The research theme Population Dyanmics within the department of Evolutionary and Population Biology focuses on two subthemes: (i) population biology of trophic interactions in species communities and (ii) eco-evolutionary dynamics.
Population biology of trophic interactions
Population biology has long focused on relatively simple pair-wise interactions between species, such as competition and predation, and the effects of these interactions on population dynamics and stability. For a better understanding of the functioning of communities, it is essential to go beyond such simple pair-wise interactions by studying motifs of interactions between three or more species, such as intraguild predation, apparent competition, and keystone predation.
In the second subtheme, we go beyond the classic view that evolutionary and ecological processes occur on separate, slow and fast time scales respectively. New findings show that evolutionary change can occur rapidly and thus interact with ecological dynamics. This means that ecological and evolutionary processes can no longer be treated separately and that revision of our fundamental understanding of both ecological and evolutionary dynamics is required.
Within this context we focus on identifying the population consequences of variation in the expression of polymorphisms (genetic colour polymorphism in Eleonora’s falcon [Laura Gangoso]) en polyphenisms (alternative male reproductive strategies [Tom van den Beuken, Flor Rhebergen] and dispersal polyphenism in bulb mites [Jacques Deere, Kat Stewart]) induced by e.g. environmental change or harvesting. To develop and test our hypotheses we use laboratory experiments on mites, statistical analysis of data and the construction and analysis of mathematical models. We recently applied our methods to field data on threatened populations of reef manta rays to analyse the population consequences of overfishing, and are also applying the models to the bioturbator Orchestia gammarellus in collaboration with Matty Berg (VU).
dr. A.R.M. (Arne) Janssen
dr. I.M. (Isabel) Smallegange
dr. C.J.M. (Martijn) Egas
dr. J.G.B. (Gerard) Oostermeijer
dr. M. (Merijn) Kant