Our research focuses on the explanatory variables that determine biodiversity and specifically on the effects of variance in both biotic (e.g., food availability, nutrients such as essential amino acids, fatty acids, and sterols) and abiotic (e.g., temperature, dissolved organic matter) predictor variables at both the individual and population levels. This is currently a hot research topic for ecologists studying physiological and evolutionary processes because, recent analyses clearly suggest that ecological forecasting cannot be solely based on the change in mean values; rather we have also to consider changes in the amount of variance.

    We consider the use of complementary approaches to investigate the effects of environmental variability and nutritional constraints on primary producers, animal consumers, and diverse communities. We aim for more detailed knowledge on how more frequent appearing extreme conditions (in multiple co-varying factors) may be decisive for individual and migration behavior, dispersal success, and population movements through a heterogeneous landscape. We are keen to know how specific trade-offs might trigger behaviour of individuals and dispersal of whole populations. Our tools include experimental field work and a suite of established and emerging measurements of biochemical and molecular adaptations/responses such as gene expression, gross biochemical and elemental composition.  
    Additionally we are combining experimental field and laboratory studies with mathematical models to integrate eco-physiological knowledge into recent approaches on trait variation, population dynamics and species coexistence. This will improve our understanding of the response of organisms and populations to changing environmental conditions and accompanied losses in species richness.
    Current research themes are associated with the following focal points:

    • Beyond the Mean – a new framework on fluctuations in abiotic and biotic environmental factors
    • Linking Biodiversity Effects with underlying physiological adaptations
    • Trait Variation – evolutionary mechanism decisive for species coexistence  
    • Co-limitation under Global Change – ecological stoichiometry and nutritional indicators in food webs