SPACE and STRESS

Dynamische Modellierung der räumlichen Verteilung von aquatischen Wirbellosen unter dem Einfluss unterschiedlicher Umweltstressoren

Projektleiter: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ralf B. Schäfer

Doktorand: Lucas Streib

Modelling the spatial distribution of aquatic invertebrates constrained by environmental stressors

Environmental conditions such as habitat and water quality influence the distribution of aquatic invertebrates. Furthermore, aquatic organisms depend on the stream network and network-and landscape-dependent dispersal processes determine their distribution. In this subproject we examine the role of environmental constraints such as stressors and of space in structuring the distribution of invertebrates and we predict changes in their distribution following habitat and water quality changes. We will develop a dynamic ecological model consisting of (1) an individual-based model for 8 generic species with different trait combinations related to dispersal and tolerance to the above mentioned environmental stressors, and (2) a landscape model of Rhineland Palatinate featuring a stream network and species-specific landscape resistances driven by land use. The predicted distributional patterns of the models will be compared to governmental monitoring data for widespread taxa holding traits similar to those of the generic species. Overall, this subproject contributes to elucidating basic ecological questions related to the role of stressors and space in determining distribution and community assembly as well as to the prediction of ecological effects, including the identification of vulnerable taxa, from freshwater management scenarios.

Research questions:

  • Spatial perspective: What is the contribution of environmental constraints such as stressors and different spatial configurations on the distribution of aquatic invertebrates?
  • Trait perspective: How do the traits dispersal ability and stress-tolerance affect the spatial distribution of species with different traits?
  • Management perspective: How do trait characteristics influence the the effect of management measures (e.g. habitat and water quality restoration) with regard to the ability and pace of reaching a new spatial distribution?