Sampling campaign the Cabrera Archipelago

Last week, we joined other members of the Concorda project and sailed into Conillera ("Rabbit Island") to install 55 collectors of seabird guano.

The visit, during which samples of atmospheric deposition from a collector placed at neighboring Cabrera Island were also taken, was a (long-awaited) success: Conillera has no harbour, so we needed almost perfect sea conditions to be able to jump into the rocky shores. Rough terrein demanded also the use of ropes to disembarck the material, and made the transport and installation of the collectors challenging. But we had a perfect winter day, cold and sunny, and enjoyed the exhuberant autumn bloom of local daffodils Narcissus tazzeta.

Two days later, we had the second annual meeting of the Concorda Project - a great opportunity to learn from the diverse expertise of its multidisciplinar consortium.


LSE moves to Sevilla and becomes SEG

Last October 15th, the Laboratory of Spatial Ecology moved to the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC) at Sevilla (SW Spain), and became the Spatial Ecology Group - which is part of the Department of Wetland Ecology.

We celebrated the move with  a barbecue, where preeminent researchers from EBD showed that they can also do reasonable soccer; and a morning of birdwatching in the marismas -where we enjoyed recently-arrived geese, cranes, waders, resident flamingoes, raptors, and our all-times favourite: ducks.

For a few months, we will be finishing-off existing work projects at Mallorca - and part of the Group's personnel will be based there. And we hope to continue our collaborations with former colleagues at IMEDEA for years to come.

Farewell Mallorca, which was a great place to be and do research - and welcome Sevilla, which will hopefully meet our high expectations!


Edge effects in a 3D world

The last paper of Ainoha Magrach's PhD is finally on print.

This apparently simple piece of work involved measuring seed germination and occurence of epiphytes up to 12 m in the canopy, an incredibly challenging task in the dense and rough forests of Chiloé (the image on the left is taken at the verge of an illegal-logging gap, the only way to get a good view of tree sizes).

A. Magrach, L. Santamaría, A.R. Larrinaga (2013) Edge effects in a three-dimensional world: height in the canopy modulates edge effects on the epiphyte Sarmienta repens (Gesneriaceae). Plant Ecology 214: 965-973.

After working at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, Ainhoa has joined now the Ecosystem Management group at ETH in Zurich.


Lucía Latorre obtains her PhD, publishes a new paper and sets off to a conservation job in the Seychelles

Last week, Lucía Latorre defended her PhD thesis at the University of Santiago de Compostela.

In her thesis, entitled "Biological invasions on islands: dynamics, impacts and management", she studied a number of invasion complexes of increasing complexity (from black rats at Dragonera Islet, E Spain, to minks, cats, rats and rabbits at Cíes Islands, NW Spain) to derive suitable management strategies focused on impact minimisation.

It was an intense week for her. A few days earlier, she got her third paper published in PLoS One:

Latorre, L., Larrinaga, A.R., Santamaría, L. 2013. Rats and Seabirds: Effects of Egg Size on Predation Risk and the Potential of Conditioned Taste Aversion as a Mitigation Method. PLoS ONE 8(9): e76138

And a few days later, she jumped on a plain to start a new position as Invasive Species Project Officer of the Seychelles Islands Foundation, on the island of Praslin. Invasive plants: beware!

Congratulations to Lucía. She made us proud and will surely continue doing so.

Update: Lucía's PhD Thesis hit the local news. Have a look at the article "The less known enemies of Cíes Islands" (in Spanish) here.


Second field campaign of the PARIS project in Mallorca

During the first half of July, we completed the second field campaign of project PARIS, a collaborative undertaking of the teams led by Elena Gómez Díaz at IBE-CSIC, Jordi Figuerola at EBD-CSIC and Luis Santamaría at IMEDEA-CSIC (this lab) to study the endoparasites of the two species of Balearic wall lizards (Podarcis lilfordi and P. pityusensis).

This campaign focused on resampling two populations of Lilford's wall lizard, at Sa Dragonera y Cabrera, and one invasive population of Ibiza wall lizard, at Illetes (Mallorca).

The campaign's team included Raquel Vasconcelos (IBE), Asier R. Larrinaga (LSE-IMEDEA) and several students of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Balearic Islands (UIB): Valero Andreu, Alina Chalenko, Miriam Viader and Nahuel Manzanaro. Despite the high temperatures (we sampled during a severe heatwave) and the intensive work, the beauty of the field sites and the good humour of the team made the campaign a memorable experience.


Spanish R&D in Science Policy Forum

The article Dark Clouds over Spanish Science, which addresses the Spanish R&D policy, came out today in Science Policy Forum. It is a small contribution to improve the analysis of the productivity and quality of Spain's research and innovation systems.
A number of media are commenting on the paper, such as:
- Contra la ciencia orientada al sector privado, at El País
- 'Science' ve 'nubarrones' sobre la ciencia española, at El Mundo
 - La revista ‘Science’ critica el giro de España hacia la investigación “de mercado”, at Es Materia

- Science se hace eco de las "nubes negras" sobre la ciencia española, at ABC.

There are more details on the implications in these two interviews (both in Spanish):

- La Tertulia de Luis Herrero, esRadio, minutes18:22 to 27:13

- Balears fa Ciència, IB3, minutes 09:25 to 20:02

You can find more details on the devastating budget cuts suffered by Spain's R&D during the last years in this post of the blog ""Critical Science" (in Spanish).


Ants that ambush pollinators on flowers in JoE's blog

One of the great things of doing science in the possibility to collaborate with really cool researchers and learn together to appreciate the amazing intricancies of the living world.

A recent paper lead by Miguel A. Rodríguez Gironés and other researchers from the EEZA-CSIC in Almería explored the effectof weaver ants, which ambush insects on flowers, on plant-pollinator interactions. The paper is now available in early view and an summary illustrated  with cool pics has been published in Journal of Ecology blog.

As a small taster, find here a pic of weaver ants capturing a bee on Turnera flowers, at Sri Lanka.


Workshop on Adaptive Management of Kelp Forests

Last week, the Laboratory of Spatial Ecology organized, together with CIIMAR, a Workshop on the Adaptive Managament of Kelp Forests, in Porto (Portugal).

Pablo F. Méndez and L. Santamaría facilitated the workshop, which was part of the Marine Biodiversity case study of the BiodiversityKnowledge Project - a project aimed at facilitating the flow of knowledge between biodiversity experts and users in Europe.

During the workshop, the participants used techniques of group model building to develop recommendations for the managment of European kelp forests.

Keep an eye on this blog for the policy brief and other products generated in the workshop.


Ducks matter, even many miles away

Two new publications are now out.

They are part of the PhD thesis of Duarte Viana, based at Doñana Biological Station and focused on the long-distance dispersal of aquatic organisms by waterfowl - in which we are lucky to collaborate.

This one is already published and was selected for F1000Prime:

Viana, D.S., Santamaria, L., Michot, T.C., Figuerola, J. (2013) Migratory strategies of waterbirds shape thecontinental-scale dispersal of aquatic organisms. Ecography 36: 430-438.

And this one is available on early view:

Viana, D.S., Santamaria, L., Michot, T.C., Figuerola, J. (2013) Allometric scaling of long-distance seed dispersal by migratory birds. The American Naturalist 181: 649-662.

Congratulations to Duarte for two really cool pieces of work.

Image by Steve Garvie from Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland (EurasianTeal in flight) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.


Field campaign in Morocco

Last April 21-26th, we completed the second sampling campaign of project Quemomar, born from the interdisciplinary cooperation of three different departments of IMEDEA (Global Change Research, Marine Resources & Ecology and Biodiversity & Conservation).

The project, funded by the Spanish Cooperation Agency, analyzes the influence of the Mouluya River on the bio-geo-chemistry of its coastal zone.

The sampling, by a team of two Moroccan and four Spanish researchers, involved outings into the sea in two small boats and an extensive sampling along the river course.

It was an amazing experience, both natural and socially...


Spring is here

And, amongst the computer, lab and field work, we found some time to enjoy the new orchids.

Here, we share some with you...


Watch your cat

Our research on invasion complexes has focused, in the past, on the impact of predators, such as feral cats, and their prey, such as rats and rabbits, on islands. While feral cat removal is not necessarily positive, since it may result in counterintuitive effects (such as mesopredator release), their potential impact on native species requires attention and a more stringent regulatory framework.

Indeed, a recent study of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals. We hope that this study will help convincing our authorities to pay more attention to the issue.