Insect Ecology Group
Personal website: www.tomfayle.com
The earth is estimated to support up to 10 million species. My research focuses on the maintenance of this diversity of species at a range of scales, from the local impacts of interactions among species to the large-scale effects of habitat conversion.
Using the ant communities inhabiting epiphytic ferns I have explored the importance of small-scale processes in the maintenance of species diversity (Fayle et al. 2008). These ferns support more diverse ant assemblages than have ever been found before in an epiphyte. Classic niche theory predicts that for species to co-exist they must differ in their niches; there should be some combination of environmental factors under which they outcompete all other species. I found this to be the case for both ferns (Fayle et al. 2009) and ants (Fayle et al. In prep.).
However, such a pattern might result from either passive selection of different environments by different species, or direct competitive exclusion between species with similar habitat preferences. In order to explore this dichotomy I carried out null model analyses of ant co-occurrence patterns and experimental invasions of ferns by different ant colonies (Fayle et al. In prep.). I showed that a taxonomic hierarchy of competitive strengths exists, and used computer-based simulations to demonstrate that this hierarchy is necessary for the maintenance of ant diversity in these ferns.
I have studied the statistical error rates of the most commonly-used metric of species co-existence, the C-score (Fayle & Manica In review). I found that the C-score is highly susceptible to Type I errors (detecting a pattern in the data when none exists) but this can be corrected by using a larger number of simulations during analysis.
The niches of many species are defined by the exploitation of another species, be it prey, host or mutualistic partner. I have been involved in studies exploring both parasitism (of a species of fly on an ant, Disney & Fayle 2008) and predation (of a digger wasp on the larvae of Lepidoptera, Field et al. 2007). In an ant-rattan symbiosis I have found that co-existence among ant species can occur, so long as the host plant is unable to punish resident species that "cheat" (Edwards et al. In press).
At global spatial scales, the preservation of diversity depends on the conservation of species and their habitats. I have assessed the efficacy of protocols for surveying biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates (Aldridge et al. 2007) and moths (Fayle et al. 2007). I have also explored the impacts of oil palm expansion in SE Asia (Turner et al. 2008), a global biodiversity hotspot, on ant communities (Fayle et al. In press). Conversion of forest into oil palm plantation results in a loss of 81% of forest ant species. While canopy-dwelling and litter-dwelling ant species richness decreases dramatically, species richness in epiphytic ferns remains the same.
Fayle T.M., Edwards D.P., Turner, E.C., Dumbrell A.J., Eggleton P. & Foster W.A. (In press). Public goods, public services, and by-product mutualism in an ant-fern symbiosis. Oikos
Brussaard L., Aanen D.K., Briones M., Decaëns T, De Deyn G.B., Fayle T.M. & James S.W. (In press) Biogeography and phylogenetic community structure of soil invertebrate ecosystem engineers: global to local patterns and implications for ecosystem functioning and global environmental change impacts. In Wall D.H. et al. (Eds.) Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services. Oxford University Press, UK.
Yusah K.M., Fayle T.M., Harris G. & Foster W.A. (In press). Optimising diversity assessment protocols for high canopy ants in tropical rain forest. Biotropica.
Foster W.A., Snaddon J.L., Turner E.C., Fayle T.M., Cockerill T.D., Ellwood M.D.F., Broad G.R., Chung A.Y.C., Eggleton E., Chey V.K., Yusah K.M. (2011). Establishing the evidence base for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem function in the oil palm landscapes of South East Asia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366: 3277-3291.
Fayle T.M. & Manica A. (2011). Bias in null model analyses of species co-occurrence: a response to Gotelli and Ulrich (2010). Ecological Modelling 222: 1340-1341.
Fayle T.M., Dumbrell A.J., Turner E.C & Foster W.A. (2011). Distributional patterns of epiphytic ferns are explained by the presence of cryptic species. Biotropica 43: 6-7.
Woodcock P., Edwards D.P., Fayle T.M., Newton R.J., Chey V.K.. Bottrell S.H. & Hamer K.C. (2011) The conservation value of Southeast Asia’s highly degraded forests: evidence from leaf-litter ants. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366: 3256-3264.
Turner E.C., Snaddon J.L., Ewers R.M., Fayle T.M. and Foster W.A. (2011). The Impact of Oil Palm Expansion on Environmental Change: Putting Conservation Research in Context. In Bernardes M.A.S. (Ed.) Environmental Impact of Biofuels. InTech Press.
Fayle T.M., Bakker L., Cheah C., Ching T.M., Davey A., Dem F., Earl A., Huaimei Y., Hyland S., Johansson B., Ligtermoet E., Lim R., Lin L.K., Luangyotha P., Herlander Martins B., Palmeirim A.F., Paninhuan S., Kepfer Rojas S., Sam L., Sam P.T.T., Susanto D., Wahyudi A., Walsh J., Weigl S., Craze P.G., Jehle R., Metcalfe D. & Trevelyan T. (2011). A positive relationship between ant biodiversity (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and rate of scavenger-mediated nutrient redistribution along a disturbance gradient in a south-east Asian rain forest. Myrmecological News 14: 5-12.
Fayle T.M. & Manica A. (2010). Reducing over-reporting of deterministic co-occurrence patterns in biotic communities. Ecological Modelling 221: 2237-2242.
Fayle T.M. (2010) Go to the ant thou sluggard... Trends in Ecology and Evolution 25: 431-432.
Fayle T.M., Turner E.C., Snaddon J.L., Chey V.K., Chung A.Y., Eggleton P.E. & Foster W.A. (2010). Oil palm expansion into rain forest greatly reduces ant biodiversity in canopy, epiphytes and leaf litter. Basic and Applied Ecology 11: 337-345.
Edwards D.P., Ansell F.A., Woodcock P, Fayle T.M., Chey V.K. & Hamer K.C. (2010) Can the failure to punish promote cheating in mutualism? Oikos 119: 45-52.
Fayle T.M., Chung A.Y.C., Dumbrell A.J., Eggleton P. & Foster W.A. (2009). The Effect of Rain Forest Canopy Architecture on the Distribution of Epiphytic Ferns (Asplenium spp.) in Sabah, Malaysia. Biotropica 41: 676-681.
Fayle T.M., Ellwood M.D.F., Turner E.C., Snaddon J.L., Yusah K.M. & Foster W.A. (2008). Bird’s nest ferns: islands of biodiversity in the rainforest canopy. Antenna 32: 34-37.
Turner E.C., Snaddon J.L., Fayle T.M. & Foster W.A. (2008). Oil Palm Research in Context: Identifying the Need for Biodiversity Assessment. PLoS ONE 3: e1572.
Fayle T.M. (2008). Book Review of Ants of North America: A Guide to the Genera by Brian Fisher & Stefan Cover. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 152: 847.
Disney R.H.L. & Fayle T.M. (2008). A New Species of Scuttle Fly (Diptera: Phoridae) Parasitizing an Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Borneo. Sociobiology 51: 327-332.
Field J., Turner E., Fayle T.M. & Foster W.A. (2007). Costs of egg-laying and offspring provisioning: multifaceted parental investment in a digger wasp. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274: 445-451.
Fayle T.M., Sharp R.E. & Majerus M.E.N. (2007). The effect of moth trap type on size and composition in British Lepidoptera. British Journal of Entomology and Natural History 20: 221-232.
Aldridge D.C., Fayle T.M. & Jackson N. (2007). Freshwater mussel abundance predicts biodiversity in UK lowland rivers. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 17: 554-564.