Current projects

"A representative sample of the projects and activities in which I am currently involved"

In the last decades, anthropogenic pressure has caused serious threat to ecosystem integrity, functions and processes. Knowledge-based conservation, management and restoration policies are thus urgently needed, in order to improve ecosystem benefits in face of increasing pressures. Fundamental to all these is effective monitoring and modelling of the state and trends in ecosystem conditions and services. Best use should be made of existing and incoming Earth Observation and field monitoring data, complemented by appropriate interpretation tools, data services and ecosystem models able to use these data. ECOPOTENTIAL focuses its activities and pilot actions on a targeted set of internationally recognised protected areas (PA) in Europe, European Territories and beyond, including mountain, arid and semi-arid, and coastal and marine ecosystems. Building on the knowledge gained in individual PAs, the ECOPOTENTIAL project addresses cross-scale ecological interactions and landscape-ecosystem dynamics at regional to continental scales, using geostatistical methods and the emerging novel approaches in Macrosystems Ecology, which is addressing long-term and large-scale ecological challenges. ECOPOTENTIAL addresses the entire chain of ecosystem-related services, by (a) developing ecosystem data services, with special emphasis on Copernicus services; (b) implementing model output services to distribute the results of the modelling activities; and (c) estimating current and future ecosystem services and benefits, combining ecosystem functions (supply) with beneficiaries needs (demand). In ECOPOTENTIAL all data, model results and acquired knowledge are made available on common and open platforms, coherent with the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) data sharing principles and fully interoperable with the GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI).

Collaborative (re)design of the Biodiversity Monitoring Program of the Doñana Biological Station

In this project I am collaborating with the Doñana Biological Station (EBD, Spanish Research Council) in the evaluation and reorganisation of their Biodiversity Monitoring Program in the Doñana Nature Reserve, based on the lessons learnt during the last ten years. The program's historical goal has been to provide data and information to support the Reserve's managers in their decisions and conservation measures. In synergy with the recent inclusion of the Reserve in the Andalusian Global Change Observatory Network, the current reorganisation aims at collaboratively: (1) evaluating the program and establishing the objectives for the next monitoring period; (2) eliciting both conservation priorities and long-term research needs in collaboration with key stakeholders (e.g., Reserve's managers and decision makers); (3) redesigning measuring protocols and strategies as required. This Monitoring Program forms part of EBD's Large-scale Scientific-Technical Facility at the core of the Nature Reserve, which also offers research support, on a competitive basis, to national and international researchers who want to develop their activity in Doñana. See more here:

Benchmarking adaptive management in Doñana

In this research, in collaboration with Spatial Ecology Group of the Doñana Biological Station, we have detected a number of processes and functions at the institutional level that may be subject to improvement in a restoration project applying adaptive management tenets at the Doñana Nature Reserve. In this research, through process benchmarking, we are (1) undertaking a comparative analysis of the processes and functions that can be improved, and (2) generating specific guidelines of best practices in adaptive management.

Modulating contingency in explanations of institutional dynamics in social-ecological systems

Current development trends are causing major damages to our life-support systems. Thus, the need for transitions towards sustainability in the use of natural resources and ecosystems has been advocated along the last decades. This task requires a sound understanding of the architecture of the policy and institutional design of both the process of change and the target output. However, this constitutes a very uncertain task that, if improperly managed, might lead to less effective or even counterproductive designs.

This research aims at contributing to current research on the institutional conditions necessary for successful sustainability transitions in coupled social-ecological systems, addressing two interrelated theoretic-analytical concerns through an in-depth case study: the Doñana region (Guadalquivir estuary, south-west Spain). First, there is the need for enhanced historical causal explanations of present maladaptive social-ecological systems characterized by institutional rigidity. Second, there is the explanatory potential of political-economic interests, prevailing discourses and power, as contextual factors contributing to shape maladaptive outcomes, especially when the core logic of path dependence fail to predict those outcomes in historical, evolutionary perspective. When this occurs, such outcomes are often qualified as unexpected due to their divergence from purported superior, optimal alternatives, hence subject to contingency. The main argument here is that the latter can be modulated away from randomness and better characterized as unpredictability, through the systematic inclusion of the mentioned contextual factors into analysis. This would, in turn, increase our capacity to better inform future policy and institutional, transitional designs towards sustainability in social-ecological systems.

KNEU project  

BiodiversityKnowledge is an initiative by researchers and practitioners to help all societal actors in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem services to make better informed decisions. In this challenge, stakeholders are invited to develop an innovation called Network of Knowledge - an open networking approach to boost the knowledge flow between biodiversity knowledge holders and users in Europe.