Currently, the call for symposia and thematic sessions is still open. See section Call for Symposia if you are keen to organize and lead a thematic session. List of alreasy selected sessions is below:

Traits, interactions and functioning across environmental
gradients (1)

Chairs: Nina Farwig, Eike Lena Neuschulz, Jörg Bendix

Climate and land-use change modify the structure and composition of ecosystems across the globe. The dramatic loss of biodiversity calls for a mechanistic understanding of the relationships among environmental change, communities, biotic interactions, ecological processes and functions. Functional traits are considered as key to describe these relationships. Tropical ecosystems with pronounced gradients of environmental conditions, e.g., along elevational or successional gradients, can be used as natural experiment to study the links between environmental changes, biodiversity and ecosystem functions. This session aims at compiling the latest knowledge on patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem functions and processes across such environmental gradients. A special focus will be on the use of traits to predict biotic interactions and ecosystem functionality across environmental gradients.

Tropical chemical ecology – current questions, future trends (2)

Chairs: Omer Nevo, Kim Valenta, Katharina Brandt

Species interactions can operate via multiple channels, of which the most ancient and common of them by far is chemical. Chemical cues and signals guide pollinators to flowers, seed dispersers to fruit, symbiotic bacteria to roots, and predator to prey. Many of these signals are conflicting and intertwined: the sweet scent of a fruit attracts a seed disperser, but also antagonistic insects. As such, it is safe to say that all species operate in a complex chemical environment, and that this chemical environment shapes much of the adaptive landscape of all organisms. Much of this complexity remains unresolved, particularly in tropical systems, where species richness and the interaction networks they form are especially complex, and where sampling of chemical samples is particularly challenging. Recent years have seen technical and computational developments which have transformed the field of chemical ecology and brought it to the -omics age with the development of metabolomics. This session will cover these latest developments and explore how chemical interactions underlie ecological processes in tropical systems. It will cover a wide range of topics and applications: from herbivory to pollination and seed dispersal, and from animal communication to conservation, in an attempt to identify common themes and major drivers of variance in tropical chemical ecology and facilitate future collaboration and synthesis.

Biodiversity and people: the role of culture and tradition in biodiversity conservation (3)

Chair: Christine B. Schmitt

Most of the world`s biodiversity hotspots are located in the tropics. They are defined as areas with exceptional high species diversity and endemism where only a small proportion of natural habitat still remains. While some of those habitats are under formal protection, others have long been conserved by local societies that attach cultural and spiritual value to particular species, forests or other natural phenomena. As there is growing recognition that nature conservation needs to go beyond conventional protected areas, it is crucial to better understand how societies have maintained species and ecosystems as part of their local traditions. Moreover, traditions and lifestyles are changing in many parts of the tropics, which also has repercussions on traditional conservation approaches. Therefore, this symposium aims to showcase examples of the role culture and tradition can play in biodiversity conservation. The session has a focus on research conducted in East Africa within the project “BioCult: Culture and Conservation – Harnessing synergies between cultural traditions and biodiversity protection”, including the Ethiopian church forests and the sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests of Kenya. In addition, we welcome contributions from other parts of the world. We believe that this topic is of interest to a wider audience as the recent meeting of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal (COP 15) has shown that indigenous peoples and local communities play a crucial role in the global effort to stop biodiversity loss.

Ants in tropical ecosystems: diversity, abundance and functional ecology (4)

Chairs: Petr Klimes, Philipp Otto Hoenle

Ants are among the most abundant groups of tropical invertebrates and make important contributions to many ecosystem functions. They are suitable models to study the effects of environmental changes on the invertebrate abundance and diversity, at the level of both individual species and communities. In addition, studies are increasingly looking at the mutual interactions between different ant species (species behaviour and coexistence), and between ants and their feeding and nesting resources (bottom-up and bottom-down effects). Finally, manipulative experiments such as ant suppression have repeatedly shown the key role of ants, with some species benefiting other organisms and others, e.g. invasive species, causing harm. We propose to welcome speakers at this symposium who will use ants in tropical ecology as a model for several hotly debated topics today (climate change, habitat disturbance, invasion ecology, food webs, functional traits) and discuss their role in different tropical environments through observational and experimental studies. During the symposium, we hope to bring researchers together to discuss the latest findings in tropical myrmecology and identify knowledge gaps for fruitful ideas and future collaborations.

Tropical molecular ecology (5)

Chairs: Ute Radespiel, Pablo Orozco-terWengel, Tobias van Elst

Tropical environments are under threat for a variety of reasons including human population expansion and encroachment, habitat loss and fragmentation, and climate change. At the same time, tropical biodiversity often remains poorly understood or completely undescribed, so that many species may go extinct before being discovered. Species living in tropical environments are highly challenged, since they are generally adapted to relatively stable environmental conditions with narrow ecological niches but need to modify life history strategies and/or change distribution ranges in response to environmental changes. However, increasing landscape discontinuities in addition to natural barriers to gene flow (e.g., rivers, mountains) constrain movements, population dynamics and consequently the biogeographic plasticity of most species. Modern genetic and genomic techniques are excellent tools to investigate the evolutionary processes responsible for current patterns of biodiversity and the impacts of anthropogenic challenges (e.g., demographic changes, hybridization, extinction, inbreeding). This is of utmost importance for estimating the viability of populations and entire species and implementing effective conservation measures in the future. We aim to bring together a collection of contributions that address these and related questions in tropical biota from around the world. This session will provide the opportunity to present new data, critically review existing evidence and discuss important avenues for future research in tropical molecular ecology.

Challenges in measuring mammal diversity in the tropics (6)

Chairs: Elise Sivault, František Vejmělka

In times of climate change and heavy anthropogenic pressures, it is crucial to understand the changes in the diversity and community composition of mammals. As consumers, predators and prey, or dispersers of seeds and spores, the loss of mammal diversity has significant consequences for the integrity and stability of the ecosystems. However, measuring mammal diversity in the tropics, a zone containing the most diverse ecosystems, can be extremely challenging. Here we will explore the limitations we can encounter in such hyper-diverse ecosystems while studying mammals – volant or non-volant, small or large – from tropical rainforests, savannahs, and agroforests. We will discuss the benefits and constraints of commonly used methods (e.g., traps, nets, recorders) and more recent and promising ones (e.g., eDNA).

The origins and the maintenance of tropical biodiversity: current lessons from biogeography and macroevolution (7)

Chairs: Antonin Machac

Tropics harbour dramatically more diversity than other regions of the Earth. What causes these dramatic differences, however, remains among the enigmas that have fascinated biologists ever since Humboldt. Current research suggests that tropics might be more diverse because they foster species coexistence. But they might also act as the cradle of diversity (high speciation), diversity museum (low extinction), and the engine of diversity from which species expand toward the temperate. Each of these mechanisms has been well-supported, but their relative effects and possible interactions remain unclear. The aim of the symposium is to explore the patterns of tropical diversity and the mechanisms behind them across a variety of organismal systems, continents, and scales. We will focus on considering how even seemingly conflicting mechanisms might complement each other and how they could be combined to formulate more integrated perspective concerning the origins and the maintenance of tropical megadiversity.

The state of the art of tropical vegetation modelling (8)

Chairs: Mateus Dantas de Paula

Process-based dynamic models of vegetation are being increasingly used in ecology, in order to tackle theoretical and applied questions in larger temporal and spatial scales, often making extensive use of remote sensing datasets. Single or model ensembles have provided recently valuable insights for the future of biomes under climate or land use change, in scenarios where field experiments would be impractical or costly. Nevertheless, real-world complexity of climatic and biological systems has led to many model inconsistencies, in particular due to the application of high-latitude developed models to tropical areas. In order to consistently simulate these ecosystems, a new generation of models is being developed with features such as new growth forms, inclusion of the phosphorus cycle, biotic interactions and trait diversity. Models which include these features, relevant to tropical ecosystems, have shown improved fit to observations, the impact of future scenarios to diversity and explored concepts such as resilience and plant physiology. These are therefore better equipped to answer many urgent scientific questions which are pertinent to the tropics. This session aims to showcase recent advances in tropical process based vegetation models, the use of ecological theory for the development of simulated processes and stimulate exchange with empirically focused researchers from diverse backgrounds, due to the holistic nature of vegetation models. Also, model applications to a wide range of large scale scenarios should be particularly of interest to those focused on conservation issues, providing science-based results for policy makers.

Predation in tropical forests (9)

Chairs: Anna Mrazova, Katerina Sam

Direct and indirect effects of predation have tremendous impact on the ecosystem functioning. Predators consume the other organisms, thus directly affect nutrient cycling. However, predators also alter the behaviour of organisms, which then hide more and feed less than in absence of predators. Predation is however an interaction, which is highly elusive and difficult to study, especially in dense tropical forests. Predation happens fast, typically away from the sights of potential observers. The prey item is consumed, and typically there are no traces of the action. Similarly, indirect effects of the predation on lower trophic levels are very difficult to measure. All these problems with studies of predation are even bigger in tropical forests, which are dense and difficult to access. To fill in methodological and knowledge gaps, we propose to discuss the methodological approaches and results of studies in which direct or indirect effects of predation were measured. We will focus on the use of sentinel prey in predation experiments in tropical areas (with potential comparisons with temperate regions), direct observations of predation attempts and also various approaches to studying indirect effects of presence of predators on lower trophic levels. The symposia will focus mostly on above, and potentially below ground interactions, between predators and their prey, but we will not discuss predation in aquatic systems.

Pollination in tropical ecosystems (10)

Chairs: Robert Tropek, Sailee Sakhalkar

Understanding of interactions between flowering plants and animal pollinators is crucial for better insight into evolution of both groups, as well as into the dynamics of ecosystems. Although tropical ecosystems host majority of plant and animal diversity, our knowledge on their interactions is still highly limited. Therefore, this session aims to compile the current studies on plant-pollinator interactions from diverse tropical ecosystems. We welcome all types of pollination studies and contributions, from detailed insights into particular pollination systems, through (co)evolution of these interactions, up to dynamics and patterns in interactions networks.

Free sessions (11)

Chairs: To be specified

We will be offering a range of symposia which have currently no framing titles specified. If unsure where your talk belong, opt for this symposia and the organizers will aim to group the talks based on the topics.