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

Past seminars

Ongoing seminars

October 24th, 2018 - Agenda Event

Patrick A.James, Professor at Université de Montreal

"Causes and consequences of mountain pine beetle outbreaks: from genes to ecosystems"


Outbreaks of forest insect pests represent a significant threat to forest health and sustainable development in Canada's boreal forests. In western Canada, an outbreak of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) has attacked and killed over 16 million hectare of pine forest. Although this beetle is a native species with a known history of populations irruptions, the current outbreak is without precedent. Further, the outbreak seems to have facilitated a range expansion such that this species now threatens boreal forest resources in central and towards eastern Canada. There is uncertainty regarding what facilitated this range expansion and whether rapid (co)evolution within and among species that make out the outbreak system (beetles, fungi, trees) has been involved. In this talk I will present spatial genetic and genomic research we have undertaken to address these questions. Specifically, I present a landscape genetics analysis in which we examine the influence of landscape heterogeneity on mountain pine beetle movement and population genetic connectivity. Next, I will present initial results from a landscape genomics analysis in which we identify and map non-random association of adaptive loci among the beetle, its host trees, and a suite of obligate fungal symbionts.  Together, this work helps us to better understand some of the drivers of this outbreak and what might be done to reduce its consequences for forest sustainability.


Patrick James has bachelors degree in Ecology (Dept. of Zoology, University of Toronto, 2002) and a PhD in Spatial Ecology (Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, 2006). He also held a post-doctoral position in landscape genetics at the University of Alberta (2009). Currently, he is Associate Professor in Ecological Modelling in the at the Department des Sciences Biologiques at the Université de Montréal, in Montréal, Québec, Canada. He is also a regular member of the CEF. His research interests include landscape ecology, forest disturbance dynamics, population genetics, and simulation modelling. Current work in his lab currently focusses on the spatial and temporal dynamics of outbreaking forest insect pests and forest fire. Using a combination of theory, statistical analysis, modelling, and field work his group aims to better understand the dynamic and reciprocal feedbacks among human and natural forest disturbances and how these systems can be better managed to maintain forest health. More information can be found at:

November 7th, 2018 - Agenda Event

Louis Santiago, professor at University of California, USA.

"#Whatkillstrees: Drought Survival Strategies of Woody Plants"


Drought-induced mortality and regional dieback of woody vegetation are reported from numerous locations around the world. Yet within any one site, predicting which species are most likely to survive global change-type drought is a challenge. In this seminar, I will discuss the major traits comprising the strategies that woody plants use to survive drought in the context of climate change, including:  1) Cavitation resistant xylem, 2) Capacitance, 3) Deciduousness, 4) Photosynthetic stems, 5) Deep roots, 6) Efficient regulation of gas exchange, 7) Osmotic control, 8) Low cuticle conductance. I will draw examples from tropical forest, Mediterranean-type ecosystems and desert, and discuss new approaches and limitations in our ability to predict drought responses of terrestrial ecosystems. 


Professor Santiago’s primary research interests are in plant physiological ecology. He has an active interest in determining the role of plant water use in the hydraulic cycles of vegetated watersheds. Professor Santiago’s field research has been conducted in montane watershed forest in Hawaii, in lowland tropical forest in Panama, and in Mediterranean climate ecosystems of California. He employs a variety of techniques including plant physiological measurements, stable isotopes, modeling, environmental sensors, and statistical approaches. Professor Santiago’s academic background includes a Batchelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley, a Masters of Science from the University of Hawaii, a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Florida. In 2006, he joined the Botany and Plant Sciences faculty at the University of California, Riverside as a physiological ecologist and in 2011 was appointed as a Research Associate for the Smithsonian Institution. 

November 21st, 2018 - Agenda Event

Victoria Reyes-García, ICREA Research Professor at the ICTA-UAB.

"Biocultural diversity: The inextricable link between biological and cultural diversity"


There is growing evidence that most biodiversity rich landscapes overlap with areas inhabited by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Moreover, this overlap is not due to randomness, but rather it can be explained through the intricate relations between biological diversity at all its levels and cultural diversity in all its manifestations, or what is known as biocultural diversity. In this talk, I will present results from research conducted among the Tsimane’, a hunter-horticulturalist society in the Bolivian Amazon, analysing how changes in Tsimane’ culture (i.e., acculturation and integration into the market economy) reflect in their landscape and different indicators of floristic and animal diversity. The talk will conclude with a discussion of how understanding the links between biological and cultural diversity is critical for more effective and inclusive approaches for biocultural diversity conservation. 


Victoria Reyes-García (Ph.D in Antropology, 2001, University of Florida) is  ICREA Research Professor at the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). Her research addresses the benefits generated by local ecological knowledge and the dynamic nature of these knowledge systems. She coordinates the Laboratory for the Analysis of Socio-Ecological Systems in a Global World at ICTA-UAB. Between 2010-15, she directed an ERC Starting Grant to study the adaptive nature of culture using a cross-cultural approach. In 2017  she received an ERC Starting Grant to study local indicators of climate change impacts.