Ecological interactions

All creatures interact with one another and with their environment. We examine the ecological interactions between various oranisms, from microorganisms in the soil to large mammals, and relate these to ecosystem processes and services.

Creatures may form symbiotic relationships with other creatures, and in doing so derive mutual benefit from the relationship (e.g. mycorrhiza and plants), compete with one another for food or habitat, or be in a predator-prey relationship. We study the ecological interactions between various groups of organisms, from microorganisms in the soil, to plants, insects, birds and large mammals, and relate these to ecosystem functions such as stability, nutrient cycles and nutrient storage. For example, ungulates transport nutrients over long distances and thus influence soil organisms and soil processes.

We analyse how changes in land use, land use intensification and climate change affect the composition of species communities. These modifications also change the interactions between species within an ecosystem. We examine the impacts of these changes on ecosystem processes, for example on biomass production or decomposition in the forest.

Statistical models enable us to predict future interactions between plants and plant pests under climate change. This is important if we want to understand how the causes of global change, such as climate and land use change, will alter our ecosystems in the future.

WSL publications