Our research interests are broad and the list below is not exhaustive.
The interplay between current ecological processes, such as species sorting and community assembly, and evolutionary contingencies is a key eco-evolutionary question. The regional pool of extant species, and the corresponding distribution of phenotypes in trait-space, is defined by the evolutionary history of the constituent species. This project attempts to find general rules for how biological diversity emerges from the combination of ecological filtering and historical contingencies. The theoretical work is complemented by two experimental studies - one on extremely speciose marine bacterial communities, and one on highly specialised bird communities in Neotropical low-land rainforests.
The main objective of this project is to gain a mechanistic and predictive understanding of the ecological effects of climate change and variability at the population level. More specifically we intend to develop theory to guide our thinking about (i) how individuals should respond to climate change in terms of timing of seasonal events, (ii) how the timing per se map to demography, and (iii) the consequences for population dynamics.
Small wintering birds should at the same time be as fat as possible to avoid starvation and as lean as possible to escape predators – a trade-off that may not be evident in non-flying organisms. Some species of wintering passerines can store energy also externally in the form of hoarded food. These extra reserves make it possible to spend the winter in environments that are extreme for small animals, such as the northern part of the taiga zone with short days and long periods with temperatures between -20°C and -30°C. These adverse conditions combine with low availability of the food that these birds normally eat, such as seeds and invertebrates. We study energy regulation in such wintering passerines both theoretically and empirically.
This project proposes to apply evolutionary theory and modelling in the study of political and societal change. This is done by combining "formal theory" from the social sciences with the evolutionary theory of the "meme". We currently study the following problems:
- The evolution of institutions, in particular the diffusion of democracy on a world scale. A memetic study focuses on the liberal and socialist ideas and ideologies that motivated political action and lead to democratic institution-building.
- Party competition at the national level: how adaptation to attitude and value landscapes may shape the evolutionary dynamics of emergence, repositioning, splits, mergers, and disappearances of parties in national party systems.
- The epidemiology of crimes.