School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Leah Lewington-Pearce


PhD student



Project title: Sustaining ecosystem functions under future climate scenarios

Summary: My PhD investigates the long-term responses of food webs to climate warming and species diversity and how these changes influence the functioning of aquatic ecosystems.

Several ecological mechanisms that affect the stability of population dynamics have been investigated. These include omnivory (species that feed on more than one trophic level), species that have inducible anti-predator defences, and species that are not included in focal predator-prey interactions (non prey). I aim to determine how stabilizing mechanisms can reduce the potentially negative effect of climate warming.

Currently, I am manipulating temperature regimes across a gradient of non-prey species diversity, focusing on multi-trophic interactions between zooplankton consumers feeding on phytoplankton resource as my experimental microcosm model. This will aim to determine the ecological mechanisms that allow ecosystems to evade the inescapable changes in temperature and identify which ecosystems are most sensitive to climate warming. Climate warming is at the centre of ecological research and investigating the interactive effects of stabilizing and destabilizing factors can improve our understanding of its effect on ecosystems and have critical implications for ecosystem management.