ForEco research is focused on four main research areas:
1. Forest ecosystem processes
Our main objectives are to understand the interactions between carbon, water and nutrients in forests and shrublands in a global change context. We analyse the role of water in Mediterranean ecosystems, namely tree water use under enhanced drought and explore soil management options, at local and regional scale, for the sustainable management of forest plantations and evergreen oak woodlands. Carbon, water, and nutrient balances are crucial for evaluating ecosystem performance, for the quantification of ecosystem services, and for adaptive resource management. Functional traits of carbon and water fluxes and nutrient budgeting, at variable temporal and spatial scales (leaf to ecosystem), are used to optimize process based models. Remote sensing information and geophysical methods are also applied for monitoring vegetation, plant water status and GPP modelling. We actively participated in the foundation of the Forest and Water Expert Group (FAO-IUFRO-ICRAF), and of ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System, www.ICOS-infrastructure.eu), acting as leaders of the Portuguese ICOS consortium.
2. Forest genetics
Deals with the evaluation of genetic variability for growth, adaptive and wood traits to select forest reproductive material for ecosystems threatened by climate change. The work relies on multidisciplinary approaches (silviculture, physiology, genetics modeling, and high throughput phenotyping) at different levels/scales (molecular, tree, family and population levels). We have been involved in the establishment and monitoring of field trials belonging to international networks (EFIATLANTIC and Euforgen) researching inheritance of basic mechanisms controlling the complex dynamics of forest plantation growth and development.
Addresses spatial aspects of fire ecology, at scales ranging from local to global, relying heavily on remotely sensed data. Our research addresses burned area mapping, fire risk assessment, statistical and process-based modelling of fire-environment-human activity relations, and estimation of biomass burning. Local-regional research has focused in Portugal and in the tropical savannas of southern Africa and northern Australia. Our work is developed in collaboration with international partners such as NASA, ESA, JRC, EUMETSAT, and INPE.
4. Ecological modelling
Focuses on the development of mathematical models to handle multi-scale spatial data, leading to efficient algorithms in order to analysis large datasets (e.g. climatic data and remote sensing data). Applications include improving the design of wildlife reserves, analysing the structure of species ecological niches, and simulating the behavior of ecological systems under changing environmental conditions. We provide support to the other research lines in the development and application of modelling techniques.