Research of the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Group

The Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Group (WEC) studies subjects related to resource use by animals in their environment. We focus on animal-animal, animal-plant, predator-prey and host-pathogen interactions, and address fundamental scientific challenges as well as questions related to wildlife conservation.

We embrace field-based, experimental and theoretical studies, and we work at levels of biological organization ranging from individuals to ecosystems. Our work considers a variety of biomes across the globe. For example, we study how wildlife and associated resources respond to stressors like anthropogenic land use and climate change, and how this influences disease transmission. WEC embodies the idea of ‘Learning from nature’ and aligns itself to the fields of ‘Global change, food and the environment’ and ‘One Health’. WEC integrates advancements in technology and big data analytics to track animals, measure physiological parameters, quantify population dynamics and monitor ecological resilience. These and other novel approaches advance the fields of animal ecology, population biology, community ecology, and conservation science. Our work ultimately contributes to understanding and managing life on earth, including disease ecology, eco-tourism, rangeland ecology, and wildlife conservation.

Urban Ecology

How does the structure and functioning of wildlife systems, from individuals to communities, adapt to the spatial configurations and human activity patterns of urban environments?

In the Anthropocene, human pressures on wildlife are reaching unprecedented levels. Animals, plants, and entire ecosystems must bear these pressures across different spatial and temporal scales. We, the members of the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Group (WEC), study how humans influence wildlife. We examine both direct mechanisms and mechanisms that are more indirect and that are part of larger-scale processes. Examples of the former include hunting, fire, and other disturbances; examples of the latter include habitat modification and climate change. In general, we engage in three main research lines: First, we investigate how individual animals perform and adapt in response to both anthropogenic and natural changes, and how this affects functioning, viability, and resilience from populations to ecosystems. Second, we study ecological interactions and their cascading effects on processes and patterns at lower and higher levels of biological organisation. Third, we identify conservation options, and we test the effectiveness of conservation interventions. Important themes that cut across our main research lines include the following:

  • Animal movement and distributions
  • Population dynamics
  • Trophic interactions
  • Disease and physiology

Selected research projects