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Research

/ Ecointegrity

Composition

The Eco-integrity (EI) group is composed of 33 full members, 10 PhD collaborators and 36 Non-PhD collaborators with expertise covering areas in environmental sciences, particularly ecology, forestry, agronomy and biology.

General objectives

The main aim of the EI group is to monitor, protect and restore natural resources, at various scales of observation, in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The EI group works on the identification and selection of suitable ecological indicators for given environmental settings, a crucial process for making accurate predictions on how degraded systems can be improved. The EI group uses a holistic approach for ecological status assessment in complex changed natural, semi-natural, and artificial ecosystems, and how anthropogenic environmental changes them.

Research

EI Group research is focused in two projects:

Biodiversity, environmental assessment and biotechnology

This group studies the both the long and short term effects of large scale environmental change on the sustainability, resilience and diversity of disturbed natural ecosystems and agro-systems. The aim is to (i) create appropriate tools for capturing and predicting the dynamics, structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems affected by human disturbance over different spatial and temporal scales. To (ii) develop and promote typologically appropriate management plans, based on the ecological assessment of different components of the natural community, in order to rehabilitate or restore degraded systems.

MAJOR SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES:

  • Studies on the effect of climate change and extreme events on natural and modified systems and EU directive complient River rehabilitation.
  • Effect of water contamination in fish populations (reproduction, histopathological changes, oxidative stress, detoxification mechanisms).
  • Dynamic and spatially modelling to predict ecological indicators associated with different impacts, functional biodiversity and the planning of endangered species conservation.
  • Application of microorganisms in biotechnology and in nutrient cycling.

Disturbance of agro-forested ecosystems

This project includes studies on ecological abiotic (mainly fire) and biotic disturbance that act on forests, woodlands and agro-forestry systems. Tasks aim to characterize spatial and temporal patterns, disturbance regimes and to develop management guidelines for disturbance mitigation and adaptation measures.

MAJOR SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES:

  • Fire ecology and fire management.
  • Fire regime analysis and assessment of the influence of weather and climate in agro forestes ecosystems.
  • Conservation of endangered insect species: the blue alcon butterfly (Maculinea alcon).
  • Increasing functional biodiversity in olive groves to enhance conservation biological control of insect pests and maximizing ecosystem services provided by Demarcated Douro Region vineyards.