The Return of the Jedi

The last year has been extremely busy for me, with (unfortunately) very little time to think about, and draft, new posts for the blog. A lot of interesting things happened, with many changes in the lab and still pending some important news about our research plans and prospects. Besides, it has been a difficult year- especially in summer, with the loss of my mother, a lovely person. So, I very much hope I’ll find more time to keep posting. My apologies for the long silence.
Several interesting items are in the pipeline, including posts about extinct ecological services of Pleistocene megafauna, metanetworks, unveiling long-distance dispersal, multiplex networks and their ecological applications, natural history of junipers, giant lizards, the coevolution of multispecific interactions, and many other themes related to research in the lab. So please stay tuned…

Extant Megafauna Frugivores

The end-Pleistocene mega-mammal extinction (also including other vertebrate groups) likely had a severe effect on present-day megafauna assemblages and impaired important functions associated with ecological interactions involving megafauna taxa. The extant mega-mammal faunas around the world are impoverished versions of the Pleistocene biota on most continents except- perhaps- Africa. In addition, mega-mammals are particularly hard hit by ongoing human-driven disturbances like deforestation, hunting, pollution, and animal trade.

stuart_2015_megafauna-extinctions-001
Extinct species (black) and extant species (green) of mammal megafauna in different continents, illustrating the main higher taxa. Stuart, A.J. (2014) Late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions on the continents: a short review. Geological Journal, 50, 338–363.

Extant frugivorous mega-mammals are represented in a few orders and families: Carnivora, Artiodactyla, Perissodactyla, Marsupalia, Proboscidea, and Primates. Yet they span a high diversity of body sizes, digestive systems, movement patterns, and foraging modes, presumably defining a wide range of ecological functions for plant dispersal.
The representation of extant mega-birds is much more restricted- strictly speaking, to the large Ratites (emus, cassowaries, ostrich) most of them consuming fruits to variable extents.

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Then, herps and fish have also a reduced representation, with large iguanas, varanid lizards and giant turtles, on one hand, and a few genera of very large frugivorous fishes.
The population densities, distribution areas, and even body sizes of these extant megafauna species are being severely reduced by both direct and indirect human influences. This is what we call the anthropocene, and the defaunation events associated to global change drivers such as deforestation. We are just starting to grasp the delayed consequences of this dramatic loss of biodiversity for the persistence of forests worldwide.

Illustration: Pedro Jordano, based on Stuart (2014). Photos: Kulpat Saralamba, Alicia Solana, Néstor Pérez-Méndez, Dennis Hansen.

Number One

This is my note #1. Created 01/01/2011 @ 00:35. Really a few minutes after the Biodiversity year has ended. What do we have? Probably a few thousands more extinct species, many of them we yet don’t know. But we have also more knowledge to fight this fast-paced trend of biodiversity loss. Let’s hope the best…

I have imported my previous posts of my blog.

Updated Equipo57 photo album

Equipo 57

I’ve updated the photo gallery with a special section dedicated to my favorite Equipo 57 sculptures. Equipo 57 was a group of artists based in Córdoba that had a close interaction with my father, Diego Jordano Barea, because of their shared interests in topological geometry and the possibilities of “computable art”. Please visit the web site of a recent exhibition.

New frugivory and seed dispersal book

New book on Fruits and Frugivores

I’ve just received the copy of the new book edited by CABI that summarizes the communications to the 4th International Conference on Frugivory and Seed dispersal, held in Brisbane, Australia, 2005. The book is very nicely edited. You can find a sample chapter here. The book offers a great overview of how studies of frugivory and seed dispersal by animals are advancing all over the world. In some sense it’s a continuation of the now classics Estrada and Fleming 1986, Fleming and Estrada 1993, and Levey et al. 2002. We are now setting up the 5th conference for 2010 in Montpellier, France. So, stay tuned!!!

Some updates after summer

After summer

Well, it has been a long time without news in the blog, but here we are again. 😉 Summer has been quiet; I’ve been at Cadiz coast with Myriam and Perico, with a short visit by Diego. It has been a great time to read, think and write but, again, no painting at all… 😦
After summer the group has been plenty of news. Geno Schupp and Janis Boettinger arrived in Sevilla for a new sabbatical year. We have plenty of time ahead to start new projects and revisit old ideas, besides enjoying the ‘tapas’ landscape around us.
We (Jordi, Jens and myself) got the Mercer Award of the Ecological Society of America for the Science paper; and Jordi, Jessica and Miguel Angel went to the meeting in San Jose (California) and enjoyed a splendid ceremony. This award is in recognition for the paper in Science (2006) on interaction asymmetries in mutualistic networks.
We have a new incorporation of Rocío Rodríguez, to start her PhD project on long-distance seed dispersal in Laurus nobilis and Frangula alnus. In addition, Itziar Sarasa also arrived to the group for a short-term stay until December with an introductory grant from CSIC.
Additional good news include the new grant-contracts that Arndt Hampe and Kimberly Holbrook obtained for the next 2 years in the group. Arndt is getting back to work on relict oak populations and Kimberly will keep going with the genetic analysis she started with Virola for her PhD, within a comparative project with Prunus.
Now I’m concentrating on the revision of the megafauna paper with Paulo and Mauro as well as in mss with Alfredo and Martin (fruit colors) and Jordi and Jens (networks); besides there is pending work with Geno on dispersal effectiveness and dispersal limitation that we want to finish. We really have a lot of things going on here, all great fun.

New paper on coextinction cascades in plant-animal mutualistic networks

New paper in Nature

Three days ago we had the good news of our manuscript on coextinction cascades in plant-animal mutualistic networks being finally accepted in Nature. These are very good news for the group, especially for our efforts in the last 4 years working on complex webs of interactions. Enrico did a superb job leading this ms. Here is the abstract:

Rezende, E., Lavabre, J., Guimarães Jr., P.R., Jordano, P. and Bascompte, J. 2007. Non-random coextinctions in phylogenetically structured mutualistic networks. Nature 00: 000-000.

The interactions between plants and their animal pollinators and seed dispersers have molded much of Earth’s biodiversity. Recently, it has been shown that these mutually beneficial interactions form complex networks with a well-defined architecture that may contribute to biodiversity persistence. Little is known, however, about which ecological, evolutionary, and coevolutionary mechanisms contribute to generate these network patterns. Employing phylogenetic comparative statistical tools, here we show that the evolutionary history of plants and animals significantly predicts the number of interactions per species, and the identity of the species with whom they interact. As a consequence of phylogenetic resemblance on interaction patterns, simulated extinction events tend to trigger coextinction cascades across related species. This results on a non-random pruning of the evolutionary tree and a more pronounced loss of taxonomic diversity than expected in the absence of phylogenetic signal. Our results emphasize how the simultaneous consideration of phylogenetic information and network architecture can contribute to the conservation of species rich communities.

Field course on Frugivory and Seed Dispersal finished

Curso de Frugivoria em Ilha de Cardoso, SP, Brazil

The 2007 edition of the field course on Frugivory and Seed Dispersal finished. We had an excellent time at Ilha de Cardoso. Not many ripe fruits of palmito juçara (Euterpe edulis) this year but we carried out lots of focal watches at Symplocos trees and other species. As ever, a fantastic experience with a great group students, mainly brazilian this year. We had José María Gómez (Rocka) and Rodolfo Dirzo as invited professors, joining Mauro, Wesley, Marco Aurélio and myself.

New paper on seed dispersal by animal frugivores in PNAS

New paper in PNAS just published

We have just published our paper “Jordano, P., C. García, J.A. Godoy, and J.L. García-Castaño. 2007. Differential contribution of frugivores to complex seed dispersal patterns. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences USA, 104: 3278-3282”. These are great news since it represents a great advance in the analysis of frugivore-created seed shadows. We document the differential contribution of different frugivore groups to seeds dispersed a given distance, using direct assignement procedires based on DNA genotyping methods. At the moment it’s the first approximation we have available to the total dispersal kernel of a plant species.
The paper has been extensively commented in the ‘Perspectives in Science’ section of Science journal. Please see the publications list for details.

Pre-doctoral grant available

Pre-doctoral grant available

La convocatoria de ayudas para becas predoctorales FPI está próxima a ser publicada por el MEC.

Dentro de nuestro proyecto “DISPERSIÓN DE SEMILLAS POR ANIMALES FRUGÍVOROS: EVENTOS A LARGA DISTANCIA Y REDES DE CONECTIVIDAD EN POBLACIONES FRAGMENTADAS” (CGL2006-00373), estamos interesados en recibir candidaturas para una beca FPI del MEC para desarrollar una Tesis doctoral.

En plantas en las que los animales influyen directamente en el flujo génico via polen y semillas, la variabilidad genética aparece fuertemente estructurada a diferentes escalas espaciales. El mantenimiento de esta estructura espacial se basa en la conectividad entre poblaciones via polen y semillas, distribuidas por animales mutualistas. En escenarios de fragmentados es esencial comprender cómo se estructura esta conectividad a fin de poder predecir los efectos de pérdida (extinción local) de poblaciones y limitación de los procesos de dispersión. En este proyecto abordamos estos aspectos centrándonos en especies forestales amenazadas o relictas, para las cuales ya disponemos de información a raíz de proyectos anteriores. En esta propuesta abordamos el problema de la persistencia de las poblaciones de estas especies basándonos en una mejor comprensión de la conectividad que existe entre ellas y de la dependencia de animales polinizadores y frugívoros para el reclutamiento. Nos centraremos en Olea europaea var. sylvestris, y abordaremos también aspectos demográficos y genéticos en Frangula alnus, Laurus nobilis, y Prunus mahaleb. Nuestra propuesta sintetiza las principales líneas de trabajo que mantiene nuestro grupo y aborda cuestiones clave sobre la preservación de la biodiversidad de especies, interacciones y acervo genético en escenarios de cambio ambiental. El enfoque es interdisciplinar, aunando diferentes aproximaciones (análisis estadístico de bases de datos, teoría de redes complejas, métodos de genética molecular y simulaciones de ordenador).

El trabajo de tesis se centraría en los aspectos de conectividad en poblaciones fragmentadas. Perfil requerido: formación en biología y/o ciencias ambientales con un buen expediente académico. Se valorarán positivamente los conocimientos en ecología, genética molecular y estadística, con una fuerte motivación e interés por estos temas. Se requiere inglés hablado/escrito con nivel alto. El trabajo previsto incluye tareas de campo y de laboratorio.

Las bases de la convocatoria serán publicadas próximamente por el MEC (ver http://www.mec.es/ciencia/jsp/plantilla.jsp?area=becasfpi&id=11 para convocatorias anteriores).

Las personas interesadas deben ponerse en contacto lo antes posible con Pedro Jordano adjuntando su CV actualizado (con datos de contacto) junto con copia de su expediente académico. El plazo de la convocatoria, que se publicará en BOE en breve, será sólo de unos 15 días. Más información sobre el grupo de investigación y sobre nuestro trabajo se puede encontrar en las páginas web:
http://ebd10.ebd.csic.es>
http://ieg.ebd.csic.es>

Cris García PhD defense

Cris García PhD defense

The defense of Cris’ PhD Thesis took place the 5th Dec at University of Sevilla. We had a great time and everything went well. Members of the committee were Salvador Talavera, Sophie Gerber, Miguel Verdú, José María Gómez, and Gabriel Gutiérrez. The thesis is entitled: “Patterns of animal assisted dispersal and gene flow via pollen and seeds in heterogeneous landscapes”.

Visits to IEG

Visits to IEG

We had a number of visits at IEG during September and the first half of October: Andy Jones (at STRI, Panama), and Sabrina Russo (Univ. Cambridge, UK), Yoshihisa Suyama and Motoshi Tomita (Tohoku Univ, Japan). Also we had Margarita Rios, from Colombia (Fundación Ecoandina y Wildlife Conservation Society) for a short stay at the lab. In addition Paulo came for a short stay.

Paulo’s PhD thesis

Paulo’s PhD thesis

Paulo R. Guimarães Jr. defended his PhD thesis at University of Campinas, Brazil. He has worked on plant-animal interaction networks from a theoretical perspective, addressing connectivity patterns, the origin of truncation in the connectivity distributions, nestedness patterns and the structure of ant-plant and fish-cleaning interactions in comparison with other mutualisms. He has been advised by Sérgio Furtado Dos Reis, Marcus Aguiar, Jordi Bascompte and myself. It has been a privilege to work with Paulo in this project.

Joel Cohen visit

This week we had the pleasure of having Joel Cohen visiting us. Invited by Jordi, he was discussing work with different people, and gave an interesting talk. We visited Doñana natl. park and the Los Alcornocales area.

EURYI Awards in Stockholm

EURYI Awards in Stockholm

We went to Stockholm for the EURYI Award ceremony, which took place during the Open Science Forum 2004. There were six spanish scientists awarded. Here are a couple of shots of the ceremony, and Jordi with the certificate of the prize. Very nice moments for all us, and it’s a pleasure to share them with all you.