The Terrestrial Ecology Laboratory was created at IMEDEA in 2000. For more than 20 years of research, our main aim is to contribute to the understanding of nature complexity by investigating the ecology and evolution of species interactions, a crucial component of biodiversity that is essential for community stability and ecosystem functioning. Within the framework of community ecology, we combine observational data we gather in the field with simulation models to assess how species interactions contribute to maintain biodiversity and how different drivers of global change can disrupt derived ecosystem functions. We strongly believe that interdisciplinarity is what moves science forwards. Hence, we have begun to collaborate with theoreticians (specifically, physicists) to reveal hidden patterns in ecological networks and to develop new models of species coextinctions that will provide more realistic outcomes in our simulations of potential ecological collapses.


We further use an evolutionary ecology approach in our research. Thus, besides the structure of species interactions, we are interested on their functional role in the community and on the fitness consequences of interacting species. Most of our research is centered on two types of mutualistic interactions: pollination and seed dispersal by animals. We are especially interested in evaluating which functional traits determine the species position in the network, i.e., its functional role in the community (effect traits), as well as its vulnerability in the face of a disturbance (response traits). In particular, we use the conceptual framework of mutualistic interactions with trait-based approaches to unveil how non-native species integrate into native communities and can influence the evolution and/or survival of native species. We further use such framework to assess how other global change drives such as climate change may alter the interactions between plants and their pollinators and seed dispersers.


As we live and work in an island, an important characteristic of our research fits within the framework of island ecology. Islands are indeed ideal systems to better understand complexity, mostly due to their simplicity -in terms of species richness and number of interactions- compared to mainland areas. We do research in a variety of island ecosystems, ranging from Mediterranean to tropical islands. Specifically, we work in the Balearics, in the Canary Islands (Spain), in Galápagos (Ecuador), in Berlengas (Portugal) and, most recently, in Seychelles (R. Seychelles) and in Ogasawara (Japan). The main goals of our research in these archipelagos are: 1) to understand how (small) island communities are assembled by focusing on different types of ecological interactions (i.e., both mutualistic and antagonistic,) and 2) to assess how vulnerable they are to global change, mainly to biological invasions -the main threat to these unique ecosystems-. We use an approach based on multi-layer networks to reach such goals.

 

Still, another research line in which we work and collaborate with other laboratories at IMEDEA is the study of the coastal systems and their management. We aim at proposing sustainable alternatives to act against coastal erosion. We began this research line participating in a multidisciplinary research project (System Playa de Palma) in which we assessed the biodiversity of three natural zones within the Bay of Palma (south of Mallorca) to advise on future management practices. In Alcúdia Bay (northern Mallorca), we have studied how erosion influences recruitment and growth of the primary dune vegetation, evaluating the role that the threatened shrub Juniperus oxycedrus subsp. macrocarpa has on dune establishment. We have further investigated how the seagrass Posidonia oceanica influences the germination and seedling growth of different dune plants from the Balearic Islands. Most recently, we have studied the dynamics of the P. oceanica beach-casts accumulated in different beaches in Mallorca, studying the macrofaunal community living in this particular coastal ecosystem.

Ongoing projects

DETERMINANTS OF INSULAR ECOLOGICAL COMPLEXITY IN THE CONTEXT OF GLOBAL CHANGE (REF. PID2020-114324GB-C21)

Financing entity: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación

Participating entities:  CSIC, U. Coimbra, U. Exeter

Period: 2021- 2024

P.I.: Anna Traveset

 

FIRST SYSTEMATIC STUDY AND DISCLOSURE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF POLLINATORS FOR THE BIODIVERSITY OF CABRERA AND CÍES NATIONAL PARKS  (REF. 2713/2021)

 Financing entity: Organismo de Parques Nacionales (Ministerio de Transición Ecológica)

Participating entities:  CSIC, Univ. De Vigo

Period: 2021- 2024

P.I.: Anna Traveset

 

UNRAVELING BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS: CONSEQUENCES OF A RAPIDLY SPREADING SNAKE INVASION FOR A MEDITERRANEAN ENDEMIC LIZARD (NGS-64843R-19)

Financing entity: National Geographic Society   
Participating entities:  UAB, CSIC
Period: 2020- 2021
P.I.: Oriol Lapiedra (UAB)

 

ELUCIDATING THE EFFECTS OF DISTURBANCE ON ISLAND POLLINATON NETWORKS" (NGS-KOR-63712R-19)

 Financing entity: National Geographic Society  

Participating entities: Univ. Tokyo, Western Sydney University, CSIC

Period: 2020- 2021

P.I.: Adam Cronin (U. Tokyo)

DIVERSITY AND CONTRIBUTION OF POLLINATORS TO THE ECOSYSTEMS OF MENORCA ISLAND

Financing entity: Agencia Reserva Biosfera Menorca

Participating entities: IMEDEA

Period: 2020- 2021

P.I.: Sandra Hervías-Parejo  

EFFECTS OF GLOBAL CHANGE ON THE TROPHIC META-NETWORKS OF SMALL ISLANDS.

Financing entity: Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad.

Participating entities: CSIC, U. Aarhus U. Coimbra, U. Darmstad.Period: 2018-2021

P.I.: Anna Traveset

 

GENETIC APPROACH TO THE CONSERVATION OF THE THREATENED ENDEMISM DAPHNE RODRIGUEZII (TEIXIDOR)

Financing entity: Agencia Reserva Biosfera Menorca

Participating entities: IMEDEA, UIB

Period: 2020-2021

P.I.: Carlos García-Verdugo (UIB)

INVOLVING PEOPLE TO PROTECT WILD BEES AND OTHER POLLINATORS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN (LIFE 4 POLLINATORS) (REF: LIFE18 GIE/IT/000755)

Financing entity: European Union (LIFE PROGRAM)

Participating entities: U. Bologna, CSIC, U. of the Aegean, E-Zavod (Slovenia), Univ. Vigo

Period: 2019 -2024

P.I.: Marta Galloni (U. Bologna)
P.I.: Anna Traveset  (CSIC)

COMBINED EFFECT OF DEFAUNATION, OVERFAUNATION, AND INTRODUCED PESTS ON THE DYNAMICS OF MEDITERRANEAN PLANTS: A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH (Ref.: PGC2018-094808-B-I00)

Financing entity: Ministerio de Economia, Industria y Competitividad

Participating entities: CIDE, IMEDEA

Period: 2020-2022

P.I.: José María Fedriani Laffite

DO MENORCAN RAVINES ACT AS CLIMATE REFUGES FOR BUTTERFLY POPULATIONS?

Financing entity: Institut Menorquí d’Estudis

Participating entities: IMEDEA, Museu de Granollers

Period: 2020-2022

P.I.: Anna Traveset 

SOUND GUIDE OF POLLINATORS OF THE BALEARIC ISLANDS (Ref. CONG2020/04)

Financing entity: Direcció General de Política Universitària i Recerca, Govern Balear
Participating entities: CSIC, Editorial Moll, Jansky Music Group
Period: 2021-2022 
P.I.: Anna Traveset  


STOP INVADERS: EARLY DETECTION AND MODELING TOOLS FOR THE CONTROL OF SPECIES OF INVASIVE INSECTS (STOP INVAS)
Financing entity: Direcció General de Política Universitària i Recerca, Govern Balear
Participating entities: UIB, CSIC
Period: 2022-2024 
P.I.: Mar Leza  


THEMATIC NETWORK OF BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS 

Financing entity: Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovacion y Universidades
Participating entities:  U. Girona, CSIC, U. Pablo Olavide, U. Alcalá de Henares
Period: 2020- 2021
P.I.: Emili Garcia-Berthou


ECOLOGICAL INTERACTIONS AS MANAGEMENT INDICATORS IN PROTECTED NATURAL AREAS.
Financing entity: CYTED, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, España.
Participating entities: CSIC, U. Sevilla, U. Oviedo, U. Jaén, U. Vigo, 
U. Chile , UNAM (México), U. São Paulo (Brazil), CONICET (Argentina), U. Mayor de San Andrés (Bolivia), U. Loja (Ecuador).
Period: 2017-2021
P.I.: Rodrigo Medel (U. de Chile)

Past projects

 

FUNGREEN- FUNCTIONAL CONNECTIVITY AND GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE. Financing entity: European Union (BIODIVERSA PROGRAM- ERANET). Period: 2016-2019
P.I.: Sara Cousins (U. Stockholm) P.I. (Spanish partner): Anna Traveset

ECOLOGICAL INTERACTIONS AS MANAGEMENT INDICATORS IN PROTECTED NATURAL AREAS. Financing entity: CYTED, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, España. Period: 2017-2020
P.I.: Rodrigo Medel (U. de Chile)

 

IMPROVEMENT OF THE CULTIVATION OF THE ALMOND TREE (Prunus dulcis) IN THE BALEARIC ISLANDS: STUDY OF THE POTENTIAL POLLINATORS AND THEIR ECONOMIC VIABILITY.
Financing entity: Conselleria de Medi Ambient i Agricultura, Govern 
de les Illes Balears. Period: 2018-2019 P.I.: Maria del Mar Leza and Anna Traveset

VERMUTIS Importance of simple and double mutualisms plant-vertebrate in islands: doble benefits, doble risks? Financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.2013-2017.
P.I.: Anna Traveset

ECOMETAS. Network of terrestrial ecologists to face the challenges of global change. Financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. 2015-2017.
P.I.: José Miguel Olano (U. Valladolid)

PAYSANDISIA Evaluation of the impact of Paysandisia archon (F. Castniidae, O. Lepidoptera) on Chamaerops humilis L. in Mallorca and experimentation for its possible erradication. Financed by the Department of the Environment of the Balearic Government. 2016-2017.
P.I.: Anna Traveset

POLINIB Construction of a web page on the Pollinators of the Balearic Islands. Financed by the Directorate of Research and Innovation of the Balearic Government 2016-2017.
P.I.: Anna Traveset

Fragility and complexity of mountain ecosystems: pollination networks, microhabitats and vulnerability to climate change of a key species in the community of the Teide volcanic cone. Financed by National Parks Autonomous Agency (OAPN) - Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment 2013-2015. 
P.I.: Anna Traveset

Pollination and seed dispersal patterns in mountain sistems in two spanish archipelagos. Financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation 2010-2013. 
P.I.: Anna Traveset

Mutualistic networks in the Galápagos Islands. Direct and indirect impacts of invasive species on threatened plants. Financed by the BBVA Foundation  2009-2012. 
P.I.: Anna Traveset

Structure of mutualistic networks in insular ecosystems: variation at different scales and determining mechanisms. Financed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science 2007-2010.
P.I.: Anna Traveset

Ecophysiological processes that limit the capacity of woody Mediterranean species to respond to climate change. Financed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science 2007-2010. (Research participant)

Past, present and future of pre-Mediterranean plants: between maquis success and relict failure in a global change scenario. Financed by Excellence projects of the Junta de Andalucia. 2010-2012. (Research participant)

Teledetection de invasive species with Image Spectroscopy T(EI)2. Financed by Spanish Ministry of the Environment. 2008-2011. (Research participant). Web Page

Consequences of global change on biotic interactions of plants in mountain ecosystems. Financed by CYTED, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2009-2013. (Research participant)

Do all endangered species hold the same value?: origin and conservation of living fossils of flowering plants endemic to Spain. Financed by FGCSIC. 2010-2013. (Research participant)

Interactive effects of climate change and the fragmentation of woody species characteristic of temperate rain forest in Chile. Financied by LINCGLOBAL (CSIC - U.CATÓLICA DE CHILE). 2009-. (Research participant)

Evolution of plant-animal relationships: endemic species from the south of the Iberian penninsula

Insular biogeography and  neoevolution: new Fundamentals for  the management of natural resources in Spanish islands

Islands, biogeography and phylogenesis, towards an ecological synthesis Pleistocene Vertebrate Fauna from Eivissa (Pityusic Islands) Western Mediterranean Sea

Ecological and historical factors that affect the biodiversity of the islands

Ecological and physiological factors that influence the distribution and abundance of plants. A comparison between threatened species and those with a wide distribution

Ecological and physiological factors that influence the distribution and abundant of threatened endemic plants in the Balearic islands

Improving the technology of obtainance, storing, germination and seed use of wild species used in reforestation and re-vegetation plans in the Valencian Community

Exotic Plant Invasions: deleterious effects in Mediterranean island ecosystems

Consequences of the disruption of mutualistic plant-animal relationships caused by the introduction of exotic species to island ecosystems

Comparative study of two species of Cneoraceae showing isolated distributions in Spain and Cuba

Impact of exotic herbivores for the vegetated communities of Cabrera National Park: degradation umbrals, risk analysis and integrated management plans

Biological determinantes and risks of invasive vegetations. The role of plant-animal relationships

The role of the plant-animal mutualistic relationships in the maintenance of biodiversity

Biology and conservation of Paeonia cambessedesii in Menorca

Genetic diversity studies of Daphne rodriguezii in Menorca

Network for the monitoring of global change and biodiversity in Mediterranean forest ecosystems

Ecophysiological study of two Mediterranean shrubs as indicador species in the Mediterranean for global change in the Balearic islands

Integration of factors that afect the costal dynamic in Alucudia Bay. Towards a sustainable development of the Mallorcan coastline

Ecophysiological processes that limit the capacity of woody Mediterranean species to respond to climate change

State and conservation Thymelaea velutina and Cneorum tricoccon in Menorca

Biodiversity and conservation in natural terrestrial areas in Palma Bay Beach System