Hi! I am an ecologist who always wonders why there is incredible biodiversity in the soil. My current research focuses on soil invertebrates, especially springtails (Collembola), one of the most abundant, diverse but primitive terrestrial arthropods. To understand the mechanisms underlying species coexistence and community compositions, I integrate research approaches from community ecology and evolutionary biology to soil biodiversity studies.
Current research topics are
(1) Soil biodiversity and species coexistence (Chen 2018, dissertation; Xie, Chen et al. 2022, Journal of Biogeography),
(2) Evolution and ecology of functional traits (Chen et al. 2017, Ecology and Evolution; Kreider, Chen et al. 2021, Ecosphere) and
(3) Multidimensional trophic niches (Hao, Chen et al. 2020, Soil Biology and Biochemisitry; Potapov et al. & Chen 2021, Journal of Animal Ecology)
According to the niche concept, species coexist because they utilize different resources, food and space. Soil, among the other terrestrial ecosystems, has the highest biodiversity, but why so many species coexist in limited spaces without competing each other out has long intrigued ecologists. I analyze the functional traits of multiple soil animal species collected from different environments to study their assembly mechanisms. I research the traits that reflect multidimensional niches of species, including those relate to food resources and those reflecting species adaptation to abiotic environments. Since functional traits vary among species, I wonder the causes of such variations: On the one hand, functional traits of species are related to abiotic environments and biotic interactions. Ecological filtering, for example, is an important assembly process governing soil animal community. On the other hand, traits are characters that species inherit from the common ancestors. Phylogenetically closely related species inevitably possess similar traits. In my study, the underlying mechanisms regulating soil animal diversity are revealed by exploring the functional traits from both ecological and evolutionary perspectives, and my study can help elucidate the functional roles of soil animals in terrestrial ecosystems.
More information about me:
Google Scholar: scholar.google.de/citations?user=_ErAyuwAAAAJ