Integrating Ecological Networks in Macroecological Research - Enhancing Projections of Biodiversity in the Anthropocene


The Anthropocene has spurred changes in Earth’s ecosphere and biodiversity patterns, necessitating a reevaluation of macroecological research. Traditional approaches, focused on single-species distribution models, overlook the vital role of biological interactions and the networks they form within ecological communities. I have identified and addressed three key shortcomings of contemporary macroecological explorations of ecological networks - (1) the underutilization of advancements from other disciplines, (2) neglect of resilience mechanisms of ecological networks in response to biodiversity loss, and (3) lack of assessment of inference methods for ecological networks. In doing so, I have developed an accessible climate data integration workflow for ecological research, established methodologies for quantifying extinction cascades within ecological networks under climate change, and introduced guidelines as well as a performance-assessment framework for ecological network inference. With this work, I propose and prepare a much needed paradigm shift towards tailored data workflows, realistic understanding of extinction cascades, and cautious use of network inference, particularly at macroecological scales.

Aug 17, 2023 14:00 — 15:15
Oslo, Norway
Erik Kusch
Erik Kusch
Senior Engineer & Research Infrastructure Manager

In my research, I focus on statistical approaches to understanding complex processes and patterns in biology using a variety of data banks.