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José Augusto Alves

José Augusto Alves

Senior Researcher

  • Researcher ID U-4674-2018
  • ORCID 0000-0001-7182-0936
  • Department: Biology
  • Research Group: Functional Biodiversity
  • ISI Web of KnowledgeSM search factor : AUTHOR: (Alves, JA) AND ADDRESS: (Aveiro) OR AUTHOR: (Alves, JA) AND ADDRESS: (Norwich)

Research interests

Individual and population-level responses to environmental change
Migratory connectivity: unraveling the hidden cycle of biomass flow
Trophic interactions in coastal areas: using waterbirds as biological indicators

Academic degrees

1998-2004 Degree in Applied Biology with Ecology, University of Minho
2005-2010 PhD in Population Ecology, University East Anglia

Scientific activities

2019- Senior Researcher, DBIO & CESAM, University of Aveiro
2018-2019 Invited Assistant Professor, DBIO, University of Aveiro
2013-2018 Post-doctoral Fellow, DBIO & CESAM, University of Aveiro
2010-2013 Senior Research Associate, University of East Anglia


Editor of Wader Study (since 2013)
Associated Editor of IBIS (since 2017)
Member of the Meetings Committee of the British Ornithologists’ Union (since 2017)



Waders of the Bijagos - Securing the ecological integrity of the Bijagos archipelago as a key site for waders along the East Atlantic Flyway See more

Scientific Supervision

PhD (Main Supervisor): Ana Isabel Cavaco Pinto Coelho (CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Joshua Nightingale (CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Camilo André Ferreira Carneiro (CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Joana Santos Costa (CESAM member)

PhD (Co-supervisor): Joana Calado (not a CESAM member)

PhD (Co-supervisor): Aldís Erna (not a CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Dr. Afonso Rocha (not a CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Ricardo Aleixo Henriques Correia (CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Afonso Duarte dos Reis Rocha (CESAM member)

Post-doc (Co-supervisor): Dr. Verónica Mendez (not a CESAM member)

Master (Main Supervisor): Liliana Gomes (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Manuela Rodrigues (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Josh Nightingale (not a CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Márcia Munik Mendes Cabral (CESAM member)

PhD (Co-supervisor): Lilja Jóhannesdóttir (not a CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Dr. Miguel Araújo (not a CESAM member)

Post-doc (Co-supervisor): Dr. Rebecca Laidlaw (not a CESAM member)

Post-doc (Co-supervisor): Dr. Verónica Mendez (not a CESAM member)

Main research topics

Individual and population-level responses to environmental change

Understanding how individuals and populations respond to environmental change is currently the most pressing issue facing ecologists and conservationists. Migratory shorebirds, particularly arctic breeding waders, are restricted to a unique set of habitats which are amongst those currently facing the highest levels of climatic change. Several of my study species have breeding populations in arctic and sub-arctic regions where global warming is most evident and spend the nonbreeding season in temperate and tropical coastal areas, both in estuarine wetlands and open shores where anthropogenic activities (e.g. land use change, pollution, disturbance), sea level rise and erratic climate patterns are increasingly apparent. Investigating individual level responses to environmental changes and associated fitness outcomes allows predictions of the impacts on species demography and distribution, and consequently aids the development of measures for the management and conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity at very large scales.

Migratory connectivity: unraveling the hidden cycle of biomass flow

The phenomenon of migration involves the seasonal movement of vast quantities of biomass across the planet. The annual displacement of birds between Europe and Africa alone (the Afro-Palaearctic migration system) is estimated to involve 2.1 billion individuals. Migratory birds produce the most amazing connectivity of all migratory systems bridging several biomes, most notably linking the arctic with the antarctic, and in some cases, doing so very quickly in extremely long distance flights. Species often breed in the northern hemisphere where short-term nutrient bonanzas allow rapid rearing of young during summer but, during the northern winter, they move to southern latitudes where mortality is the most relevant demographic parameter. Such annual cycles can promote the flow of nutrients across vast geographical areas, but other items, e.g. plant material, ectoparasites and endoparasites can all be displaced by migrants, some with potential impacts for the human population (e.g. H5N1). The study of migratory movements over vast geographical scales requires the ability to continually track large numbers of migrants. Using innovative tracking technologies (e.g. ultra-light tracking devices, GPS/GSM tags) and analytics tools (e.g. weather radars to track migration) allows us to unravel migratory routes, seasonal and temporal use of distinct sites, and the level of connectivity between locations. This information, combined with species and individual level demographic parameters can be used to address the function of migrants in the flow of nutrients and organisms across the globe. 

Trophic interactions in coastal areas: using waterbirds as biological indicators

Waterbirds forage on a range of coastal organisms encompassing many levels of the trophic network, from seaweed to macrobenthos to fish. Some of these organisms have commercial value, particularly fish, but also bivalves for the food industry or polychaetes for the fishing industry. The macrobenthos community is hard to detect in coastal sediments and readily respond to outfalls and runoffs from human settlements. By exploring the interactions between waterbirds and their food supplies, it is possible to quickly identify potential issues emerging at different levels of the coastal ecosystems. Coastal areas are also increasingly threatened as the human population continues to rise and increasingly settling in these regions. The Anthropocene era is associated with massive and ongoing declines of biodiversity. This imbalance is particularly manifested in sensitive systems such as coastal
wetlands which can therefore serve as an ideal laboratory in which to study these processes.

Short video on my research (in portuguese only)

José Alves from Departamento Biologia - UAveiro on Vimeo.

CESAM Funding: