Food web functioning

How do global changes affect the functioning of food webs (and associated ecological processes) and what are the consequences for the functioning of the socio-ecosystem?

Research objectives

Our research focuses on understanding the interactions within and between trophic levels, and the role of the spatial heterogeneity of resources, risks and disturbances in the functioning of communities of organisms, with two major sources of change: management actions (e.g. trophy hunting at the periphery of the protected area, management of surface water) and climate change.

Research Questions

→ How do large herbivores influence the structure and composition of plant communities?

→ What is the role of food availability (quantity, quality) in the limitation and regulation of populations of large herbivores?

→ What is the role of access to water in the use of space by large herbivores?

→ What are the lethal and non-lethal (i.e. behavioural – ecology of fear) effects of predators on their prey? What is the relative importance of these effects?

→ What are the consequences of competitive interactions between species of the same trophic level (e.g. elephants – other large herbivores, lions – hyaenas)?

→ How do human activities outside the protected area (e.g. trophy hunting, retaliatory killing of wildlife after conflicts) influence the population dynamics and behaviour of large mammals within the protected area?

→ What are the consequences of aridification of the region and human activities on the structure, functioning and resilience of terrestrial and aquatic food webs?

→ Are there trophic cascades? What are the consequences of the evolution of the food web on the functioning of the socio-ecosystem?

→ What are the links between aquatic and terrestrial food webs?