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CEABN InBIO TEAM: Antonio Castilla (FCT Postdoc fellowship).

OTHER INSTITUTIONS: Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, Germany, 2Department of Conservation Biology and Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD - C.S.I.C.), Spain.

Environmental and socio-economic changes are causing increased levels of land abandonment worldwide, leading to noticeable changes in landscape cover which is particularly noticeable in southern Europe.

This project aims to understand how selective defaunation and disperser spatial behaviour limit endozoochore (re)colonization of old fields, accounting for spatially explicit patterns and processes of both focal plants and their dispersers. To this end, we will make use of DisPear, a individual-based, spatially explicit simulation model to characterize endozoochore dispersal and recruitment kernels in old-fields, where target seed dispersers are subjected to selective defaunation. We will use two old fields located in Spain and Portugal, respectively.

To model the Spanish old field, we will use a unique dataset concerning:

1) plant population sizes, spatial distribution;

2) transition probabilities over a sequence of plant stages;

3) the retention time of seeds on disperser guts;

4) relative abundances, movements, and fecal delivering patterns of dispersers.

To model the Portuguese old field, we will use the same analytical and modeling approaches as to the Spanish one and will design a protocol of field and bibliograhy data collection in collaboration with my colleagues at the ISA. Our model DisPear thus will help to understand the recolonization process of Mediterranean oldfields under different sceneries of selective defaunation.

Therefore, it is useful from an applied perspective to predict the effects of global change at the landscape levels. Importantly, our model DisPear is easily applicable to other species and landscapes; always that critical empirical data is available.

Thus, DisPear will likely be useful to investigate the colonization process of oldfields elsewhere. On the other hand, given the complex dynamics of animal-dispersed plants in old fields and the need of modelling to integrate all processes involved in plant life cycles (scale and shape of dispersal kernels, plant demography parameters) this project make also an impact from a scientific/technical perspective providing a comprehesive framework to study and simulate the recolonization of oldfields easily applicable to many other similar system.