About the symposium
This symposium will bring together researchers and students in trophic interactions and network ecology. In particular, it will allow the dissemination of the latest molecular techniques to network ecologists, and of network theory to molecular ecologists.
To understand how nature works, we need to know who interacts with whom: what predator eats what prey, what animal pollinates what plant and a wide range of other trophic and non-trophic interactions. Understanding and quantifying these links is important to develop and validate the theoretical frameworks of network and food web ecology. Moreover, examining trophic networks provides a functional basis to a range of applied topics such as biological pest control, pollination biology, wildlife and fisheries management in agricultural, forest, and aquatic ecosystems. During the last two decades, this perspective has gained increasing interest among ecologists, and network ecology is now among the hottest topics on the international ecological agenda.
To make this cross-fertilization possible, the symposium will bring together two previously separate events. Since 2007 meetings on Molecular Analysis of Trophic Interactions (MTI) have brought together international researchers in Innsbruck, Austria and Lexington, Kentucky. A parallel series of biannual meetings on Ecological Networks, started in 2013, have gathered ecologists first in Coimbra, Portugal, then in Bristol, UK. Now the two meetings will be arranged as a back-to-back event at SLU Uppsala, with a shared day midway that focuses on the use of molecular approaches to study ecological networks. Thus, you are free to attend the first three days with a more network-oriented focus, or the last three days with a more molecular focus, or – ideally – all five days of exciting talks.
We specifically aim to blend senior with young researchers including PhD students. We also aim for a wide range of nationalities. To maximize the exchange of ideas, we will structure the symposia to include plenary lectures, a workshop (allowing questions-answers in an informal setting), poster sessions, and social program.
Our program is designed with three purposes in mind:
- To disseminate the latest molecular techniques to network ecologists, and of network theory to molecular ecologists,
- To promote interactions between researchers focusing on terrestrial and aquatic systems, and
- To maximize interactions between senior and emerging researchers at different stages of their career.
We expect a compact format of some 150-200 persons attending each symposium, with a peak of attendees during the third day when the two meetings overlap.
We will build the program around the following day-specific themes and activities:
Web structure versus functioning: a new understanding
Day 1 (Monday September 11)
Reconstructing food web structure and dynamics – from food webs to full interaction webs
Day 2 (Tuesday September 12)
This day will target empirical studies of ecological networks in a wide range of organisms and habitats, with a focus on studies spanning multiple types of interactions. Plenary lectures will be given by Prof. Vojtech Novotny, Prof. Jane Memmott and Prof. Anna Gårdmark. The evening will feature pitch talks and a poster session.
Dissecting trophic interactions by molecular techniques
Day 3 (Wednesday September 13)
During this joint day attended by delegates from both meetings, we will focus on introducing molecular techniques to network ecologists. The day will start with a workshop providing an overview of molecular approaches and how the data generated with them can be used for trophic networks. A plenary lecture will be given by Prof. Tom Gilbert and Prof. Sara Hallin. In the evening, delegates from both meetings will attend a joint symposium dinner.
New findings achieved through molecular dissection
Day 4 (Thursday September 14)
This day will offer an exposé of findings achieved by applying molecular techniques to dissecting trophic interactions in different realms, habitats and systems. Plenary lectures will be given by Prof. William Symondson and Dr Bruce Deagle. The day will end with pitch talks and a poster session.
Applied trophic interactions
Day 5 (Friday September 15)
The last day of the meeting will focus on how molecular approaches may be applied to biocontrol and conservation. This session will be sponsored by the SLU Centre for Biological Control (CBC). Plenary lectures will be given by Dr Tara Gariepy and Dr Elisabeth Clare.