The latest news on papers, grants, and members joining the group!
For regular news updates follow us on twitter
NEW GROUP MEMBER - DR MARC BESSON
The group is very pleased to welcome Dr Marc Besson, who is joining us on a two year post doc funded by NERC, and in collaboration with the University of Sheffield. Marc is an expert on multiple stressors and will be using protist microcosms to investigate how multiple stressors impact the resilience of ecological communities.
NEW GROUP MEMBER
I am pleased to announce that Dr Pol Capdevila will be join the group from the 1st of July 2020 onwards. Pol will be working on resilience loss in the Living Planet Index, in collaboration with researchers at the Zoological Society of London.
LEVERHULME TRUST GRANT
Happy to announce the group has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust grant to study the effects of multiple stressors on global vertebrate populations. This will employ a post-doctoral researcher for 2 years from 2020 onwards. Keep an eye out for the advert!
WHAT WE DO
The experimental ecology & conservation group focusses on synthesising information from mathematical models, small-scale experimental systems, and long-term wild population data to learn more about the world around us, and in particular help make decisions about how to best preserve biodiversity into the future.
A specific focus is on developing new, exciting, and useful techniques to make the experimental systems we work with more realistic reflections of the world around us.
ITS ALL ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE
But our focus is always on how we can learn more about the natural world without having to carry out invasive or damaging experiments in the field.
EARLY WARNING SIGNALS
Predicting the fate of biological systems is critical in the light of continued global change, especially in the field of conservation biology where at risk populations must be prioritised to make the most of limited resources. A long running interest of this group is developing warning signals of approach population, community, and ecosystem collapse based on temporal patterns in abundance, trait, and spatial data.
EXPERIMENTALLY TESTING CONSERVATION THEORY
Designing optimal conservation strategies is key in the face of limited funding and ever increasing anthropogenic stresses. A central theme to the group is using experimental systems to test and develop conservation theory.
As climate changes species are increasingly at risk of extinction as they fail to move fast enough to stay within their ecological niche. One radical option is to relocate them outside of their historic range to ensure their medium to long term survival. We are interested in how and when such moves should be undertaken, and how a move will affect the resident communities.
THE EFFECTS OF MULTIPLE STRESSORS
The effects of multiple stressors (e.g. including habitat loss, pollution, over harvesting, climatic change, and the introduction of invasive species) on global biodiversity is a continued concern. We are interested in the possible interactive effects of these stressors, and how this may affect populations and communities.
RESILIENCE AND RECOVERY IN FISHERIES
Fisheries are one of the most economic and ecologically important ecosystems on earth. However the vast majority are in a state of significant degradation. We are interested in how such systems might recovery, and the pathways they might take doing so, and how these pathways affect community structure and function.
DR CHRIS CLEMENTS
I did my Ph.D. University of Sheffield, UK, spent time as a post doc at the University of Zürich and University of Melbourne. My interests centre on the extinction of species and collapse of populations, topics which I investigate using a combination of mathematical models, microcosm experiments, and analysis of real world population data.
My current work focuses on developing and testing early warning signals of population collapse, with a view to predicting regime shifts prior to their occurrence.
2018 onwards - Lecturer, University of Bristol
2017 to 2018 – SNSF fellow, the University of Melbourne
2014 to 2017 – Postdoc, the University of Zürich
2010 to 2014 – Ph.D. student, University of Sheffield
2007-2010 - BSc Ecology, University of Sheffield
DR POL CAPDEVILA
Post doctoral researcher
I am currently a Research Associate at the University of Bristol. I did my PhD at the University of Barcelona, Spain, and I did my first postdoc at the University of Oxford, UK. My work aims to better understand the life history of species, to predict their response to disturbances, and to use that information to develop effective management and conservation tools. To do that I combine the use of small-scale experiments, field data, large-scale data, together with a wide variety of modelling techniques, to better understand, predict and manage species dynamics.
My current position in Bristol is aimed to assess the impacts of multiple stressors on biodiversity and the loss of resilience on a global scale.
DR MARC BESSON
Post doctoral researcher
I am a Research Associate at the University of Bristol, where my research aims to assess the impacts of multiple stressors on resilience loss in laboratory systems, using gantries, AI and experimental arenas.
I did my PhD in French Polynesia at CRIOBE (PSL Research University) on coral reef fish metamorphosis and its inner molecular mechanisms, sensorial and ecological importance, and sensitivity to stressors. The research I then conducted during my postdoc at the IAEA in Monaco, looked at the effects of microplastics on fish ecophysiology, behavior and histology, using radio-nuclear techniques.
Overall, I am interested in the effects of stressors on aquatic organisms and how they can affect key ecological processes during critical life-history transitions. I like to use integrative approaches, from the molecule to the behavior, to investigate the inner mechanisms that could explain such affected ecological processes.
PhD student (University of Bristol)
My previous research was based on the effect of experimental warming on insect community in Tibetan plateau. Now I am studying the efficiency of wildlife corridors in theory and in practice. I am interested the role of corridors in determining the population growth and stability in microcosm networks and under field conditions, testing whether changing the quality and quantity of corridors can influence population dispersal ability and enhance ecosystem functions. My research would have a better understanding of the importance of wildlife corridors in fragmented habitats.
Co-supervised with Prof. Jane Memmott.
Masters student (University of Bristol)
My previous research has utilised imperfect citizen science data within ecological niche models for Angelsharks in the Canary Islands; identifying seasonal and sex-differentiated migration patterns and advising on the collection of non-specialist data within ecological modelling.
My current interests focus on using global time-series data to assess the effects of multiple stressor interactions on global vertebrate population trends, with metadata on anthropogenic threats used to identify correlations with species’ IUCN Red List status, life history traits and impacts on wild populations between ecological realms. It is hoped that this research will identify particularly harmful stressor interactions and thus inform areas for large-scale conservation prioritisation across the chordate phylum.
I am interested in the use of long-term wild population records in conjunction with other databases concerning climate and life histories, to analyse the aggregate and emergent traits that influence relative vulnerability of species to anthropogenic stressors including climate change, habitat loss, pollution, over harvesting and the introduction of invasive species. Also of interest is the relative importance of each stressor and potentially how synergistic interactions are contributing to the sixth mass extinction. The aim of the research is to inform policy makers, allowing them to develop, prioritise and deliver effective conservation strategies.
My research interests focus on the importance of land management practices for species conservation on a multi-species level. During my undergraduate studies I created a spatially explicit model using NetLogo to investigate the effects of habitat fragmentation and wildlife corridors on predator-prey population dynamics. My future research will involve using microcosm experiments to investigate the SLOSS debate, in particular whether species dispersal between patches affects what the best land-management practice is, and how our inability to detect species in heterogeneous environments might alter our decision-making process.
Arkilanian, A., Clements, C., Ozgul, A., Baruah, G. Effect of time-series length and resolution on abundance- and trait-based early warning signals of population declines. Ecology, in press.
Hammill, E., Clements, C. Imperfect detection alters the outcome of landscape scale management strategies for protected areas. Ecology Letters, 23: 682–691.
Baruah, G., Clements, C., Ozgul, A. Eco-evolutionary processes underlying early warning signals of population decline. Journal of Animal Ecology, 89:436–448.
Clements, C., McCarthy, M., Blanchard, J. Early warning signals of recovery in complex systems. Nature Communications, 10:1681.
Recommended by F1000
Baruah, G., Clements, C., Guillaume, F., Ozgul, A. When do shifts in trait dynamics precede population declines? The American Naturalist, 193, pp. 633–644.
Clements, C., Ozgul, A. Indicators of transitions in biological systems. Ecology Letters, 21, 905-919.
Recommended by F1000
Clements, C., Blanchard, J., Nash, K., Hindell, M., Ozgul, A. Reply to ‘Whaling catch data are not reliable for analyses of body size shifts’, Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2, 757–758.
Clements, C., Blanchard, J., Nash, K., Hindell, M., Ozgul, A. Body size shifts and early warning signals preceded the historic collapse of whale stocks. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1, 188.
Carlson, C., Burgio, K., ... Clements, C., ... , Getz, W. (2017). Parasite biodiversity faces extinction and redistribution in a changing climate. Science Advances, 3, e1602422.
Weissman, T., Davies, K., Clements, C., Melbourne, B. Estimating extinction risk with minimal data. Biological Conservation, 213, 194-202.
Brooks, M., Clements, C., Pemberton, J., Ozgul, A. Estimation of individual growth trajectories when repeated measures are missing. American Naturalist, 190, 377-388.
Pimiento, C., Griffen, J., Clements, C., Silvestro, D., Varela, S., Uhen, M., Jaramillo, C. The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1, 1100.
Cizauskas, C., Carlson, C., Burgio, K., Clements, C., Dougherty, E., Harris, N., Phillips, A. (2017). Parasite vulnerability to climate change: an evidence-based functional trait approach.Royal Society Open Science, 4: 160535.
Clements, C., Ozgul, A. Rate of forcing and the forecastability of critical transitions. Ecology & Evolution, 6, 7787-7793.
Dougherty, E., Carlson, C., Bueno, V., Burgio, K., Cizauskas, C., Clements, C., Seidel, D., Harris, N. Paradigms for parasite conservation: adaptive approaches for a neglected target. Conservation Biology, 30, 724-733.
Pimiento, C., MacFadden, B., Clements, C., Velez-Juarbe, J., Jaramillo, C., Silliman, B. Geo- graphic distribution patterns of Carcharocles megalodon over time reveal clues about mechanisms of extinction. Journal of Biogeography, 43, 1645-1655.
Clements, C., Ozgul, A. Including trait-based early warning signals helps predict population collapse. Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms10984.
Clements, C., Drake, J., Griffiths, J., Ozgul, A. Factors influencing the detectability of early warning signals of population collapse. The American Naturalist, 186, 50-58.
DeLong, J., Gilbert, B., ..., Clements, C., ..., O'Connor, M. The body-size dependence of trophic cascades. The American Naturalist, 185, 354-366.
Palamara, G., Childs, D., Clements, C., Petchey, O., Plebani, M., Smith, M. Inferring the temperature dependence of population parameters: the effects of experimental design and inference algorithm. Ecology and Evolution, 4, 4567–4811.
McCarthy, M., Moore, A., Krauss, J., Morgan, J., Clements, C. Linking indices for biodiversity monitoring to extinction risk theory. Conservation Biology, 28, 1575-1583.
Pimiento C., Clements C. When did Carcharocles megalodon become extinct? A new analysis of the fossil record. PLoS ONE, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111086
Frantz, A., McDevitt, A., ..., Clements, C., ...., Burke, T. Re-visiting the phylogeography and demography of European badgers (Meles meles) based on broad sampling, multiple markers and simulations. Nature Heredity, 113, 443-453.
Clements, C., Collen, B., Blackburn, T., Petchey, O. Historic environmental change may affect our ability to infer extinction status. Conservation Biology, 28: 971–981.
Gilbert, B., Tunney, T., McCann, K., ..., Clements, C., ..., O’Connor, M. A bioenergetic framework for the temperature dependence of trophic interactions. Ecology Letters, 17, 902-914
Clements, C., Collen, B., Blackburn, T., Petchey, O. Effects of directional environmental change on extinction dynamics in experimental microbial communities are predicted by a simple model. Oikos, 123, 141-150
Clements, C., Warren, P., Collen, B., Blackburn, T., Worsfold, N., Petchey, O. Interactions between assembly order and temperature can alter both short and long-term community composition. Ecology & Evolution, 3(16): 5201–5208
Carlson, C., Cizauskas, C., Burgio, K., Clements, C., Harris, N. The more parasites, the better? Science, 342, p1041
Clements, C. Public interest in the extinction of a species may lead to an increase in donations to a large conservation charity. Biodiversity and Conservation, 22, p.2695-2699.
Clements, C., Worsfold, N., Warren, P., Collen, B., Blackburn, T., Clark, N., Petchey, O. Experimentally testing an extintion estimator: Solow's Optimal Linear Estmation model.Journal of Animal Ecology, 82, p345-354.
We are always looking for enthusiastic members to join the group, from masters students to post docs. If positions are available then then will be listed below. Please feel free to contact us any time if you are interested in being a part of our team.
Deadline - 23rd September 2020
POST DOCTORAL POSITION
Research Associate in Population Ecology
Salary £33,797 - £35,845 per annum
Closing date for applications 23-Sep-2020
A Research Associate position is available to develop early warning signals of population and community collapse in experimental communities, under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Clements in the School of Biological Sciences (University of Bristol) and in collaboration with Dr. Dylan Childs (University Sheffield). The position has funding for three years and is available to start immediately.
The role of the RA will be to carry out experiments to test and develop methods to predict if and when populations and communities will collapse. The RA will use spatially explicit 3D printed microcosms to monitor how populations behave as they decline towards extinction, and whether observable changes occur in the behaviour, movement, traits, and population abundances which act as reliable indicators of collapse. This project has a strong conservation focus, and so the RA will consider whether these signals are robust to changes in community and landscape complexity, and how these signals might be applied to real-world populations. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop robust methods for predicting extinction risk which can help conserve at risk species.
The RA will be supported in this by a technician, as well as Dr. Clements and Dr. Dylan Childs, and will be joined by a second statistics focussed RA in the second half of the grant. This position will also run alongside two other RAs working on resilience in Dr. Clements’ lab, and so offers numerous opportunities for collaborations. Dr. Clements’ lab group is also part of a large NERC consortium (led by Prof. Andrew Beckerman, University of Sheffield) grant working of the broad theme of resilience, and so the RA will also have regular opportunities to network with researchers working on related topics outside of the University of Bristol.
The successful candidate will have a PhD (or equivalent) in a relevant biological subject, a strong interest in population and community ecology, experience conducting experiments and analysing the data collected from them. They will be highly motivated, collaborative, and an excellent communicator, and have a demonstrable desire to learn new skills. Training will be provided in 3D design and printing, designing and carrying out protist-based experiments, and measures of resilience in biological systems. In addition, there is some flexibility to adjust the focus and direction of the work depending on the interests and expertise of the successful candidate.
For informal enquiries please contact Dr Christopher Clements (firstname.lastname@example.org).