Theoretical Ecology

Our research focuses on theoretical community ecology. In particular, we develop general theoretical framework bridging coexistence theory and biodiversity ecosystem functioning theory. Our aim is to unravel and understand the key factor shaping the sustainability of ecosystems and their functioning.  Our research questions include:

  • How coexistence conditions are modulated by abiotic and biotic factors?
  • How these conditions impact ecosystems functioning?
  • How the architecture of interspecific interactions network effects coexistence conditions and ecosystem functioning?

We combine field data and theoretical models to understand coexistence and its implication on ecosystem functioning.

  • Structural approach to coexistence theory

    In Saavedra, Rohr et al. (2017), we have formalised a multidimensional approach to coexistence theory: the structural approach. The aim of coexistence theory is to provide metrics for coexistence and then to study how abiotic and biotic factors impact those metrics. The structural approach extends the modern coexistence theory by going beyond pairwise interactions and by fully incorporating the indirect effects that emerge from multispecies interactions. We applied the structural approach to several systems such as mutualistic networks (2014, 2016), food webs (2016, 2017), economy (2014). Recently, we provided a guideline to the structural approach for multi-trophic and changing ecological communities (2018).

  • Ecosystem functioning and biodiversity
  • Network architecture

    Ecological networks depict the set of interspecific interactions among species in an ecosystem. We developed statistical models aiming at inferring, reconstructing, and predicting the architecture of networks (2010, 2016). Our latest model: the matching -centrality models aims at quantifying marching and centrality traits for each species. Those traits can then be correlated to species traits and used to reconstruct and forecast network structure (2016, 2017).

Rudolf Philippe Rohr

Lecturer, PhD, Group Leader

Office PER 01 DECANAT/PAVILLON - 0.361b
+41 26 300 8851

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Department of Biology

Chemin du Musée 10 
CH-1700 Fribourg 

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