The trophic relationships between plants and herbivorous insects comprise one of the ecologically and economically most relevant biotic interactions worldwide. Deciphering the ecological mechanisms that govern these relationships enables us to better understand the organization of biodiversity and its consequences for ecosystem functioning. Host plant diversity is known to be a major trigger of insect diversity, but it remains poorly understood why individual host plants of the same species differ – sometimes quite extensively - in the herbivore communities they sustain and the damages they suffer. KOMODOH investigates fine-scale variation in insect herbivores and their impact upon a major European forest tree, Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). Specifically, I will examine whether the insect communities associated with individual oak trees are primarily governed by intrinsic (tree phenotype and genetic relatedness) or extrinsic (ecological neighbourhood) drivers. KOMODOH mobilizes various advanced study approaches and methodologies for its ecological research, including high-throughput molecular barcoding of insect species, SNP genotyping of oak trees and a cutting-edge analysis of secondary plant metabolites. The proposed research will greatly enlarge and diversify my expertise in plant-animal interactions, community ecology, entomology, genetics and metabolomics, providing me with a unique combination of skills that will strongly enhance my future career perspectives as researcher in ecology.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/zoology/entomology
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/ecology
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity
Call for proposal
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