Dr Alfred Burian

Position: Post-doc

College: College of Life & Natural Sciences

Department: Biosciences

Subject area: Biological Sciences

Research Centre: Environmental Sustainability Research Centre

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My current research goals:

  • Assessment of networks in biological communities using statistical and conceptual models to elucidate (i) biodiversity patterns and coexistence mechanisms and (ii) consequences for the stability of complex communities
  • Application of these analytical models to evaluate the link between coral microbiomes and the resilience of their hosts
  • Engage in cross-sectorial research and apply my analytical skills across the boundaries of my discipline

Research interests

Ecological Network Modelling: Natural communities often form complex and highly dynamic species networks that define the functionality of ecosystems. The goal of my post-doc at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre in Derby is to investigate these networks using conceptual and statistical models. I will aim to answer questions such as how the stability of communities is linked to key network characteristics (e.g. modularity or average interaction strength between species) and how species co-existence may be facilitated by positive and negative species interactions.

The resilience of socio-ecological system in Western Kenya: Climate change and the projected doubling of the human population within the next 35 years are considered as major stressors in drylands of Western Kenya. As member of the Triple L (Land-Livestock-Livelihoods initiative) research initiative, I study the potential effects of population growth on the average land-size per household and the application of different agricultural practices. An important goal of my research is to explore potential consequences of system transitions for the climate resilience of communities.

Plankton and nutritional ecology: Aquatic and terrestrial population dynamics are shaped by the interactions between the quantity and quality of dietary resources. In my research, I combined experimental and modelling approaches to investigate the consequences of dietary food quality for the fitness of consumers and the cycling of nutrients and energy in food-webs. In my research, which also included one year of field-work in East Africa, I demonstrated different behavioural and physiological mechanisms in consumers to mitigate the effect of low food quality in their prey.

Recent publications

Burian A., Grosse J., Winder M. & Boscker H.T.J. (2017) Nutrient deficiencies and the limits of compensatory mechanisms in copepods. Submitted to Functional Ecology 2017, accepted.

Winder M., Burian A., Landrey M., Montagnes D. & Nielsen J. M. (2016) Technical comment on temperature driven changes in the diet preference of omnivorous copepods: no more meat when it’s hot? Ecology Letters, 19, 1389–1391.

Burian A., Schagerl M., Yasindi A.W., Kaggwa M.N. & Winder M. (2016) Benthic-pelagic coupling drives non-seasonal zooplankton blooms and restructures energy flows in tropical food-webs. Limnology & Oceanography, 61, 795–805.

Schagerl M. & Burian A. (2016) The ecology of East-African soda-lakes. In: Soda Lakes of East Africa, Springer, Frankfurt.

Lange S., Burian A., et al. (2015) BMAA extraction of cyanobacteria samples: which method to choose? Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 23, 338-3350.

Golz A.L., Burian A. & Winder M. (2015) Stoichiometric regulation in micro- and mesozooplankton. Journal of Plankton Research, 37, 293-305.

Schagerl M., Burian A., Gruber-Dorniger M., Odour S. & Kaggwa M.N. & Winder M. (2015) Algal communities of Kenyan soda lakes with a special focus on Arthrospira fusiformis. Fottea, 15, 245-257.

Burian A., KainzJ.M., Schagerl M. & Yasindi A.W. (2014) Species-specific separation of lake plankton reveals divergent food assimilation patterns in rotifers. Freshwater Biology, 59, 1257-1265.

Burian A., Schagerl M. & Yasindi A.W. (2013) Microzooplankton feeding behavior: grazing on the microbial and the classical food web of African soda lakes. Hydrobiologia, 49, 51–57.

Kaggwa M.N., Burian A., Odour S. & Schagerl M. (2013) Ecomorphological variability of Arthrospira fusiformis (Cyanoprokaryota) in African soda lakes. Microbiology Open, 2, 881-891.

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