Nina GrellaDoctoral student
Room: NW I, 5.0 01 07
Large areas of tropical rainforests were deforested in the past decade and the pressure on these ecosystems is increasing. However, forests have the potential to recover and regrow naturally after anthropogenic disturbances. These regrown secondary forests nowadays already represent a dominant forest ecosystem in many regions. The United Nations now declared 2021 – 2030 as the UN Decade of Ecological Restoration. Yet, the mechanisms how ecosystems recover and the reassembly processes of species and their complex interactions are still understudied in the tropics.
The DFG Research Unit 5207 ‘Reassembly of species interaction networks’ aims to deliver insights into 6 ecosystem processes in a recovering lowland rainforest with special focus on reassembly rules, species interaction networks and the role of functional traits. The study sites are located in the Chocó rainforest in northern Ecuador. Although, only 2% of its original size is remaining, the Chocó provides a unique opportunity for studying a forest mosaic with different stages of forest recovery.
In my project I will investigate the influence of saproxylic insects on dead wood decomposition along the recovery gradient. Dead wood provides habitat for many specialist species and its decomposition plays an important role in nutrient cycling. Many termite, ant, beetle and fungi species, the focal groups of this study, feed upon and/or nest in dead wood. Former studies showed that they have a huge influence on dead wood decomposition. Although, estimates suggest that the highest dead wood amount and decomposition rates are found in the tropics, the interaction between host tree species and colonizing insects and fungi are not fully understood yet. With my research I want to deliver insights into the complex relationships of these groups and contribute to a better understanding of reassembly processes in tropical ecosystems.
More information and regular updates can be found on the project website: https://www.reassembly.de
Eciton sp. Atta sp.
Camponotus sericeiventris Bullet ant Paraponera clavata
Termites of the family Nasutitermitinae Termite nest of Nasutitermitinae
Choco toucan Rhamphastos brevis Brown headed spider monkey Ateles fusciceps fusciceps
Imbabura tree frog Boana picturata Glass frog of the family Centrolenidae