Subterranean ecosystems extend all over the subsurface of our planet. They harbour 97% of the global resources of freshwater immediately available for life. Thousands of species have evolved and adapted to live exclusively in the underground. Subterranean organisms are among the most unknown, threatened and unprotected species of our planet.
We study different aspects of the ecology of subterranean ecosystems, from the shallow subterranean habitats to the deep subsurface biosphere and its relation with surface. Most of our research develops in caves and other types of subterranean ecosystems. Outreach and science communication is also part of our educational and societal commitment.
Specific research lines:
- Ecological relationships between environmental variables and subterranean biodiversity at regional and global scales;
- Arthropod biosystematics, evolution, physiology and conservation;
- Groundwater–surface-water ecological interactions;
- Subterranean ecotoxicology, and the use of stygofauna as bioindicators of groundwater quality;
- Impacts of pollutants and climate change in subterranean taxa;
- Subterranean Environmental Risk Assessment;
- Decomposition and carbon cycling in subterranean ecosystems;
- Parasite-host interactions, mostly linked with arthropod-fungi (Laboulbeniales) associations;
- Curation and development the subterranean biological collection;
- Cave microbiomes;
- Cave exploration and geospatial mapping;
- Caves and karst conservation.
Finally, we aim to understand the ecological impacts of anthropogenic activities in subterranean ecosystems, in order to generate a framework for future ecological assessment of subterranean ecosystems, ensuring its sustainability.
Medina, M.J., Antić, D., Borges, P.A.V., Borko, Š., Fišer, C., Lauritzen, S.-E., Martín, J.L., Oromí, P., Pavlek, M., Premate, E., Puliafico, K.P., Sendra, A. & Reboleira, A.S.P.S. (2023) Temperature variation in caves and its significance for subterranean ecosystems.Scientific Reports, 13, 20735. DOI:10.1038/s41598-023-48014-7 (IF2021 4,997; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Handley, J., Harte, E., Stanworth, A., Poncet, S., Catry, P., Cleminson, S., Crofts, S. & Dias, M.P. (2023) Progressing delineations of key biodiversity areas for seabirds, and their application to management of coastal seas.Diversity and Distributions, 29(1), 123–142. DOI:10.1111/ddi.13651 (IF2021 5,717; Q1 Ecology)
Guilherme, J.L., Jones, V.R., Catry, I., Beal, M., Dias, M.P., Oppel, S., Vickery, J.A., Hewson, C., Butchart, S.H.M. & Rodrigues, A.S.L. (2023) Connectivity between countries established by landbirds and raptors migrating along the African–Eurasian flyway.Conservation Biology, 37(1), e14002. DOI:10.1111/cobi.14002 (IF2021 7,563; Q1 Ecology)