Research objectives and content The objective of the research is to study the dynamic interaction of individual- and population-level phenomena in ecology. Intraspecific competition ultimately limits the growth of any population, such that fitness has to be interpreted in comparison to other individuals of the same population. The optimal choices of behaviour, reproduction, or resource allocation of an individual therefore depend both on its own state and the state of other individuals in the population. This simple statement has fundamental consequences to both evolutionary demography and population dynamics. Specifically, the meaning of fitness has to be stated in a dynamic framework, by explicitly considering the effects of limiting factors such as density dependence or local interactions. My postdoctoral study period intends to elaborate the interrelationship of the two disciplines of population dynamics and behavioural ecology (including life history aspects), by developing models which specify the behaviour of individuals in relation to the competitive environment formed by their conspecifics, and explore the consequences of this behaviour for population dynamics. The results will enhance the understanding of animal behaviour and life history, but they also give tools for better planning of population management actions, e.g. conservation of endangered species, or sustainable game harvesting. Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The objective of the training is to study problems of evolutionary change in a dynamic context at the Department of Zoology of the University of Cambridge. In addition to the theoretical knowledge of game theory and population dynamics at the department, it hosts a wide range of empirical study projects directly related to the problems I address. I expect the result to be an optimal mixture of interdisciplinary idea exchange and skill acquisition in dynamic modelling.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
Studying competitive processes is of essential importance in population management, not least because all sustainable harvesting is based on taking advantage of feedbacks in population size and growth. The study hence addresses economically important aspects regarding optimal usage of natural resources. The plan also includes continuing the approach of ecological risk analysis to aid optimal focusing of conservation actions.