Theoretical Ecology and Biodiversity Change Lab

Principal Investigator


Henrique Miguel Pereira
Email

My research interests include the impacts of land-use change on biodiversity and ecosystems services, rewilding, spatially-explicit models of population dynamics, species-area relationships and biodiversity monitoring.

I received my PhD in Ecology from Stanford University in 2002, my Masters in Biophysics from the University of Lisbon in 1998, and a Lic. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico in 1995. From 2003 to 2005, I coordinated the Portugal Millennium Ecosystem Assessmente as a post-doc at CBA, from 2005 to 2006 I was an Auxiliary Professor at Instituto Superior Técnico, from 2006 to 2009 I was the Director of the National Park of Peneda-Gerês, and from 2009 to 2012 I was a Ciência 2007 Researcher at CBA. I am currently a Professor at iDiv - German Integrative Center for Biodiversity Research.

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Vice PI


Luís Borda de Água
Email

My research interests are centered on two main topics: characterization and understanding of the relationship between ecological patterns at large spatial scales, and application of Bayesian methods to data analysis. Both topics are driven by practical problems: the former by the need to provide sound scientific guidelines to practical problems of conservation, and the latter because I perceive the Bayesian methodology as a more unified approach to data analysis and an easier way to communicate scientific results to managers and policy makers. In the past, I studied theoretical space plasma physics, with emphasis on computer simulations. Computer simulations remain one of my favorite areas of research, and I have been particularly interested in patterns of species diversity in space and time.

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Post-docs


César Capinha
Email

My current research interests are mainly focused on quantifying the relative importance of multiple factors (e.g. climate, biotic interactions and human activity) in shaping species distributions. For that purpose, I’ve been working mostly with naturalized/invasive species, particularly macroinvertebrates. Overall, my research is driven by three unifying questions: i) How well do species observed distributions represent potential distributions? ii) How will species ranges respond to anthropogenic environmental change? and iii) What will be the impact of biological invasions on future biogeography? I have generally applied multivariate statistical models to address these questions, particularly those relating species observed distributions with environmental and human factors. Thus, I have also been highly interested in reducing the uncertainty of such models when applied to new areas or time periods.

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Sílvia Carvalho
Email

My professional experience has always been linked to conservation biology. I started working in biodiversity conservation projects in 1996 by collaborating with the Portuguese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICN) in projects related to the conservation of the Iberian Desman (Galemys pyrenaicus). After finishing the B.Cs in Biology in 2001, I worked in different European projects related to wetlands conservation, inventory, monitoring and management. I also post-graduated in Land Use and Environmental Planning, which provided me the necessary skills to enroll in a PhD in the conservation planning field. The research conducted during my PhD aimed at addressing some unresolved issues in systematic conservation planning, particularly related with the type and quality of species distribution data, its dynamics and uncertainty, and its suitability as a surrogate for evolutionary processes. I engaged as a post doctoral researcher at CIBIO-InBIO/UP in 2011. My current research interests focus on the interface between ecological modelling, systematic conservation planning and evolution. Particularly, I am interested in developing methodologies and tools to integrate phylogenetic relationships and spatial patterns of genetic diversity into systematic conservation planning. At the same time, I am collaborating in other projects related to biogeography and conservation planning across the Mediterranean basin and desert regions. I am also interested in the field of optimal monitoring of multiple species.

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Rafael Barrientos
Email
Website

I have a general interest in habitat ecology, biogeography and conservation of vertebrates. Currently, I am studying how railway infrastructures affect vertebrates. I have also studied how other human activities impact vertebrates, including road-kills, mortality in power lines or forest management, which ultimately could lead to population fragmentation. Other research line deals with the ecology of peripheral populations, which I started during my PhD on the trumpeter finch (Bucanetes githagineus). It includes from colonization patterns based on genetics to habitat selection or the parasite load that vertebrates must face in different kinds of populations (central, peripheral or insular ones). Finally, I also studied the role of habitat fragmentation in the behaviour and the life history of forest birds like tits.

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Fernando Ascensão
Email

I have been developing my scientific research projects within landscape ecology, particularly in the field of road ecology. The impact of roads on wildlife is an emerging and one of the most challenging research fields in ecology, not only by the urgency of finding solutions that enable a sustainable coexistence between the road and wildlife, but also for the opportunity it provides to investigate the biology, population dynamics, genetic isolation and the behavior of wildlife species. It is a field that allows the study of human influences on the landscape and fauna, including the effects of fragmentation and destruction of habitats, important factors of threat to biodiversity. At the landscape level, I'm interested in assessing the value of Networks of Protected Areas (NPAs) for biodiversity conservation in a world of fast global changes. NPAs are the core element of existing conservation strategies but assume static environmental conditions, a paradigm clearly challenged as climate change and Human development are expected to alter significantly the availability of wildlife habitat. Species are being demanded to simultaneously track shifting environmental conditions while coping with habitat destruction and fragmentation effects. So the question arises: are NPAs enough for the conservation of species in such dynamic landscapes?

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Saeid Alirezazadeh
Email

I took my PhD on Mathematics at the University of Porto. My PhD thesis was based on the studies of Semigroups, Automata and Languages and adapted some of results appeared in those studies to the context of forest algebras, to be short and precise: identifying the structure of the relatively free pro-BSS (Bojanczyk-Segoufin-Straubing) forest algebra. I'm also interested in the application of mathematics to real world problems, in particular, those related to ecology and natural systems, in general. I'm presently studying patterns of biodiversity, with emphasis on the scaling spatial properties of species richness and abundance.

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Ph.D. students

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Patrícia Tiago
Email

My research interests include involvement of people with science, specifically with biodiversity and biodiversity changes. In my PhD I am working with citizen science databases to increase global biodiversity knowledge and to improve the data collected in those projects. From 2002 until 2013 I was working with environmental education and science dissemination for different kind of audiences and in 2009 I formed a team to create a Portuguese biodiversity database - http://www.biodiversity4all.org.

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Ana Ceia Hasse
Email

My research interests include ecological modeling and developing methodologies to better understand and predict environmental change impacts on biodiversity that also contribute to facilitate decision-making in conservation and management. My work has been focusing on process-based models of biodiversity response to global environmental change, specifically spatially explicit models of population dynamics to estimate the significance of land-use change impacts on populations, and integrating different types of models to assess species range shifts in response to climate change.

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Tomé Neves
Email

I have a Master's Degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and my research interests focus on how species distribution may be influenced by global changes and on the factors that control them. I am also interested in the use and development of computational methods in Ecology. In my PhD project, I hope to map the distribution of two sub-families of Soricidae and ascertain the cause of their geographical separation.

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Former Post-docs


Ainara Cortés Avizanda
Email
Website

My main research line has focused on the behaviour, ecology and conservation of scavengers and how the presence of carcasses in the wild shapes other components of the ecosystem. I have been especially interested on the ecological implications of the predictability of carrion resources. During the last years of studying this fascinating system I have progressively interested on the ecosystem services that avian scavengers may provide. While these species are charismatic and offer both cultural and ecosystem services (ecotourism and fast elimination of carcasses) they also have to face the progressive abandon of traditional agro-grazing practices (main food source). Currently, I am involved in the study of how the abandonment of farmland areas can be considered as a key opportunity for restoring past biodiversity (rewilding). I am particularly interested in how to reconcile the conservation of charismatic endangered species but also sensitive to human presence (e.g. long-lived birds of prey) with cultural ecosystem services of rewilded farmlands.

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