Mike S Fowler

Mike S Fowler
Swansea University | SWAN · Department of Biosciences

Phd. Theoretical Ecology

About

69
Publications
22,379
Reads
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2,254
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2013 - present
Swansea University
September 2012 - February 2016
Swansea University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Description
  • Research & teaching position.
November 2009 - September 2012
Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA)
Position
  • JAE-Doc Postdoctoral Resarch Fellow
Education
October 1999 - October 2002
University of Glasgow
Field of study
  • Theoretical Ecology
October 1994 - June 1998
University of Glasgow
Field of study
  • Zoology

Publications

Publications (69)
Article
Full-text available
Winter Heliotrope ( Petasites pyrenaicus , previously P. fragrans ), is a persistent, rhizome-forming species found throughout the Mediterranean region and North Africa and is an Invasive Alien Plant (IAP) in the UK and Ireland. P. pyrenaicus excludes native flora by forming a dense, compact canopy that persists for much of the growing season, and...
Article
Full-text available
Decomposition of lignin-rich wood by fungi drives nutrient recycling in woodland ecosystems. Fluctuating abiotic conditions are known to promote the functioning of ecological communities and ecosystems. In the context of wood decay, fluctuating temperature increases decomposition rates. Metabolomics, in tandem with other ‘omics tools, can highlight...
Article
Understanding how plants respond to environmental gradients and influence ecosystem functions remains a core challenge in ecology. Across species and ecosystems, plants have been shown to coordinate leaf, stem, and root traits along a gradient with optimal resource acquisition or conservation strategies at its extremes, termed the plant economic sp...
Article
Individual‐level traits mediate interaction outcomes and community structure. It is important, therefore, to identify the minimum number of traits that characterise ecological networks, that is, their ‘minimum dimensionality’. Existing methods for estimating minimum dimensionality often lack three features associated with increased trait numbers: a...
Article
Full-text available
Microalgae are the foundation of aquatic food webs. Their ability to defend against grazers is paramount to their survival, and modulates their ecological functions. Here, we report a novel anti-grazer strategy in the common green alga Chlorella vulgaris against two grazers, Daphnia magna and Simocephalus sp. The algal cells entered the brood chamb...
Article
The plant economic spectrum (PES) predicts a suite of correlated traits in a continuum from resource conservation to rapid resource acquisition. As well as competing for resources, plants need to cope with other environmental stresses to persist and reproduce. Yet, it is unclear how multiple strategies (i.e. traits uncorrelated with the PES) affect...
Preprint
Full-text available
Species’ traits mediate ecological interaction outcomes and community structure. It is important, therefore, to identify the minimum number of traits required to characterise observed networks, i.e. the ‘minimum dimensionality’. Existing methods for estimating minimum dimensionality often lack three features commonly associated with a higher number...
Article
Full-text available
Global declines in pollinator populations and associated services make it imperative to identify and sensitively manage valuable habitats. Coastal habitats such as saltmarshes can support extensive flowering meadows, but their importance for pollinators, and how this varies with land-use intensity, is poorly understood. We hy-pothesised that saltma...
Article
Predicting fungal community dynamics requires methods combining theory with experiments. Different elements of spatial competition influence interaction outcomes, and consequently community dynamics. Despite the literature on such elements, no theoretical study has tested the predictability of dynamics with models incorporating these elements. We a...
Article
Full-text available
Key message Under climate warming the presence of key microsite facilitators modify soil moisture levels associated with successful tree recruitment at the treeline ecotone ofPinus hartwegii. Abstract Alpine treelines in Mexico are represented by high-elevation forests dominated by P. hartwegii Ldl. To address the degree to which the presence of s...
Article
Full-text available
Grazer-induced colony formation as a defense strategy in microalgae such as Scenedesmus species has been widely reported, but the associated costs and reversibility of the colonies are rarely studied. We experimentally showed that Scenedesmus obliquus formed chained colonies in the presence of a predator, including predators separated from the alga...
Article
Full-text available
1.Land‐use and climate change are two of the primary drivers of the current biodiversity crisis. However, we lack understanding of how single‐species and multi‐species associations are affected by interactions between multiple environmental stressors. 2. We address this gap by examining how environmental degradation interacts with daily stochastic...
Article
Full-text available
Recent studies in salt marshes have demonstrated the role of plant roots in sediment stabilisation, and hence the importance of marshes in providing coastal protection. However, the relative role of root traits and environmental factors in controlling sediment stability, and how intraspecific variability of root traits vary within and among marshes...
Article
Full-text available
Many studies demonstrate an important role of natural enemy biodiversity in the regulation of agricultural pests, but the role of different aspects of biodiversity in influencing this crucial ecosystem service remain controversial. We hypothesised that the functional diversity generated by combining divergent consumer groups (roaming coccinellid pr...
Article
Full-text available
Random environmental variation, or stochasticity, is a key determinant of ecological dynamics. While we have some appreciation of how environmental stochasticity can moderate the variability and persistence of communities, we know little about its implications for the nature and predictability of ecological responses to large perturbations. Here, w...
Data
Figure S1.1. Distributions of model evidence ratios. Figure S1.2. Scatterplots of colour coefficients of environmental time‐series estimated from the frequency and time‐domains. Figure S1.3. Proportions of coloured or white environmental covariates associated with animal classes. Figure S1.4. Number of points (years) needed to detect a specific...
Article
Full-text available
Activities involving observation of wild organisms (e.g. wildlife watching, tidepooling) can provide recreational and learning opportunities, with biologically diverse animal assemblages expected to be more stimulating to humans. In turn, more diverse communities may enhance human interest and facilitate provisioning of cultural services. However,...
Article
Full-text available
Japanese knotweed, Fallopia japonica var. japonica, causes significant disruption to natural and managed habitats, and provides a model for the control of invasive rhizome-forming species. The socioeconomic impacts of the management of, or failure to manage, Japanese knotweed are enormous, annually costing hundreds of millions of pounds sterling (G...
Article
Over half a century of governing efforts have failed to prevent the depletion of fish stocks around the globe. Ineffective management of over-exploited resources has resulted in a lack of willingness to comply with regulatory systems, magnifying problems at a time when many of the world’s fisheries face increasing pressure or crisis. Co-management,...
Article
Full-text available
AIM: The temporal structure (colour) of environmental variation influences population fluctuations, extinction risk and community stability. However, it is unclear whether environmental covariates linked to population fluctuations are distinguishable from a purely random process (white noise). We aim to estimate colour coefficients and relative su...
Article
Full-text available
Natural enemy (NE) biodiversity is thought to play an important role in agricultural pest suppression. However, the relative importance of the number of NE species (species richness), versus the particular combinations of species (species composition), in determining aphid suppression and ultimately crop yields, remains poorly understood. We tested...
Article
Full-text available
The study of predator-prey interactions is commonly analyzed using functional responses to gain an understanding of predation patterns and the impact they have on prey populations. Despite this, little is known about predator-prey systems with multiple prey species in sites near the equator. Here we studied the functional response of cougars (Puma...
Article
Boom-bust dynamics – the rise of a population to outbreak levels, followed by a dramatic decline – have been associated with biological invasions and offered as a reason not to manage troublesome invaders. However, boom-bust dynamics rarely have been critically defined, analyzed, or interpreted. Here, we define boom-bust dynamics and provide specif...
Article
Full-text available
Top-down and bottom-up controls are hypothesized to regulate population structures in many ecosystems. However, few studies have had the opportunity to analyze both processes in the natural environment, especially on large carnivores like the cougar (Puma concolor). Previously, studies show that cougar diet in the Sierra Nanchititla Natural Reserve...
Poster
Full-text available
Wood decay is performed by successions of a small, specialist group of fungi capable of decomposing lignocellulose. Decay community establishment begins in the woodland canopy where branches die but remain attached, often for several years before falling to the woodland floor. Formed initially by pioneer species, the community is capable of nutrien...
Article
The far-reaching impacts of livestock grazing in terrestrial grasslands are widely appreciated, but how livestock affect the structure and functions of sensitive coastal ecosystems has hitherto lacked synthesis. Grazing-induced changes in salt marshes have the potential to alter the provision of valuable ecosystem services, such as coastal protecti...
Article
Full-text available
Human actions challenge nature in many ways. Ecological responses are ineluctably complex, demanding measures that describe them succinctly. Collectively, these measures encapsulate the overall ‘stability’ of the system. Many international bodies, including the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, broadl...
Conference Paper
Assemblages of wood rotting fungi often begin to develop in the canopy yet efforts to describe these communities have focused almost exclusively on substrata on the woodland floor. Furthermore, the spatial arrangement of saprotrophic fungal mycelia within their substrata has been investigated in only a handful of studies conducted over two decades...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is expected to have profound ecological effects, yet shifts in competitive abilities among species are rarely studied in this context. Blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tits (Parus major) compete for food and roosting sites, yet coexist across much of their range. Climate change might thus change the competitive relationships...
Article
Forcibly removing species from ecosystems has important consequences for the remaining assemblage, leading to changes in community structure, ecosystem functioning and secondary (cascading) extinctions. One key question that has arisen from single- and multi-trophic ecosystem models is whether the secondary extinctions that occur within competitive...
Article
Human activities are the main current driver of global change. From hunter-gatherers through to Neolithic societies-and particularly in contemporary industrialised countries-humans have (voluntarily or involuntarily) provided other animals with food, often with a high spatio-temporal predictability. Nowadays, as much as 30-40% of all food produced...
Article
Full-text available
The colour of environmental variability influences the size of population fluctuations when filtered through density dependent dynamics, driving extinction risk through dynamical resonance. Slow fluctuations (low frequencies) dominate in red environments, rapid fluctuations (high frequencies) in blue environments and white environments are purely r...
Data
Full-text available
Skewness and Kurtosis measures from (A, C) AR(1) and (B, D) 1/f coloured stochastic series (T = 10,000 steps; 1,000 replicates for each parameter value). Reddened series (α>0, β<0) show an increased variance in both Skewness and Kurtosis values (blue line = mean), with a reduced mean Kurtosis for very red and blue AR(1) and pink to red 1/f models....
Article
Human activities are the main current driver of global change. From hunter-gatherers through to Neolithic soci-eties–and particularly in contemporary industrialised countries–humans have (voluntarily or involuntarily) provided other animals with food, often with a high spatio-temporal predictability. Nowadays, as much as 30–40% of all food produced...
Article
Full-text available
Human activities are the main current driver of global change. From hunter-gatherers through to Neolithic soci-eties–and particularly in contemporary industrialised countries–humans have (voluntarily or involuntarily) provided other animals with food, often with a high spatio-temporal predictability. Nowadays, as much as 30–40% of all food produced...
Article
Environmental effects on population growth are often quantified by coupling environmental covariates with population time series, using statistical models that make particular assumptions about the shape of density dependence. We hypothesized that faulty assumptions about the shape of density dependence can bias estimated effect sizes of temporally...
Article
The relationship between community diversity and biomass variability remains a crucial ecological topic, with positive, negative and neutral diversity-stability relationships reported from empirical studies. Theory highlights the relative importance of Species-Species or Species-Environment interactions in driving diversity-stability patterns. Much...
Article
The distribution of interaction strengths among community members has important consequences for assembly processes and community responses to perturbations. Species deletion from communities can trigger cascading extinction events, with strong evidence from empirical and theoretical work. I examined model competitive communities, sequentially asse...
Article
1. Recently habitat degradation, road construction and traffic have all increased with human populations, to the detriment of aquatic habitats and species. While numerous restoration programmes have been carried out, there is an urgent need to follow their success to better understand and compensate for the decline of amphibian populations. To this...
Article
The outcome of species interactions in a variable environment is expected to depend on how similarly different species react to variation in environmental conditions. We study community stability (evenness and species diversity) in competitive communities that are either closed or subjected to random migration, under different regimes of environmen...
Article
Environmental variation is a ubiquitous component of individual, population and community processes in the natural world. Here, we review the consequences of spatio-temporally autocorrelated (coloured) environmental variation for ecological and evolutionary population dynamics. In single-species population models, environmental reddening increases...
Article
Determining whether the composition of ecological communities (species presence and abundance), can be predicted from species demographic traits, rather than being a result of neutral drift, is a key ecological question. Here we compare the similarity of community composition, from different community assembly models run under identical environment...
Article
The relationship between community complexity and stability has been the subject of an enduring debate in ecology over the last 50 years. Results from early model communities showed that increased complexity is associated with decreased local stability. I demonstrate that increasing both the number of species in a community and the connectance betw...
Article
The decision to move between patches in the environment is among the most important life history choices an organism can make. I derive a new density dependent dispersal rule, and examine how dispersal decisions based on avoiding fitness loss associated with an Allee effect or competitive effects impact upon population dynamics in spatially structu...
Article
Competition is assumed to generate compensatory dynamics where an increase in one species is compensated by a decrease in others. Recently, using a community covariance technique, Houlahan et al. found that compensatory dynamics are only visible in 25–30% of natural communities studied. The study was based on scoring the sum of covariances of popul...
Article
mike.fowler@helsinki.fi), J. Laakso, L. Ruokolainen, Dept of Biological and Environmental Sciences, PO Box 65 (Viikinkaari 1), FIÁ00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. Á R. O'Hara, Dept of Mathematics and Statistics, PO Box 68 (Gustaf Hällströmin katu 2b), FIÁ00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. Using the approach by Ranta et al. (2008) we gener...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding community responses to environmental variation is a fundamental aspect of ecological research, with direct ecological, conservation and economic implications. Here, we examined the role of the magnitude, correlation and autocorrelation structures of environmental variation on species' extinction risk (ER), and the probability of actua...
Article
Full-text available
Network topography ranges from regular graphs (linkage between nearest neighbours only) via small-world graphs (some random connections between nodes) to completely random graphs. Small-world linkage is seen as a revolutionary architecture for a wide range of social, physical and biological networks, and has been shown to increase synchrony between...
Article
Understanding the relationships between environmental fluctuations, population dynamics and species interactions in natural communities is of vital theoretical and practical importance. This knowledge is essential in assessing extinction risks in communities that are, for example, pressed by changing environmental conditions and increasing exploita...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the effects of population management on the community a target species belongs to is of key importance for successful management. It is known that the removal or extinction of a single species in a community may lead to extinctions of other community members. In our study, we assess the impacts of population management on competitive...
Article
Full-text available
Fowler, M. S. 2005: Predicting community persistence based on different methods of species ranking. — Ann. Zool. Fennici 42: 533–543. Different species in a community can be ranked according to the strength of their effect on the dynamics of the entire community. Despite a considerable research effort on community structure and the "keystone" speci...
Article
Maternal effects and spatial processes are rightly recognised as being of great importance in the life histories of a number of different organisms. Previously, little effort has been made for investigating the potential for changes to arise from interactions between these two crucial processes. Here I tested the outcome of introducing a maternal e...
Article
Full-text available
Over 15 years ago, Bruce Charlton (1987) suggested in his article ‘Think Negative’ that many disciplines would benefit if negative results were given public airing. He argued that science needs reports of negative results for the simple reason that similar investigations, which are often costly and time-consuming, are frequently duplicated and produ...
Article
Disagreement exists between the results of theoretical and empirical exploration into the effect of increasing community complexity on the stability of multispecies ecosystems. A recent return to interest in this area suggests previous results should be re-assessed, from both experimental studies and models, to understand where this discrepancy ari...
Article
We take a well-known dynamic model of an isolated, unstructured population and modify this to include a factor that allows for a reduction in fitness due to declining population sizes, often termed an Allee effect. Analysis of the behaviour of this model is carried out on two fronts - determining the equilibrium values and examining the stability o...

Projects

Projects (8)
Project
The aim of this project is threefold: 1) use county-wide network analysis to identify key opportunities for GI creation and regeneration, as well as any potential ecological, policy-drive, economic and societal barriers; 2) connect people to the wider landscape with innovative techniques to improve access, engagement and understanding of nature; and 3) conduct GI improvement activities focussing on key biodiversity, health and well-being outcomes, developing best practice at a pilot urban park.
Project
We aim to understand the effect of spatially varying the defectors payoff ,in the prisoners dilemma, according to different types of environmental colour variations (e.g. rapid vs gradual) will have in the maintenance of co-operative behaviour.
Project
The main aim is to study importance of the prisoner’s dilemma in an evolutionary game theory framework regarding the evolution and maintenance of cooperation in the presence of cheaters, reflected in the final proportion of cooperators seen in each simulation using the Prisoners Dilemma in a Small World Network setting. The distribution of links among interacting players in games like the spatially iterated Prisoner’s dilemma provides an interesting avenue to study how social populations evolve under different interaction networks.