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.
TRACKING BIODIVERSITY CHANGE
Understanding whether biodiversity is changing is critical if we are to understand the impacts humanity is having on ecosystems, and whether management interventions are having the desired effects. Our group is working with Bristol City Council to produce a wildlife index to track biodiversity change in Bristol.
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
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 interests are on resilience loss and the conservation of species in the face of multiple stressors.
DR FRANCESCO CERINI
Post doctoral researcher
My research interests are broad, but mainly revolving around abiotic factors and biotic interactions as structuring forces of species occurrence, distribution and abundance in ecosystems. Also, I am interested in studying the effects of human influence (e.g., habitat and climate modification, pollution, overharvesting) on ecosystem patterns and processes in a conservation framework. I both use local fieldwork data, macroecological approaches and experimental systems to test community assembly processes.
PhD student (University of Bristol)
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.
PhD Student (University of Bristol)
My MSc at the University of Essex has led to research interests involving the feedbacks of evolution and environment in shaping ecosystems and its management implications. I am a PhD student at the University of Bristol, exploring the use of early warning signals in predicting aquatic regime shifts via ecological modelling and analysis of long term data sets.
My research interests focus on the importance of land management practices for species conservation on a multi-species level. My current work uses 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.
I am undertaking a Masters by Research in Global Environmental Challenges under the Environmental Change research theme. My research project will be investigating the impact(s) of multiple stressors, specifically climate change, overexploitation and habitat fragmentation, on ecological communities and the risk of extinction to their respective inhabitants. I have particular interests in marine conservation and management practices, sustainability and responses to environmental change. I will be using small-scale microcosm experiments and hope that it will inform discussion on conservation practices.
Besson, M., Alison, J., Bjerge, J., Gorochowski, T., Høye, T., Jucker, T., Mann, H., Clements, C. Towards the fully automated monitoring of ecological communities. Ecology Letters, in press.
Capdevila, P., Noviello, N., McRae, L., Freeman, R., Clements, C. Body mass and latitude as global predictors of vertebrate populations exposure to multiple threats. Ecography, In press.
Backus, G., Clements, C., Baskett, M. Restoring local climate refugia to enhance the capacity for dispersal-limited species to track climate change. Pre print.
Cerini, F., Childs, D., Clements, C. Timeline to collapse. Pre print.
Ledger, S., McRae, L., Loh, J., Almond, R., Boh, M., Clements, C. et al. Past, present, and future of the Living Planet Index. Pre print
O'Brien, D., Gal, G., Thackary, S., Shin-Ichiro, S., Blanchard, J., Clements, C. Planktonic functional diversity changes in synchrony with lake ecosystem state. Pre print
Baruah, G., Ozgul, A., Clements, C. Community structure determines the predictability of population collapse. Journal of Animal Ecology, 91, 1880-1891.
Wolfe, E., Hammill, E., Memmott, J., Clements, C. Landscape configuration affects probability of apex predator presence and community structure in experimental metacommunities. Oecologia, 199, 193–204.
Deb, S., Sidheekh, S., Clements, C., Krishnan, N., and Dutta, P. Machine learning methods trained on simple models can predict critical transitions in complex natural systems. Royal Society Open Science, 9: 211475.
Capdevila, P., Noviello, N., McRae, L., Freeman, R., Clements, C. Global patterns of resilience decline in vertebrate populations. Ecology Letters, 25 (1), 240-251.
O'brien, D., Clements, C. Early warning signal reliability varies with COVID-19 waves. Biology Letters, 17: 20210487.
Williams, N., McRae, L., Freeman, R., Capdevila, P., Clements, C. Scaling the extinction vortex: Body size as a predictor of population dynamics close to extinction events. Ecology and Evolution, 11, 7069-7079.
Baruah, G., Clements, C., Ozgul, A. Effect of habitat quality and phenotypic variation on abundance- and trait-based early warning signals of population collapses. Oikos, 130, 850-862.
Li, D., Clements, C., Shan, I., Memmott, J. Corridor quality affects net movement, size of dispersers, and population growth in experimental microcosms. Oecologia 195, 547-556.
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.
In line with the principals of open science and data sharing we are striving to make all the data that our lab group generates available via a github repository. This will take some time, but all data going forward will be uploaded to that site, and data from previous experiments (be that laboratory generated or simulation generated) will be made available as soon as possible.
EFFECTS OF MULTIPLE STRESSORS ON THE GLOBAL DECLINE OF VERTEBRATE POPULATIONS
2020 - 2022
JOIN THE GROUP
We are always looking for enthusiastic members to join the group, from masters students to post docs. Funding for these are available through a number of channels, depending on the career stage.
Please feel free to contact me any time to discuss the possibility of apply for one of these schemes and joining our team.
Adverts for funded positions will appear below