Biweekly researcher forum, which offer an opportunity for researchers in ecology to present and discuss their work

CREAF runs an annual programme of seminars that showcase the global research work in the field of ecological science both within and beyond our centre. Each seminar normally lasts 30-40 minutes with plenty of time afterwards for questions and discussion. Seminars are usually on Wednesday at 3 pm.

Our free seminar programme is open to everyone.  For more information, please email CREAF Talks coordinator


Ongoing Seminars


March 27th, 2019 - 

Rosie Fisher, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder.

"FATES: A Functionally Assembled, Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator. Building better bridges between ecosystem science and Earth system modeling"


The inclusion of vegetation structure and demographics in Earth System Models allows both the representation of ecological processes of disturbance, recruitment and competition at their native scales, and also improved mechanistic treatment of many other ecosystem processes, including fire, nutrient cycling, plant hydraulics, land use change and management, plant allocation, ecosystem assembly and tree mortality processes.  In this talk I will give an overview of the status and functionality of the open-source vegetation demographics module FATES (the Functionally Assembled Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator,, which is coupled to the Community Earth System Model (CESM) and the Energy, Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). FATES recently incorporated a plant hydrodynamics scheme, enabling the prediction of current and future vegetation types that emerge from their hydraulic functionality, and opening up a new frontier for interactions between field observations, physiological theory and global land surface modeling activities.   I hope to stimulate discussion into potential avenues for collaboration in the testing, development and deployment of FATESby the wider community, and to illustrate the benefits of open-source collaborative code development for accelerating progress towards better predictive understanding of the biosphere."


Rosie Fisher is a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. She is one of the primary developers of the Community Land Model (CLM), which is an open source collaborative project to develop the land surface scheme in the Community Earth System Model. As such, her research interests range broadly across the topics relevant to simulating vegetation processes in an Earth System Modeling context.  Her primary research goal in her career at NCAR has been the integration of ecosystem demography into the CLM, an activity which has recently expanded to the Functionally Assembled Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator project (FATES).  Additionally, she led the re-design of the Nitrogen cycling component and the calibration exercise for the recent release of the CMIP6 version of the CLM (CLM5,  Dr Fisher has long-standing interest in plant hydraulic processes, originating in her PhD field and modeling research at the Caxiuana rainfall exclusion experiment in North East Brazil, and most recently in using those same data to test hydrodynamic implementations in the big-leaf and demographic versions of the CLM.  Her other interests include fire-vegetation feedbacks, radiative transfer modeling and tree mortality processes. She is the modeling co-lead of the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiment in the tropics project, a 10-year program to better integrate field observations and model development activities.   Dr Fisher is passionate about furthering the development of an open, collaborative and productive scientific community around the CLM and FATES models, and to that end, spends much of her time facilitating and assisting with community-led model development projects.  She is currently on collaborative leave at CERFACS, Toulouse, France. 

April 3th , 2019 - 

Christian MessierDepartment of Biological Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) .

“Immunizing" forests against global change: Linking network theory and functional diversity to increase resilience​"



Human impacts on Earth’s ecosystems have greatly intensified in the last decades. This is reflected in unexpected disturbance events, as well as new and increasing socio-economic demands, all of which are affecting the resilience of forest ecosystems worldwide and the provision of important ecosystem services. I will briefly review the focus and limitations of past and current forest management and silvicultural practices mainly as developed in Europe and North America and then propose a novel approach to integrate the functionality of species-traits into a functional complex network approach as a flexible and multi-scale way to manage forests for the Anthropocene. Using this novel approach, the most efficient forest management and silvicultural practices can be determined, as well as where, at what scale, and at what intensity landscape-scale resistance, resilience and adaptive capacity of forests to global changes can be improved.


Christian Messier is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) since June 1991. His research focuses on the ecological and silvicultural factors that influence temperate and boreal forest ecosystem dynamics. Dr Messier holds the NSERC/Hydro-Quebec Chair on tree growth control. He was a member (and a co-leader from 1996 to 1999) of the Sustainable Forest Management network (SFMn) from 1995 to 2010. He is also the cofounder and an executive member of the Integrated Quebec Intensive Silviculture Network, a major project aimed at maximizing timber production on small areas. Finally, Dr Messier participated in the creation of the Centre for Forest Research (CFR) and was its director from its inception in 2006 to June 2010.

April 10th, 2019 - 

Cristina Nabais, University of Coimbra 

"Dating young, old and death trees​"


Since Andrew Ellicott Douglas established the scientific roots of dendrochronology, the information stored in tree rings has been used in cultural heritage, climate reconstruction, fire history, and many more ecological areas. Originally Douglas started to build a chronology using living trees from forests. Later, he went backwards in time using wood material from historical buildings. One sample collected from historical buildings and labeled HH39, was the key to link the living trees to the historical wood patterns that were previously collected. Douglas highlighted the importance of this sample by saying that “in American archaeology is destined to hold a place comparable to Egypt's Rosetta Stone”.  The first steps of dendrochronology were very much focused on building long chronologies and using those chronologies to date cultural heritage. Following the steps of Douglas, we have started a research project named INVISIBLE WOODS. The central aim is to screen the cultural heritage in Portugal, looking for hidden wood that can bring us insight the cultural and ecological history of the country. From the archeological sites at the riverfront in Lisbon, to the ceiling of the Convent of Christ in Tomar, and to the choir of the church of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, we travel through the challenges of finding and collecting wood, building and matching the tree ring patterns, to arrive at a date and a geographical origin of the wood.  The search for hidden wood in cultural heritage is however not only for dating the structure in which it is embedded. It also serves to recover information on climatic conditions of the past and can be of ecological importance as such.

The INVISIBLE WOOD project is a close cooperation between ecologists, archeologists, art historians, engineers and architects, a pure joy and a true interdisciplinary experience in which learning from each other and matching different mind frames are central. During the CREAF talk, I will present the project and its current state and I will discuss the methodologies for dating wood and the use of tree rings for historical and ecological purposes.


Cristina Nabais is a professor at the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She coordinates the Dendrochronology Lab of the Centre for Functional Ecology, a research unit of the University of Coimbra. The MedDendro Lab has four main research areas: 1. Dendrochronology of Mediterranean species to extract climatic and other ecological information; 2. Xylogenesis of the Mediterranean pine Pinus pinaster Aiton.; 3. Ecophysiological and wood anatomical responses of Mediterranean pines to drought; 4. Dendrochronology and Cultural Heritage.




Past seminars