I focus on interconnected lines of research aimed to describe, quantify and explain marine biodiversity patterns and processes. Interest in these topics has increased considerably due to the multiple threats that marine ecosystems are suffering at high velocities. In addition, I am committed to making data from my research freely available. Key of all efforts is integration and interactivity of data. This includes developing a database of images for the study sites, electronic tools, and enhancing accessibility of data gathered to scientist, managers, general public, and educators.
Understanding and assessing the vulnerability of marine benthic biodiversity to climate change
The main aim of the vulnerCLIMA project is to better understand and predict the vulnerability to climate-related stressors (e.g. ocean warming and acidification) of Mediterranean marine coastal biodiversity. Like most marine ecosystems worldwide, the Mediterranean Sea is highly impacted by several human-mediated threats. The Mediterranean Sea is a hotspot of marine biodiversity and is also considered to represent a climate change hotspot and will undergo one of the largest changes in climate worldwide. The project is based along the coast off Ischia Island, near Naples (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy), where there are near shore volcanic CO2 vents on which causes local acidification of seawater by as much as 1.5 pH units below the average ocean pH of 8.1-8.2. This study area is a primary example of a naturally acidified marine ecosystem. Moreover, the Island of Ischia has been affected by recurrent mortality events of invertebrate benthic species associated to positive water temperature anomalies. Finally, during the last years the Ischia Island and the Gulf of Naples have been invaded by the invasive algae species Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea. This project combines complementary approaches such as environmental data measurements, field surveys, laboratory and in situ experimentation. Given the optimal and unique conditions of the “natural laboratory” of the study area, this project will contribute to estimate the vulnerability of Mediterranean marine coastal biodiversity to climate change and other stressors (e.g. invasive species). vulnerCLIMA is funded by the European Commission (FP7- People- Co-funding of Regional, National, and International Programmes, Grant Agreement n 600407) and the Ritmare Flagship Project.
Global change on highly diverse Mediterranean coralligenous communities: Consequences for biodiversity conservation
For the last four years I have served as lead scientist for the medDiversa project. In this project, we aim to investigate the current extent of biodiversity of the highly diverse coralligenous outcrops, to furnish data on several localities in order to detect future changes, and to create a scientific platform in developing future scenarios of biodiversity responses to global change across large spatial and mid- to long-term temporal scales. In the Mediterranean Sea, coralligenous outcrops are of special concern, as they (i) represent one of the most important hotspots for biological diversity (harboring approximately 10% of Mediterranean species), (ii) exhibit great structural complexity, (iii) contribute greatly to carbon regulation and habitat for fishes and (iv) are among the habitats facing major threats. This project has been funded by Total Foundation.
Segmentation and Cover Classification Analyses of Seabed Images
I lead a multidisciplinary group of ecologist, and computer engineers to bring new image technology to marine benthic ecology. We developed software named Seascape, see Teixidó et al. 2011 MEPS (View), which is a free and an open-source software to get semi-automatically segmented images (homogenous regions) from underwater photographs of benthic communities, where each individual patch (species/categories) is routinely associated to its area cover and perimeter. The software, manuals, tutorial videos, and all the information are published on the web with free access. This project was funded by the Medchange project (Agence National pour la Recherche, France), Marie Curie Actions (FP6-2002-Mobility5-No. 010726 & FP7-People-2007-2-2-ERG-Proposal No. 207632), Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (CTM2009-06027-E/MAR), and Total Foundation.
Marine Conservation Research Group
I am member of the medRecover Research Group recognized as a consolidate research group by the Government of Catalonia’s Agency for the Administration of University and Research Grants (Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca -AGAUR). The group studies the direct and potential combined effects of global change on the conservation of marine biodiversity in rocky coastal ecosystems, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea.
Ecological reactions to climate change in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica
I am part of a project that attempts to characterize and understand benthic community responses in terms of biodiversity patterns to different environmental regimes along the continental shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula. These regions differ mainly by seasonal sea ice extent and permanent water masses circulation. We expect that this study will contribute to the general understanding of the functioning of Antarctic ecosystems, which are undergoing an accelerating pace of climate change. Funding is provided by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (TM2012-39350-C02-01) and encompasses the main objectives for the AnT-ERA Program (Antartctic Thresholds-Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation). Logistic support comes from the AWI (Alfred Wegener Institute) and the Cruise Participants of Polarstern ANT XXIX/3.
I participate to the T-MedNet network that seeks to acquire long-term high resolution temperature series in Mediterranean coastal waters from 0 to 40 m depth to fill the overall gap of data sets on thermal regimes. Now, there are around 20 sites where temperature is being recorded in the NW Mediterranean. In general, sensors are placed every 5 m from 5 to 40 m depth at each study. This network of this observatory system is crucial to assess conditions to which species have adapted, detect extreme temperature events and critically evaluate biological impacts. Funding is provided by different agencies and Marine Protected Areas.
Coralligenous species database
I contributed to the Coralligenous species database to help researchers, managers and general public to species identification. The database contains encrusting calcareous algae, sponges, cnidarians, bryozoans and tunicates.
Image database repository: Pangaea