Laboratory of Theoretical Ecology
Laboratory of Theoretical Ecology focuses on development and analysis of mathematical models in behavioral, population and evolutionary ecology. Our emphasis is on interactions between behavior of individual organisms (such as adaptive foraging or sexual behavior) and dynamics of entire populations and on the feedbacks between individuals and their environment. The underlying aim of our research is understading of fundamental processes that drive biodiversity on Earth.
Current research projects
Adaptive behavior and population dynamics
Understanding the effects of adaptive behavior in simple and complex food webs is important in the search for mechanisms that maintain ecosystem structure and biodiversity in general. Our research focuses on mathematical modelling of the interplay of adaptive animal behavior and population dynamics. Behavioral aspects such as changes of prey behavior under predation risk, adaptive habitat selection, and optimal foraging, including trade-offs in host-parasitoid interactions, have been shown to strongly affect dynamics, stability, and persistence of populations. Through evolutionary game theory and theory of differential equations and inclusions, we define and search for evolutionarily stable strategies and study consequences of such adaptive behavior on population dynamics. Also, theoretically derived behavioral strategies serve as null hypotheses for adequate optimal foraging and habitat selection experiments.
Dynamics of structured populations
We deal with ecological and evolutionary consequences of sex-, size- and space-structured populations. Our research covers a range of topics including dispersal-driven metapopulation dynamics, impacts of mating strategies on population viability, and evolution of life history strategies or relevant traits in size-structured and two-sex populations. The results cover a range of model organisms, with ramifications for conservation strategies, biocontrol programmes, and management of exploited resources.