IE Evolutionary Ecology Research Group

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We are interested in the evolutionary and dynamical stability of microbial communities. Within this area one of the main emphasis is on the evolutionary stability of host microbiome interactions. We study the evolutionary and ecological background of social life of some spider species with the help of mathematical and agent based models.
Our understanding of biological systems is often limited not by the lack of data, but by our ability to extract information from already available large scale datasets. We aim is to develop methods and models of evolutionary processes at different time scales, from the diversification of species over hundreds of millions of years to the decade long development of tumors, that overcome this limitation. In particular, we work on bioinformatics methods (phylogenetics and phylogenomics software including ALE) and theoretical models (of e.g. somatic evolution and cell linage trees) and use these together with genome-scale datasets to address open biological questions.
Another focus topic is spatial ecological modelling. The areas of research include 1) adaptive responses to climate change; 2) the efficiency of spatial spreading strategies in various habitat networks; and 3) the ecology and evolution of clonal organisms.
We investigate the conditions of an ecological system being resistant against new mutant ecotypes (evolutionary stability), or against invasive species (ecological stability). We study and adapt the notion of evolutionary stability to ecological systems. We focus our models, among others, on filial cannibalism and pollination.
Our investigations are intended to lay down the fundamentals of a theory of applied ecology (biological pest control, management of climate change, environmental protection).