Stability of complex ecological networks under climate change

Theme: Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Primary Supervisor:

Richard Pearson

Genetics, Evolution and Environment, UCL

Richard Pearson's Profile Picture

Secondary Supervisor:

Simone Severini

Physics and Astronomy, UCL

Simone Severini has not set a profile picture
Additional Supervisor(s):

Jake Alexander (University of Lausanne)
Antoine Guisan (University of Lausanne)

Project Description:

Climate change is projected to have significant impacts on ecosystems, resulting in species-level extinctions and changes in community composition. Although a great deal of research has focused on predicting responses of individual species to climate change, potential impacts at the community-level remain poorly understood.

Many attempts to predict the responses of species to climate change have used ecological niche models (species distribution models), but this single-species approach ignores interactions between species and thus tells us little about responses at the community-level. This PhD project will integrate ecological niche models with simulations of multi-species networks and field experiments using a research site in the Swiss Alps. A novel ecological network model will be used to analyse multi-species systems and the stability of these systems will then be examined under scenarios of environmental change.

It is hoped that the project will advance methods for identifying types of ecosystem that are most vulnerable to climate change.

Policy Impact of Research:

Conceptual advances made will guide future empirical research, including laboratory and field experimentation, and will inform conservation strategies; in particular, it is expected that the analysis of complex interactions and feedbacks between species will support arguments for ‘whole-ecosystem’ approaches to biodiversity conservation.

Stay informed

Click here to subscribe to our RSS newsletter by email.

Find Us

University College London is the administrative lead.

Pearson Building, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Follow us on Twitter