Tomas Jonsson

Professor i biovetenskap

Institutionen för biovetenskap


  • Rum
  • G2241

Head of the Ecological Modelling Research group.

Professor in Ecology, University of Skövde, 2019
Associate Professor of Theoretical ecology, University of Skövde, 2007
PhD, Linköping University, 1998.
BSc, Linköping University, 1990.

Researcher identity
ORCID: 0000-0002-5234-9576
Researcher ID: G-1787-2013

Research overview
I am a Lecturer and Professor in Ecology at the School of BioScience, at the University of Skövde (US). Here, my research is carried out within the Ecological modelling research group, but in close collaboration with the Food web ecology and Ecosystem services research groups at the Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), where I am an affiliated researcher.

I have a broad research interest in population and community ecology, but with the common goal of increasing our understanding of (i) how species interact, (ii) the consequences, at several levels, of such interactions, and (iii) how perturbations, such as climate change, may affect all this. More specifically, ever since my PhD, which focused on patterns in and consequences of the distribution of body sizes in food webs, a recurring theme of my research has been, and still is, on various aspects of food webs. Here I often use theoretical approaches, such as mathematical modelling, to study consequences of trophic interactions on populations as well as community structure and function.

Currently, much of my research fall under two separate but still related main themes (see below for details):

  • Advanced understanding of ecosystem functioning through food web ecology (in close collaboration with SLU)
  • Increased understanding of fishes in the great lakes of Sweden using a food web approach (at US)

Theoretical approaches, such as mathematical modelling, is an important part of these projects. Theoretical research should, however, not live a life of its own, at some point there must be an interaction between theory and empirical observation. The research I carry out, both here at US and in collaboration with SLU, fulfills this requirement within the same projects, by using a mixture of theoretical and experimental techniques as well as empirically observed field data.

Current major research projects

PROJECT: Advanced Understanding of Ecosystem Functioning through Food Web Ecology.
This project studies the interaction between species traits and trophic interaction strength and how this affects emergent properties related to ecosystem functioning at the community level. More specifically, using a combination of microcosm experiments, empirical food web data and mathematical models, we aim to link species traits, such as body size and hunting mode, to their trophic interactions - whom they're eating/being eaten by - and how strong the interaction is. This will help us to understand the mechanisms behind the structure and dynamics of food webs, as well as how they may change in response to factors such as disturbance, environmental change, invasions and extinctions. With a focus on agricultural food webs, we are also interested in how the composition of species traits within a predator community affects population dynamics of both predators and prey and how this relates to biocontrol of agricultural pests.

This project is financed 2017-2020 by the Swedish Research council (VR).

Collaborators: PhD-student Kate Wootton (SLU), Prof. Tomas Roslin (SLU), Dr. Tomas Jonsson (University of Skövde), Prof. Riccardo Bommarco (SLU), Dr. Alva Curtsdotter (SLU), Dr. Kirsten Miller (SLU), Dr. John Banks (California States University; USA), Dr. Amanda N. Laubmeier (North Carolina State University, USA), Prof. Harvey T. Banks (North Carolina State University, USA)


PROJECT: Increased understanding of fishes in the great lakes of Sweden using a food web approach.
This project centers on the great lakes of Sweden, mainly Lakes Vättern and Vänern, with a primary focus on Lake Vättern. Lakes Vänern and Vättern, the EU's largest and fourth largest lakes, represent nationally as well as internationally important freshwater ecosystems with significant multispecies fisheries that are facing important challenges today, due to lingering effects of historical overfishing and nutrient enrichment as well as impending effects of climate change. Increased understanding of the mechanisms affecting the fishes in these lakes and how to sustainably manage a multispecies fishery under these stressors should be of great general importance. Here we use a combination of approaches to study, among other things, the size selectivity of the fishing gears used in the commercial fishery, effects of water temperature on species interactions via direct effects on the ecology of individual species, and effects of fishery regulations, such as freshwater protected areas, on sensitive species. The main objective is to use the knowledge gained from this in a food web based analysis that provides recommendations for how to sustainably manage the multispecies fisheries in these lakes.
This project has previously been financed by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) and new funding has been applied for.
COLLABORATORS: Dr. Tomas Jonsson (University of Skövde), Dr. Alfred Sandström (SLU-Aqua), Dr Malin Setzer (County Administration of Jönköping)

Academic positions

  • 2017 – : Lecturer and Associate Professor in Theoretical Ecology at the division of Ecology, School of BioScience, University of Skövde.
  • 2012 – 2016: Researcher in Theoretical Population Ecology at the Dept. of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala.
  • 2001 – 2012: Assistant professor in Theoretical Ecology (Universitetslektor i Teoretisk ekologi) at the division of Ecology, School of Life Sciences, University of Skövde.
  • 1999 – 2000: Postdoctoral Associate at the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA.
  • 1998: lecturer (vik. Universitetslektor) at the Department of Biology, Linköping University.
  • 1992 – 1998: Ph.D.-student at the Department of Biology, Linköping University.
  • 1990 – 1992: lecturer (vik. Högskoleadjunkt) at the Department of Biology, Linköping University.

Former PhD-students:

  • Sofia Berg ("Community robustness analysis: theoretical approaches to identifying keystone structures in ecological communities"), Dissertation at Linköping University: 15 February 2013.
  • Malin Setzer ("The decline of great Arctic charr in Lake Vättern – empirical and theoretical analyses of suggested causes"), Dissertation at Linköping University: 1 June 2012
  • Patrik Karlsson ("Food webs, models and species extinctions in a stochastic environment"). Dissertation at Lund University: 16 Februari 2007.