Integrative Ecology

The Integrative Ecology Group at EBD was created in 2001 with the ultimate goal of exploring the component of biodiversity explained by the interactions among species. These interactions of mutual dependency shape complex networks acting as the architecture of biodiversity. One important characteristic of this research line is its interdisciplinary component, based on the integration of several approaches, mainly evolutionary ecology, population genetics, and theoretical ecology. This results in an eminently collaborative research.  Indeed, we collaborate with international groups of physicists, field ecologists, and geneticists. Currently, this research line is a reference in the field of the structure and dynamics of ecological networks.

Our research explores to what extent ecological interactions shape the diversity of life within complex ecological systems. Our approach is synthetic and interdisciplinary, combining field work with the statistical analyses of large data sets and the development of mathematical models and simulations.

Our central goal is to understand the functional role of ecological interactions in processes affecting biodiversity. This approach allows a systemic description of several ecological problems such as coevolution within diverse communities and the risk of collapse in the face of global change.

A major goal is the study of mutualistic networks between plants and their pollinators and seed dispersers. This approach allows us to understand how coevolution works within complex communities determining the variety of vital life histories, biogeographical patterns, and genetic structure within species. Similarly, our work on mutualistic networks provides a conceptual framework to understand how these networks and the services they provide would respond to global environmental change.

A second goal of our research line deals with the networks of connectivity and gene flow in fragmented landscapes. We employ molecular genetics techniques and network theory applied to metapopulations of several study species in Mediterranean, Macaronesian, and tropical areas. This approach allows us to quantify the role of pollinators and seed dispersers in the long-distance dispersal events and their effects on the genetic structure of plant populations. This gets us closer to understanding how global environmental change would affect plant communities in terms of dispersal and adaptation.

Researchers: Pedro Jordano, Ignasi Bartomeus, Miguel Ángel Fortuna