Reassembly of species interaction networks

Resistance, resilience and functional recovery of a rainforest ecosystem

​DFG-funded Research Unit REASSEMBLY (FOR 5207) starts now (see News)

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 (62 plots representing different stages of succession) and in a small-scale perturbation–recruitment experiment.

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 German Research Foundation (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:

  • Fauna highlights
    Four snapshots from a wildlife camera campaign across our study plots performed by the Team Fabrikschleichach. A puma (Puma concolor), jaguar (Panthera onca), tayra (Eira barbara) and an ozelot (Leopardus pardalis) walked through the forest plots in November 2021.
  • Large, hairy & dirty: seed traits and burial by dung beetles
    Dung beetles are important secondary seed dispersers of mammal-dispersed plants in tropical forests – in our study site and worldwide. Beetles often bury the seeds that are included inside dung piles into the ground – if they are not too large in relation to the beetle. Beetles clean large seeds from dung rather than moving …
  • A new addition to the Reassembly team
  • A virtual hike
    A hike through young and old forests, and an introduction to the project.
  • Podcast zum Regenwaldprojekt
    [in German only] Hessen-Schafft-Wissen hat kürzlich zwei Podcasts veröffentlicht – einen, in dem Nico Blüthgen über die Faszination und Relevanz von Regenwäldern spricht und das Projekt in Ecuador vorstellt (hier), und einen weiteren, in dem Nina Farwig den Zusammenhang zwischen Biodiversität und Ökosystemfunktionen erklärt (hier).