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:

  • Reassembly from a frog perspective
    A very lively video summarizes the key questions and methods in our subproject about predator-prey interactions, featuring Karla Neira, Mark-Oliver Rödel and countless colorful or brownish frogs as the main actors. Well worth watching! And… an exciting podcast about their work is also available in the Museum’s “Beats and bones” series (here) [in German].
  • Baby frogs from the rainforest
    In order to understand why particular species occur only in a primary rainforest or are able to persist in a degraded habitat, it is necessary to know about their biology. Unfortunately for most tropical species we simply know that and where they exist. This is also true for most species of frogs. In contrast to …
  • Sticky stingless bees: tree resin collection and flower foraging
    Social bees are important pollinators worldwide, including honeybees, bumblebees and stingless bees, the latter being particularly important in the tropics. Stingless bees do not only depend on pollen and nectar, but also intensively collect the sticky and potentially toxic resin from tree wounds. Obviously not for nutrition, but for nest building and/or defense against predators …
  • Nina Grella – PhD student SP7, University of Bayreuth
    I have always been fascinated by tropical ecology and biodiversity research. In my former studies, I investigated the diversity of Afrotropical termites, one of the most important decomposers in African savannahs. Now, during my Ph.D. in the Reassembly project, my research focuses on the interactions between saproxylic insects (termites and ants) and deadwood and how …
  • Herpetological discoveries from understory to tree crowns
    The diversity of life histories among amphibians and reptiles is astonishing. While some thrive and feed on fish in streams, others choose to conceal themselves in the hollows of tree canopies. In 2023, Reassembly’s herpetological team undertook several side projects. During their visit to Canandé, a team from MO Rödel’s lab observed nine snake predation events, …