Welcome Emanuel Fronhofer - New SE

Submitted by editor on 4 April 2022.

We are very happy to have Emanuel Fronhofer join our Editorial Board at OIKOS! His lab is based at the Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution (ISEM) of the CNRS and the University of Montpellier, France, where they aim to understand the evolution of life-history strategies of animals and plants living in spatially structured populations, communities and foodwebs. Take a glance at his welcome interview below!

Website: www.emanuelfronhofer.net

KEYWORDS: evolutionary ecology, eco-evolutionary dynamics, metapopulations, metacommunities, dispersal, experimental evolution, agent-based models

1. What's your main research focus at the moment?

Why is what where and how is this impacted by changing environments? As an evolutionary ecologist, I want to understand what defines spatial distributions and dynamics, and how these patterns are impacted by disturbances. My research is situated at the interface between ecology and evolution and focuses on metapopulations, metacommunities, spatially structured host-parasite systems, and metafoodwebs, in short, on spatial networks.
At the moment, together with my collaborators, we are elucidating the interplay between rapid adaptation to environmental stressors, such as temperature, and species interactions on the eco-evolutionary dynamics of range expanding communities. A lot of our work is theoretical, as we develop mathematical and individual-based models. We also use experimental evolution and fieldwork to address our questions. Our favourite laboratory systems are freshwater microcosms with bacteria-protist foodwebs.

2. Can you describe your research career? Where, what, when?

I started my career studying tropical ecology at the University of Würzburg (Germany), and I worked at La Selva Biological Station (Costa Rica) on dispersal in flower-mite metapopulations. During my PhD, I focused on more theoretical questions related to dispersal evolution and metapopulation dynamics before going back to empirical work during my PostDoc at Eawag and the University of Zurich (Switzerland). In 2018, I moved to the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution in Montpellier (ISEM, France) where I am a CNRS researcher.

3. How come you became a scientist in ecology?

I have always loved the diversity of nature, especially of tropical ecosystems, which made me study tropical ecology. Quite randomly, I attended a lecture on theoretical population ecology by Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Poethke at University of Würzburg (Germany) where I discovered my passion for theory and models. The idea that nature’s great diversity and complexity can be captured by equations was simply mind-blowing to me. I am now trying to walk back and forth between models and nature and I often get caught up in between, in the lab.

4. What do you do when you're not working?

I spend time with my family, love hiking, reading and martial arts.