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Complex eco-evolutionary dynamics of aquatic ecosystems faced with human-induced and environmental stress

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COMPLEX-FISH (Complex eco-evolutionary dynamics of aquatic ecosystems faced with human-induced and environmental stress)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-05-31

Understanding how complex aquatic ecosystems function is vital for the conservation and management of species and natural resources. This project tackles the issue by developing mechanistic tools using which ecosystem functioning can be predicted under alternative scenarios regarding eg human use, climate change, fishing, and environmental alterations. The project objectives are two fold: the development of methodology and theory and their application to three aquatic study systems. Within the methodology development part, we have recently developed a modelling tool using which contemporary species evolution can be studied in an ecosystem context. This allows us to understand evolutionary consequences of external drivers and how selection arises from species interactions.Our tools will provides ways to improve conservation and management of aquatic systems and their healthy structure and functioning.
So far we have developed dynamically evolving food web model and tested its functioning in a simulated lake ecosystem. Additionally, we have developed methodology to randomly generate food webs to explore system responses across broad range of food web types. The questions involved include different aspects of stability and mechanisms supporting or degrading it. Theoretical analyses will be complemented with the analyses of empirical study systems, the food webs of which are currently being solved.
We have just published the very first dynamically evolving food web model, which will facilitate numerous theoretical and empirical investigation and projections in empirical study systems. Most of the theoretical analyses are currently being done and manuscripts being prepared or already submitted to peer review. By the end of the project we expect to have composed a novel theory about the eco-evolutionary dynamics of complex aquatic food webs. We expect this to build links to understand how species specific processes and properties arise from biotic and abiotic interactions within food webs.
An example of an aquatic food web