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Yuval Zelnik

I am a researcher in the Plant Ecology unit in the Ecology department. I am interested in using dynamical models to understand and predict ecosystem behavior, from fire spread in boreal forests, to nutrient dynamics in crop fields.

Research

I am interested in using numerical and analytical tools to understand complex systems in ecology, in particular relating to their spatial structure and interactions between species and the environment.


In a current project, working with Giulia Vico and Samuli Launiainen, I am looking at different mangment practices of boreal forests affects their response to climate change. In particular, we are interested in how disturbances such as fires interact with natural forest growth and human managment to determine forest growth and the reliability of yield.

In another project with with Riccardo Bommarco, Giulia Vico, and Stefano Manzoni, we will look at nutrient use efficiency of production ecosystems such as crop fields, and how it is affected by plant diversity and human-induced disturbances.

I am also like to study how stability metrics, including invariability and recovery time are used and understood in human managed ecosystems, and how we can incorporate our understanding of these ecosystems to better define these metrics.

 

Background

After studying Physics for my Bachelors and Masters, I moved to the Institutes for Desert Research (BGU), where I did my PhD, studying regime shifts and specifically desertification in dryland ecosystems. For my second postdoc I joined the CNRS station in Moulis, France, where my research focused on ecosystem stability, in particular focusing on the how spatial structure of the ecosystem and of disturbances affects its response to these disturbances, and thus its stability properties.

I then joined SLU to work with Riccardo Bommarco, looking at the effect of nutrient subsidies on food webs. Our goals was to understand how the subsidies trickle up and down the food web, potentially leading to a shift in the system's behavior, and how it relates to various functions of this system, such as the biomass productivity of the primary producers.
 

Selected publications

Y.R. Zelnik*, N. Galiana*, M. Barbier, M. Loreau, E. Galbraith, J-F. Arnoldi, “How collectively integrated are ecological communities?”, Ecology Letters, 27.1:e14358 (2024).
 
Y.R. Zelnik, S. Manzoni, R. Bommarco, “The coordination of green–brown food webs and their disruption by anthropogenic nutrient inputs”, Global Ecology and Biogeography, 31.11:2270-2280 (2022).

Y. R. Zelnik, Y. Mau, M. Shachak, E. Meron, “High-integrity human intervention in ecosystems: Tracking self-organization modes”, PLOS Computational Biology, 17.9:e1009427 (2021).

Y. R. Zelnik, J-F. Arnoldi, M. Loreau, “The three regimes of spatial recovery”, Ecology, 100:2 (2019).

Y. R. Zelnik, J-F. Arnoldi, M. Loreau, “The impact of spatial and temporal dimensions of disturbances on ecosystem stability”, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 6:224 (2018).

Y. R. Zelnik, E. Meron, “Regime shifts by front dynamics”, Ecological Indicators, 94: 544-552 (2018).

Y. R. Zelnik, H. Uecker, U. Feudel, E. Meron,”Desertification by front propagation?“, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 418: 27-35 (2017).

Y. R. Zelnik, E. Meron, G. Bel, “Gradual Regime Shifts in Fairy Circles”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112.40:12327-12331 (2015).


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