Plant production in seasonal wetlands

Plant primary production is a key driver of several ecosystem functions in seasonal marshes, such as water purification and secondary production by wildlife and domestic animals. Estimating the spatio-temporal dynamics of biomass production is however challenging in seasonal wetlands with variable flooding regimes.

In this paper, stemming from the MSc Thesis developed by Maria Lumbierres in out group, we develop a method to estimate standing aboveground plant biomass using NDVI Land Surface Phenology (LSP) derived from MODIS, and follow to calibrate and validate it in the Doñana National Park’s marsh vegetation. The estimator was robust to environmental variation in precipitation and hydroperiod, and to spatial variation in the productivity and composition of the plant community - and may represent a key tool for the long-term monitoring and management of seasonal marsh ecosystems.

Model predictions indicate that the marsh areas with highest productivity coincide with those in which productivity has been declining during the last 16 years—suggesting changes in flooding patterns and/or the potential effect of overgrazing by wild and domestic herbivores. Further work will hopefully allow us to disentangle these two proceses.

Lumbierres, M., Méndez, P. F., Bustamante, J., Soriguer, R., & Santamaría, L. (2017). Modeling biomass production in seasonal wetlands using MODIS NDVI land surface phenology. Remote Sensing 9: 392.


Migratory Birds as Global Dispersal Vectors


After many years of work in the elusive process of long-distance dispersal by migratory birds, we feel ready to make the huge leap that separates the phenomenological description of an essentially unpredictable process, to modeling and forecasting a challenging but predictable one.

Can we suceed? This paper synthesizes our view of the state of the art and our proposal for future research. We believe in its importance, and will be happy to hear your opinion.

Viana, D., Santamaría, L., Figuerola, J. (2016) Migratory birds as global dispersal vectors. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31: 763-75.


EO tools for the management of Mediterranean wetlands

The outreach team of H2020 Project ECOPOTENTIAL has produced this handcrafted video, which explains the project through simple animations. The story involves Peter, a protected area manager, and Amy, an ECOPOTENTIAL scientist. The video will take you on a journey through the different ecosystems targeted by ECOPOTENTIAL, explain why and how Earth Observation is used to measure and monitor ecosystems and their services they provide, and how the project will ultimately benefit society.

The Spatial Ecology Group is one of the research groups of EBD participating in the project. Within the project, we will use participatory modelling to support the development of EO tools for the management of Mediterranean wetlands - applied, in particular, to the Doñana marshes.


Biotic resistance and environmental filters determine inmigrant success

A new paper by members and collaborators of the SEG is now in early view.

Using communities of aquatic plants and zooplankton assembled from natural propagule banks in mesocosms, we tested whether the diversity of the resident community (diversity resistance) and the timing of immigrants’ arrival (priority effects) determine community diversity.

Our results show that the interaction between diversity resistance and priority effects determines the diversity of aquatic plant communities. This effect is, however,  superseded by environmental filtering in zooplancton. The mechanisms underlying biotic resistance therefore vary among functional and taxonomic groups.

D.S. Viana, B. Cid, J. Figuerola, L. Santamaría (2016) Disentangling the roles of diversity resistance and priority effects in community assembly. Oecologia (early view).