Project groups


We can use data on observed distributions to infer where a species is (i.e. infer where the species is present but not observed), and also discover which climatic and habitat variables influence where a species can survive. The methods which are commonly used to do this are based on simple pattern-fitting approaches, with little explicit attention paid
to either how the data were collected or the processes which create the patterns. We are developing models which can overcome these problems. The problem is naturally hierarchical: at the top level are the processes which create the real distribution of the species (the next level down), and this then affects what is observed - the data - at the lowest level.

We are working on all of these levels, developing models for how the data were collected, to provide a variety of methods that can be adapted to the specifics of the data.  We are also developing models for how the environment affects a species' distribution, moving towards a mechanistic understanding of the process. This includes modelling how species interact with each other.

As well as looking at distributions, we are also investigating the dynamics of populations and communities of species. Again, taking a hierarchical approach we are able to disentangle the effects of different drivers of the dynamics. By moving these models into space, we will be able to look at how population dynamics and dispersal affect the observed distribution, and thus help us develop models that efficiently incorporate dynamics into their predictions of species' distributions.

Our longer-term aim is to combine these models with the process-based models (either directly or using approximations of those models) to give us better predictions of how the distributions of species will respond to future changes in the climate.

Former Members:

Prof. Dr. Steven Higgins
Dr. Konstans Wells


Bálint, M., Tiffin, P., Hallström, B., O’Hara, R.B., Olson, M.S., Fankhauser, J.D., Piepenbring, M. & I. Schmitt (2013) : Host genotype shapes the foliar fungal microbiome of Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera). - PLoS ONE 8: e53987.

Böhm S., Wells K. & E.K.V. Kalko (2011) : Top-down control of herbivory by birds and bats in the canopy of temperate broad-leaved oaks (Quercus robur). -  PLoS One 6(4): e17857. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017857.

Bradshaw, C.D., Lunt, D.J., Flecker, R., Salzmann, U., Pound, M.J., Haywood, A.M. & J.T. Eronen (2012) : The relative roles of CO2 and palaeogeography in determining late Miocene climate: results from a terrestrial model-data comparison. - Climate of the Past 8: 1257-1285.

Bykova, O., Chuine, I., Morin, X. & S.I. Higgins (2012) : Temperature dependence of the reproduction niche and its relevance for plant species distributions. Journal of Biogeography 39: 2191-2200.

Dormann, C.F., Schymanski, S.J., Cabral, J., Chuine, I., Graham, C.H., Hartig, F., Kearney, M.R., Morin, X., Roemermann, C., Schröder, B. & A. Singer (2012) : Correlation and process in species distribution models: bridging a dichotomy. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 2119-2131.

Eklof, J.S., van der Heide, T., Donadi, S., van der Zee, E.M., O'Hara, R.B. & B.K. Eriksson (2011) : Habitat-Mediated Facilitation and Counteracting Ecosystem Engineering Interactively Influence Ecosystem Responses to Disturbance. - PLoS One: e23229.

Entling, M.H., Schweiger, O., Bacher, S., Espadaler, T., Hickler, T., Kumschick, S., Woodcock, B.A. & W. Nentwig (2012) : Species Richness-Environment Relationships of European Arthropods at Two Spatial Grains: Habitats and Countries. - PLoS ONE 7

Hamberg, L., Malmivaara-Lamsa, M., Lehvavirta, S., O'Hara, R.B. & D.J. Kotze (2010) : Quantifying the effects of trampling and habitat edges on forest understory vegetation - A field experiment. - Journal of Environmental Management 91: 1811-1820.

Heikinheimo, H., Eronen, J.T., Sennikov, A., Preston, C.D., Oikarinen, E., Uotila, P., Mannila, H. & M. Fortelius (2012) : Convergence in the distribution patterns of Europe’s plants and mammals is due to environmental forcing. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 1633-1644.

Higgins, S. I., O'Hara, R. B. & C. Römermann (2012) : A niche for biology in species distribution models. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 2091–2095. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12029

Higgins, S. I., O’Hara, R. B., Bykova, O., Cramer, M. D., Chuine, I., Gerstner, E.-M., Hickler, T., Morin, X., Kearney, M. R., Midgley, G. F. and Scheiter, S. (2012) : A physiological analogy of the niche for projecting the potential distribution of plants. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 2132–2145. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02752.x.

Higgins, S.I., Römermann, C. & R.B. O'Hara (2012) : Special Issue: The ecological niche as a window to biodiversity. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 2089. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12039

Kernif, T., Socolovschi, C., Wells, K., Lakim, M.B., Inthalad, S., Slesak, G.n., Boudebouch, N., Beaucournu, J.-C., Newton, P.N., Raoult, D. & P. Parola (2012) : Bartonella and Rickettsia in arthropods from the Lao Pdr and from Borneo, Malaysia. - Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases 35: 51– 57.

Kissling, W.D., Dormann, C.F., Groeneveld, J., Hickler, T., Kühn, I., McInerny, G.J., Montoya, J.M., Römermann, C., Schiffers, K., Schurr, F.M., Singer, A., Svenning, J.-C., Zimmermann, N.E. & R.B. O’Hara (2012) : Towards novel approaches to modelling biotic interactions in multispecies assemblages at large spatial extents. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 2163–2178. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02663.x

Kotze, D.J., Lehvävirta, S., Koivula, M., O'Hara, R.B. & J.R. Spence (2012) : Effects of habitat edges and trampling on the distribution of ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) in urban forests. - Journal of Insect Conservation 16 (6): 883-897.

Kotze, D.J., O'Hara, R.B. & S. Lehvävirta (2012) : Dealing with varying detection probability, unequal sample sizes and clumped distributions in count data. - PloS one 7 (7). e40923.

Kramer, K., Bijlsma, R.-J., Hickler, T. & W. Thuiller (2012) : Why would plant species become extinct locally if growing conditions improve? - International Journal of Biological Sciences 8: 1121-1129.

Kuemmerle, T., Hickler, T., Olofsson, J., Schurgers, G. & V.C. Radeloff (2012) : Refugee species: which historic baseline should inform conservation planning? - Diversity and Distributions 18: 1258-1261.

Lauterbach R., Wells K., O’Hara R.B., Kalko E.K.V. & S.C. Renner (2013) : Variable strength of forest stand attributes and weather conditions on the questing activity of Ixodes ricinus ticks over years in managed forests. - PLoS ONE 8(1): e55365, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055365

Leder, E.H., Cano, J.M., Leinonen, T., O'Hara, R.B., Nikinmaa, N., Primmer, C.R. & J. Merilä (2010) : Female-Biased Expression on the X Chromosome as a Key Step in Sex Chromosome Evolution in Threespine Sticklebacks. - Molecular Biology and Evolution 27: 1495-1503.

Leinonen, T., McCairns, R.J.S., O’Hara, R.B. & J. Merilä (2013) : Q(ST)-F(ST) comparisons: evolutionary and ecological insights from genomic heterogeneity. - Nature Reviews Genetics 14:179–190.

Linder, H.P., Bykova, O., Dyke, J., Etienne, R.S., Hickler, T., Kühn, I., Marion, G., Ohlemüller, R., Schymanski, S.J. & A. Singer (2012) : Biotic modifiers, environmental modulation and species distribution models. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 2179–2190. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02705.x

Loehr, J. & R.B. O’Hara (2013) : Facial morphology predicts male fitness and rank but not survival in Second World War Finnish soldiers. - Biology Letters 9: 20130049.

Loehr, J., Carey, J., O'Hara, R.B. & D.S. Hik (2010) : The role of phenotypic plasticity in responses of hunted thinhorn sheep ram horn growth to changing climate conditions. - Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23: 783-790.

Loehr, J., Leinonen, T., Herczeg, G., O'Hara, R.B. & J. Merilä (2012) : Heritability of Asymmetry and Lateral Plate Number in the Threespine Stickleback. - PloS one 7 (7). e39843.

Mantzouni, I., Sørensen, H., O'Hara, R.B. & B.R. MacKenzie (2010) : Hierarchical modelling of temperature and habitat size effects on population dynamics of North Atlantic cod. - Ices Journal of Marine Science 67: 833-855.

Marion, G., McInerny, G.J., Pagel, J., Catterall, S., Cook, A.R., Hartig, F., O'Hara, R.B. (2012) : Parameter and uncertainty estimation for process-oriented population and distribution models: data, statistics and the niche. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 2225–2239. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02772.x

Moncrieff, G.R., Chamaille-Jammes, S., Higgins, S.I., O'Hara, R.B. & W.J. Bond (2011) :

Tree allometries reflect a lifetime of herbivory in an African savanna. - Ecology 92: 2310-2315.

Mutshinda C.M. & R.B. O'Hara (2010) : On the setting of environmental noise and the performance of population dynamical models (2010). - BMC Ecology 10: 7.

Mutshinda C.M., O'Hara R.B. & I.P. Woiwod (2011) : A multispecies perspective on ecological impacts of climatic forcing. - Journal of Animal Ecology 80 (1): 101–107.

Mutshinda, C.M. & R.B. O'Hara (2011) : Integrating the niche and neutral perspectives on community structure and dynamics. - Oecologia 166: 241-251.

O'Hara R.B. & D.J. Kotza (2010) : Do not log-transform count data. - Methods in Ecology and Evolution 1: 118–122.

Pagel, J., Anderson, B.J., O‘Hara, R.B., Cramer, W., Fox, R., Jeltsch, F., Roy, D.B., Thomas, C.D. & F.M. Schurr (2014) : Quantifying range-wide variation in population trends from local abundance surveys and widespread opportunistic occurrence records. - Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5: 751-760.

Schurr, F.M., Pagel, J., Cabral, J.S., Groeneveld, J., Bykova, O., O’Hara, R.B., Hartig, F., Kissling, W.D., Linder, H.P., Midgley, G.F., Schröder, B., Singer, A. & N.E. Zimmermann (2012) : How to understand species’ niches and range dynamics: a demographic research agenda for biogeography. - Journal of Biogeography 39: 2146–2162. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02737.x

Schweiger, O., Heikkinen, R.K., Harpke, A., Hickler, T., Klotz, S., Kudrna, O., Kühn, I., Pöyry, J. & J. Settele (2012) : Increasing range mismatching of interacting species under global change is related to their ecological characteristics. - Global Ecology & Biogeography 21: 88-99.

Socher, S.A., Prati, D., Boch, S., Müller, J., Baumbach, H., Gockel, S., Hemp, A., Schöning, I., Wells, K., Buscot, F., Kalko, E.K.V., Linsenmair, K.E., Schulze, E.-D., Weisser, W.W. & M. Fischer (2013) : Interacting effects of fertilization, mowing and grazing on plant species diversity of 1500 grasslands in Germany differ between regions. - Basic and Applied Ecology 14: 126-136.

Sundell, J., O’Hara, R.B., Helle, P., Hellstedt, P., Henttonen, H. & H. Pietiäinen (2013) : Numerical response of small mustelids to vole abundance: delayed or not? - Oikos 122: 1112-1120.

Triviño, M., Thuiller, W., Cabeza, M., Hickler, T. & M.B. Araújo (2011) : The Contribution of Vegetation and Landscape Configuration for Predicting Environmental Change Impacts on Iberian Birds. - PLoS ONE 6:e29373.

Wells K., Böhm, S.M., Boch, S., Fischer, M. & E.K.V. Kalko (2011) : Local- and landscape-scale forest attributes differ in their impact on bird assemblages across years in forest production landscapes. - Basic and Applied Ecology 12: 97-106.

Wells K., Lakim M.B. & J.C. Beaucournu (2011) : Host specificity and niche partitioning in flea- small mammal networks in Bornean rainforests (2011). - Medical and  Veterinary Entomology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2915.2010.00940.x

Wells, K., Lakim, M.B. & R.B. O‘Hara (2014) : Shifts from native to invasive small mammals across gradients from tropical forest to urban habitat in Borneo. - Biodiversity and Conservation 23: 2289-2303.

Wells, K., O'Hara, R. B., Böhm, S. M., Gockel, S., Hemp, A., Renner, S. C., Pfeiffer, S., Böhning-Gaese, K. & E. K. V. Kalko (2012) : Trait-dependent occupancy dynamics of birds in temperate forest landscapes: fine-scale observations in a hierarchical multi-species framework. - Animal Conservation. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2012.00560.x

Wells, K., Beaucournu, J.-C., & Durden, L.A., Petney, T.N., Lakim, M.B. & R.B. O’Hara (2012) : Ectoparasite infestation patterns of domestic dogs in suburban and rural areas in Borneo. - Parasitology Research, DOI 10.1007/s00436-012-2917-7.

Wells, K., Dolich, T., Wahl, J. & R.B. O'Hara (2013) : Spatio-temporal dynamics in waterbirds during the non-breeding season: Effects of local movements, migration and weather are monthly, not yearly. - Basic and Applied Ecology (in press).

Wells, K., Lakim, M.B., Schulz, S. & M. Ayasse (2011) : Pitchers of Nepenthes rajah collect faecal droppings from both diurnal and nocturnal small mammals and emit fruity odour. - Journal of Tropical Ecology 27, 347- 353.