ECOSYSTEMS AND BIODIVERSITY
Regional analysis and functioning of ecosystems (contact: Javier Cabello)
Our interest focuses on the study of ecological processes at regional scale. We use remote sensing tools in the analysis of land use patterns and biodiversity. From our results: 1) we develop conservation and management ecosystems strategies based on an ecosystem functioning approach, 2) evaluate the impact of human activities on ecosystems, and 3) assess ecosystem services by biophysical models.
Carbon and water balance in the ecosystem (contact: Cecilio Oyonarte)
Biogeochemical cycles, especially carbon and water, are responsible of life on Earth. We want to develop the scientific process which allows us to quantify and understand the new balance of these cycles caused by climate change in Arid Zones of the Southeastern Iberian Peninsula. The aim is to describe the annual balance of net productivity (NEE) and evapotranspiration (ET) from the ecosystem as well as CO2 flow from the soil and its hydrological balance and propose indicators for a monitoring program.
The Mediterranean arid ecosystems are especially vulnerable to Global Change impacts. Biodiversity could be reduced by direct change drivers such as global warming and land use change. Our work focuses on design and monitoring of some bio-indicators concerning phenology, abundance and distribution of species which allow us to know the state of conservation and the trends of their stocks.
Biological invasions (contact: María Jacoba Salinas)
The CAESCG is interested in understanding, assessing and monitoring the expanding effects of invasive plant species in arid and semiarid areas, especially those which adversely affect the integrity of natural ecosystems. We want to understand these species better to design management measures for their eradication or control, particularly in protected natural areas.
CLIMATE AND PALEOCLIMATE
Climate variability and historical climatology (contact: Fernando Sánchez Rodrigo)
This Area of research focuses on analysing the extreme weather events in a climate change situation. It studies its temporal and spatial variability, trends, connections with atmospheric dynamics and patterns of teleconnection (NAO, EA, SCAND, etc). Besides, we reconstruct long term series of climate data by analysing documentary sources (from 16th century) and the first instrumental measures (18th and 19th centuries)
Paleoclimatology, karst registry and caves (contact: José María Calaforra)
The study of caves is one of the last frontiers of research and has been extensively developed over recent years due to the great significance that caves have acquired as useful paleoenvironmental proxies. We are focusing our research on (1) the paleoenvironmental studies related with caves (speleothems and sediments), isotopic composition of air, water and cave deposits and their relation to recent and past climate variation and (2) microclimatology of cave atmosphere both in tourist and natural caves in a wide range of situations with the objective to obtain environmental and microclimatic models valid for the underground conditions with and without anthropogenic influence.
Aquatic ecology (contact: Jesús Casas)
How do aquatic ecosystems in semiarid regions, particularly low-order streams and wetlands, respond to global change? How we can mitigate or adapt to its consequences on aquatic ecosystems? Our main research interest lies in trying to cut the Gordian knot to these two complex questions. To this end, we analyze the effects of global change on biodiversity, including microbial decomposers, macroinvertebrate consumers and vegetation, and on trophic interactions in aquatic food webs.
Environmental pollution control (contact: Javier Arrebola y Antonia Garrido)
We work in the assessment and monitoring of chemical pollution processes from environmental waters, soils, sediments and biota. These works try to relate the contaminating agents and their products with the use of land patterns and anthropogenic activities which take place in the research areas. We try to relate the presence of some environmental pollutant (including emerging priority pollutant) and global change, especially at environmental levels which are more sensitive to those changes, like semiarid zones on the Southeastern Iberian Peninsula.
GOVERNANCE AND SUSTAINABILITY
Science-management interface (contact: Hermelindo Castro)
Global change processes cause a loss of ecosystem services. These generate sustainability issues which have to be managed from the different points of view within environmental governance. Our interest focuses on developing tools to improve new management models which consider sustainability issues in a social, economic and ecological context. To do that, we generate collective knowledge from dialogue between scientists, managers and/or stakeholders. This inclusive point of view allows us to adopt more efficient measures for the sustainable management of environment.
The ecosystem services represent the benefits that human kind got from ecosystems as a result of it working normally. Its assessment and quantification represent a new paradigm for sustainability and governance, because they allow us to understand the link between humanity and nature. Our researches focus on the application of these assessments to land management and identification of indicators to follow the global change effects on human wellbeing.