The research fields covered by ACE are diverse and include both applied and fundamental components. The strengths of the Centre’s members and associates are reflected in a series of research themes.

Animal-plant Interactions

This theme seeks to develop an understanding of the nature of the interactions between animals and plants and also a predictive understanding of perturbations associated with animal impacts on communities and ecosystems. ACE has developed considerable experience on the impacts of megaherbivores on thicket vegetation as well as on granivory and dispersal ecology.

Predator-prey Interactions

This theme seeks to understand the nature and consequences of predator prey interactions and to provide guidelines for the conservation management of predators and their prey. Predators fulfil critical roles in ecosystem functioning, but their trophic status often places them in conflict with humans, such that the majority are threatened with extinction. In their absence, ecosystem processes suffer and may require human intervention to persist. This theme will enable a more comprehensive understanding of predator conservation ecology and the impacts of predators on their prey and their competitors, and will provide guidelines for mitigating predator-farmer conflict.


This theme seeks to understand how physiological characteristics constrain or aid the flow of energy from the environment into living organisms, and how that energy is ultimately translated into an organism’s fitness.

Resource Ecology

This theme seeks to develop a predictive understanding of the responses of biota to different forms of utilisation. This information will enable ACE to contribute to the development of management interventions for the sustainable use of natural resources, and reflects ACE’s ability to address both floral and faunal research questions.

Restoration Ecology

This theme seeks to understand the causes and consequences of ecosystem transformation across all levels of complexity to provide guidelines for

restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. It draws and builds on the information and experience available in ACE.


This theme seeks to gain a predictive understanding of the patterns, determinants and functions of biodiversity. It underpins much of ACE’s research, and the Centre has developed the expertise to address many issues in biodiversity research.

Fundamental Research

This theme seeks to encourage research on any intellectually interesting ecological or evolutionary question. This allows ACE researchers to express their curiosity and enthusiasm to pursue themes in addition to those listed above.

Global Change

This theme seeks to bring into perspective, and address, changes due to anthropogenic stress on the organism, community, population and the environment as a whole. It addresses the effects of climate change on ecosystem functioning, eco-physiology and biodiversity. It investigates the introduction, spread and management of invasive species in the context of conservation and protection of our natural resources. It furthermore addresses habitat transformation, extralimital species introduction and distribution, and the preservation of habitat diversity and function.

Conservation Biology

This theme seeks to identify priorities in terms of areas and implementation options for the efficient and effective long-term conservation of populations, species, habitats, as well as the ecological and evolutionary processes that maintain them. ACE has developed particular skills in conservation planning and is well positioned to make significant advances of high academic and applied impact.