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THE BLACK SEA BASIN, A CRADDLE AND REFUGE OF EUROPEAN BIODIVERSITY

Project description

Origins of the Black Sea’s biodiversity and its viability under global warming

In recent years, human activity has rapidly accelerated biodiversity loss, including the vital goods and services ecosystems provide to sustain well-being as well as future economic and social development. Environmentalists rank the Black Sea basin among the world's top priority places for conservation. The EU-funded DarkLife project aims to improve existing knowledge on the origins and diversification of terrestrial invertebrates in this unique region. In tackling this goal, the project will combine integrative taxonomic research with high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques and state of the species distribution modelling tools, helping to reveal the factors and mechanisms that shaped the Black Sea basin's unique biodiversity and to predict its future viability under a global warming scenario.

Objective

In the last years, human activity has rapidly accelerated the rate of biodiversity loss, compromising the vital goods and services ecosystems provide to sustain well-being, and future economic and social development. The Black Sea Basin is listed among the WWF’s “top priority places” for conservation. Its unique biota, however, is serious threatened by illegal logging, intensive agriculture and unsustainable coastal development. Although the Black Sea Basin biodiversity is reasonably well characterised, many questions about its origin and relevance for present-day European natural heritage remain. The The DarkLife project aims at improving our current knowledge on the origins and diversification of terrestrial invertebrates in the Black Sea basin – a neglected refuge for survival of species during Quaternary glaciations and an important centre of origin and subsequent dispersal of a unique component of European wildlife. To tackle this ambitious goal, I will combine integrative taxonomic research with high-throughput DNA sequencing (HTS) techniques and state of the species distribution modelling (SDM) tools. I will use spiders as a model system organism. I will gain expertise on modern systematic and evolutionary biology research through training in two leading European institutions, the University of Barcelona, the top ranked university in Spain, and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Germany. The results of the DarkLife project will help me to reveal the factors and mechanisms that shaped the Black Sea basin unique biodiversity melting pot, unravel its origins and dynamics and, more importantly, predict how global warming may affect its future viability. The training provided by the MSC will help me to secure a scientific position in Bulgaria and become an active player in the development of future conservation policies and sustainability programs my home country.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITAT DE BARCELONA
Net EU contribution
€ 172 932,48
Address
GRAN VIA DE LES CORTS CATALANES 585
08007 Barcelona
Spain

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Region
Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 172 932,48