Lunes, 18, a jueves, 21 de Octubre · Plasencia, Cáceres


 Sara Varela 

Universidade de Vigo, España

Lunes 18, 18:00

What can we learn from the past? Combining paleoclimatology with fossil records to enhance our knowledge about life on Earth"

Biodiversity is the most important asset of life on Earth. Estimates indicate that there are more than 8 million species providing us food, well-being and health. Since Darwin and Mendel, we started to understand how diversity is selected and inherited. However, where and why biodiversity originates and vanishes are fundamental questions yet to be answered. Global biodiversity patterns have been studied by biogeographers and palaeontologists aiming to unveil general rules of life. But until now, spatial ecology and evolutionary biology worked as separated research fields, one focus on the spatial patterns of biodiversity, and the other in temporal variations of species, genes, or traits. Is it feasible to combine both fields to better understand deep time biodiversity patterns, across space and through time? Here, I will review the methodological and theoretical frameworks that we use to explore deep time diversity patterns, and the main drivers that we assume are behind observed trends.

 Victor Galaz 

Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden

Martes 19, 9:00

Ecology in times of big capital, and big machines"

Raging fires in the Amazon, in Australia and California. Rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets, the continued loss of biodiversity, and zoonotic disease outbreaks causing one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. These are only a few examples of how our planet is radically changing, and its profound impacts for human wellbeing all over the world. At the same time, modern societies are entering a period of rapid economic and technological disruption and change. Financial flows and economic information moves in ultraspeed across the planet. Sensors, increasingly advanced satellite technologies, and a growing number of applications of machine intelligence (including both machine learning and deep learning) to analyze vast growing volumes of data, are at the verge of altering how we perceive and modify our living planet, forever.

What is the role of sustainability, and especially social-ecological, research in this new planetary context? In this talk, I will explore the growing interplay between humans, technology and ecology. I will elaborate how new technologies augmented by advanced algorithmic systems (often referred to as ‘artificial intelligence’) shape the way we see, and respond to climate and environmental change; and how these technological advances are changing the connections between finance and ecology. And last but not least, I will explore why ecologists play a fundamental role as we all strive to navigate a time shaped by big capital, and big machines.    

 Marta Goberna 

Departamento de Medio Ambiente y Agronomía, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), España

Martes 19, 18:00

Microbial community assembly and the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems

Soil microorganisms are essential components of terrestrial ecosystems that encompass an enormous diversity and deliver vital functions, including decomposition and nutrient cycling. Understanding the performance of ecosystems, therefore, requires unraveling the ecological mechanisms that assemble microbial communities, and beyond, how community composition and diversity impact microbial-driven ecosystem functions. Both topics have significantly advanced during the last decade partly due to the development of metagenomics, which allows a deep sampling of the soil microbiome, and its combination with phylogenetics. The talk will review the stochastic and niche-based processes that structure soil microbial communities, and how they leave specific phylogenetic signatures. The talk will also show how tracking microbial evolutionary legacies may enhance the predictions of key ecosystem functions. Most data gathered in this sense explore the links between primary producers and decomposers. I will discuss how we need to incorporate other trophic levels to understand the complexity of belowground communities and their ecological interactions. 

 Maria Dornelas 

Saint Andrew University, Scotland, United Kingdom

Miércoles 20, 9:00

Nuance in biodiversity patterns"

We typically assume that recent times have seen biodiversity loss everywhere. In this talk I discuss how global compilations of biodiversity data are unveiling a nuanced picture of biodiversity change. Biodiversity trends vary substantially: with spatial scale, across space and among taxa. We see pervasive compositional change, but a complex mosaic of losses and gains of species, as well as winners and losers in population trends.

 Sonia Kefi 

Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier (ISEM), CRNS, France / Santa Fe Institute, United States  

Miércoles 20, 18:00

"The multiplexity of ecological communities"

In natural communities, species form complex networks of interdependencies that mediate their response to perturbations. For a long time, ecological network studies have typically focused on one (or a few) interaction types at a time, but data and models of webs including different interaction types simultaneously have recently become available. How and when does the diversity of interactions matter for the dynamics and resilience of ecological systems? I will present recent efforts in analyzing and understanding ecological networks including different types of interactions. I will argue that moving beyond unidimensional analyses of ecological networks may contribute to improving our understanding and predictive capacity of the way ecological systems respond to disturbances.


 David Moreno 

Basque Centre for Climate Change (bc3), País Vasco / Harvard University, United States

Jueves 21, 9:00

"Understanding the slow recovery of ecosystem complexity to accelerate restoration"

Traditional approaches and metrics to assess ecosystem recovery focus on simple attributes such as taxonomic richness or carbon accumulation in soils. Assessments of the restoration performance worldwide show that, when traditional restoration guidelines based on the recovery of those simple metrics are followed, restored ecosystems may only recover part of their lost biodiversity, functions, and benefits to societies, even after decades or centuries. They also show that active restoration efforts may not yield better results than naturally regenerating ecosystems. This suggests that traditional approaches may be simplified abstractions to achieve a sustained recovery. We address these limitations by focusing on recovering ecosystems to understand how complexity recovers after anthropogenic disturbance over long time-periods (centuries or more) with two approaches, meta-analysis and empirical observations in space-for-time substitutions. This allows us to respond to two key questions, how long is ecosystem recovery? And, what are the key mechanisms that regulate the recovery of ecosystem structure and function? We have used multiple meta-analytical approaches (response ratios, recovery debt, chronosequences) in all kinds of ecosystems globally. Empirically we have detected changes in complexity through time focusing on the interaction between the plant community and soil fungi in old mines in Spain or the ancient Norse farms of Greenland. Results from the meta-analyses and empirical observation suggest that even simple ecosystem attributes (i.e., diversity or carbon and nitrogen cycling) may not recover after several centuries of recovery. For example, results from the Norse farms show that while subarctic plant diversity recovered, species composition differed between farmed and undisturbed areas after >800 years of abandonment. Fungal functional guilds in former farms were still dominated today by pathogens and detritivores while in undisturbed sites mutualists dominated. Our results support the hypothesis that simple metrics may recover earlier than complex ones and the hypothesis that recovery promotes mutualistic interactions. Overall, complete ecosystem recovery after anthropogenic disturbance may be a centennial to millennial process, which must be accounted in environmental regulations and large-scale restoration strategies. Actions to accelerate recovery would range from restoring meta-community hub species that reduce vulnerability to favoring mutualistic soil fungi.