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Adaptation Biology and Ecological Processes

Over the past 50 years human activities have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than at any comparable period in our history. During this period the increase of pollutants and other hazardous substances disseminated in atmosphere and contaminating foodstuff could presumably have had adverse effects in human health.
This research group focuses on identifying biodiversity patterns in time and space and studying short and long-term adaptation strategies to cope with ever-changing environments. These responses can be displayed at the level of the organism, the population or the landscape. Physiological, computational and molecular techniques are used to address the effects of environmental stresses such as climate change, pollution and biotic interactions in organisms. Consequences for human health and ecosystems services are also addressed.

Future Objectives

To attain the defined objectives, future investigation will be developed on the following issues:
     - Biodiversity patterns and processes at different temporal and spatial scales in Mediterranean, Macaronesian and Tropical ecosystems.
     - Converting natural history collections into digital and molecular data.
     - Evolutionary mechanisms that shape genetic diversity.
     - Behaviour of several organisms, at the physiological, ecological and evolutionary levels.
     - The impact of natural and anthropogenic threats on human health and species adaptation with the aim to design conservation measures.
     - The use of animals as indicators of the quality of ecosystems;
     - Spatially-explicit distribution modelling, with emphasis on species with threatened conservation status.
     - The exploitation of geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensed (RS) derived data to characterize the spatio-temporal evolution of abiotic key-factors determinants for ecosystems.
     - Search of diagnostic biomarkers in human diseases and environmental toxicology.
     - Detection, isolation and characterization of viruses involved in human and animal health.
     - Detection isolation and characterization of amoeba and amoeba-associated microorganisms in the environment and in Hospitals.
     - Development of analytical methods to monitor and control quality and safety in the food supply chain.
     - Study of the occurrence of food contaminants in foodstuffs and its potential genotoxicity effects on human health.

Research Labs

ABEP RG is organized in 3 laboratories, involving research and training: Lab of Adaptation Biology and Global Changes (LABG); Lab of Behavioural and Population Ecology (LABPE); and Lab of Wildlife Management and Conservation (WMAC), whose activities and goals are complementary. 

Research Lab: LABG

LABG is dedicated to the analysis of the interactions between species and their environment with emphasis in the understanding of mechanisms allowing species to increase their performance and chances of survival. Physiological, behavioural, computational, molecular, in vitro culture, micropropagation, phytochemistry and molecular techniques together with fieldwork observation and experimentation are followed. LABG is led by Maria da Luz Mathias.

Main research areas

Monitoring and modelling biodiversity:
• Species richness, relative abundance and stress of small mammals in urban green areas;
• Characterization, identification of aromatic plants;
• Molecular identification of marine fungi;
• Forensic entomology;
• Spatial distribution and modelling of selected species

Adaptation and adaptive processes:
• Origin and colonization of islands by small mammals;
• Effects of urbanization on the ecology and behaviour of small mammals;
• Swimming behaviour of water-dependent species;
• Effect of habitat fragmentation in survival (using physiological, molecular and morphometric markers);

Environmental quality:
• Parasite-host interactions and human health risk assessment;
• Spatial modelling of small mammals and relationships with environmental factors;
• Nematotoxics from essential oils

Main study areas
Lisbon and surroundings, Portugal
Azores archipelago, Portugal
Madeira archipelago, Portugal
Alentejo and Algarve provinces, Portugal

Selected Publications and Projects: Please click here.

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Research Lab: LABPE

LABPE is focused on using animals as monitors of environmental quality and investigate behavioural and ecological constraints on life-history traits of wild populations. Research involves a strong fieldwork and laboratory component (including advanced observational methods both in the field and at the lab, animal tagging and tracking, and dietary sampling) and a variety of analytical tools (GIS and spatially-explicit habitat modelling, stable isotope analysis, and advanced statistical techniques). LABPE is coordinated by José Pedro Granadeiro.

Main research areas

Migration ecology:
• Migratory connectivity in bird populations (using biogeochemical markers and tracking devices);
• Factors affecting migratory trajectories;
• Migratory behaviour: drivers and carry-over effects of individual decisions.

Structure and functioning of trophic webs:
• Using bio-geochemical markers to unveil community structure in estuarine environments;
• Sevelopment of mass-balance models to describe organic matter and energy flows in oceanic ecosystems;
• Diet and foraging behaviour of shorebirds and seabirds;
• Ecological role of birds in estuarine and marine trophic webs;
• Trophic links: predation and parasitism;
• Insect predator-prey dynamics and biological control of greenhouse pests.

Monitoring and conservation:
• Long term population trends of shorebirds and seabirds;
• Spatial modelling of bird distributions and relationships with environmental factors;
• Impacts of fisheries on seabirds;
• Identification of Marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs);
• Enhancing functional biodiversity in olive groves and vineyards;

Forensic entomology:
• Sarcosaprophagous species identification in wildlife and veterinary contexts

Main study areas
Tejo estuary, Portugal
Berlengas archipelago, Portugal
Selvagens and Madeira archipelagos, Madeira, Portugal
Falkland Islands, UK
Bijagós archipelago, Guinea-Bissau
Beiras provinces, Portugal
Alentejo province, Portugal

Selected Publications and Projects: Please click here.

Links
https://sites.google.com/site/migratagis/
https://sites.google.com/site/projectoalbatroz/
https://sites.google.com/site/projectocalonectris/
http://bulweria.wixsite.com/projectbulweria
https://sites.google.com/site/projectoarenaria/
www.calliphoridaekey.weebly.com

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