Mikael Pontarp



Resarch Interests

I am a researcher at Lund University with broad interests in ecology and evolutionary biology, including the fundamental processes of ecology, evolution and biogeographical processes that underpin community and ecosystem structure and dynamics. Most of my research is theoretical in nature and I use eco-evolutionary simulation models to study how assembly processes across spatiotemporal scales affect community patterns. By exploring such models, I hope to formulate theory that facilitates our understanding of the generation and maintenance of species richness, functional trait diversity, and phylogenetic patterns. In addition, I hope to bridge part of the gap between theoretical and empirical research using Bayesian approaches (e.g. Approximate Bayesian Computation) that aim to fit complex simulation models and various community data. I am currently focusing on two particular projects (see below) financed by The Swedish research council (VR) and The research council FORMAS, respectively.

Eco-evolutionary processes and phylobetadiversity patterns

The aim of this project is to study how biodiversity (e.g. phylobetadiversity) is generated and maintained by interacting ecological and evolutionary assembly processes along environmental gradients. We use an integrative approach including theoretical, methodological and applied subparts that enable: i) a better understanding of observed diversity gradients, ii) inference of assembly processes from community data and iii) prediction of biodiversity to novel conditions. We focus on the phylogenetic distance between communities (phylobetadiversity) as it contains signals from both ecological and evolutionary processes and we construct spatially explicit eco-evolutionary community models that generate phylobetadiversity patterns, given different degrees of ecological interactions, dispersal propensity of the organism and properties of the environmental gradient. By analysing such models we hope to formulate theory that facilitates our understanding of the generation and maintenance of biodiversity patterns. Together with collaborators we also aim to apply and test such theory by parameterizing the models given unique data on the ecology, phylogeny, diversity, spatial distribution, and functional traits of Neotropical plant-hummingbird communities in the Andes.

Effects of eco-evolutionary dynamics on ecosystem services in heterogeneous agricultural landscapes

The overarching objective of this project is to study the mechanistic link between loss of farmland heterogeneity, often associated with agricultural intensification, and spatiotemporal dynamics of arthropod predators (e.g. spiders, ground beetles and parasitoid wasps)  and common crop pests (e.g. aphids and pollen beetles). More specifically, we aim to answer calls for an eco-evolutionary trait-based perspective on ecosystem services. We adopt a modeling framework for spatiotemporal predator-pest dynamics that in addition to landscape structure, explicitly includes eco-evolutionary dynamics and adaptation in functional traits (e.g. body size, feeding specialization and dispersal). Through theoretical model investigation and by parameterizing models using data from agro-ecosystems in Sweden we hope to: i) enable a better understanding of the current state of conservation biological control in agro-ecosystems and ii) predict how biological control may respond to spatiotemporal land-use scenarios associated with crop heterogeneity, proportion semi-natural grassland, and crop rotation.

Recent research outputs

Mikael Pontarp, 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 1, 10484.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mikael Pontarp, Lynsey Bunnefeld, Juliano Sarmento Cabral, Rampal S. Etienne, Susanne A. Fritz, Rosemary Gillespie, Catherine H. Graham, Oskar Hagen, Florian Hartig, Shan Huang, Roland Jansson, Odile Maliet, Tamara Münkemüller, Loïc Pellissier, Thiago F. Rangel, David Storch, Thorsten Wiegand & Allen H. Hurlbert, 2019 Mar 1, In : Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 34, 3, p. 211-223 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Rampal S. Etienne, Juliano Sarmento Cabral, Oskar Hagen, Florian Hartig, Allen H. Hurlbert, Loïc Pellissier, Mikael Pontarp & David Storch, 2019, In : American Naturalist. 194, 5, p. E122-E133

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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