Principal Investigator

Tom M. Fayle

I am interested in the way that species interactions change along a range of environmental gradients, including altitude, latitude, and athropogenic habitat degradation and the potential implications of these changes for rates of ecosystem processes. My work is funded by the Czech Science Foundation, the European Research Council, the Australian Research Council, and the South East Asian Rainforest Research Partnership.





PhD Students

Dan Leština
University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Co-supervised by Vojtech Novotny

Dan is working on a project focusing on the effects of habitat degradation on the Crematogaster-Macaranga ant-plant mutualism and on the effect of this mutualism on the environment. His is mainly involved with investigating dispersal limits of the species involved, which may have profound effects on abilities of partner to persist in the system. He previously worked on a related topic of butterfly (meta)populations. This work is funded by the Czech Science Foundation.


Siti Asmah Muslim
Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia
Co-supervised with lead supervisor Kalsum Mohd Yusah

Asmah is interested in insect ecology, in particular in the way that species are affected by disturbance of forest and expansion of agriculture. Currently, she focuses on studying impacts of forest fragmentation, land-use change and El Nino on ant communities in tropical rainforest. The work funded by the Czech Science Foundation and the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership, SEARRP.




Shafia Zahra
University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Co-supervised by Petr Klimes and Vojtech Novotny

Shafia obtained her masters degree from Northern Arizona University with research concerning the association between invasive tree species and native insect species. She also previously worked in several ecological projects in Indonesia such as the occupancy of the Javan warty pig in collaboration with Chester Zoo, and human-wildlife conflict working with with the Komodo Survival Program. Her PhD focuses on Reverse Janzen Connell effects involving ant and trees in rainforest in Papua New Guinea.


Koid Qian Qun (Yvonne)
University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Co-supervised by Kalsum Mohd Yusah

Yvonne has an enthusiasm for tropical wildlife ecology and conservation biology. She graduated from Universiti Malaysia Sabah with a master’s degree in ecological processes, focusing on ant species co-occurrence and the environmental variables that affect the community structure of leaf litter and canopy ants in the secondary logged forest of Sabah, Borneo. In addition, she is also a committee member for 1StopBorneo Wildlife (, a wildlife conservation NGO based in Sabah. For her PhD project, she is interested in looking at how arthropods-entomopathogenic fungi interaction alters the arthropod diversity across the elevational gradient in tropical rainforest of Sabah.

Frederik De Wint
University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Co-supervised by Petr Klimes and Vojtech Novotny

Frederik is greatly interested in the ecology and biodiversity of insects (mainly ants) and their symbionts. He has collaborated on multiple biodiversity projects concerning ants and other arthropods, but also bats (Europe, Central America and Africa). During his masters thesis he studied ecological and evolutionary fundamentals of the association between Red wood ants and Common rough woodlouse (Antwerp University). As a member of BINCO (Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation) he acts as Operation Manager for the MyrmEcoDex ant-workgroup ( His PhD focuses on the potential for interactions between arthropods and entomopathogenic fungi to influence arthropod species richness.


Frederick James Wilkinson
Queen Mary University of London, UK
Co-supervised by Christophe Eizaguire

Freddie obtained his MSci from University College London and his MRes from Imperial College London. Now at Queen Mary, his PhD focuses on the abundance and distribution of marine megafauna in Cabo Verde. He hopes to determine the habitat preferences of turtles, elasmobranchs and cetaceans, and whether changes in the abundance of one group affects how other species associate with their optimal habitats. Additionally, he continues to work part-time for a trade association specialising in energy policy, leveraging policy expertise gained from previous work at London-based think tanks.

Mengdi Li
Queen Mary University of London, UK
Co-supervised by Pavel Kratina and David Edwards

Mengdi obtained her MSci in Natural Sciences from University College London. She is now pursuing her PhD at Queen Mary University of London, focusing on the impacts of anthropogenic changes on global ecological networks with the LifeWebs project ( Her research interests lie in community ecology, distribution patterns, and conservation biology.




Support Staff

Jana Šlancarová

Jana performs the vital job of ensuring that everything laboratory or admin related runs smoothly.

Previous Group Members

Postdoctoral Researcherss

Shuang Xing

Shuang is interested in community ecology, distribution patterns and conservation biology. Her research focuses on species distribution along environmental gradients and biodiversity conservation under global change impacts. She seeks to understand changes in interaction networks along natural and anthropogenic gradients with LifeWebs project (



Mickal Houadria

Mickal has interests in community ecology, mechanisms of coexistence, and niche plasticity with a special focus on ecosystem functioning and stability. During his PhD at the University of Mainz he focused on tropical ant communities and their trophic functioning, comparing the old and new world and differing types of forests. His work has given him the chance to discover the beautiful natural wildlife of South America, Australia and currently Malaysian Borneo. Mickal recently joined our group and is working on the impacts of tropical forest degradation and fragmentation on ant-plant mutualisms, and consequences for plant community dynamics.

Nichola Plowman

Nic is an ecologist interested in species interactions, with a special focus on ant-plant interactions and community ecology in the tropics. During her PhD, she studied arboreal ant communities in the remote rainforests of Papua New Guinea. Her research investigated how communities and species interactions change with elevation and disturbance, by studying the microhabitat use, the behavioural ecology, and the functional and phylogenetic diversity of arboreal ants. She worked with us on the impacts of invasive ant species on ant-plant mutualisms. Nic now works as the Tender and Projects Manager for LTS International.

PhD Students

Jirí Tuma
Co-supervised by Vojtech Novotny and Jan Frouz (University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic)

Jirí's PhD investigated the way that predatory interactions between soil-dwelling ants and termites are affected by logging and fragmentation of rain forest and conversion to oil palm plantation, and the potential implications of these changes for soil properties. This work was funded by the Czech Science Foundation, with field work being conducted in collaboration with the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems project in Sabah, Malaysia. Jirí now has a full-time research position at the Institute of Soil Biology at the Czech Academy of Sciences.


Lois Kinneen
Co-supervised with Roger Kitching and Nigel Stork (Griffith University, Australia)

Lois carried out her PhD on the effects of habitat modification on insect herbivores and herbivory rates in tropical rainforests in Malaysian Borneo. This research was carried out within the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) landscape. She carried out experimental seedling transplants and made longitudinal assessments of herbivory and plant defences in fragmented and unfragmented forest. Following her PhD, Lois worked as a postdoc at the University of Reading, UK.


Masters Students
(full time research degrees only)

Andreas Dwi Advento
Co-supervised by Kalsum Yusah (Universiti Malaysia Sabah)

Advento is interesested in pest control pest in oil palm using integrated pest management (IPM) schemes. He previously collaborated with the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function in Tropical Agriculture (BEFTA) programme, through his ongoing role as a research officer for the Smart Research Institute (Smartri) in Sumatra, Indonesia. For his MSc he is now exploring the role of Asian weaver ants in oil palm as pest control agents in Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatera, Indonesia.

Amelia Joyce Philip
Co-supervised with Kalsum Yusah (Universiti Malaysia Sabah)

Amy’s work focused on the impacts of canopy simplification due to logging in terms of vertical stratification of ants. She also investigated the differences in vulnerability between different microhabitats to habitat degradation. She subsequently studied for her PhD at the University of South Bohemia, and Biology Centre of Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic with Katerina Sam.

Jimmy Moses
Co-supervised with Vojtech Novotny and Regina Kiele (University of Papua New Guinea)

Jimmy investigated the way that ant communities shift with altitude on Mt Wilhelm in Papua New Guinea. He also assessed parallel changes in ant nutrient limitation and scavenging activity. Jimmy's work was funded by the Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species UK, Christensen Foundation (USA), and the New Guinea Binatang Research Center. He graduated with distinction and is now doing a PhD at University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic, with Petr Klimes and Vojtech Novotny.

Wanji Chua
Co-supervised with Kalsum Yusah (Universiti Malaysia Sabah)

Wanji is interested in the way that the mutualistic interaction between Crematogaster ants and their host Macaranga trees is affected by logging and conversion to oil palm. This has implications for regeneration of degraded forests. This work was funded by the Malaysian Minstry of Higher education.

Undergraduate Students

Amelia Hood
Co-supervised with Ed Turner (University of Cambridge, UK)

Wong Yan Theng
Co-supervised with Kalsum Yusah (Universiti Malaysia Sabah)

Hoe Kah Yie
Co-supervised with Kalsum Yusah (Universiti Malaysia Sabah)

Amelia Joyce Philip
Co-supervised with Kalsum Yusah (Universiti Malaysia Sabah)

Wanji Chua
Co-supervised with Kalsum Yusah (Universiti Malaysia Sabah)

Lois Shitu
Co-supervised with Kalsum Yusah (Universiti Malaysia Sabah)