Department IV: Biology and Ecology of Fishes
We aim to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that structure freshwater fish communities and affect their functions, and we use this knowledge to inform wild fish population management and conservation.
Due to their diversity, freshwater fishes offer a multitude of opportunities for studying basic ecological and evolutionary questions, and they also provide important socially relevant ecosystem services (e.g. fisheries yield, bioindicators of ecosystem status). Our departmental research thus focuses on wild fish populations to understand the interplay of natural and human-induced ecological factors and how they shape the structure and function of freshwater fish populations. The results bear relevance for their management and conservation. Our methodological toolbox includes hypothesis-driven laboratory and mesocosm experiments, whole-lake manipulations and comparative field studies, complemented by theoretical studies and fish population modelling.
The perspectives of our work aim
- To understand the structure and function of wild fish communities by integrating organismal physiology, behaviour and social interactions in a common research framework scaling among-individual variability to population-level processes
- To understand the causes and consequences of variation (behaviour, physiology, life-history) within freshwater fish populations, in particular the evolution and ecology of behavioural types, including their metabolic basis
- To understand the fish population responses to harvesting and habitat change, including understanding the importance of behaviour of released organisms in management and conservation programs (e.g., sturgeon re-introduction, stocking)
We are on the way to combine our research expertises (including our new appointments, Krause, Ward, Wolf) to form a large PAKT-project focusing on the ecology and evolutionary biology of behavioural types in wild fish populations. This project will make use of our novel whole-lake 3d-telemetry system and will link laboratory experiments to whole-lake experimentation.
We will furthermore systematically investigate the importance of behaviour for the success of fish stocking programs (Young Investigator Group Besatzfisch). Moreover, within our ongoing sturgeon conservation project we will design strategies to prepare the individuals to be released to the wild and study their fate under natural conditions.