In my research I focus on one of the central questions of food-web ecology: “who eats whom”? Thinking about this apparently simple question can lead to very complex hypotheses and I particularly try to understand how anthropogenic disturbances affect predator-prey interactions and how interactions vary in space. I am currently studying how agricultural interventions alter the functional role of predators as natural enemies of agricultural pests in Skåne. I am fascinated by the complexity of trophic interactions and enjoy using techniques that focus on the analysis of trophic links (e.g. stable isotope analyses), spatial patterns (e.g. point pattern statistics) and community data (e.g. permutational multivariate statistics) to uncover effects of human-induced change on invertebrate communities.
I received my diploma and PhD degrees in animal ecology from Stefan Scheu’s group studying terrestrial predator-prey interactions in desert and agricultural ecosystems (TU Darmstadt, Germany). After a two year employment in an international research project on the evolution of social behaviour in spiders in Namibia (Aarhus University, Denmark), I recently completed a four year postdoc at Volkmar Wolters group studying above-belowground interactions between invertebrates in grasslands (JLU Giessen, Germany).
I have taught lab and field courses in faunistics of Germany and Southern Africa, predator ecology and invertebrate zoology. From 2008 to 2011 I supervised four student excursions to Namibia, teaching animal ecology and adaptations to arid ecosystems.
Field work is not easy, but always rewarding! The strange experience of sampling aquatic organisms for a terrestrial ecologist (2010, Tibet)
Birkhofer K, Diekötter T, Boch S, Fischer M, Müller J, Socher S, Wolters V (2011) Soil fauna feeding activity in temperate grassland soils increases with legume and grass species richness. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43: 2200-2207.