR 5207) has started

REASSEMBLY aims at understanding network dynamics to uncover rules of network dis- and reassembly in a highly diverse tropical lowland rainforest ecosystem. We will study the dynamics of natural forest recovery from agriculture along a chronosequence and the contribution of re-assembled networks to the resilience of ecosystem processes against perturbation. We will compare the trajectories of predator–prey, plant–pollinator, and plant–seed disperser networks, as well as decomposition networks between mammals, dung beetles and seeds, and between dead wood, ants, termites, and beetles. Subprojects thus examine networks of all major ecosystem processes mediated by interspecific interactions: predation, pollination, primary and secondary seed dispersal, herbivory, decomposition, and tree seedling recruitment. Networks and ecosystem processes will be studied along a large-scale chronosequence of forest recovery (64 plots representing different stages of succession) and in a small-scale perturbation–recruitment experiment. Our Research Unit is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Our MISSION: Although REASSEMBLY is a basic scientific research unit, our aim is to ensure that the knowledge gained can be applied and contribute to optimizing the restoration of tropical forests. This research project, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), will not only be conducted within a forest in Ecuador, but on an equal footing with the Ecuadorian scientific community in different institutions and with an Ecuadorian conservation organization (Fundación Jocotoco). Our goal is to strengthen ecological science and the next generation of scientists in both countries, as well as nature conservation efforts that meet the interests of local communities. To achieve these goals, transparent and accessible data and results are essential.

Latest Posts:

  • Ugo Diniz – PhD Researcher SP3,  Technische Universität München
    My research focuses on plant-pollinator interactions in the tropics, with an emphasis on syndrome theory, urban pollination, and interaction networks, with special attention to nectarivorous bats and, more recently, insects such as bees and moths. Most of my research has been conducted with chiropterophilous species in Brazil in the largely understudied seasonal savannas of the Cerrado or …
  • Timo Metz – PhD Researcher SP1,  Technische Universität Darmstadt
    My work centers around the theoretical aspects of ecosystem restoration. I use models and computer simulations to find out how ecological communities recover and especially how species interaction networks (re-)assemble after a large disturbance. My overarching goal is to explain observations from the field with theories how they could have emerged. I furthermore want to …
  • P-REX is ready!
    Our ambitious perturbation experiment was an enormous, unexpected effort – on a total of 30 plots. Four 10 x 10 m treatments had to be marked per plot, two of them fenced, vegetation and litter was removed from two treatments, and the amount removed was quantified. Seed/litter traps were installed, seedling plots marked out… now …
  • The Chocó lab is working
    Quite calmly, our research activities in one of the best tropical field labs have just begun earlier this year. What a fantastic new place, equipped with modern lab interior and great working conditions and (still) a lot of space for our large group and more. What an incredible view on the surrounding forest, epiphytes and …
  • Trees, global visions & science communication
    Does our research contribute to restoring biodiversity and climate? There is an ongoing discussion around ‘natural solutions’ for climate, and the potential of forest restoration for carbon capture and mitigation of global warming. One of the key papers in this controversial debate was a Science paper in 2019 from Thomas Crowther’s lab at ETH Zurich. …