Monday, 12 May 2014

New Article: Indicators of the impact of land use changes using large-scale bird surveys: Land abandonment in a Mediterranean region

imageIn a new article recently published in Ecological Indicators, we developed a methodology to generate indicators capable to track the impact of land use changes in biodiversity using data from large scale monitoring projects. In particular we applied the proposed methodology to generate indicators to assess the impact that land abandonment has had in birds in Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula).

Generating sound indicators of biodiversity impact has been identified as a critical step towards our understanding of how global change components are affecting the environment across the globe. Land abandonment is recognized as a major component of global change in the Mediterranean basin, however, we lack adequate, quantitative, indicators of its impact on biodiversity. An appealing approach to develop biodiversity indicators is the use of large-scale bird monitoring projects, an important source of information that is already available in many countries. In this study we develop a method to quantify the impact of the two main processes associated with land abandonment in the Mediterranean region, namely the abandonment of farmland, which produces a shift from cultivated land to open natural habitats, and the encroachment by vegetation usually associated with reductions in livestock grazing and wood harvesting practices.

We used data from bird atlas and monitoring schemes in Catalonia (north-east Iberian Peninsula) to characterize species’ population response to these processes by means of detecting quantitative changes in relative abundances along a gradient ranging from habitats not affected by a given driving force to those that arise as a consequence of such force. We then generated multi-species indicators of the impact of these land use changes using these specific population responses to calibrate the relative contribution of each species in the composite index. The temporal patterns depicted by the two indicators in the period 2002–2011 show that vegetation encroachment did have a significant impact on bird communities, whereas any noticeable effect of farmland abandonment on bird populations was observed. The methodology proposed here could be employed to develop indicators capable to track biological impacts of land use change on an annual basis and inform decision-makers about the rate of increase or decrease on wildlife populations.


Nou article: Indicadors de l’impacte dels canvis en els usos del sòl utilitzant el monitoratge dels ocells a gran escala: l’abandonament de la terra en una regió mediterrània

En un nou article recentment publicat a la revista Ecological Indicators, hem desenvolupat una metodologia que, a partir de les dades de projectes de monitoratge a gran escala, genera indicadors que poden avaluar l'impacte que els canvis soferts en els usos del sòl produeixen en la biodiversitat. En particular, hem aplicat aquesta metodologia per avaluar l'impacte que l'abandonament de terres agrícoles i forestals ha tingut en els ocells a Catalunya en la darrera dècada. Els resultats d’aquest treball quantifiquen l’impacte significatiu que ha tingut el creixement progressiu de la vegetació als sistemes naturals del nostre país. Per contra, aquest treball no mostra un efecte significatiu de l’abandonament de l’activitat pròpiament agrícola.

Herrando, S, Anton, M, Sardà-Palomera, F., Bota, G., Gregory, R.D., Brotons, L. (2014). Indicators of the impact of land use changes using large-scale birdsurveys: Land abandonment in a Mediterranean region. Ecological Indicators 45 (2014) 235–244.

En català or click here for more info!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

New article: Using Unplanned Fires to Help Suppressing Future Large Fires in Mediterranean Forests.


In a new article published in PLOS ONE, we assessed changes in fire suppression policies and their impact on fire regimes. Modulating fire suppression efforts in mild weather conditions is an appealing but hotly-debated strategy to use unplanned fires and associated fuel reduction to create opportunities for suppression of large fires in future adverse weather conditions. Using a spatially-explicit fire–succession model developed for Catalonia (Spain), we assessed this opportunistic policy by using two fire suppression strategies that reproduce how firefighters in extreme weather conditions exploit previous fire scars as firefighting opportunities.

We designed scenarios by combining different levels of fire suppression efficiency and climatic severity for a 50-year period (2000–2050). An opportunistic fire suppression policy induced large-scale changes in fire regimes and decreased the area burnt under extreme climate conditions, but only accounted for up to 18–22% of the area to be burnt in reference scenarios. The area suppressed in adverse years tended to increase in scenarios with increasing amounts of area burnt during years dominated by mild weather. Climate change had counterintuitive effects on opportunistic fire suppression strategies. Climate warming increased the incidence of large fires under uncontrolled conditions but also indirectly increased opportunities for enhanced fire suppression. Therefore, to shift fire suppression opportunities from adverse to mild years, we would require a disproportionately large amount of area burnt in mild years.

Despite the huge resources invested in fire suppression, the impact of wildfires has considerably increased across the Mediterranean region since the second half of the 20th century. We conclude that the strategic planning of fire suppression resources has the potential to become an important cost-effective fuel-reduction strategy at large spatial scale. We do however suggest that this strategy should probably be accompanied by other fuel-reduction treatments applied at broad scales if large-scale changes in fire regimes are to be achieved, especially in the wider context of climate change.


Utilizant els focs no planificats per ajudar a suprimir grans focs futurs en boscos Mediterranis.

En un nou article publicat a PLOS ONE, hem avaluat com canvis en les polítiques de supressió del foc poden afectar el règim d’incendis en boscos Mediterranis. La modulació dels esforços de supressió del foc en períodes de climàtologia beningna es una estrategia debatuda per utilitzar focs no planificats  per reduir el fuel dels boscos i crear oportunitats  per suprimir futurs focs en condicions climàtiques adverses.

Regos A, Aquilué N, Retana J, De Cáceres M, Brotons L (2014) Using Unplanned Fires to Help Suppressing Future Large Fires in Mediterranean Forests. PLoS ONE 9(4): e94906. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094906

En català or click here for more info!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

New associate researcher: Sophie Bontemps

Sophie Bontemps has become an associate member of the ECOLAND lab. She is working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Earth and Life Institute of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Belgium. Her main background is in remote sensing while she has also advanced skills in GIS. She is involved in two projects funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) for which she has scientific and management responsibilities.

The CCI Land Cover project is part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) initiated by ESA to respond the need for information in support to climate science expressed by the GCOS. Recently, 50 Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) have been selected in the atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial to be critical for a full understanding of the climate system and currently ready for global implementation on a systematic basis. Land Cover is one of these variables: it is one of the most obvious and commonly used indicators for land surface and the associated human induced or naturally occurring processes, while it also plays a significant role in climate forcing.

The CCI Land Cover project aims at addressing the characterization of this variable. During the 3 first years (2011-2013), it has generated global land cover products at 300m-1000m spatial resolution over the 1998-2012 period that match the needs of the climate modeling community. From now up to 2016, the project will continue improving this set of products, using new sensors and covering an extended period. The project consortium includes various European labs of image processing as well as 3 Earth System modelling teams. These 3 teams perform model simulations to evaluate the improvements using the new LC_CCI dataset.
The Sentinel-2 for Agriculture project is also about land cover classification using remote sensing dataset but it focuses on the agriculture monitoring domain and relies on high spatial resolution imagery. Achieving sustainable food security for all people is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals but remains a global challenge. Earth Observation (EO) can contribute to agricultural monitoring as a proven source for transparent, timely and consistent information on the agricultural productivity at global and regional scale. The up-coming Sentinel-2 mission has the optimal capacity for regional to global agriculture monitoring in terms of resolution (10-20 meter), revisit frequency (5 days) and coverage (global). Further, its compatibility to the Landsat missions will allow building on a long historic time series of observations. The Sentinel-2 for Agriculture project is starting now and aims at preparing the Sentinel-2 exploitation for agriculture monitoring. Algorithms will be developed and validated to derive products in an operational manner for major worldwide representative agriculture systems. Four key products have been defined as relevant by key users of the domain: cloud free surface reflectance composites, cropland mask, crop type map and area estimate, vegetation status. In 2014 and 2015, proxy datasets (SPOT 4 Take 5, Landsat, RapidEye) will be used to simulate Sentinel-2 and generate prototype products while in 2016, the products will be demonstrated with Sentinel-2.

En català or click here for more info!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

New post doc at ECO-LAND: Nicolas Titeux

Nicolas Titeux recently joined the ECOLAND lab as a post-doctoral researcher on biodiversity scenarios in Europe (EUBON and TRUSTEE projects). The emphasis of his recent activities has been on spatial ecology, conservation biogeography and biodiversity monitoring. Important axes of his research are the improvement of predictive modelling approaches to guide the development of conservation strategies and the integration of such approaches into biodiversity monitoring programmes to understand species dynamics in space and over time.

He is also interested in understanding habitat selection patterns and processes in human-modified environments. After his PhD and post-doctoral projects at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, Nicolas has been the head of a small research team in the field of spatial ecology and biodiversity conservation during almost 6 years at the Centre de Recherche Public - Gabriel Lippmann in Luxembourg. His team has been responsible for the establishment and scientific coordination of the national biodiversity monitoring programme.

Nicolas recently joined the ECOLAND lab to work in the EU BON and TRUSTEE projects and to become integrated in international networks of key research institutions in Europe. Within those projects, he will contribute to the development of methods to improve the assessment/projection of the impacts of recent/future environmental changes on biodiversity. Beyond those projects, Nicolas would be very happy to collaborate with other members of the ECOLAND lab on research topics that match his competences or to participate and help in the fieldwork activities for other projects. His preferred taxa are (not surprisingly) birds, butterflies and bats, but he would be very pleased to learn more about other groups like Mediterranean dragonflies, reptiles or amphibians. Nicolas decided to settle in Solsona with his family for a while and will be on the lookout for any opportunity for a trekking or birdwatching experience in the surroundings...

En català or click here for more info!

Friday, 28 March 2014

New article: A Resource-Based Modelling Framework to Assess Habitat Suitability for Steppe Birds in Semiarid Mediterranean Agricultural Systems.

Captura de pantalla 2014-03-28 a les 12.58.49A new article has been published in PLoS ONE by ECOLAND and BACLAB members, with the collaboration of researchers from the IREC-CSIC, EEZA-CSIC, University of East Anglia and University of Lleida.

In this work included in the Steppeahead project included in the Proyecto 0 call from FGCSIC, the authors develop a resource-based model framework to estimate habitat suitability for target species, according to simple information on species’ key resource requirements (diet, foraging habitat and nesting site), and examine whether it can be used to link land-use and local species’ distribution.

The authors also compare the performance of the resource-based approach to that obtained through habitat-based models relating species’ occurrence and land-cover variables. Habitat suitability estimates generated by the resource-based models performed similarly (and better for one study species) than habitat based-models when predicting current species distribution. Moderate prediction success was achieved for three out of four species considered by resource-based models and for two of four by habitat-based models. Although, there is potential for improving the performance of resource-based models, they provide a structure for using available knowledge of the functional links between agricultural practices, provision of key resources and the response of organisms to predict potential effects of changing land-uses in a variety of context or the impacts of changes such as altered management practices that are not easily incorporated into habitat-based models.


Nou article: Un model basat en la disponibilitat de recursos per estimar la qualitat de l’hàbitat d’aus estepàries en sistemes agrícoles mediterranis semiàrids.

Integrants dels grups ECOLAND i BACLAD del CTFC publiquen un nou article a la revista PLoS ONE, en col·laboració amb investigadors del IREC-CSIC, EEZA-CSIC, la Universitat de Lleida i la Universitat  de East Anglia.

En aquest treball, els autors desenvolupen un model basat en la disponibilitat de recursos per estimar la qualitat de l’hàbitat d’aus estepàries en sistemes agrícoles mediterranis i examinen si poden ser útils per predir la distribució local d’aquestes espècies. Els autors també comparen els resultats d’aquests models amb models correlatius d’hàbitat que relacionen directament els usos del sòl amb dades d’ocurrència de les espècies. Els models basats en la disponibilitat de recursos van predir la distribució local de les espècies de manera similar (i millor per un espècie) als models correlatius d’hàbitat.

Es van obtenir un èxit de predicció moderat per tres de les quatre espècies considerades amb els models de disponibilitat de recursos, i per dos de quatre amb els models correlatius d’hàbitat. Tot i que encara hi ha potencial per millorar els models basats en la disponibilitat de recursos, aquests ja proporcionen una estructura per utilitzar el coneixement disponible sobre els vincles funcionals entre les practiques agrícoles, la provisió de recursos i la resposta de les espècies per predir els efectes potencials dels canvis en els usos del sòl o en les practiques agrícoles en una gran varietat de contextos.

Laura Cardador, Miquel De Cáceres, Gerard Bota, David Giralt, Fabián Casas, Beatriz Arroyo, François Mougeot, Carlos Cantero-Martínez, Judit Moncunill, Simon J. Butler & Lluís Brotons. 2014. A Resource-Based Modelling Framework to Assess Habitat Suitability for Steppe Birds in Semiarid Mediterranean Agricultural Systems.  published 25 Mar 2014 | PLOS ONE.

En català or click here for more info!

Monday, 24 March 2014

New article: Historical Ecology and Invasion Biology: Long-Term Distribution Changes of Introduced Freshwater Species

In this work, Miguel Clavero (Estación Biológica de Doñana, Sevilla) with support of Dani Villero (ECOLAND) show how analysis of historical datasets may have implications for present-day environmental management.

Based on Spanish historical written accounts from the sixteenth century to the present, they describe the long-term dynamics in the distributions of three freshwater species: tench (Tinca tinca), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), and white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius italicus). The results show the widespread, human-mediated expansion of the three species and support their introduced status, which has been controversial for tench and crayfish. The temporal patterns of spread of the three species differ dramatically. Although tench and crayfish expanded rapidly, carp spread mainly during the twentieth century, probably because of hydrologic alterations to Spanish streams. This prolonged time lag in the expansion of an introduced species calls for precaution when judging species invasiveness. Austropotamobius italicus is the focus of several conservation actions in Spain, a strategy that should be questioned in the view of the crayfish's probable introduced status.


Ecología històrica i biologia de les invasions

En aquest treball, Miguel Clavero (Estación Biológica de Doñana, Sevilla) amb el recolzament de Dani Villero (ECOLAND) mostren com els anàlisis de dades històriques poden tenir implicacions en les estratègies de conservació portades a terme en l’actualitat.

Basant-se en dades històriques publicades a Espanya des de mitjans del S.XVI fins a l’actualitat, han descrit la dinàmica de la distribució a llarg termini de 3 espècies d’aigües continentals: la tenca (Tinca tinca), la carpa (Cyprinus carpio) i el cranc de riu (Austropotamobius italicus). Els resultats mostren com en el passat l’àmplia expansió de les tres espècies va ser facilitada per l’home, donant suport al seu estatus d’espècies introduïdes, fet molt controvertit en els casos de la tenca i el crac de riu. Els patrons de dispersió de les tres espècies son molt diferents. Encara que la tenca i el cranc de riu es van expandir ràpidament, la carpa es va expandir principalment al llarg del S.XX, probablement a causa de alteracions hidrològiques dels rius espanyols. Un Aquest lapse temporal tant dilatat per a l’expansió d’una espècie introduïda suggereix que cal aplicar el principi de precaució alhora de jutjar la capacitat invasiva de les espècies. El cranc de riu (Austropotamobius italicus) es objecte de nombroses accions de conservació a Espanya, una estratègia de conservació que cal posar en qüestió a la llum del seu probable nou estatus d’espècie introduïda.

Clavero, M & Villero, D. 2014. Historical ecology and invasion biology: long-term distribution changes of introduced freshwater species. Bioscience, 64:145-153.

En català or click here for more info!

Friday, 27 December 2013

NEWFORESTS project: kick-off meeting 3-4th February, in Montreal, (Quebec- Canada)

Captura de pantalla 2013-12-29 a les 18.59.55In early February members from forest research institutions in Quebec, (Canada), Catalonia (Spain) and southern France met in Montreal for the kick-off meeting of the project NEWFORESTS. The meeting included a live broadcast of the event to be held on the Tuesday the 4th to those interested in the project (more to follow at CEMFOR and CEF).

The NEWFORESTS is a new exchange programme bringing together researchers from 5 research institutions: two from public research centres in Spain, Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia (CTFC) and Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), one French institution, Bio-Archaeology and Ecology Centre (CBAE), and two Canadian Universities (University du Québec à Montréal, UQAM, and in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, UQAT) hosting two of the main hubs of the Centre for Forest Research (CEF).   


Building from previous collaborations (i.e. LIA MONTABOR, FOREST COMPLEXITY MODELLING), the aim of the NEWFORESTS project is to create a competitive platform at the international level to analyse the responses of forest ecosystems to global changes and integrate current knowledge in sound and innovative forest management and planning approaches. The general objective of the program is to determine how to effectively integrate woodland management (including non-management options) into strategies aimed to adjust and mitigate global change.

The project is organized in 5 thematic work packages ranging from the basic understanding of forests dynamics, biodiversity and functioning to research on interactions between global change drivers determining disturbances regimes and the integration of the gathered knowledge into advanced modelling tools and sound management guidelines at different spatial scales. A fundamental aspect of the program is that it stresses not only the responsibility of human society as a major driver of global change, but also recognizes that we have an opportunity to mitigate this change through informed, proper management decisions.

General objectives of the project kick-off-meeting were:

-    Discuss the general governance of the NEWFORESTS project aiming at ensuring exchanges between the consortium institutions in the topics covered by the program of work.

-    Identify, propose and develop a program of activities for the consortium in the forthcoming months and years.

-    Introduce the members of the consortium to each other in more detail to enhance reciprocal knowledge of main research carried out and to facilitate the establishment of research exchanges.

En català or click here for more info!

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