Department of Ethology and Biodiversity Conservation

Research at the Department includes two broad lines: Ethology and Conservation of Natural Resources. 

Research in Ethology is devoted to the multidisciplinary study of animal behavioral in a broad sense, as it has been traditionally approached by disciplines such as Ethology, Behavioral Ecology, Evolutionary Ecology and Evolutionary Psychology. Its research aims are firmly embedded in a neo-Darwinian paradigm and could be summarized as applying natural selection theory to the study of animal design and behaviour under an ecological perspective. Study subjects nowadays include a wide array of organisms from ants to humans but for much of its history it has favoured experimental field studies on the behavioral ecology of birds and, to a lesser extent, mammals (mainly ungulates)

Most of the research carried out in the Department is of a basic orientation, encompassing hot topics in current evolutionary and behavioral ecology, such as evolution of communicative signals, co-evolution between brood parasites and their hosts, social networks and human social development. In addition, other research programs seek results with a more immediate applicability, such as conservation of endangered species (like the Bald Ibis), prevention and intervention program for children social adjustment, invasive species control (Argentine ants). We collaborate with researchers from Spain and other countries.

Concerning Biodiversity Conservation research, we are conservation biologists and our aim is to provide the necessary scientific knowledge to collaborate in the preservation and management of biodiversity, mainly, but not exclusively, in Mediterranean ecosystems.

An important part of our research focuses on identifying conservation problems of animal species or groups of species particularly relevant for their contribution to the functionality of ecosystems: endangered species or key species. We also apply biology to provide the public administrations with the scientific bases to adequately manage biodiversity, including solutions to infrastructure impacts, land use, generation and transport of energy, among others.

Consequently, our activity is not limited to the study of natural areas such National parks or other protected areas, but expands to areas with intensive human presence and use. We try to make these uses compatibles with high levels of biodiversity, looking for a healthy biological environment. We are also interested on the evaluation of management and conservation plans conducted by the public administration, looking for the necessary improvement and the dissemination of results. We work at different scales, from the individual (genetic aspect, physiology, etc) to the population level (demography, spatial analyses, simulation models, etc). During the last years we have been working in different areas of Spain (including islands) as well as in Europe (Italy, Finland, Norway, Germany, Scotland, etc.), Africa (Morocco, Senegal, Cabo Verde, Mali, etc), America (Chili, Argentina and Colombia) and Antarctica

Lines/Sublines of Research:

  • Biología de la Conservación y Cambio Global
  • Invasiones Biológicas
  • Biología Evolutiva
  • Ecología Molecular y Genética Evolutiva

Department Head: Ramón Soriguer