Robert Spitzer

Last changed: 30 November 2017

Research interests

Human impact has transformed over 70% of the world's ecosystems. This increasingly leads to species compositions and relative abundances that have no historical precedent; i.e. novel species assemblages. The introduction of non-native species, shifts in land-use practices and range expansions of native species due to climate change have strongly changed Sweden's ungulate communities. This results in species combinations and abundances that have not been witnessed before. One big question remains largely unanswered: How do these novel ungulate communities function? Novel assemblages include novel trophic interactions which are one of the strongest drivers through which ungulate species influence each other's performance, e.g. via competition or facilitation. These factors might cause shifts in the species-realized niches and thereby alter the functioning, structure and performance of species populations and communities.

For my PhD research I investigate trophic interactions, potential niche shifts and population performance in novel ungulate communities, primarily focusing on moose, red deer, roe deer and fallow deer. This work forms part of the larger 'Beyond Moose' research project ( My PhD project comprises two overarching goals. First, I will quantify how patterns of resource sharing and partitioning among members of the ungulate community vary at multiple foraging scales across seasons and along gradients of ungulate diversity, productivity and human land use. Secondly, I will determine how ungulates influence each other's resource availability through direct and indirect exploitation competition as well as possible facilitative effects on shared resources. I will quantify spatial and temporal variation in resource overlap and partitioning under different scenarios, using a combination of molecular ecology, animal tracking tools, and experimental ecology.