Robin Svensson

Principal Research Engineer

Department of Marine
Visiting address
Carl skottsbergs gata 22 b
41319 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 461
40530 Göteborg

About Robin Svensson

Affiliation: CeMaCe – Centre for Marine Chemical Ecology 

Research interest My research interests are in invasion biology, ecological disturbance and chemical ecology. Much of my work has focused on tests of well-known hypotheses in these areas, such as the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis (IDH) and the Novel Weapons Hypothesis (NWH). I primarily conduct manipulative field experiments in marine sessile systems, but I have also worked with bacterial communities and mathematical modelling.

Ecological disturbance The effects of ecological disturbance on biodiversity of biological communities as well as the definitions, characterizations and quantifications of disturbances was the topic of my doctoral thesis. Currently, I have four papers on disturbance and they include tests of the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis (IDH) and the Dynamic Equilibrium Model (DEM). The IDH predicts diversity to peak at intermediate levels of disturbance due to coexistence of competitors and colonizers and the DEM predicts the effects of disturbance to depend on the productivity of communities, because a stronger disturbance is required to counteract increased rates of competitive exclusion. More specifically, these articles include contrasts between physical and biological disturbance, effects of rate of disturbance based on different combinations of area and frequency and how the choice of diversity measure may impact the outcomes of tests of disturbance-diversity hypotheses.

Invasion biology My current postdoctoral fellowship at Monash University in Australia is focused on invasions by non-indigenous species, which are one of the largest threats to biodiversity today causing damages with vast ecological and economical costs. Identifying the underlying mechanisms of invasions is a vital step in developing the highly needed predictive tools to prevent invasions. High levels of biodiversity have long been believed to hamper invasions and the escape from ones old enemies is still a common explanation for successful invasions of new regions. However, while these theories are still being supported, outcomes that oppose the predictions are reported from an increasing number of studies (a.k.a. the “invasion paradox”). In an effort to elucidate these discrepancies in outcomes, I will use a novel multi-factorial approach where I investigate the interactive effects of diversity, resource availability and ecological disturbance on species invasions.

Chemical ecology Allelopathy, i.e. the harmful effect on one organism of compounds released from another organism, is one of my main interests within chemical ecology. This is directly related to the Novel Weapons Hypothesis (NWH), which predicts that that non-indigenous species will become invasive if they have allelopathic compounds that are unfamiliar to assemblages in the invaded range. My work in this area concerns the Japanese macroalgae Bonnemaisonia hamifera, which has recently become of the most conspicuous red algae in Sweden. The novel chemical weapon of B. hamifera is a brominated heptanone that deters native grazers, negatively affect native bacteria and hinders the settlement of native macroalgae. Furthermore, B. hamifera can spread this compound to surfaces beyond its own thallus and therefore 'reserve' space by preventing the native species from settling on the coated substrata.