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Here is what we do in the lab


The foremost challenge of ecology in our time is to accurately and rapidly measure biodiversity and assess the effects of environmental change on the interactions among species. Our goal is to assess ecosystem resilience and its capacity to respond to landscape level fluctuations in climate, habitat, and resources. The biodiversity crisis coupled with climate change is producing more rapid environmental alterations than at any previous point in history and cascading environmental transformation threatens every aspect of life for every organism on the planet.

In our research group we are developing and applying novel technological and analytical approaches to monitor biodiversity in real time, identify species interactions, and assess ecosystem level capacity to respond to change so that effective predictions can be made about future events.

We've used eDNA in water to monitor fish, iDNA in leeches to monitor vertebrates and DNA in faeces to work out predator-prey and seed dispersal relationships. We tested our first mobile lab by completing extraction, PCR and sequencing of target mammal DNA in a Belize jungle using the same PCR equipment employed on the international space station and the Oxford Nanopore MinIon mobile sequencer. Most recently we extracted mammal DNA out of air samples. This new "airDNA" might represent a new tool in the toolbox for monitoring elusive animals underground or deep in caves. You can see a movie about airDNA on the lab home page.

We are always happy to to collaborate. Contact us at e.clare@qmul.ac.uk if you have a project and would like to work with us.


Food Web Images


Foodweb interactions between trophic levels

How do communities partition the available resources and does this vary between feeding guilds? Do predation, parasitism or mutualism lead to fundamentally different types of trophic interaction? How do these interactions vary in time and space and with changes in the environment?

We use a variety of techniques to track food webs in both tropical and temperate systems using high-throughput sequencing technologies. We have constructed and compared food webs among frugivores, insectivores, parasites and pollinators in both temperate and tropical environments.

Using prey species and particularly "environmental indicators" we have reconstructed the habitat exploited by predators based on habitat quality in aquatic systems.


Environmental Indicators Images


Environmental influences on trophic interactions

How do environmental conditions and landscapes effect network structure? do pollutants at the bottom of the food chain affect the diet of top predators and the dependent food web? How does competition for resources influence co-existence and resource flexibility? How do habitat loss and climate change affect food web structure?

In our newest study system we are assessing the effects of long-term fragmentation of the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Here a collaboration pf PhD and MSc students are examining the impact of long-term forest fragmentation on interactions involving seed dispersal, insectivory, and arthropod and microbial parasitism.

We are using advanced modelling (elements of metacommunity structure) to understand landscape characteristics and their impact on species assembly within fragments and we are using DNA-based technologies to identify species links in order to generate some of the first multi-trophic level ecological network models including mutualistic, antagonistic and parasitic relationships.

This ground-breaking collaborative project is providing a large-scale measure of ecological response to landscape change for plants, insects, vertebrates, parasites and microbes


Environmental Indicators Images


Contact me for more infomration on methods of analysis and potential projects at e.clare@qmul.ac.uk



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