‘Losing the network. The role of threatened plants in the conservation of global diversity (PERDIVER)’

Grants for research teams

Ecology and Conservation Biology

2015

The planet Earth is at a historical crossroads due to the accelerating loss of species. The many and varied interactions within the ecological network they form part of means that each species contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity ‘packets’. The goals of this project are to make an extensive comparison of the demographic parameters of threatened and common species, and to evaluate the implications of population decline for the diversity of interacting species. 

DIRECTOR

María Begoña García González, tenured scientist in the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Restoration, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (CSIC)

 

RESEARCH TEAM

Jens M. Olesen, Aarhus University; Emilio Ortega Casamayor, Centre d’ Estudis Avançats de Blanes; Daniel Gómez García, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología; and Adela González Megías, University of Granada.

COLLABORATING INSTITUTIONS

Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (CSIC)

 

DESCRIPTION

The planet Earth is at a historical crossroads due to the accelerating loss of species. The many and varied interactions within the ecological network they form part of means that each species contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity ‘packets’. Therefore the consequences of its disappearance are further-reaching than just an individual loss. Threatened species provide an ideal yardstick for the impact of species deterioration, since they are more at risk of disappearing.

The goals of this project are to make an extensive comparison of the demographic parameters of threatened and common species, and to evaluate the implications of population decline for the diversity of interacting species. We will assess the vulnerability of threatened plants in one of Europe’s most diverse regions (Aragón), comparing their population size and trends with those of common species.

We will then describe and compare the diversity associated with a selection of plants in large and small populations (pollinators, dispersing species, herbivores, macroinvertebrates, mycorrhizae and soil fungi, …), in order to analyze the extent to which the decline of a population simplifies the ecological network it helps sustain. Halting the loss of biodiversity is currently a top priority in conservation biology. One that calls for novel methods and approaches, long-term monitoring and the involvement of scientists, managers and citizens.

Our project will draw on the work of around a hundred rangers, volunteers coordinated through a citizen science program and the Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa, backed by massive DNA sequencing techniques. The results will allow to ascertain the real vulnerability of threatened organisms and their contribution to conserving a complex network of associated biodiversity.