HIGHLIGHTS

Open call for applications for the doctoral program DO*MAR until 20 May

The Do*Mar doctoral programme on Marine Science, Technology and Management has just published a call for applications to the Universities of Aveiro, Minho and Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. Nine Do*Mar-FCT scholarships are available in this call. Details of the application and selection procedures are available in http://www.campusdomar-pt-domar.net. Deadline for application: May 20, 2019.

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REMINDERS

  • Network ALTER-Net is organizing conference

    The network ALTER-Net to which CESAM belongs, is organizing the conference 2019 ALTER-Net & EKLIPSE  on the EU Biodiversity Strategy Beyond 2020: Research insights and needs for biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe). This event will occur in Ghent, Belgium, 17-19 June 2019. The conference targets researchers, decision-makers and practitioners from all disciplines and fields and will cover the following themes: Envisaging plausible futures Probable changes in nature New relationships Policy responses More information on this here. Important dates: Abstract submissiom: 31 March Registration deadline: 1 June

  • 2019 The 6th International Conference On Energy and Environment Research

    ICEER is being held annually and is now a privileged space to discuss current issues related to Energy and the Environment. This event aims to explore emerging technologies and concepts in a collaborative way, bringing together engineers, researchers and professionals from different areas. ICEER 2019 will occur from 22-25 July at University of Aveiro and is a joint organization of the Department of Environment and Planning of University of Aveiro (DAO/UA)the School of Engineering (ISEP) of the Polytechnic of Porto (P.Porto) and the SCIEI, and is held at Aveiro, Portugal, with collaboration of the CESAM,CIETI and LEPABE research groups. You can submit your abstract until 04 Feb 2019 and early bird registration is until 27 May 2019. More on this event here.


NEWS

  • Event THE PERFECT PITCH IN 5’ was a success

    On the 17 April, CESAM organized an event to improve and give more communication skills to its members. The event THE PERFECT PITCH IN 5’ lasted all day and the participants found the event very useful and were satisfied with the used approached. During the morning there were several talks with experts that covered issues such as general tips on how to make good pitches (Miguel Leal from the company Scite – Science Communication and Joaquim Macedo Sousa from HIESE), the relevance on communicate to non-scientific audiences (Pedro Farias, SCIRP, Universidade de Aveiro), and some design tips aimed to help to optimize the presentations (Joana Quental, ID+, Universidade de Aveiro). The room was crowded and the audience was clearly more aware for new aspects related with science communication. During the afternoon, there were 3 parallel workshops targeting CESAM non-doctorate members. One of the workshops was for MSc students and research fellows of CESAM and was boosted by Cecília Guerra and Susana Ambrósio from CIDTFF, Universidade de Aveiro. The other workshop targeted PhD students and was oriented by Miguel Leal, from the company Scite – Science Communication. PhD students also had the opportunity to participate in a workshop together with the PhD students of Design. This workshop was boosted by Joana Quental, ID+, Universidade de Aveiro and was an opportunity for CESAM students work closely with Design students and have a different perspective from their own research work. The complete program and CV’s of the speakers/trainers can be read here.

  • Projects to preserve wild fauna in Greater Côa Valley and Douro region officially started

    On March 26 and 27, Guarda (Portugal), the Wildife Research Unit (WRU of CESAM & Department of Biology, University of Aveiro) was represented by Carlos FonsecaEduardo FerreiraRita Torres and João Carvalho in a two-day kick-off meeting to discuss the actions and strategies of both projects, the LIFE Wolflux “Decreasing socio-ecological barriers to connectivity for wolves south of the Douro river” and the  “Scaling Up Rewilding in Western Iberia”, funded by  the Endangered Landscapes Programme.The University of Aveiro, and the organizations Rewilding Portugal, Associação Transumância e Natureza and Zoo Logical are partners in two complementary European projects aimed at rewilding the Greater Côa Valley and fostering the functional connectivity of landscape at south of Douro river.Over the project’s lifetime (2019 – 2023), the partners expect to create the baseline conditions to boost biodiversity, restore trophic chains and promote the sustainable management of natural resources. Wolflux and Scaling Up Rewilding in Western Iberia will consider the contributions of a diverse array of stakeholders (e.g. hunters, agricultures) to create a spatially-explicit framework that accommodates stakeholders’ expectations in environmental and conservation planning. The conceptual, scientific and educational advancements of these projects will support the emergence of nature-based economies, essential to revert the current trend of rural depopulation.

  • Researchers from CESAM published a study on the coral reef microbiome in the high-impact journal Nature Communications

    One of the most recent and fascinating developments in Biology is the perception of the microbiome and its importance in human and animal health and ecosystem functioning. In marine environments, sponges have been considered a model organism to study host-microbiome relationships. Sponges are the most ancient of metazoans and are considered a reservoir of microbial diversity in the world´s oceans. However, until now, it was not clear if and to what extent microorganisms found in sponges are also present in other coral reef biotopes.Members of CESAM/Dbio, in collaboration with researchers from different institutions in Taiwan, Thailand and the Netherlands, carried out an extensive and ambitious study that aimed to characterize the microbiome from more than 200 coral reef samples from multiple taxa in the Indo-Pacific region. Using high-throughput DNA sequencing and the computer cluster ARGUS from the University of Aveiro (Argus), for the first time, microbiomes from algae, chitons, stony corals, sea cucumbers, sponge denizens, flatworms, nudibranchs, soft corals, sponges, sea urchins, seawater and sediment were analyzed. The researchers found that a high number of microorganisms are shared between different biotopes, supporting the hypothesis of Baas Becking that “everything is everywhere but the environment selects”. Contrary to what was believed until now, sponges are not the main contributors to total prokaryote diversity in coral reefs. They are only one, albeit an interesting, component of a much larger coral reef metacommunity.  The original paper here.

  • Scientific paper by researcher selected to the cover of journal “Ecology and Evolution”

    It is common knowledge that during Easter shops get flooded with chocolate eggs which make the delights of young and older alike. But what few will know is that the traditional game of “egg hunting” in early spring is due in large part to the existence of the very first wader nests of the year! In northern Europe, particularly in England, but also in Scotland and the Netherlands, egg collection of wader eggs in Easter was once at such scale that it originated a parliamentary act for the protection of a wader species, forbidding the sale of Vanellus vanellus (Lapwing) eggs from 14 March to 11 August (The Lapwing Act 1928). Although many birds have advanced their laying dates and wild egg collection is increasingly less frequent, many species are currently declining due to other factors. For example, when they are unable to match the advances in the phenology of the resources they depend upon, such as the insects that compose the diet of many of these species. In fact, the warming trend felt globally in recent years seems to be the origin of changing phenology in several groups of species, be it the date of first flowering of plants, the hatching of insects, or the migratory movements of bird species. But, the changing of the timing of these events may also influence demographic processes and ultimately affect population growth. This was the issue that an international team of researchers, lead by Dr. José Alves (Dep. Biology and CESAM – University of Aveiro) decided to explore. In order to do so they selected a population of a migratory wader species that breeds in the northernmost limit of its distribution area, Iceland, where the effects of global warming are very apparent due to “arctic amplification”. The researchers first had to “play egg hunting” to find the nests of the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa islandica), in Iceland, during several years in order to assess the variation in phenology of laying in relation to local temperature. This study initiated in 2001 (a particularly cold breeding season in Iceland) started to yield results ten years later, in 2011 (another cold season), and carried on until 2013, encompassing a period in which the average air temperature fluctuated between 9 and 11 degrees Celsius during the breeding season of this bird. This information allowed establishing a relationship between temperature and laying dates: the warmer it is, the earlier these birds are able to lay their clutches. As this species conceals its nests in the vegetation, these birds must wait for the local plants to growth following snowmelt and defrosting of soils. In warmer seasons, soil defrosts and plant growth occur at an higher rate, allowing godwtis to safely lay their eggs earlier (successfully hiding those from potential predators). But this was only the first step in the study. It was important to understand if such local responses could have an effect at the population level. In order to do so, the chicks from this species were located every two days by radio-tracking their parents (which guard them around the clock), to establish how much time is required for them to become independent and fledge. By tracking chicks born in years during which air temperatures differed, it was possible to establish that in warmer years, chicks fledge about 15 days earlier than chicks born in colder years (considering the total period since egg laying to fledging). With the help of an extensive network of collaborators across Europe that report colour-ringed Icelandic godwits across its range (Iceland-Iberian Peninsula), it was possible to carry on tracking these chicks, now juveniles, until the end of their first migration, and this allowed demonstrating that chicks born earlier enjoy an higher recruitment probability. Hence, in warmer years, the breeding phenology of this bird advances and chicks from those years experience a higher probability of increasing the number of individuals on the population. Once average temperatures in Iceland have increased since 1845, and warm springs have been more frequent in recent decades, the research team was able to link the population growth experience by this population and its expansion into new areas in Iceland and in West Europe (during the non-breeding season), to the warming recorded on its natal island c. At the start of the XX century, this population was restricted to a breeding area in the SW cost of Iceland and it is estimated to haven been composed by 5000 individuals. The warming trend in temperatures occurring since, allowed the birds in these original locations to produce offspring that gradually colonized almost all coastal areas of the country. Their number increased to 50.000 individuals, with areas colonized earlier producing more individuals as local temperatures increased. This study goes beyond descriptive patterns of individual responses to climate change, establishing a link between those and the potential effects in the demography and distribution of species. These effects are extremely important, as they can help to improve our predicting capacity to what may occur to biodiversity in a climate change scenario. In the case of the Iceland godwit, global warming seems to be promoting its expansion, which could be expected for a population that occurs at the northern part of its distribution range, and is likely to be limited by the low temperatures at such latitudes. However, this is not the case for many other species of migratory birds that often are unable to advance their phenology at a similar rate of the insects they depend upon for themselves and to raise their young. We should therefore promote current efforts for the reduction of carbon emissions in an attempt to slow down global warming which is already very apparent. More than helping biodiversity in its attempts to respond to such changes, we will surely avoid that many chocolate eggs melt in their hiding places while we search for them in ever warming Easters. The original article in open access available here.

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