martes, 27 de diciembre de 2016

Se busca candidato/a para un contrato FPU



Se busca candidato/a para solicitar un contrato de Formación de Profesorado Universitario (FPU) al Ministerio de Educación en la Convocatoria de 2016 (más información aquí). Se ofrece un proyecto de tesis doctoral enormemente atractivo, centrado en los efectos del cambio climático sobre el carbono del suelo en sistemas áridos y sus implicaciones. La investigación a desarrollar por el doctorando tendría una escala global y estaría asociada al proyecto BIODESERT, otorgado a Fernando T. Maestre por el prestigioso programa Consolidator Grants del Consejo Europeo de Investigación (ERC). El trabajo de tesis se realizará fundamentalmente en los laboratorios del grupo “Materia orgánica del suelo, gestión ambiental de residuos y cambio global” del Instituto de Ciencias Agrarias del CSIC, incluyendo también trabajo en las instalaciones experimentales del Laboratorio de Ecología de Zonas Áridas y Cambio Global de la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. La tesis estará dirigida por los Drs. César Plaza (CSIC) y Fernando T. Maestre (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos).

Los candidatos deben cumplir los requisitos exigidos en la convocatoria (más información aquí), contar con una Licenciatura/Grado en Ciencias Biológicas o Ambientales y tener una nota media de más de 8 (en una escala de 0-10; esta convocatoria marca unos requisitos mínimos de nota media que los candidatos deben cumplir y no se considerarán solicitudes con notas medias por debajo de este umbral).  Se valorará también el nivel de inglés, la experiencia en campo, los conocimientos de estadística, estar en posesión del carnet de conducir y, sobre todo, la motivación.

Los interesados deben remitir su CV y la nota de media de su expediente académico por correo electrónico a César Plaza antes del 20 de enero de 2016, teniendo en cuenta que el plazo de presentación de solicitudes de becas FPU finaliza el 3 de febrero de 2017.

viernes, 16 de diciembre de 2016

We are looking for a candidate to apply to the "Juan de la Cierva formación" postdoctoral call


We are looking for a motivated candidate to apply to a competitive postdoctoral call ("Juan de la Cierva formación") from the Spanish Government that fully fund a 2-yr postdoctoral contract to work in in the Dryland Ecology and Global Change LabThe requeriments of the candidate are the following:

* We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in any of the following areas: microbial ecology, bioinformatics, lichen taxonomy, biocrust ecology, remote sensing or ecological modelling.

* The candidate should hold a PhD awarded between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2016.
* The candidate should have a strong publication record, with articles in journals included in the first quartile of the JCR database (the call is highly competitive and succesfull candidates are those with a strong publication record).
* Previous research stays and/or postdoctoral experience outside Spain (for Spanish candidates) or a Phd from a non-Spanish university (for candidates from outside Spain). 

Please note that this is not a job offer, as the candidate will apply to a competitive call. All the details of this call can be found here (in Spanish). If awarded, the person would work in a state-of-the-art facilities in the Móstoles Campus of Rey Juan Carlos University, including a brand new and well equiped laboratory and access to the Aranjuez Experimental Station and the Climate Change Outdoor Laboratory in the university campus (Fig. 1). He/she would be part of the research team working in the BIODESERT project, awarded to Fernando T. Maestre by the Consolidator Grant program of the European Research Council for the period 2016-2020. This project has the following main objectives:
  1. To test how changes in climate and grazing pressure determine spatiotemporal patterns in multifunctionality in global drylands.
  2. To assess how biotic attributes modulate ecosystem resilience to climate change and grazing pressure at multiple spatial scales (from local to global).
  3. To test and develop early warning indicators for the onset of desertification.
  4. To forecast the onset of desertification and its ecological consequences under different climate and grazing scenarios.

Interested candidates in applying to this call in the lab should send their updated CV and three references to Fernando T. Maestre before 31 December 2016. The selected applicant will be notified by 6th of January 2017, and will need to prepare all the materials requested by the call before the 20th of January.









Figure 1. Views of the Climate Change Outdoor laboratory, where highly replicated climate change experiments can be set up.

miércoles, 26 de octubre de 2016

Conferencia de Ricard Solé en la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos


El próximo 8 de noviembre, Ricard Solé impartirá la conferencia

Evolución artificial: de la biología sintética a la robótica evolutiva 

Uno de los grandes problemas de la biología es la comprensión del origen de las innovaciones evolutivas. La vida sobre nuestro planeta ha experimentado cambios cualitativos de gran importancia asociados al origen de la vida, de las primeras células, los sistemas multicelulares, la cooperación, el lenguaje o la consciencia (entre otros). Nuestra aparición como especie ha dado lugar a una nueva era geológica y también a una nueva transición a nivel global. ¿Son estas transiciones inevitables? ¿Podrían existir alternativas? ¿podría ser la vida sobre nuestro planeta completamente distinta a la que conocemos? Una forma de abordar estas cuestiones es emplear sistemas artificiales que nos permitan imitar los procesos o condiciones necesarias para obtener innovaciones. La biología sintética, la robótica evolutiva y las teorías de sistemas complejos nos permiten acercarnos a las grandes preguntas y obtener algunas respuestas, en ocasiones inesperadas.

La conferencia tendrá lugar a las 15.30 h en el salón de grados del Edificio Departamental II del Campus de Móstoles de la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. Para direcciones sobre como llegar pulsa aquí


Ricard Solé es profesor de investigación ICREA, el instituto catalán de estudios avanzados, y dirige el Laboratorio de Sistemas Complejos de la Universidad Pompeu Fabra. Es también catedrático externo en el Santa Fe Institute y profesor externo del Centro de Evolución y Cáncer de la Universidad de California en San Francisco, ambos en Estados Unidos. Es miembro de la junta directiva de la Sociedad Europea de Sistemas Complejos y del consejo editorial de Biology Direct y PLoS ONE. Ha dirigido numerosos proyectos de investigación, incluido uno de los prestigiosos "Advanced Grants" del Consejo Europeo de Investigación, autor de más de 300 artículos publicados en revistas científicas (incluidos varios en Nature Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) y ha publicado, entre otros libros, Redes complejas. Del genoma a InternetVidas sintéticasLa lógica de los monstruos (Tusquets).

domingo, 4 de septiembre de 2016

Actividades de investigación por créditos para alumnos de la URJC, curso 2016/2017

Si eres estudiante de algún grado en la URJC y te interesa introducirte en el mundo de la investigación en ecología y cambio global, participar en el desarrollo de los proyectos que estamos realizando en el Laboratorio de Ecología de Ecosistemas Semiáridos y Cambio Global y conseguir créditos por esta actividad ahora puedes hacerlo! Tenemos varias vacantes para alumnos que estén interesados en colaborar con nosotros.

Los alumnos interesados colaborarán en las tareas de mantenimiento de los distintos experimentos sobre las consecuencias ecológicas del cambio climático en los ecosistemas semiáridos que se están llevando en las instalaciones del Campus de Móstoles y la Estación Experimental de Aranjuez, donde de manera experimental se están simulando las condiciones de temperatura (aumento de 2.5 ºC anuales) y precipitación (reducción de un 30% de la cantidad total de precipitación) predichas por los modelos de cambio climático para las zonas semiáridas de la Península Ibérica. Asimismo, los alumnos también participarán en las medidas que se están realizando en estos experimentos (mediciones de humedad del suelo y de fotosíntesis/respiración, medidas fisiológicas y de crecimiento, etc), la toma de muestras de suelo y preparación de las mismas para su análisis en el laboratorio (análisis fisico-químicos y moleculares basados en el uso de ADN). 

Si quieres ver el tipo de investigación que hacemos en nuestro grupo puedes echar un vistazo a este vídeo realizado por la UPCA de la URJC:






 Vista de las instalaciones del Campus de Móstoles donde estamos realizando nuestros experimentos de cambio climático.



Parcela experimental en la Estación Experimental de Aranjuez

Estas colaboraciones son totalmente compatibles con el normal desarrollo de las actividades académicas, y el horario es adaptable a las necesidades de los alumnos. Si deseas más información sobre cómo colaborar con nosotros y las actividades a realizar contacta con Victoria Ochoa o Beatriz Gozalo.
 
 

martes, 5 de julio de 2016

We are looking for a candidate for a post-doctoral competitive call

We are looking for a motivated candidate to apply to a competitive call from the Regional Government of Madrid for funding a 4-yr post-doctoral contract to work in our lab. The requeriments of the candidates are the following:

* Strong publication record in any of the areas related to the research we do in the lab (for details about we do and recent publications check our webpage). We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in microbial ecology, bioinformatics or remote sensing.
* The candidate should hold a PhD awarded between 1 January 2013 and 20 June 2016
* The candidate should have been working (under a contract or fellowship, proof required) outside Spain for at least one of the last two years.

Please note that this is not a job offer, as the candidate will apply to a competitive call (a total of 25 contracts will be awarded for all knowledge areas). All the details of this call (in Spanish) can be found here. If awarded, the person would work in the Dryland Ecology and Global Change Lab, located in the Móstoles Campus of Rey Juan Carlos University. He/she would be part of the research team working in the BIODESERT project, awarded to Fernando T. Maestre by the Consolidator Grant program of the European Research Council for the period 2016-2020.

Interested candidates in apply to one of these contracts in the lab should send their updated CV and two references to Fernando T. Maestre before 10 July 2016. The selected applicant will be notified on 11 July, and will need to prepare all the materials requested by the call (the candidate will apply to "Modalidad 2") by 15 July (sorry for the short notice).

miércoles, 4 de mayo de 2016

Juan Gaitán succesfully completes his PhD!

Juan Gaitán, a researcher form INTA in Argentina who has been a graduate student in the lab for the past four years, has succesfully completed his PhD, which will be defended soon in the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Buenos Aires. The title of his PhD is "Structural and functional attributes of arid and semiarid ecosystems of Patagonia and its relation with abiotic factors and the anthropic use" and the abstract of this PhD is:

The advance of desertification is one of the major environmental problems affecting the Argentinian Patagonia. Overgrazing and recurrent droughts are the main drivers of desertification in this region. According to climate models, the occurrence of drought will increase in the future in drylands worldwide, including those from Patagonia. However, little is known on the mechanisms and interactions of climate change and desertification, and how they will affect the ecosystems of the Patagonian steppe. A better understanding of these aspects can help to monitor desertification processes, project their changes and assess their impact under climate change. The objective of this thesis was to analyze the relationship between structural and functional attributes of ecosystems and their interaction with climate and anthropogenic use (grazing) in dryland ecosystems from Argentinian Patagonia. The study was conducted on 320 sites of the MARAS (acronym of “Monitoreo Ambiental para Regiones Áridas y Semiáridas”) network, installed and maintained by INTA researchers since 2007. The main findings found were: The NDVI index derived from MODIS sensor is a good estimator of structural (plant cover) and functional (surrogates of soil functioning) attributes of ecosystems. Vegetation structural attributes such as species richness and cover explained a significant and unique portion of the variability found in ecosystem functioning at the regional scale, which is as important as that explained by climate. The occurrence of drought causes a decrease in the primary productivity of ecosystems, which is higher as temperatura and drought severity increase. Drought effects were attenuated in those sites having higher species richness and shrub cover. Species richness and grass cover (especially palatable species) had a positive effect on functional attributes of the ecosystem such as primary productivity and precipitation-use efficiency. Grazing decreased species richness and thecover of palatable grasses, increased the cover of unpalatable grasses and did not promote shrub encroachment. The effects of grazing on the structure and functioning of ecosystems converged with the expected effects induced by warming and increasing aridity due to ongoing global climate change.

The PhD has four chapters, and three of them have already been published (two of the articles are Open Access):

Gaitán, J.J., D. Bran, G. Oliva, F.T. Maestre, M. R. Aguiar, Esteban G. Jobbágy, G. Buono, D. Ferrante, V. Nakamatsu, G. Ciari, J. Salomone, V. Massara. 2014. Plant species richness and shrubcover attenuate drought effects on ecosystem functioning across Patagonianrangelands. Biology Letters 10, 20140673.
Gaitán, J.J., D. Bran, G. Oliva, F.T. Maestre, M. R. Aguiar, E.G. Jobbágy, G. Buono, D. Ferrante, V. Nakamatsu, G. Ciari, J. Salomone, V. Massara. 2014. Vegetation structure is as important as climate for explainingecosystem function across Patagonian rangelandsJournal of Ecology 102: 1419-1428.
Gaitán, J.J., D. Bran, G. Oliva, G. Ciari, V. Nakamatsu, J. Salomone, D. Ferrante, G. Buono, V. Massara, G. Humano, D. Celdrán, W. Opazo, F.T. Maestre. 2013. Evaluating the performance ofmultiple remote sensing indices to predict the spatial variability of ecosystemstructure and functioning in Patagonian steppesEcological Indicators 34: 181–191.
Gaitán, J.J., D. Bran, G. Oliva, F.T. Maestre, M.R. Aguiar, G. Buono, D. Ferrante, V. Nakamatsu, G. Ciari, J.M. Salomone, V. Massara, G. García Martinez. Warming and overgrazing have convergent effects on ecosystem structure and functioning in Patagonian rangelands. Under review

Many congrats Juan! We are all very happy of what you have acomplished in your PhD!

jueves, 21 de abril de 2016

Latest accepted article from the lab (April 2016)

A new paper from our global dryland database has just been accepted. It results from a collaboration with Prof. Werner Ulrich from Nicolaus Copernicus University. It will be published online early during the next weeks/months, but here go the abstracts:

Ulrich, W., S. Soliveres, A. Thomas, A. Dougill & F. T. Maestre. 2016. Environmental correlates of species rank – abundance distributions in global drylands. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics   

Theoretical models predict lognormal species abundance distributions (SADs) in stable and productive environments, with log-series SADs in less stable, dispersal driven communities. We studied patterns of relative species abundances of perennial vascular plants in global dryland communities to: i) assess the influence of climatic and soil characteristics on the observed SADs, ii) infer how environmental variability influences relative abundances, and iii) evaluate how colonisation dynamics and environmental filters shape abundance distributions. We fitted lognormal and log-series SADs to 91 sites containing at least 15 species of perennial vascular plants. The dependence of species relative abundances on soil and climate variables was assessed using general linear models. Irrespective of habitat type and latitude, the majority of the SADs (70.3%) were best described by a lognormal distribution. Lognormal SADs were associated with low annual precipitation, higher aridity, high soil carbon content, and higher variability of climate variables and soil nitrate. Our results do not corroborate models predicting the prevalence of log-series SADs in dryland communities. As lognormal SADs were particularly associated with sites with drier conditions and a higher environmental variability, we reject models linking lognormality to environmental stability and high productivity conditions. Instead our results point to the prevalence of lognormal SADs in heterogeneous environments, allowing for more even plant communities or in stressful ecosystems, which are generally shaped by strong habitat filters and limited colonisation. This suggests that drylands may be resilient to environmental changes because the many species with intermediate relative abundances could take over ecosystem functioning if the environment becomes suboptimal for dominant species.