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Dr A.G. Rossberg

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Dr. Axel Rossberg
Senior Research Fellow in
Theoretical and Applied Ecology

M.A. (Physics) University of Texas at Austin 1994;
PhD (Physics) Universität Bayreuth, Germany 1998.


Contact Information

Research Interests

Coming from complex-systems theory, I am looking at ecosystems as complex networks of strongly interacting agents.  This view opens new perspectives on macroecology previously out of reach for ecology.  The origin of generic patterns found in the distributions of fundamental ecological traits such as diet compositions, body sizes, species abundances, or the overall structure of food-webs, are now becoming accessible to theory.  Recently, we succeeded in reproducing these, and several other, patterns in a single ecosystem simulation model (Rossberg et al., Ecology, 89: 567, 2008).  Analyses of the model will reveal the mechanisms responsible for these patterns.

Mean body masses and abundances of species in a simulation
study. Colours indicate trophic levels

A deeper theoretical understanding of macroecology is necessary to provide a more solid foundation for the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management.  What's that?  The world is caught in a dilemma between an ever increasing demand for fish protein, and the highly disruptive effects that strong fishing pressure can have on marine ecosystems.  Several international treaties now call for a change in management practices that takes these ecosystem effects into account.  Our work will contribute to finding the economically and ecologically most reasonable course through these choppy waters.

Among others, we are developing models that will be simple enough to be applicable in day-to-day management, and yet encapsulate the complexity of real ecosystems, on ecological indices that better represent biodiversity and ecosystem health, and on simulation studies to identify the critical causal pathways of ecosystem effects by commercial fishing.


My research is funded through a Beaufort Marine Research Award by the Republic of Ireland.


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Current Collaborations

Ken Haste Anderson, Martin Pedersen (both at Danish Institute of Fisheries Research), John K. Pinnegar (CEFAS, Lowestoft), Keisuke Satoh (National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Japan), Ulf Dieckman (IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria), Åke Brännström (Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden), Shovonlal Roy (University of Manchester).

Other Information

Member of the Ecological Society of America.