Department of Ecological Dynamics: Research Focus

We study wildlife responses to challenges, such as climate change, infectious diseases or human activities at the individual, population and community level. More specifically, we investigate how the fitness consequences of processes acting at the individual level, such as social behaviour, movement, competition, predator-prey or host-pathogen interactions, shape population and community dynamics. By integrating these multi-level perspectives into our research framework, we aim to achieve a holistic view of ecological dynamics and their evolutionary consequences.

Our department was established in January 2018 to strengthen ecological modelling, including simulation and biostatistics. With our research we do not only aim at gaining further insights into the impacts of anthropogenic challenges like climate and land use change on wildlife populations, but also improve predictions about their future viability. To this end, we program statistical and dynamical predictive models.

By developing these dynamic models, computational and analytical ‘toolkits’ as well as modern field techniques and lab analytical methods, we seek to advance theory, methods and concepts in ecology and evolution. This expertise in statistical modelling and simulation and our computational and analytical toolkits also help strengthen the theoretical basis of the institute’s work.

For this, our long-term field sites are essential, as they generate extensive datasets of repeated measurements at the individual level, up to the community level in space. These sites include the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania (Serengeti hyena project) since 1987, logging concessions (Malaysian Borneo) since 2008 and the Annamite Range (Laos and Vietnam) since 2014, and together with the Department Evolutionary Ecology the Berlin/Brandenburg urban/rural landscape since 2012.

This further assists us in recommending effective management actions in conservation projects at the landscape scale. To transfer our research findings, we work closely with local conservation stakeholders, provide training courses for rangers and students and communicate our work via public talks and media.