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Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain

Sardans J.,Global Ecology Unit CREAF CEAB UAB | Penuelas J.,CREAF
Ecohydrology | Year: 2014

Hydraulic lift, water movement from deep to upper soil layers by roots, is a widespread process in temperate and semi-arid environments. It can contribute 17-81% of total water transpired and favour the uptake of nutrients available mainly from soil organic matter decomposition (e.g. N). Downward siphoning, water movement from upper to deep soil layers, can represent 10-60% of total transpired water, favouring the uptake of nutrients supplied mainly from the leaching of bedrock minerals (e.g. P and K). These vertical water movements also can affect the N:P ratio of runoff waters when, in the case of hydraulic lift, they open the possibility for a given pulse of water to circulate multiple times across the N-rich upper soil layers. Plants, thus, affect the stoichiometry of nutrients in soils and groundwater not only through the physical protection of the soil and through the water uptake but also through water redistribution. Soil water redistribution can also play an outstanding role in the ecosystem responses to global change drivers. The increase in soil patchiness in current and future arid lands modifies runoff fluxes, hydraulic lift and downward siphoning, allowing plants to dispose of higher water and nutrient availabilities. The higher use of hydraulic lift and/or downward siphoning by alien species is a possible cause of alien plant success. Further mechanistic and quantitative research is thus warranted to discern the plant role in water and nutrient cycling and in the responses to global change. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Rojas C.,University of Concepcion | Pino J.,CREAF | Pino J.,University of Barcelona | Jaque E.,University of Concepcion
Land Use Policy | Year: 2013

This work describes a methodology for Strategic Environmental Assessment of urban areas in Latin America based on the recently approved European Planning Directive, and applies it to the Metropolitan Area of Concepción (Chile). The method is based on the Land Suitability Index (LSI), a cartographic GIS-based index originally developed for the region of Barcelona (Spain) and aimed at determining the suitability of each point in a region for urban development, considering three sub-indexes: (i) Naturalness, (ii) Ecological Connectivity and (iii) Natural Risk. Using the LSI we evaluated the already approved urban plans of the municipalities in the region, considering two scenarios: the initial land use or baseline scenario (S0) and the designated land use or planned scenario (S1). The results show that overall the planned scenario will result in a loss of around 16% of naturalness, with particularly negative effects on brushwood and wetland areas. Connectivity will decrease by around 17%, and urban areas exposed to many types of natural risks will increase considerably, from approximately 49% to 92% of the total urban surface. Finally the LSI shows that around 252 ha are suitable for new urbanization in the extension area. This corresponds to around 0.7% of the total extension area (37.381 ha), which represents 12% of the region (271.398 ha). We propose this methodology can be a valuable contribution to the design of Strategic Environmental Assessment applications and indicators for land planning in Latin America. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Carnicer J.,University of Groningen | Penuelas J.,CREAF | Penuelas J.,Global Ecology Unit CREAF CEAB CSIC UAB
Energy Policy | Year: 2012

The global financial system is a major component of our global society. The available analyses of sustainability, however, have poorly assessed the role of the financial system in scenarios of future global change. Here we contrast current global flows in the financial system with the future economic costs of a worldwide transition to renewable energies under the baseline and 450. ppm scenarios for emissions of greenhouse gases proposed by the IPCC. We show that annual global financial flows are three orders of magnitude greater than the annual economic costs of policies for global sustainability. A small global tax on financial transactions of 0.05% could thus provide the required funds for the deployment of renewable energies. To assess the roles of the financial sector in future policies for sustainability, we identified 14 key international actors and enumerated 16 key policies for sustainability that should be implemented to achieve effective global ecological and financial sustainability. We conclude that the proposed structural reforms to the financial system are essential steps urgently required for financing a global transition to a sustainable economy. Consequently, we suggest that the international scientific community should urgently pursue an academic consensus on policy recommendations for the financial sector. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Arnan X.,CREAF | Cerda X.,TU Darmstadt | Rodrigo A.,University of Barcelona | Retana J.,CSIC - Donana Biological Station
Ecography | Year: 2013

Little is known about the impact of disturbances on functional diversity and the long-term provisioning of ecosystem services, especially in animals. In this work we analyze the effect of wildfire on the functional composition of Mediterranean ant communities. In particular, we asked whether a) fire changes functional composition (mean and dissimilarity of trait values) at the community level; and b) such fire-induced functional modification is driven by changes in the relative abundance-dominance of species or by a replacement of species with different traits. We sampled ant communities in burned and unburned plots along 22 sites in a western Mediterranean region, and we computed two complementary functional trait composition indices ('trait average' and 'trait dissimilarity') for 12 functional traits (related to resource exploitation, social structure and reproduction) and with two different datasets varying in the way species abundance is considered (i.e. abundance and occurrence data). Our results suggest a set of functional responses that seem to be related to direct mortality by fire as well as to indirect fire-induced modifications in environmental conditions relevant for ants. Trait average of colony size, worker size, worker polymorphism and the ratio between queen and worker size, as well as the trait dissimilarity of the proportion of behaviorally dominant species and of liquid food consumption, and overall functional diversity, were higher in burned than in unburned areas. Interestingly, different patterns arise when comparing results from abundance and occurrence data. While the response to fire in trait averages is quite similar, in the case of trait dissimilarity, the higher values in response to fire are much more marked when considering occurrence rather than abundance data. Our results suggest that changes in trait average are driven at the same time by replacement of species with different traits and by changes in the relative abundance-dominance of species, while fire promotes a higher diversity of functions that is primarily driven by rare species that are functionally unique. Overall, we observed major fire-induced changes in functional composition in Mediterranean ant communities that might have relevant consequences for ecosystem processes and services. © 2013 The Authors.

Sol D.,CREAF | Sayol F.,CREAF | Ducatez S.,University of Sydney | Lefebvre L.,CREAF | Lefebvre L.,McGill University
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2016

The evolutionary origin of innovativeness remains puzzling because innovating means responding to novel or unusual problems and hence is unlikely to be selected by itself. A plausible alternative is considering innovativeness as a co-opted product of traits that have evolved for other functions yet together predispose individuals to solve problems by adopting novel behaviours. However, this raises the question of why these adaptations should evolve together in an animal. Here, we develop the argument that the adaptations enabling animals to innovate evolve together because they are jointly part of a life-history strategy for coping with environmental changes. In support of this claim, we present comparative evidence showing that in birds, (i) innovative propensity is linked to life histories that prioritize future over current reproduction, (ii) the link is in part explained by differences in brain size, and (iii) innovative propensity and life-history traits may evolve together in generalist species that frequently expose themselves to novel or unusual conditions. Combined with previous evidence, these findings suggest that innovativeness is not a specialized adaptation but more likely part of a broader general adaptive system to cope with changes in the environment. © 2016 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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