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BIOLOGY | Biology and Ecology

Biogeography and Evolutionary Biology

Biogeography-and-evolutionary-biology We employ a range of approaches, including  sound analysis, distribution modelling, molecular investigations and morphometrics to unveil evolutionary dynamics over different spatial and temporal scales. Special attention is paid to evolutionary patterns in insular environments and human-driven processes occurred in recent time frames.

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Conservation Biology

Conservation-biology We apply state-of-art approaches to explore habitat selection patterns in threatened vertebrate and invertebrate taxa and develop scientifically sound tools and solutions to provide stakeholders with guidance on tailoring conservation strategies. We work in close cooperation with nature reserves and environmental agencies.

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Dendroecology and Climatic Proxies at High Elevation

On a model species (Pinus leucodermis) growing at high elevation on a Mediterranean mountain we studied xylogenesis activity and explored in depth climate, anthropogenic and climate change impacts on tree ring archives.

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Ethology and Sensory Ecology

Ethology-and-Sensory-Ecology We use mammalian model species (bats, rodents) to explore the interface between animal behaviour and ecology. We focus 1) on the processes that take place in animals for the acquisition of information from the environment and  2) on the shaping of behavioural relationships occurring within and across species.

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Fire Ecology and Wildfire Prevention

 

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Forestry Biomass and Carbon Stocks

Study of short rotation forestry for biomass production.

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Functional Wood Anatomy and Dendroecology

Functional-Wood-Anatomy-and-Dendroecology This research aims to analyse the relations between climate variability and wood  anatomical, functional and biochemical traits in both stem and root systems. Cambial activity, wood growth processes and phenology are studied. Quantitative wood anatomy is also used as a methodology to evaluate the levels of efficiency-safety of the vascular system and to ease the interpretation of past climatic fluctuations and fire events in tree-rings, in collaboration with dendro-ecologists and dendro-isotopists. Novel techniques in microscopy and digital image analysis are developed.

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History of Agro-Forestry Landscape and Historical Biogeography of Mediterranean Trees

History-of-Agro-Forestry-Landscape Reconstruction of the forest and agrarian landscape spanning over 10000 years trough botanical remains.

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Litter Decomposition

Litter-Decomposition Plant litter decomposition is fundamental for ecosystems productivity because of nutrient recycling, but, at the same time, by nutrient retention and phytotoxicity release, it may also hamper root proliferation negatively affecting plant nutrition and growth. The specific objectives of our research are: (i) to determine the dynamics of litter inhibitory effects during the decomposition process; (ii) to assess the relative importance of nutrient immobilization and allelopathic effects on plant growth inhibition; (iii) to predict both litter inhibitory effects and decay rates by 13C-CPMAS NMR spectroscopy and modelling.

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Morpho-Anatomical Plasticity Linked with Functional Efficiency

Morpho-Anatomical-Plasticity-Linked-with-Functional-Efficiency This research aims to analyse the plasticity of plants at the structural level in the sight of environmental changes. A specific focus is addressed to adaptive strategies in Mediterranean ecosystems. The relations between structural modifications of leaves  and photosynthetic capacity are studied in order to highlight possible photoprotective strategies to overcome limiting environmental conditions. Morpho-functional strategies to avoid drought-induced embolism and herbivory are analysed. The effect of genetic transformation on tissue structure is also investigated to evaluate possible functional alterations which could modify plant adaptive capability.

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Plant Reproduction

Plant-Reproduction We study plant reproductive biology and ecology analysing the effect of environmental factors on flower, fruit and seed production, and on flower-insect interactions. Work is mainly on Mediterranean species and final goals are:
a) to determine how and to what extent climate changes can affect reproductive success, thus biodiversity;
b) to enhance crop production;
c) to improve the quality of honey.

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Plant Soil Feedback and Species Coexistence

Currently we are studying the impact of environmental heterogeneity generated by plants on species interaction. Several research topics about negative plant-soil feedback are faced to unravel its role in determine species diversity in natural plant communities: the occurrence in nature, the underling mechanisms and the connection with facilitative interactions.

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Plant Species Conservation

Plant-Species-Conservation We study threatened plant species to identify bottlenecks in their life-cycle. We aim to identify the processes responsible for species decline and suggest countermeasures for a sustainable conservation.

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Wood and Archaeology

Wood-and-Archaeology These studies deal with the cultural impications for the choice of wood used in woodworkings and buildings, further, they supply information about timber resources.

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