Main research themes

1. Body size in predator-prey interactions and food webs

During the last decades, body size has been identified as the single most important driver for predator-prey (or, more broadly, consumer-resource) interaction strengths, food-web stability, and ecosystem performance. Our work has shown that understanding regular patterns in size relations of empirical predator-prey pairs is key for the persistence of higher trophic levels and hence also for the maintenance of vital ecosystem functions. Together, a better understanding of these processes might also help to protect biodiversity more broadly.

key publications: Vucic-Pestic et al. 2010; Rall et al. 2011, 2012; Kalinkat et al. 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017b; Schröder et al. 2016; Brose et al. 2017; Gauzens et al. 2024

main collaborators: Uli Brose, Björn Rall, Florian Schneider

2. Behavioral types and effects on predator-prey interactions

Other traits not related to body size can be very important for predator-prey systems and food web stability. We investigate how consistent inter-individual differences in behavioral traits (i.e. behavioral types a.k.a. animal personalities) affect feeding rates and the interaction strengths in predator-prey systems.

key publications: Kalinkat 2014; Schröder et al. 2016; Lukas et al. 2021

main collaborators: Arne Schröder, David Bierbach

3. Global change effects on predator-prey interactions and their assessment based on the functional response framework

One of the most important effects of ongoing and prospected climate change are rising temperatures almost anywhere on the globe. Further pressure on populations of endangered species comes from an inexorable encroachment of humans and their activities that are simplifying and destroying natural habitats. The bulk of research that investigates the critical effects of rising temperatures and habitat loss on the future of biodiversity relies heavily on distribution data and “color mapping” of the future co-occurence between shifted climates and species' populations. By contrast, our approach is mainly based on meta-analyses of empirical studies on non-linear interaction strengths (i.e. consumer-resource functional responses) and model simulations of species' trophic interactions based on biological plausible effects on metabolism.

key publications: Rall et al. 2012; Kalinkat and Rall 2015, Li et al. 2018

main collaborator: Björn Rall

4. Warming and invasion synergies in thermally altered aquatic systems

Biological invasions and climate change (e.g. rising temperatures) are amongst the most important drivers of current biodiversity loss. Yet the interactive, and potentially synergistic, effects of these two drivers are rarely considered in current research programs in aquatic ecology. To address this gap we work in the Gillbach, a tributary of the Rhine/Erft catchment in Western Germany. The Gillbach provides an outstanding model ecosystem with strong anthropogenic influences where several species of tropical origin have established feral populations and thrive in heated water from a nearby power plant (click here to watch a video of native and non-native fishes in the Gillbach).

key publications: Lukas et al. 2017a,b; Kempkes et al. 2018, Lukas et al. 2021

main collaborators: David Bierbach, Juliane Lukas

Convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciatus) | source wikimedia| user:Hippocampus | CC BY 2.5

A female convict cichlid, one of the introduced, established tropical species in the Gillbach in Western Germany

5. Size-based approaches to natural and human dimensions of biodiversity conservation

Regular patterns like mass-abundance scaling (i.e. many small and few large organisms) or the scaling of animal space use (i.e. large animals occupy larger ranges) are ubiquitous in nature and well described by a number of universal allometric scaling “laws”. These universal relationships are extremely important for the conservation of endangered species and management of exploited populations. On the other hand the recurring size relationships for the interactions between humans and wildlife (e.g. harvesting or ecotourism) have not yet been described by similar universal laws although animal size seems to be the most important driver for the majority of these interactions. Based on internet usage data we aim to investigate these relationships with a particular focus on fish and freshwater biodiversity in general.

key publications: Kalinkat et al. 2017a,b; Brose et al. 2017

main collaborators: Sonja Jähnig, Ivan Jarić, Jonathan Jeschke

6. Artificial light at night (ALAN) and its effects on arthropod communities 

In 2019 I started working on light pollution and its effects on behavior and community composition of aquatic and terrestrial arthropods. In a 6 year project funded through the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) we will investigate new and innovative lighting technologies that aim to reduce negative effects on insects. The interdisciplinary project is led by Franz Hölker and Sibylle Schroer at IGB and involves close collaboration with lighting designers and engineers from TU Berlin. Besides, I would be particularly interested in exploring (1.), how ALAN affects animal movement and (2.), possible synergies between ALAN and global/urban warming. 

key publications: Kalinkat et al. 2021, Hölker et al 2021, Schroer et al. 2021, Seymoure et al 2023, Dietenberger et al. 2024

main collaborators: Franz Hölker, Sibylle Schroer, Andreas Jechow

The light pollution field site of IGB operated since 2012 in Westhavelland, Western Brandenburg, Germany

7. Conservation Culturomics and iEcology 

Together with international collaborators I recently published a series of papers on Conservation Culturomics and iEcology. See the respective websites for more information. 

key publications: Jarić et al. 2020a,b

main collaborators: Ivan Jaric, Ricardo Correia, Uri Roll


Brose, U., Blanchard, J.L., Eklöf, A., Galiana, N., Hartvig, M., R. Hirt, M., Kalinkat, G., Nordström, M.C., O’Gorman, E.J., Rall, B.C., Schneider, F.D., Thébault, E., and Jacob, U. 2017. Predicting the consequences of species loss using size-structured biodiversity approaches. Biological Reviews 92(2):684-697. doi:10.1111/brv.12250. link postprint pdf

Dietenberger, M., Jechow, A., Kalinkat, G., Schroer, S., Saathoff, B., and Hölker, F. 2024 Reducing the fatal attraction of nocturnal insects using tailored and shielded road lights. Communications Biology 7:671 doi:10.1038/s42003-024-06304-4. link pdf

Gauzens, B., Rosenbaum, B., Kalinkat, G., Boy, T., Jochum, M., Kortsch, S., O'Gorman, E.J., and Brose, U. 2024. Flexible foraging behaviour increases predator vulnerability to climate change. Nature Climate Change 14(4):387-392 doi:10.1038/s41558-024-01946-y link pdf

Hölker, F., Bollinger, J., Davies, T.W., Giavi, S., Jechow, A., Kalinkat, G., Longcore, T., Spoelstra, K., Tidau, S., Visser, M.E., Knop, E. 2021. 11 pressing research questions on how light pollution affects biodiversity. - Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9:767177  doi:10.3389/fevo.2021.767177 link pdf

Jarić I., Bellard C., Courchamp F., Kalinkat G., Meinard Y., Roberts D.L., and Correia R.A. 2020a. Societal attention toward extinction threats: a comparison between climate change and biological invasions.Scientific Reports 10, 11085 link pdf

Jarić I., Correia R.A., Brook B.A., BuetteJ.C., Courchamp F., Di Minin E., Firth J.A.,Gaston K.J., Jepson P., Kalinkat G., Ladle R., Soriano-Redondo A., Souza A.T., and Roll U. 2020b. Societal attention toward extinction threats: a comparison between climate change and biological invasions.Trends in Ecology and Evolution 35(7):630–639 doi:10.1016/j.tree.2020.03.003 link pdf 

Kempkes, M., Lukas, J., and Bierbach, D. (Eds.) 2018. Tropische Neozoen in heimischen Fließgewässern. VerlagsKG Wolf, Magdeburg, DE, pp 102-107, ISBN 9783894322878. link

Kalinkat, G. 2014. Bringing animal personality research into the food web arena. Journal Animal Ecology 83(6): 1245–1247. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12284. link pdf

Kalinkat, G., Cabral, J.S., Darwall, W., Ficetola, G.F., Fisher, J.L., Giling, D.P., Gosselin, M.-P., Grossart, H.-P., Jähnig, S.C., Jeschke, J.M., Knopf, K., Larsen, S., Onandia, G., Paetzig, M., Saul, W.-C., Singer, G., Sperfeld, E., and Jarić, I. 2017a. Flagship umbrella species needed for the conservation of overlooked aquatic biodiversity. Conservation Biology 31(2):481-485. doi:10.1111/cobi.12813. link pdf

Kalinkat G., Grubisic M., van Grunsven R.H.A., Jechow A., Schroer S., and Hölker F. 2021: Assessing long-term effects of artificial light at night on insects: what is missing and how to get there.Insect Conservation and Diversity 14:260-270. link pdf

Kalinkat, G.,  Jähnig, S.C., and Jeschke, J.M. 2017b. Exceptional body size-extinction risk relations shed new light on the freshwater biodiversity crisis. Proceedings National Academy Sciences USA 114: E10263-E10264. doi:10.1073/pnas.1717087114. link postprint pdf

Kalinkat, G., Jochum, M., Brose, U., and Dell, A.I. 2015. Body size and the behavioral ecology of insects: linking individuals to ecological communities. Current Opinion Insect Science 9:24-30. doi:10.1016/j.cois.2015.04.017 link postprint pdf

Kalinkat, G., Rall, B.C., Vucic-Pestic, O., and Brose, U. 2011. The allometry of prey preferences. PLOS ONE 6(10): e25937. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025937 link pdf

Kalinkat, G., and Rall, B.C. 2015. Effects of climate change on the interactions between insect pests and their natural enemies. In Climate Change and Insect Pests. Edited by C. Björkman and P. Niemelä. CABI, Wallingford, UK. pp. 74–91. link postprint pdf

Kalinkat, G., Schneider, F.D., Digel, C., Guill, C., Rall, B.C., and Brose, U. 2013. Body masses, functional responses and predator–prey stability. Ecology Letters 16(9): 1126–1134. doi:10.1111/ele.12147. link pdf

Li, Y., Rall, B.C., and Kalinkat, G. 2018. Experimental duration and predator satiation levels systematically affect functional response parameters. Oikos 127(4):590-598 doi:10.1111/oik.04479 link pdf

Lukas J.A.Y., Jourdan J., Kalinkat, G., Emde, S., Miesen, F.W., Jüngling, H., Cocchiararo, B., and Bierbach, D. 2017a. On the occurrence of three non-native cichlid species including the first record of Pelmatolapia (“Tilapia”) mariae (Boulenger, 1899) in Europe. Royal Society Open Science 4(6): 170160. doi:10.1098/rsos.170160 link pdf

Lukas J., Kalinkat, G., Kempkes, M., Rose, U., and Bierbach, D. 2017b. Feral guppies in Germany – a critical evaluation of a citizen science approach as a biomonitoring tool. Bulletin of Fish Biology 17:13-27 pdf

Lukas J., Kalinkat G., Miesen F.W., Landgraf T., Krause J., and Bierbach D. (2021): Consistent behavioural syndromes across seasons in an invasive freshwater fish. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 8:583670 doi:10.3389/fevo.2020.583670 link pdf 

Rall, B.C., Brose, U., Hartvig, M., Kalinkat, G., Schwarzmüller, F., Vucic-Pestic, O., and Petchey, O.L. 2012. Universal temperature and body-mass scaling of feeding rates. Philosophical Transactions Royal Society Biological Sciences 367(1605): 2923–2934. doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0242. link pdf

Rall, B.C., Kalinkat, G., Ott, D., Vucic-Pestic, O., and Brose, U. 2011. Taxonomic versus allometric constraints on non-linear interaction strengths. Oikos 120(4): 483–492. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0706.2010.18860.x. link pdf

Schröder, A., Kalinkat, G., and Arlinghaus, R. 2016. Individual variation in functional response parameters is explained by body size but not by behavioural types in a poeciliid fish. Oecologia 182(4): 1129-1140. doi:10.1007/s00442-016-3701-7. link postprint pdf

Schroer, S., Austen, K., Moczek, N.; Kalinkat, G., Jechow, A., Heller, S., Reinhard, J., Dehn, S., Wuthenow, C.I., Post-Stapelfeldt, M., van Grunsven, R.H.A., Pérez Vega, C., Schumacher, H., Kaanaa, L., Saathoff, B., Völker, S., Hölker, F. 2021 Towards Insect-Friendly Road Lighting—A Transdisciplinary Multi-Stakeholder Approach Involving Citizen Scientists. Insects 12(12):1117. doi:10.3390/insects12121117 link pdf

Seymoure, B., Dell, A.I., Hölker, F., Kalinkat, G. 2023 A framework for untangling the consequences of artificial light at night on species interactions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 378(182): 20220356 link pdf

Vucic-Pestic, O., Rall, B.C., Kalinkat, G., and Brose, U. 2010. Allometric functional response model: body masses constrain interaction strengths. Journal of Animal Ecology 79(1): 249–256. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01622.x. link pdf

cichlid photo (CC BY 2.5) by S. Olkowicz