“Ecology is the science of communities.” Victor Shelford (1913)

I am an ecologist with particular interest in community ecology. I work as a postdoctoral fellow in the ‘ITZ: Ecology and Evolution’. I am interested to understand the origin, maintenance, and consequences of biodiversity within local and regional communities. 

So far, I have used a variety of classical approaches to explore the sources of community processes and patterns. By landing in ITZ, I am going to use molecular approaches to answer my questions. Of course, insight obtained from community ecology can be used in the context of applied ecology such as biodiversity conservation and biological invasion. This is what I pursue in my work! 

I am working on two model organisms. Ants have been always main objective of my research since my M.Sc. degree. Ants are one of best model organisms for investigation on community ecology of terrestrial animals. 

Nevertheless, seventy percent of the earth is covered by ocean. In ITZ I will study on community ecology of another group of animals, which are aquatic: Placozoans. Indeed, placozoans are fascinating model organisms for examining the mechanisms of community assembly at the gene level, as they represent simple biological structure and smallest not secondary reduced genome among animals.

Current projects:
A. Spatio-temporal niche partitioning in ants 
B. Distributional modeling of one invasive ant species
C. Global scale dispersal routes of placozoans  

Other projects:
Iranian ants page in antbase.net: http://www.antbase.net/english/ants-of-iran/home.html
Iranian ants page in antweb.org: http://www.antweb.org/iran.jsp

Selected publications:
Paknia O, Pfeiffer M. (2012) Productivity alone does not explain species richness of ants - an example from Central Persian deserts. Journal of Arid Environments 85: 86-92
Kiran K., Alipanah H., Paknia O.  (2012) A new species of the ant genus Aphaenogaster Mayr, 1853 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Iran. Asian Myrmecology
Paknia O, Pfeiffer M. (2011) Desert versus steppe: multi-scale spatial patterns in diversity of ant communities in Iran. Insect Conservation and Diversity 4: 297-306
Paknia O, Pfeiffer M. (2011) Hierarchical partitioning of ant diversity: implications for conservation of biogeographical diversity in arid and semi-arid areas. Diversity and Distributions 17: 122-131
Radchenko A, Paknia O. (2010) Two new species of the genus Cataglyphis Foerster, 1850 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Iran. Annales Zoologici 60: 69-76 
Paknia O. (2006) Distribution of the introduced ponerine ant Pachycondyla sennaarensis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Iran. Myrmecological News 8: 235-238 



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