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Determinants of species distribution in dynamic landscapes: Mediterranean bird communities and fire disturbance


The applicant has been granted a five years contract from the Spanish government under the ¿Ramon y Cajal¿ programme. The project will allow the reintegration of the applicant to the Spanish research system by allowing to develop his main research line on the role of spatial heterogeneity on ecological systems. The reintegration of the candidate to the CTFC (Spain) will allow expanding the links and current studies and collaborations a new and broader landscape perspective to the management of biodiversity in forested landscapes. The general objective of the project is to be able to identify the role of different ecological processes that determine species distribution of open habitat, mainly early successional species in highly spatio-temporal heterogeneous systems using Mediterranean landscapes as study models. During the last decennia strong socioeconomic changes have induced marked widespread changes in the composition and structure of landscapes in the region. The large-scale abandonment of marginal agri cultural lands in the North-eastern Mediterranean basin resulted in a progressive reduction in open habitats. In this context, fire dynamics will play a key role since large scale vegetation recovery often increases frequency of wild fires. Since species w ith higher conservation concern are generally linked to open habitats regulated by abandonment and fire, a deeper knowledge of such interrelations would be essential to establish future conservation policies in many European Mediterranean regions. The chal lenge is to incorporate species dynamic ranges and spatial constraints on colonisation and persistence within habitat suitability modelling. By combining landscape ecology, biogeographic approaches and cutting-edge spatial analysis methods, this project wi ll develop a multiscale methodology to assess and predict the dynamics of changes in distribution of species in dynamic landscapes driven by fire in Europe.

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