Friday, 16 January 2015

We search for PhD candidates: Applications of spatial and temporal models in the assessment of global change impacts on biodiversity in the Mediterranean

We search for PhD candidates interested in applying for a contract in the context of the Call “Formación de Profesorado Universitario (FPU)” of the Spanish Ministery of Education.
The candidate will develop a PhD on the applications of species trend modelling and species distribution models (SDM) in the evaluation of the impacts of climate and land use changes on biodiversity with a strong focus on birds and fire regimes. The successful candidate will work in the Biodiversity and landscape Ecology lab within the InForest Joint research unit that the CTFC has recently created with the CREAF in Barcelona.

•    Excellent academic (above 2.5 in 1 to 4 Spanish academic evaluation system)
•    Academic qualifications that allow starting a doctoral degree (Official master degree already obtained).
•    Proven experience in GIS and remote sensing data (i.e Landsat).  analyses. Programming skills preferred.
•    Experience in R statistical programming language .
•    Experience in writing scientific articles.
•    High proficiency in English language.

Interested candidates can send a CV (and request further information)via e-mail to


Es cerquen candidats de tesi doctoral interessats en demanar un contracte dins de la convocatòria de “Formación de Profesorado Universitario (FPU)” del ministerio d’Educació.

L’objectiu és el desenvolupament d’una tesis sobre l’aplicació dels models de distribución i tendències temporals d’espècies a l’avaluació dels impactes del canvi climàtic i dels canvis d’ús del sol sobre la biodiversitat amb un focus especial sobre els ocells i els règims d’incendis. El candidat treballarà en el marc del Biodiversity and landscape Ecology lab que forma part de la recentment creada InForest unitat mixta de recerca entre el CTFC i el CREAF.

•    Excel.lent expediente acadèmic (per sobre de 2,5) 
•    Master oficial obtingut.
•    Experiència provada en análisis SIG i d’informació provinent de sensors remots (i.e Landsat). Preferentment amb coneixements de programació.
•    Experiència en el llenguatge de programación estadística R.
•    Experiència en la redacció d’articles científics.
•    Nivell d’anglès molt alt.

Candidats interessats podeu enviar el CV  (o demanar més informació) via e-mail a

En català or click here for more info!

Friday, 26 December 2014

New article: Rewilding: a potential alternative approach to conservation in abandoned mountain areas?

imageLand-use change is a large component of global change and the effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services currently represent a major challenge for ecologists and conservationists. Several authors have recently suggested that REWILDING may be an appealing conservation response to farmland abandonment in areas of Europe where the social structure of farming communities has been eroded and low-intensity farming is no longer socially or economically viable. ECOLAND group, in collaboration with GRUMETS lab (CREAF and Autonomous University of Barcelona) and University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), have assessed the relative positive and negative effects of land abandonment on Gerês–Xurés Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (NW Iberian Peninsula) in order to quantify the potential conservation costs and benefits of a rewilding as a land-use management policy.

In a first study published in International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, we aimed to determine if the abandonment of the rural areas was the main driver of landscape dynamics on this particular mountain area, or if other factors, such as wildfires and the land management were also directly affecting these spatio-temporal dynamics. For this purpose, we used earth observation data acquired from Landsat TM and ETM + satellite sensors, complemented by ancillary data and prior field knowledge, to evaluate the land use/land cover changes in our study region over a 10-year period (2000–2010). Our findings showed that rural exodus of the last century, differences in land management and fire suppression policies between Spain and Portugal and the different protection schemes could partly explain the different patterns of changes recorded in these covers.

In a second study, recently accepted in Regional Environmental Change, we investigated the effects of land abandonment processes on bird assemblages at both landscape and local scale. We combined medium-term data on avifauna distribution with information on temporal changes in land-use/land-cover extracted from satellite data. In light of our results, rewilding appears to have overall positive effects on biodiversity and should be considered by policy makers as alternative land-use strategy in marginal mountain areas, particularly if they have been historically affected by wildfires. Fire management aimed at favouring the creation of small burned areas in progressively closed landscapes derived from rewilding may be a complementary alternative to maintain open habitats in these areas.

Regos, A., Ninyerola, M., Moré, G., Pons, X., 2015. Linking land cover dynamics with driving forces in mountain landscape of the Northwestern Iberian Peninsula. Int. J. Appl. Earth Obs. Geoinf. 38, 1–14.

Regos, A., Domínguez, J., Gil-Tena, A., Brotons, L., Ninyerola, M., Pons, X., 2014. Rural abandoned landscapes and bird assemblages: winners and losers in the rewilding of a marginal mountain area (NW Spain). Reg. Environ. Chang.

En català or click here for more info!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Tools for exploring habitat suitability for biodiversity under scenarios of rapid land use change.

A new article published in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment used scenario development based on changes in key socioeconomic drivers together with resource-based habitat suitability models to develop plausible visions of future pathways of agricultural land use and evaluate their potential consequences on conservation of target species. Analyses focused on three steppe bird species in a protected Natura 2000 area, located in the Iberian Peninsula. Our results showed that changes in land use composition under different scenarios can have important effects on habitat suitability, but that the size of those effects would vary depending on species-specific requirements and spatial distribution of land use changes.

Laura Cardador, Miquel De Cáceres, David Giralt, Gerard Bota, Núria Aquilué, Beatriz Arroyo, François Mougeot, Carlos Cantero-Martínez, Lourdes Viladomiu, Jordi Rosell, Fabián Casas, Alba Estrada, Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes, Lluís Brotons (2015).  Tools for exploring habitat suitability for steppe birds under land use change scenarios. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 200: 119-125.

En català or click here for more info!

Friday, 21 November 2014

New article: Woodland bird response to landscape connectivity in an agriculture-dominated landscape

In a new study published in the journal Community Ecology, Assu Gil-Tena and co-workers  have assessed the role of landscape connectivity in woodland bird species richness, abundance, and community similarity in north-east Brittany (north-west France). Over the last 30 years, ecological networks have been deployed to reduce global biodiversity loss by enhancing landscape connectivity. Bird species dwelling in woodland habitats that are embedded in agriculture-dominated landscapes are expected to be particularly sensitive to the loss of connectivity. In this study, an exhaustive woodland selection protocol was carried out to minimize the effects of woodland size on the response variables. Connectivity of the woodland and forest network in the study area was evaluated using graph-theory, accounting for matrix permeability, and a characteristic median natal dispersal distance at the community level based on the bird species pool recorded in the sampled woodlands. Information-theoretic model selection, controlling for woodland size in all the cases, depicted the response of woodland birds at the community level to the connectivity of agriculture-dominated landscapes. On average, the sampled woodlands (n = 25) contained 15.5 ± 2.4 bird species, with an abundance of 25.1 ± 3.9, and had highly similar bird communities (species composition and proportion); eight species represented 57% of total abundance and were present in at least 22 woodlands. The performance of models improved when using effective, rather than Euclidean, interpatch distances in the connectivity assessment. Landscape connectivity was only significantly related to similarity of proportional species composition. Large woodlands contained communities with more similar species proportions in an inhospitable agricultural landscape matrix than in a more permeable one. Woodland size was the most relevant factor determining species abundance, indicating that the bird population sizes are primarily proportional to the local habitat availability. Connectivity in relation to landscape matrix permeability did not seem to induce the flow of woodland-dependent bird species that are dominant in the community but rather of matrix-dwelling bird species that are less dependent on woodland patch area. In conclusion, both habitat conservation and restoration (i.e., amount and quality), in combination with permeable landscape structures (such as heterogeneous land cover mosaics), are advocated for community level conservation strategies.

Gil-Tena, A., Nabucet, J., Mony, C., Abadie, J., Saura, S., Butet, A., Burel, F., Ernoult, A. 2014. Woodland bird response to landscape connectivity in an agriculture-dominated landscape: a functional community approach. Community Ecology, 15(2): 256-268.

En català or click here for more info!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

New article: Species Distribution Models and Impact Factor Growth in Environmental Journals

In this work, we evaluate the impact of species distribution models (SDMs) on the current status of environmental and ecological journals by asking the question to which degree development of SDMs in the literature is related to recent changes in the impact factors of ecological journals. The results indicate a positive relationship between the number of SDM related articles published in a journal and its impact factor (IF) growth during the period 2000–09. The hypothesis evaluated states that research fronts are likely to attract research attention and potentially drive citation patterns, with journals concentrating papers related to the research front receiving more attention and benefiting from faster increases in their impact on the ecological literature.

However, the percentage of SDM related papers in a journal was strongly and positively associated with the percentage of papers on climate change and statistical issues. The results support the hypothesis that global change science has been critical in the development of SDMs and that interest in climate change research in particular, rather than the usage of SDM per se, appears as an important factor behind journal IF increases in ecology and environmental sciences. Finally, our results on SDM application in global change science support the view that scientific interest rather than methodological fashion appears to be the major driver of research attraction in the scientific literature.

Brotons L (2014) Species Distribution Models and Impact Factor Growth in Environmental Journals: Methodological Fashion or the Attraction of Global Change Science. PLoS ONE 9(11): e111996. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111996.

En català or click here for more info!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

ECOLAND creates the “Biodiversity Information Facility” BIF

Captura de pantalla 2014-09-16 a les 19.47.19

ECOLAND creates a new facility for biodiversity research: the Biodiversity Information Facility (BIF).

BIF is devoted to organize and standardize available biodiversity data (species distribution, monitoring, natural history traits, amongst others), and related ecological factors (environmental information and human pressure descriptors). These structured information should facilitate the access of the best available information in decision making processes, when dealing with specific questions in hot conservation problems and when developing ecological research on species responses and ecosystem dynamics in a rapidly changing world.

Thus, the new facility is strongly oriented at making biodiversity information more relevant and accessible to policymakers, managers, researchers and other users from governmental and non-governmental organizations. Key products include the design and development of primary biodiversity information systems shaped in data forms, maps and web servers, but especially applications based on data integration and analysis using complex methodologies from ecological research.

Examples include using models to inform conservation policies, designing conservation priorities in protected areas, and combining biodiversity forecasts and indicators to assess global change impacts.

En català or click here for more info!

New article: Reassessing global change research priorities in Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems:

In a new article summarising findings from the CONSOLIDER-MONTES project, researchers involved in this project revisit the research priorities proposed in 1998 to unravel the challenges that global changes induce in Mediterranean systems.

Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems serve as reference laboratories for the investigation of global change because of their transitional climate, the high spatiotemporal variability of their environmental conditions, a rich and unique biodiversity and a wide range of socio-economic conditions. As scientific development and environmental pressures increase, it is increasingly necessary to evaluate recent progress and to challenge research priorities in the face of global change.

A of research priorities is proposed: (1) to establish the role of the landscape mosaic on fire-spread; (2) to further research the combined effect of different drivers on pest expansion; (3) to address the interaction between drivers of global change and recent forest management practices; (4) to obtain more realistic information on the impacts of global change and ecosystem services; (5) to assess forest mortality events associated with climatic extremes; (6) to focus global change research on identifying and managing vulnerable areas; (7) to use the functional traits concept to study resilience after disturbance; (8) to study the relationship between genotypic and phenotypic diversity as a source of forest resilience; (9) to understand the balance between C storage and water resources; (10) to analyse the interplay between landscape-scale processes and biodiversity conservation; (11) to refine models by including interactions between drivers and socio-economic contexts; (12) to understand forest–atmosphere feedbacks; (13) to represent key mechanisms linking plant hydraulics with landscape hydrology.

Main conclusions (1) The interactive nature of different global change drivers remains poorly understood. (2) There is a critical need for the rapid development of regional- and global-scale models that are more tightly connected with large-scale experiments, data networks and management practice. (3) More attention should be directed to drought-related forest decline and the current relevance of historical land use.

Doblas-Miranda, E, J. Martínez-Vilalta, F. Lloret, A. Álvarez, A. Ávila, F. J. Bonet, L. Brotons, J. Castro, J. Curiel Yuste, M. Díaz, P. Ferrandis, E. García-Hurtado, J. M. Iriondo, T. F. Keenan, J. Latron, J. Llusià, L. Loepfe, M. Mayol, G.Moré, D.Moya, J. Peñuelas, X. Pons,
R. Poyatos, J. Sardans, O. Sus, V. R. Vallejo, J. Vayreda & J. Retana. 2014. Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: how far have we come and where do we go from here? Glob. Ecol. & Biog, in press.

En català or click here for more info!

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