Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station
The effects of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity are varied and complex. The challenge of our age is to understand, predict, and mitigate the consequences of different components of global change on biodiversity, community dynamics and ecosystem functioning. Here, biotic interactions are key. Thanks to all the advances in the study of species interaction networks over the last fifteen years we are now in a unique position to tackle this challenge. But also, there are fundamental gaps that must be filled. I suggest a broad, ambitious, and novel research agenda that comprises the development of new theoretical frameworks, the compilation of new databases and the experimental manipulation in the short, mid, and long term. I briefly outline my main research lines and then I focus on one of them in which I try to understand and predict the combined effects of climate change and habitat fragmentation on biodiversity, community dynamics and ecosystem functioning.
Motivation and Research Vision
The largest challenge to understand and predict the consequences of different components of global change on biodiversity and ecosystems is to include the role of biotic interactions. Recent studies both on climate change impacts on biodiversity, which is expected to be the major future global change threat, and on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships suggest that the greatest advances would arise from including biotic interactions, both as determinants of global change impacts and as affected by them. If biotic interactions are not explicitly included in the research agenda, the interpretation of many of our observations and predictions may not be valid.
Over the last fifteen years a revolution happened on the study of species interaction networks, both antagonistic (e.g. predator-prey, host-parasitoid) and mutualistic (e.g. plant-pollinators, plant-furgivores). Several universal patterns have been reported regarding the way biodiversity is organized into these complex interaction networks. Most species, for instance, are diet specialists while only a few are generalists. Specialized species tend to interact with generalist ones, and species tend to interact more strongly within compartments. Some of these patterns have challenged prevailing wisdom on the outcome of evolution and co-evolution based on isolated pairwise interactions, offering a new view on how biodiversity is generated and organized, and on how disturbances propagate throughout the entire ecological network.
Thanks to all these advances in the study of species interaction networks we are now in a unique position to investigate the effects of global change on complex ecosystems. We know what interaction patterns to look for, which conceptual and theoretical models to use, which data analyses to perform, and which experiments to design. But also we know what the big gaps in the study of ecological networks are and must be filled in coming decades.
Main Research Lines
1. Multiple stressors effects on communities and ecosystems.
In particular, I am interested on the combined effects of cliatic warming and fragmentation on biodiversity, community dynamics, and ecosystem functioning. This is the central topic of my ongoing ERC Consolidator Grant FRAGCLIM.
My overarching goal is to determine the role of climatic warming and habitat fragmentation on biodiversity, community dynamics and ecosystem functioning in multitrophic communities. To this end, I aim at developing a novel integrative and predictive theory to be tested with a unique experimental set-up. My project is organized around five workpackages in order to maximize feedbacks between new theoretical developments and experimental work:
WP1. Warming effects on non-fragmented ecosystems. How does the temperature dependence of metabolism, growth rates, and biotic interactions determine the effects of warming on biodiversity, food web structure, community dynamics and stability, and ecosystem functioning?
WP2. Habitat fragmentation effects on ecosystems. How does fragmentation and isolation affect dispersal limitation across several trophic levels, and how this in turn alters biodiversity, trophic dynamics, community structure and stability, and ecosystem functioning?
WP3. Combined effects of warming and fragmentation on meta-ecosystems. What are the interactive effects of changing temperatures and increasing isolation and dispersal limitation in the previous community and ecosystem properties over time?
WP4. Evolutionary thermal adaptation to warming: causes and ecosystem consequences. Does thermal adaptation occur in multitrophic communities subject to environmental warming, and how does isolation due to fragmentation modulate thermal adaptation? If so, what are the consequences for community dynamics and ecosystem functioning?
WP5. Mitigation measures for the combined effects of warming and fragmentation. Which theoretically and empirically sound environmental policies and restoration practices should be adopted to mitigate the combined effects of warming and fragmentation?
I use an integrative approach that combines the development of new theoretical models in close dialogue with a unique whole-ecosystem aquatic mesocosm experiment complemented by laboratory manipulations. All the models and the mesocosm experiment will be developed to explore the dynamics of two interacting trophic levels with several species within each level. Model predictions will be tested in AQUATIC METATRON experimental facility at Moulis. This new facility provides a unique opportunity to explore the effects of climatic warming and fragmentation in freshwater systems, by independently controlling ambient temperature and dispersal in highly replicated yet relatively large and species-rich multitrophic systems.
2. Towards an integration of ecological networks and biogeography.
Species interaction network studies and biogeography have evolved independently from each other. Prevailing wisdom is that biotic interactions rule in local-scale networks while large spatial scales are the province of climate. This and other cross-disciplinary boundaries are artificial. I suggest much progress can be made through the adoption of both a biogeographical perspective in networks and a network perspective in biogeography. In particular, we are trying to answer 2 main questions:
(1) Does network structure and community dynamics change across biogeographical gradients?
(2) Are there any universal patterns in the way networks change as we increase area- in other words, can we characterise network-area relationships, as we characterize species-area relationships?
We continue developing theory, as in Galiana et al. (2018), but our focus now will be on empirical tests of the patterns.
3. The multidimensionality of ecological stability.
Ecological stability is key to both the maintenance of biodiversity and the sustainability of human societies as fluctuations of ecosystem services often have detrimental effects. Stability has been defined in many different ways that have been kept separate so far, preventing a coherent and operational research agenda on ecological stability and the effects of perturbations on ecological systems. I suggest we should adopt a multidimensional approach to stability and disturbances. In particular, we are trying to answer:
(1) What is the expected relationship between different stability metrics (i.e., resilience, variability, resistance)?
(2) How different stability metrics respond to different global change components, in particular habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, and biodiversity loss?
(3) What is the evidence for the existence of thresholds and tipping points on ecosystems?
4. Structure, dynamics and functioning of host-microbiome systems.
We continue using community ecology perspective in order to understand the assembly, dynamics and functioning of complex host-associated microbiomes. I am focusing on marine sponges and their associated diverse and complex bacterial communities, asking the following questions:
(1) What is the structure of the global sponge microbiome networks, and what are the main ecological and evolutionary drivers?
(2) How dynamic are host-microbiome systems, and how can we identify core symbionts?
(3) What are the main mechanisms of symbiont transmission that give raise to the observed patterns?
I continue working on the large sponge microbiome database, gathering additional data for the evidence for vertical and horizontal transmission of microbiomes. But also, I am developing a theory to understand host-microbiome assembly and evolution.
I am Research Director at the Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station of the CNRS in Moulis, France, where I am the leader of the team LINKING “Biodiversity, Networks, Ecosystems and People: Theory and Data”, comprising over 30 members. My research aims at understanding biodiversity dynamics and to predict the effects of global change on ecosystems. I pioneered the introduction of concepts and models from complex networks into ecology. I showed that these new patterns are crucial to predict the effects of species loss through the food web, and to understand ecosystem functioning. I have used all these fundamental knowledge on network ecology to understand and predict the effects of climate change on ecosystems. Most on my current work focuses on predicting the combined effect of climate warming and fragmentation on biodiversity, community dynamics and ecosystem functioning. My approach is integrative, combining theory development and application, mesocosm and laboratory experiments, and large database analyses. I participate/have participated in 18 competitive research projects, including a recent ERC Consolidator Grant, totalling more than 6 Million Euros. I have over 75 publications that have received around 12,000 citations.
Raffard A., Cucherousset J.,Montoya JM, Richard M, Acoco-Pidolle S, Poésy C, Garreau A, Santoul F. and Blanchet S.(2021) - Intraspecific diversity loss in a predator species alters prey community structure and ecosystem functions. - PloS Biology In press
Bastazini, V. A. G., Galiana N., Hillebrand H., Estiarte M., Ogaya R., Peñuelas, J., Sommer U., Montoya J.M.(2021) - The impact of climate warming on species diversity across scales: Lessons from experimental meta‐ecosystems - Global Ecology and Biogeography DOI 10.1111/geb.1330
Galiana N.; Barros C.; Ficotela G.F.; MaioranoL.; THuillier W.; Montoya J.M.; Lurgi M.(2021) - The spatial scaling of food web structure across European biogeographical regions - Ecography 44 :1-12
Synodinos A.D., Haegeman B., Sentis A., Montoya J.M.(2020) - A framework to improve predictions of warming effects on consumer-resource interactions - bioRxiv
Gonzalez A., Germain R.M., Srivastava D.S., Filotas E., Dee L.E., Gravel D., Thompson P.L., Isbell F., Wang S., Kéfi S., Montoya J., Zelnik Y.R. & Loreau M.(2020) - Scaling-up biodiversity ecosystem functioning research. - Ecology Letters 23: 757–776
Sentis A., Haegeman B., Montoya J.M.
Dee L.E., Okamtoto D., Gårdmark A., Montoya J.M. & Miller S.J.(2020) - Temperature variability alters the stability and thresholds for collapse of interacting species populations. - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London ser. B. - in press
Hillebrand H., Donohue I., Harpole W.S., Hodapp D., Kucera M., Lewandowska A.M., Merder J., Montoya J.M. & Freund J.A.(2020) - Thresholds for ecological responses to global change do not emerge from empirical data. - Nature Ecology and Evolution - in press
Faillace C.A. & Montoya J.M.(2019) - Eco-evolutionary consequences of habitat warming in communities from fragmented landscapes - ResearchGate
Pimm S., Donohue I., Montoya J.M.& Loreau M.(2019) - Measuring resilience is essential to understand it. - Nature Sustainability 2: 895–897
Lurgi M., Thomas T., Wemheuer B., Webster N.S. & Montoya J.M.(2019) - Modularity and predicted functions of the global sponge-microbiome network. - Nature Communications. 10: 992
Gonzalez A., Germain R., Srivastava D., Filotas E., Dee L., Gravel D., Thompson P., Isbell F., Kefi S., Wang S., Montoya J., Zelnik Y. & Loreau M.(2019) - Scaling-up biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research. - Ecology Letters in press
Braga J., Pollock L., Barros C., Galiana N., Montoya J.M., Gravel D., Maiorano L., Montemaggiori A., Ficetola G., Dray S. & Thuiller W.(2019) - Spatial analyses of multi-trophic terrestrial vertebrate assemblages in Europe. - Global Ecology and Biogeography 00: 1-13
Sentis A., Haegeman B. & Montoya J.M.(2019) - Stoichiometric constraints modulate the effects of temperature and nutrients on biomass distribution and community stability. - bioRxiv 589895
Galiana N., Hawkins B.A. & Montoya J.M.(2019) - The geographical variation of network structure is scale dependent: understanding the biotic specialization of host-parasitoid networks. - Ecography 42: 6
Bastazini V.A.G., Galiana N., Hillebrand H., Estriarte M., Ogaya R., Penuelas J., Sommer U. & Montoya J.(2019) - The impact of climate warming and habitat isolation on species diversity across scales: lessons from experimental meta-ecosystems. - Global Change Biology In Press
McWilliams C., Lurgi M., Montoya J.M., Sauve A. & Montoya D.(2019) - The stability of multitrophic communities under habitat loss. - Nature Communications 10:2322
Bjork J.R., Astudillo-Garcia C., Archie E. & Montoya J.M.(2019) - Vertical transmission of sponge microbiota is weak and inconsistent. - Nature Ecology and Evolution 3: 1172–1183
Björk J., O’Hara R.B., Ribes M., Coma R. & Montoya J.M.(2018) - The dynamic core microbiome: Structure, dynamics and stability. - bioRxiv 137885
Galiana N., Lurgi M., Claramunt-López B., Fortin M.J., Leroux S., Cazelles K., Gravel D. & Montoya J.M.(2018) - The spatial scaling of species interaction networks. - Nature Ecology & Evolution 2(5): 782-790
Montoya J.M., Donohue I. and Pimm S.L.(2018) - Why a planetary boundary, if it is not planetary, and the boundary is undefined? A reply to Rockström et al. - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 33: 71-73
Astudillo C., Jompa J., Glasi B., Bell J., Webster N., Montoya J.M. & Taylor M.(2017) - Evaluating the core microbiota in complex communities: a systematic investigation - Environmental Microbiology 19: 1450-1462
Moitinho-Silva, L. and 40 coauthors, including Montoya J.M.(2017) - The sponge microbiome project - GigaScience 6, 2017, 1–7
Wallach A., Dekker A.H., Lurgi M., Montoya J.M., Fordhman D.A. & Ritchie E.G.(2017) - Trophic cascades in 3D: network analysis reveals how apex predators structure ecosystems. - Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8: 135-142
Donohue I., Hillebrand H., Montoya J.M., Petchey O.L., Pimm S.L., Fowler M.S., Healy K., Jackson A.L., Lurgi M., McClean D., O’Connor N.E., O’Gorman E.J. & Yang Q.(2016) - Navigating the complexity of ecological stability. - Ecology Letters 19: 1172–1185
Boham D.A., Landuyt D., Ma A., Macfadyen S., Martinet V., Massol F., McInerny G., Montoya J.M., Mulder C. & Pascual U.(2016) - Networking our way to better Ecosystem Service provision. - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31: 105-115
Lurgi M., Montoya D. & Montoya J.M.(2016) - The effects of space and diversity of interaction types on the stability of complex ecological networks. - Theoretical Ecology 9: 3-13
Montoya J.M.(2015) - Dynamics of indirect extinction. - Current Biology 25: R1129-R1131
Yvon-Durocher G., Allen A.P., Cellamare M., Dossena M., Gaston K.J., Leitao M., Montoya J.M., Reuman D.C., Woodward G. & Trimmer M.(2015) - Five years of experimental warming increases the biodiversity and productivity of phytoplankton communities. - PLoS Biology 12: e1002324
Vallina S.M., Follows M.J., Dutkiewicz S., Montoya J.M., Cermeno P. & Loreau M.(2014) - Global relationship between phytoplankton diversity and productivity in the ocean. - Nature Communications 5: 4299
Galiana N., Lurgi M., López B.C., & Montoya J.M.(2014) - Invasions cause biodiversity loss and community simplification in vertebrate food webs. - Oikos 123: 721-728
Lurgi M., Galiana N., Lopez B.C., Joppa L. & Montoya J.M.(2014) - Network complexity and species traits mediate the effects of biological invasions on dynamics food webs. - Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2: 36