Species interactions

BIOMAC participants: W. Daniel Kissling

Species interactions are ubiquitous in nature. They occur within the same trophic level (e.g. competition) or across different trophic levels (e.g. in food webs or plant-animal interactions). We are interested in understanding how species interactions shape biological communities and ecosystem services. We particularily focus on

  • Analysing plant-frugivore interactions and how they shape ecological communities

  • Quantifying how functional traits influence the structure and complexity of multispecies interactions

  • Understanding how species interactions shape species distributions and biodiversity patterns

  • Aggregating, integrating and synthesizing species interaction data across taxonomic, spatial and temporal scales

Most of our work centers around frugivory, animal-mediated seed dispersal, and the role of megaherbivores. This is particularily relevant in the tropics and subtropics where many vertebrates include fleshy fruits in their diet and up to 90 percent of all shrubs and trees depend on animal-mediated seed dispersal. Moreover, most megaherbivores (incl. dinosaurs) have gone extinct in the past, and it remains often unclear to what extant they might still shape the current distribution of plants with megafaunal traits (e.g. large fruits).

Neotropical palm-frugivore interaction network Toucans as important present-day seed dispersers