Mediterranean ecosystems have features that make them particularly interesting. In terms of biodiversity they are of high value as a result of their biogeographic history. Mediterranean ecosystems are found in regions with a special climate, where the dry season coincides with the highest seasonal temperatures. They also experience a disturbance regime associated with the climate and wildfires - a regime which has been profoundly altered as a result of human interventions. As a matter of fact, human activities have profoundly shaped the ecosystems of the Mediterranean Basin throughout recent history. These ecosystems are therefore a point of reference for understanding the effects of global change considering the transformations in land use, biogeochemical cycles and the distribution of biota.

Climatically, Mediterranean ecosystems are situated at the transition between the subtropical arid and humid temperate regions, whereas climate change scenarios indicate a clear tendency towards greater aridity. From its beginning as a research center, CREAF has studied these ecosystems due to their ecological value as well as physical proximity to the center. It is for these reasons that many of CREAF's research lines center on this geographic area. The main objectives of this research are to measure the impact of global change on Mediterranean ecosystems by assessing the multiple interactions that occur between climate, living beings, fires, and human activity, also taking into account the region's evolutionary history.

 

  • Land use change: We analyze and model changes in land use in Mediterranean landscapes and evaluate effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Climate change: We study the effects of climate change on biodiversity, phenology of biota, and functioning and Mediterranean ecosystems through climate manipulation experiments and modeling.
  • Wildfires: We study the fire regime of Mediterranean ecosystems, evaluating the impact of fire on vegetation and fauna, and we test forest management practices which may reduce this impact.
  • Management tools: We develop tools for the sustainable management of Mediterranean forests. 
  • Soils: We study the functioning of Mediterranean ecosystem soils and interaction with other compartments (atmosphere, water bodies, vegetation).
  • Functional traits: We analyze the functional characteristics of plants and animals in Mediterranean systems in function of climatic regime and the disturbances to which they are subjected. 
  • Interactions: We analyze biotic interaction networks in Mediterranean communities.
  • Biological invasions: We compile and analyze biological invasions in Mediterranean systems.
  • Evolutionary ecology: We study the evolutionary ecology of Mediterranean biota.