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

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

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

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

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.