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 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:

  • Bloody snakes: new observations on a puzzling behavior
    Do you know what “autohaemorrhaging” means? It is a deliberate release or ejection of blood (also termed reflex bleeding), reported from some lizards and snakes as well as some insects. It is often interpreted as defensive behavior against predator attacks. But whether reflex bleeding as a defense really works, and whether predators are then either …
  • Key tree dispersers: 3 monkeys
    In our study area – the lowland Chocó rainforest – three monkey species act as important dispersers for tree seeds. Brown-headed spider monkeys climb skillfully through the tree canopies and live almost entirely on fruits. Mantled howlers shape the soundscape and eat both leaves and fruits. And Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchins consume insects and fruits. All …
  • The importance of non-obligate mutualists – in theory
    Our PhD candidate Timo Metz (SP 1) presented one of our first results in the Reassembly Unit as a poster at an international meeting of the German Ecological Society (GFÖ) and two other organizations (SFE2, EEF) in Metz (November 24th, 2022). Timo has modelled the role of obligate vs non-obligate mutualists in mutualism recovery. He …
  • Rapid vegetation and litter recovery in nine months
    How quickly does the understory vegetation and litter layer recover following complete removal? This is the main question addressed in our perturbation-recovery experiment in 10 x 10 m subplots (P-REX). After nine months, the litter layer achieved a similar extent as an undisturbed forest patch, and many new tree seedlings and monocots have entered the …
  • Inspiring workshop in a National Park
    We had a very fruitful workshop in the National Park Bayerischer Wald (link) in October 5-7th 2022. After a Kick-Off Meeting last year (Palmengarten Frankfurt) and a workshop on data management and networks in the new Chocó lab in March 2022, this has been our third actual reassembly of the Reassembly team already. We learned …