Ecology and Evolution: Islands have been considered as the best natural laboratories for the study of plant and animal evolution. Their evolutionary uniqueness and isolation make island dwellers prone to extinction in a scenario of climatic change and biodiversity crisis. Insular taxa form simplified communities, where ecological relationships and evolutionary processes can be studied more easily than on the continent. The Balearic Islands are particularly vulnerable to global change and human perturbations. Because of their reduced territory, their rich biodiversity (555 animal and 130 plant endemic taxa) is threatened by loss of habitats and introduction of alien species. The research group covers a broad expertise in taxonomic, biogeographic, evolutionary and ecological issues of insular biotas. The methodological approach is multidisciplinary, combining morphological, distributional, population and molecular data to improve our understanding and promote the conservation of insular unique biotas.
Global Change Research: The Global Change Research (GCR) group aims at understanding, forecasting and ultimately managing the risks posed by Global Change. The group emphasizes the interactions between all components of the Earth system, addressing impacts on biodiversity and biogeochemistry, as well as assessing the role ecosystems play in mitigation and adaptation to global change, both in marine and terrestrial systems. These objectives are addressed through multidisciplinary long-term monitoring, experiments, field observations, data mining and modelling. The marine research lines of the GCR group include (1) metabolism in seagrass meadows, modification of the carbon system by marine vegetation, ocean acidification and warming; (2) function of and services provided by marine ecosystems dominated by macrophyte; (3) coastal ecosystem responses to pressures and to the release of pressures, with particular interest in no linear responses; and (4) scientific support to marine ecosystem conservation polices. The terrestrial systems are studied mostly under the framework of network theory, assessing how different drivers of Global Change (specifically habitat loss, invasive species, agricultural intensification, and climate change) alter the ecological interactions between species, as well as their resilience. The main ongoing research lines encompass (1) the ecological complexity of small islands; (2) pollination ecology; (3) conservation of insect pollinators.
Marine Research in Ecological and Social Systems: The highly multidisciplinary Marine Ecosystem Dynamics (MED) group (theoretical and experimental physicists, biologists, engineers, statisticians and social scientists) aims to understand the mechanisms that govern the interactions between the different constituents of marine ecosystems, determine how natural processes and human activities influence the structure and function of these ecosystems, and assess their stability and resilience to cope with future changes. Current research focuses on (1) the coupling between ocean processes and marine plankton dynamics (micro to mesoscale), (2) fine-scale microalgal dynamics (e.g. effects of turbulence, physical-biological interactions, Harmful Algal Blooms), (3) the ecology of communities dominated by marine macrophytes, their response to natural and anthropogenic disturbances and their restoration, (4) the connectivity of marine populations, (5) the factors influencing fish population dynamics and life history traits, (6) the protection of marine living resources from the impact of fisheries, and (7) the translation of scientific knowledge into management and awareness.
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