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!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Candidat a beca FI 2015 per a desenvolupar un projecte de modelització de la vegetació al CTFC

Es busca candidat per a sol·licitar una beca de doctorat de Formació d’Investigadors (FI-DGR 2015) per a la realització d’una tesi doctoral sobre la predicció dels potencials efectes del canvi global sobre l’estructura i composició dels boscos a Catalunya, dins del grup de biodiversitat i ecologia del paisatge (http://biodiversitylandscapeecologylab.blogspot.com/).


Els boscos Mediterranis són el resultat de l’acció de processos ecològics (creixement, competència, mortalitat, dispersió, establiment…) en els que intervenen tant atributs de les plantes como factors del anomenat canvi global (increment de la sequera, canvis en el règim d’incendis, abandonament rural…). Un dels reptes actuals de l’ecologia terrestre és ser capaços de fer prediccions quantitatives i espacialment explícites sobre els possibles canvis futurs en els boscos. L’objectiu del projecte de tesis que proposem és el d’explorar les possibles conseqüències del canvi climàtic sobre els boscos de Catalunya. Concretament, ens interessa estudiar els possibles efectes de l’increment de la sequera estival sobre la composició i estructura dels boscos, derivats d’un augment de la mortalitat per estrès hídric i un major impacte dels incendis forestals. La consecució de la tesi implica l’aplicació d’un model de simulació de la dinàmica forestal a escala regional (que s’està desenvolupant en col·laboració entre el CTFC, el CREAF i el CIDE-CSIC) que representa la vegetació de cada cel·la com a un conjunt de cohorts de plantes de diferents espècies llenyoses i simula la dinàmica del bosc (http://sites.google.com/site/medfireproject/).

Requeriments:
• Llicenciats o graduats en Biologia, Ciències Ambientals o Enginyeria forestal.
• Bona qualificació acadèmica.
• Complir s requisits de la convocatòria FI (consultar
http://www10.gencat.cat/agaur_web/generados/catala/home/recurs/doc/fi_2015_dogc.pdf).
• Es valorarà especialment coneixements d’estadística, programació en entorn R, sistemes d’informació geogràfica, teledetecció i ecologia forestal.

Lloc de treball:
Centre Tecnològic Forestal de Catalunya, a Solsona (Lleida).

Contacte:
Les persones interessades poden contactar amb Miquel De Cáceres
(miquelcaceres@gmail.com) abans del 7 de setembre, adjuntant CV, una breu descripció dels interessos de recerca (màx. 1 pàgina) i la nota mitjana de l’expedient.

En català or click here for more info!

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.

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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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.04.011

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.

IMG_7261

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.

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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!

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