The QMEE CDT Project proposal database

Welcome to the QMEE CDT Project proposal database. This is a live list of projects proposals put forward by PIs across the CDT partner institutions

PIs/Supervisors will continue to add projects to this list over the next few months, so do keep checking back! You can search the projects using the box below: simply enter some text and press Search to do a text search across all the database fields. If you want to search more finely, the search tool also allows you to search on particular details of the project descriptions: you will see these finer search options appear if you click on the search box.

Click on the view button next to a project to get the full proposal description. If you want to download project details, either for all projects, or for a subset you have searched for, then click on the 'Download details' button.

Scaling up metabolic theory to maximize the recovery and stability of ecosystem functioning
Perturbations such as pollution or climate change first and directly impact ecosystem functions such as carbon sequestration and nitrogen cycling by changing the metabolic rates of individual organisms. Therefore, understanding how changes in individual metabolism scale up to the dynamics of whole networks of interactions is necessary for predicting impacts of human activities on the resilience and recovery rate of ecosystem functioning. In particular, recent work suggests that variation in individual physiology can have important effects, by constraining interactions between consumer-resource species pairs, energy and matter flows, and stability of ecosystems [1]. This PhD project will use a novel combination of metabolic/physiological theory [2–5], dynamical network (graph) theory [6,7], and parameterizations using a global database on metabolic performance of individuals to address key questions about the effects of fluctuations on complex ecosystem functioning: (1) How much does variation in physiology across individuals and species affect the ecosystem function? (2) Will between-species differences in physiology hinder resilience and recovery of ecosystem function to changing climate? (3) What motifs (components) of network structure strongly determine the thermal response dynamics of whole ecosystem function, and can therefore be used to mitigate climate change impacts? To address such questions, the student will extend metabolic theory [1,4,5] to dynamically assembling interaction networks using mathematical and computational techniques [6,13]. The model will be parameterized using data on species-level variation in individual physiology induced by variation in size as well as thermal acclimation/adaptation, available in a global database on metabolic traits (BioTraits) of over a 1000 species and 10,000’s or measurements, currently maintained at Silwood Park. This will generate empirically-grounded theoretical predictions that will then be tested using burgeoning empirical data on from experimentally warmed aquatic mesocosms being at Silwood Park and elsewhere [8–12], where ecosystem assembly and functional turnover are being recorded at an unprecendented resolution. In addition, the student will have an opportunity to participate in the ongoing development of an ecosystem assembly game (ecobuildergame.org) aimed at serving as an outreach as well as a research tool where users can visualize and interact with virtual ecosystems. References: 1. Dell et al J. Anim. Ecol. 82, (2013); 2. Dell et al Ecology 94, 1205 (2013); 3. Dell et al PNAS 108, 10591–10596 (2011); 4. Pawar et al Nature 486, 485­–489 (2012); 5. Reuman et al J. Anim. Ecol. (2013); 6. Pawar, J. Theor. Biol. 259, 601–612 (2009); 7. Cohen et al PNAS 106, 22335–22340 (2009); 8. Perkins et al. Glob. Chang. Biol. 18, 1300–1311 (2012); 9. Yvon-Durocher et al Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B. 367, 2998–3007 (2012); 10. Dossena et al Proc. R. Soc. B 279, 3011–9 (2012); 11. O’Gorman et al. Adv. Ecol. Res. 47, 81–176 (2012); 12. Yvon-Durocher, G. et al. Nature 487, 472–6 (2012). 13. Allesina & Tang Nature 483, 205–208 (2012).
Guy Woodward
Dan Goodman
Samraat Pawar, Imperial College London, Life Sciences; Gabriel Yvon-Durocher, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus)
Development of mathematical theory, Computing, Quantitative data analysis
Dan Goodman
Dynamical systems, Network theory, Theoretical ecology, Ecoinformatics
While there are a number of ecosystem models out there, none (1) account for individual- and species-level variation in metabolic traits, and (2) few address resilience and recovery in multi-trophic systems. We are not aware of any that actually combine these aspects.
Food web ecology, Ecosystem ecology, Physiological/Metabolic Ecology
Carbon balance and material flows in, and resilience/recovery of ecosystems in the face of global climate change is a pressing problem --- this project will address this problem using novel, empirically grounded theory.
The project will be supervised by two empircial ecosystem ecologists (Woodward, Yvon-Durocher), a dynamical networks theorist (Goodman) a theoretical ecologist (Pawar). Nobody has taken this sort of integrative and empirically grounded-approach to the problem.
This Project combines mathematical theory, computational and statistical analyses, and empirical data to address an important and general problem in applied biology.
Community ecology, Ecosystem-scale processes and land use, Environmental physiology
Yes, in-lab training in quantitative methods in ecology, theoretical/computing methods, and statistics.
Imperial College London
No
2017-09-22 12:27:52