Ecological theory has paved the way for an understanding of the mechanisms that give rise to biodiversity patterns across temporal and spatial scales. Lessons learned include the relevance of spatial heterogeneity as well as the importance of species interactions at local scales in influencing biodiversity patterns. We are still searching for the mechanisms that give rise to certain structural features of networks of species interactions and their variation across spatial and temporal scales. This knowledge is fundamental to predict how they will respond to change.
I will present my research focusing on obtaining a more mechanistic understanding of the assembly and disassembly of complex ecological networks. I adopt a mixed theoretic-empirical approach relying on the analysis of big datasets, such as the microbiome found within marine sponges or food webs comprising thousands of vertebrate species across large spatial scales, as well as the development of complex dynamical models grounded on complex systems (e.g. network dynamics, agent-based models) to elucidate the mechanisms behind community assembly and try to better understand the effects of global change on natural communities.
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