EcoEvolClim - Conservation and management of Mediterranean freshwaters under climate change: An eco-evolutionary and socio-economic modelling framework
There is increasing acceptance of the existence of a bi-directionality that intertwines ecological and evolutionary dynamics on the short time scales most relevant to conservation and management. Climate change and anthropogenic pressures are key drivers and accelerators of the short-term dynamic feedbacks resulting from these bi-directional interactions. Consequently, understanding how rapid climate-driven evolutionary and adaptive processes can influence ecological dynamics is crucial for defining ecosystem conservation and management strategies under ongoing global change. This is particularly relevant in freshwater ecosystems, where the impacts of climate change on ecosystem functioning threaten the implementation of several environmental directives, conventions and protocols, especially the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). The researcher proposes to evaluate how climate change will affect eco-evolutionary dynamic feedbacks under different river basin management scenarios at multiple spatio-temporal scales, using Mediterranean brown trout as model system. This will serve as a basis to simulate the long-term dynamics of biological reference conditions, ecological thresholds, restoration targets, and system recovery trajectories of Mediterranean mountain trout rivers.
The researcher will use an innovative multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach, combining (i) statistical modelling of spatio-temporal patterns of climatic events and anthropogenic disturbances, (ii), molecular genetics and (iii) individual-based and eco-evolutionary modelling, to generate new tools for the conservation and management of Mediterranean salmonid freshwater systems under the WFD. The project aims to synthesize and harmonize the links among socio-economy, ecosystem conservation and eco-evolution disciplines into a coordinated and coherent modelling framework, with potential application to complex real-world problems, especially regarding the implementation of the WFD.