Effect of fragmentation on biodiversity in aquatic metacommunities

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DKI Budapest

The MSc or PhD project would be part of a running research project (FK OTKA "CLOSER" 2019-2023, https://metacomlab.com/projects, https://www.ecolres.hu/en/node/12944). The student(s) will work as part of a project team already consisting of a postdoc and a PhD student in addition to the PI.

Human activities in the Antropocene have led to a mass extinction in the biosphere. Habitat loss and climate change are inevitably among the strongest drivers of these events. Even though these impacts are generally acknowledged, we still know little about the underlying ecological processes, the role of connectivity in maintaining biodiversity and its interaction with climate change.

To understand the impact of connectivity loss arising from habitat loss on aquatic biodiversity and its interaction with climate change.

We will assemble aquatic metacommunities with the help of mesocosms at the Balaton Limnological Institute in Tihany. After disturbing the connectivity network, we will compare fragmented and undisturbed metacommunities, along with communities in isolated and undisturbed habitats within a metacommunity. We will follow biodiversity changes in bacterio-, phyto- and zooplankton communities, and the role of traits in reducing extinction probability under fragmentation and climate change. Communities will be investigated by combining metabarcoding with microscopic taxonomy, and we will analyse data under the metacommunity framework.
There are multiple possibilities for MSc and PhD topics. The exact topic is to be decided together with the candidate. (E.g. there is a possibility to target the response of a single taxonomic group like bacteria or algae given the candidate’s past experience and interest, but it is also possible to concentrate on the interaction between fragmentation and climate change.)

Suggested reading:
Horváth et al. 2019 Ecology Letters