Reassembly of species interaction networks

Resistance, resilience and functional recovery of a rainforest ecosystem

​DFG-funded Research Unit REASSEMBLY (FOR 5207)

REASSEMBLY aims at understanding network dynamics to uncover rules of network dis- and reassembly in a highly diverse tropical lowland rainforest ecosystem. We 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 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 are studied along a large-scale chronosequence of forest recovery (62 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:

  • Conserved specialization in army-ant food webs
    Neotropical army ants are among the most specialized predators: each ant species is hunting on a narrowly selected number of ant species as their main prey, and some other arthropods are also included in their diet. Phil Hoenle and Chris von Beeren studied food webs between army ants and their prey, both in Costa Rica …
  • Uncover the DNA secrets from dung beetle guts
    How specialized are dung beetles for different dung types? A few years ago, dung beetle preferences were mostly studied with baited pitfall traps using easily available feces from livestock or zoo animals. Now we can unravel the “real” dung-beetle networks by looking into the beetles’ guts to identify DNA from each mammal that provided the …
  • Eva Tamargo Lopez – PhD student SP4, University of Marburg
    As a biologist, I have always been interested in community ecology, and what is more incredible than ecology in the Tropics? So, I have spent the last years of my career working on understanding forest recovery after human disturbances, from the perspective of tree communities in the tropical forests of Ecuador, from the Andean forests …
  • Santiago Erazo – PhD student SP4, University of Ulm & PUCE, Quito
    Tropical Ecology – University of Ulm (Germany) / Museo de Zoología – Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE – Ecuador). Among my main research interests is the ecology of communities and the study of their structure, diversity as well as their taxonomic and functional composition, which allow understanding the assemblages and how the species interact …
  • News coverage by Mongabay
    MONGABAY is a nonprofit news platform that provides very important articles on environmental science and conservation, often from tropical countries across the globe. Highly recommended reading! Here’s a compilation of some recent articles that include Jocotoco, the Chocó or the reserve in Canandé, with links:Jocotoco’s story Endemic Magnolias in Canande Deforestation in Western Ecuador Expedition …