Drylands are among the most climate-change affected ecosystems. We are investigating the biotic pathways of such effects.
The strongest effects of climate change occur when increases in extremes increase predation pressure, shift the niches of competitors, or change food abundance - in other words, climate-change effects operate via species interactions. But we rarely dynamically account for those and instead use raw projected climate values as proxies of changes in species interactions under climate change. We are trying to change that collaborating closely with the Kalahari Research Center, where we will assess spatiotemporal changes in abundances of the main food items of meerkats (soil fauna) under climate change and how such changes affect individual survival and reproduction of meerkats, for which demographic data has been collected since 1995.
The monitoring of soils will be accompanied by intensive camera-trap surveys to understand interactions in above-ground communities. This latter effort is led by Arpat Ozgul from the Population Ecology Group at UZH.
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