Miguel Bastos Araújo

Professor Spanish Research Council (CSIC) National Museum of Natural Sciences, Madrid
Professor Chair of Biodiversity at the University of Évora

Miguel Bastos Araújo is a biogeographer seeking to understand how different facets of Life distribute in space and time, and why. He uses a plethora of data-driven and modelling approaches to improve understanding of how climate determines the distributions of species and properties of self-organised community dynamics. Past, current, and future climate changes offer the context for much of his work as they provide spatiotemporal laboratories for understanding change. He is currently a Research Professor at National Museum of Natural Sciences of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) and Professor at the University of Évora, while serving as Editor-in-Chief of Ecography. Previously, he held positions at the Imperial College London, University of Copenhagen, Oxford University, the CNRS, and the Natural History Museum in London. He his recipient of several prestigious awards, including the European Ecological Federation Ernst Haeckel Prize (2019), the Pessoa Prize (2018), the Rey Jaime I Prize (2016), International Biogeography Society MacArthur & Wilson Award (2013), and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility Ebbe Nielsen Prize (2013).


Opening Conference

Aida Cuni-Sanchez

Norwegian University of Life Sciences, honorary fellow University of York
Dr Aida Cuni-Sanchez is an Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and an honorary fellow at the University of York. She has a PhD in environmental Sciences from the University of Southampton (UK) and a Licenciatura in Biology from the University of Barcelona (Spain). She has over 10 years of work experience in 12 countries in tropical Africa, where she has focused on tropical forest ecology and carbon stocks, forest use and valuation by local communities and local communities’ adaptation to climate change. She received the 2020 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science UK Award for Sustainable Development and the Chr. Michelsen price for outstanding development research (Norway) in March 2022. As well as developing the AfriMont plot network, she is a key partner in research collaborations in Africa including AfriTRON (tropical lowland forest monitoring), Mountain Research Initiative, Mountain Sentinels and ATBC-Africa Chapter.


Local perceptions of forest ecosystem services, insights from Africa
Human culture has an important influence on how forests are utilised, yet its influence on ecosystem service (ES) use and valuation remains underexplored. During the past 5 years, we have investigated how livelihood strategy (farmers, pastoralists, hunter-gatherers) and ethnicity affect local peoples’ perceptions of forest ES in tropical Africa, relating their views to instrumental, relational and intrinsic values of Nature. I will present our findings from different socio-ecological contexts in West, Central and East Africa, and also introduce unpublished data on a recent survey carried out with ‘forest experts’ (scientists and practitioners working in some of these forests).

Marco Mello

University of São Paulo, Associate Professor
Imagine a world where ecological systems were a jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces were scattered across the vastness of data and ideas. This is where Marco comes in. As a biologist with a Ph.D. in ecology and an alumnus of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Germany, he works as a professor at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, where he specializes in ecological synthesis. His mission is to unveil the hidden assembly rules of ecological systems formed by species interactions. Bats have always been his main study model, although he also conducts research on many other organisms. His work is like that of a detective, piecing together scattered fragments of information, connecting the dots between data and ideas to reveal the big picture. But his work doesn’t stop there. As an educator, he is dedicated to training young scientists and making scientific knowledge accessible to all.


The elephant, the monks, and the topology of interaction networks
Sometimes, in science, we get so obsessed with a particular piece of a puzzle, that we miss the big picture. The same seems to be happening in the study of interaction networks, with different schools arguing over pieces of reality. Aiming to take a step back and change our perspective, this presentation describes a novel cognitive model that provides an integrative solution to two classical dilemmas about interactions between organisms of different species. Our research team, in collaboration with other experts, embarked on an extensive investigation to uncover the underlying principles that could lead to this solution. Through a comprehensive analysis, first, we demonstrated the commonalities between the dilemmas, and employed a graphical model to better understand the theoretical connection between them. We then developed an algorithmic model that predicts the four most commonly observed network topologies in nature. Our cognitive model, initially designed for antagonisms in monolayer networks, was subjected to a series of empirical tests and logical deductions. The results show that the model can be extended to mutualisms and multilayer networks, highlighting its broad applicability. Currently, we are working to refine the model and develop it into a new semantic theory, which may have significant implications for basic and applied ecology. We invite the audience to join us as we share the journey of discovery, unveiling the exciting possibilities that this new theory presents.

Ricardo Rocha

University of Oxford, UK
Ricardo Rocha is an Associate Professor in Conservation Science at University of Oxford. His research aims to provide evidence-based knowledge to support conservation decision-making under contemporary global change, with a special focus on how to restore biodiversity in the aftermath of habitat loss and fragmentation and how to manage human-modified landscapes to retain biodiversity and maximize ecosystem services. He does this by: i) investigating taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic responses to habitat loss, fragmentation, and secondary forest regeneration from both spatial and temporal perspectives, ii) identifying management options that can augment the permeability of agricultural land to disturbance-sensitive species and investigating agriculture-related ecosystem services and disservices, and iii) assessing the efficiency of conservation interventions and providing tools to facilitate and inform evidence-based decision-making. His work is grounded in ecological theory and involves biodiversity surveys across large-scale manipulative experiments, "real-world" working landscapes, and island ecosystems.

Anna Traveset

Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

Anna Traveset is a Research Professor at the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), a mixed institution of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) and the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB). She leads the Terrestrial Ecology Laboratory at IMEDEA where, along with her team, she investigates the impact of global change on native communities, specifically on the ecological interactions established between species. For this, she uses the approach of network theory, collaborating also with theoreticians from other institutions. She mostly works on island systems, currently coordinating an ERC project that embraces different archipelagos worldwide. She was awarded the Jaume I Prize (modality: Environmental Protection) and the Ramon Llull Prize from the Balearic Government in 2022. Since 2019 she is the CSIC delegate at the Balearic Islands, and is currently the Principal Investigator of the accreditation Project “Unidad de Excelencia María de Maeztu” at IMEDEA (2023-2027).