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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 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, Schröder et al. 2016, Brose et al. 2017

    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

    main collaborators: Arne Schröder, David Bierbach

  1. Global change effects on predator-prey interactions

    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

    main collaborator: Björn Rall

  2. 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 (video of native and non-native fishes on youtube).

    key publications: Lukas et al. 2017

    main collaborator: David Bierbach

  3. 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

  4. 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. havesting 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. 2017, Brose et al. 2017

    main collaborators: Ivan Jaric


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. Biol. Rev. 92(2):684-697. doi:10.1111/brv.12250. link preprint pdf

Kalinkat, G. 2014. Bringing animal personality research into the food web arena. J. Anim. Ecol. 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. 2017. Flagship umbrella species needed for the conservation of overlooked aquatic biodiversity. Conserv. Biol. 31(2):481-485. doi:10.1111/cobi.12813. link pdf

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

Kalinkat, G., Rall, B.C., Vucic-Pestic, O., 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 preprint 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. Ecol. Lett. 16(9): 1126–1134. doi:10.1111/ele.12147. link pdf

Lukas J., Jourdan J., Kalinkat, G.,Emde, S., Miesen, F.W., Jüngling, H., Cocchiararo, B., Bierbach, D. (2017). On the occurrence of three non-native cichlid species including the first record of Pelmatolapia (“Tilapia”) mariae (Boulenger, 1899) in Europe. R. Soc. Open Sci. 4(6): 170160. doi:10.1098/rsos.170160 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. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 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 preprint pdf

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

cichlid photo (CC BY 2.5) by S. Olkowicz  |  last updated: 2017-07-04