I am broadly interested in confronting theory to data, in an attempt to identify mechanisms underlying real world processes. Namely, I compare the behaviour of mathematical and computational models representing real world processes to patterns observed in datasets using bayesian statistical modelling technics.
During my DPhil I intend to use these methods to study mechanisms underlying spatio-temporal dynamics of trophic networks, using as a model the tri-trophic network of Wytham woods, in Oxford. More particularly, I want to quantify the contribution of short term eco-evolutionary feedbacks, ecosystem architecture, and environmental spatio-temporal variation, to observed time series of each components constituting Wytham's tri-trophic network. For that purpose I propose to construct alternative mathematical models corresponding to different hypothesis regarding the dynamics of the trophic network and compare their likelihood. I expect to find that increased environmental variation, and/or more diverse ecological interactions, reduce the strength of eco-evolutionary feedbacks through spatial and temporal disruption of selection gradients.