My research focuses on understanding and predicting large-scale spatial and temporal distribution of biodiversity in a context of Climate Change. My work is multi-disciplinary and question-driven; it has emphasized the relevance and timeliness of the question over a focus on a specific study system. Specifically, my most recent research focuses on predicting the responses of biodiversity to shifts in climate. To do so, I integrate data and models from largely disconnected fields such as thermal eco-physiology, phenology and species distribution models. In this context I am currently exploring the potential of combining process-based and niche models to moving macroecology and biogeography towards more applied paradigms.

Ongoing research projects

Can biodiversity adapt ecosystem functioning to climate change?

The potential of biodiversity to adapt ecosystems to climate change is an often-invoked solution with little quantitative support to date. Establishing the extent to which this claim is true would be critical for humanized ecosystems and in particular, for agricultural ecosystems, responsible to provide a fundamental ecosystem service such as food. For instance, while it is well known that climate change threatens agriculture through decreasing yields and quality, it is yet to be proven if increasing biodiversity -i.e. agro-diversity- would be able to reduce the predicted negative impacts. Winegrapes (Vitis vinifera ) make an ideal study system to address this question given its high diversity (over 1,100 planted varieties worldwide, half of which are from Iberia), its economic importance and, mainly, the unparalleled quality of the available temporal and spatial data. The high resolution of phenological and spatial data on winegrapes allows building predictive models for when and where a given variety would develop adequately. These models ultimately enable quantitative analyses of the ability of agro-diversity to adapt agricultural ecosystems to climate change.

Partnerships – This line of research is based on current collaborations with Elizabeth Wolkovich (University of British Columbia, Harvard University), Iñaki García de Cortázar-Atauri (INRA), Benjamin Cook (NASA), and Amber Parker (Lincoln University), Kees van Leeuwan (INRA and University of Bourdeaux), Kim Nicholas (University of Lund, Sweden), and Thierry Lacombe (INRA).

Thermal niche underfilling and host-parasite interactions

Physiologically determined thermal niches represent the range of temperatures under which species can survive -i.e. fundamental thermal niche-, but they may not consistently match the temperature conditions experienced by the species where they distribute -i.e. realized thermal niche. The mismatch would be due to additional constraints on species distributions such as dispersal abilities or biotic interactions -i.e. a parasite may prevent its host species from living within a climatically suitable region. Key questions arise such as: to what extent thermal realized niches are representative of the thermal fundamental niches? What is the relative role of host-parasite biotic interactions in thermal niche filling patterns? Determining how the distribution of biodiversity is linked to the thermal niche of species will ultimately allow us to characterizing species vulnerability to climate change.

Partnerships – This line of research follows up from collaborations with Miguel Ángel Olalla-Tárraga (University Rey Juan Carlos), Adam Algar (University of Nottingham), Piero Calosi (University of Québec), Susana Clusella-Trullas (Stellenbosch University), Bradford Hawkins (University of California, Irvine), Sally Keith (University of Copenhagen), Ingolf Kühn (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research), Brezo Martínez (University Rey Juan Carlos), Carsten Rahbek (Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate), Jennifer Sunday (University of British Columbia), Fabricio Villalobos (Universidade Federal de Goiás), Anna Hargreaves (McGill University), Dominique Gravel (University of Sherbrooke).

Iberian Future Wines

Agriculture in general, and winegrowing in particular, are threatened by climate change in terms of both productivity and quality. Winegrowers are concerned about this issue and increasingly demand both adaptive solutions and accurate predictions of how will their crops perform in years to come. These predictions have so far remained elusive at the required scales to provide useful management recommendations. One reason why is directly linked to the lack of centralized data on winegrape diversity, and on the biological, oenological and agronomical characteristics of different varieties. While these data exist thanks to the invaluable efforts of many workers who recorded them since the early 1950s, only a larger effort to centralize, synthetize, re-formatting and analyze these data, will allow for much urged predictive models.

Iberian Future Wines is an incipient research project aimed at compiling data and knowledge on Iberian winegrape varieties, regarding their phenological, oenological and agronomic characteristics, as well as their spatial and temporal distributions. The ultimate goal of this project is to conduct a rigourous, scientifically-informed assessment of the impacts of climate change on authoctonous winegrape varieties, on the growing regions where they are planted, and their potential to adapt viticulture to climate change in other parts of the world.

This project, led by Dr. Ignacio Morales-Castilla (Universidad de Alcalá) and Dr. Eng. Felix Cabello Saenz de Santamaría (IMIDRA), brings together researchers from several institutions (Dr. Gregorio Muñoz Organero, MSc. Marta Fernández Pastor, MSc. José García Guerra, etc.), specialized journalists (Amaya Cervera, into an effort to share, synthetize and analyze data on Iberian winegrape varieties, their diversity and their adaptive potential for viticulture.

Past research projects

sWEEP: synthetyzing Worldwide Ecology, Evolution and Physiology

Macroecology, Macroevolution and Macrophysiology have notably contributed to improve our understanding of how species are distributed on Earth, but the three disciplines have remained mostly disconnected from each other. Equally, large-scale biodiversity patterns in marine and terrestrial realms have been studied separately even though the underlying ecological processes might be coincident. It is the aim of sWEEP to synthesize data, disciplines and tools to explore how marine and terrestrial species distributions respond to macroevolutionary and macrophysiological determinants.

Together with Dr. Miguel Á. Olalla-Tárraga, I was PI of this international research project focused on integrating thermal physiology and macroecology. The project was funded with over 101,000 euros (see, including a full-time funded postdoctoral student -i.e. Dr. Joanne Bennett- and involved the coordination of a research network participated by 15 international researchers. A major outcome of this research project is the publication of my first paper as a senior author -i.e. the GlobTherm dataset (Bennett et al. 2018;Nature Scientific Data, 5)–, which includes measurements of thermal tolerance for 2,116 species of marine and terrestrial plants and animals. Additional follow-up papers analyzing GlobTherm are in preparation, and two follow-up working groups will take place in Quebec in June 2018 and October 2018.

Original participants of sWEEP Miguel Ángel Olalla-Tárraga (University Rey Juan Carlos); Adam Algar (University of Nottingham); Joanne Bennett (iDiv); Piero Calosi (University of Québec); Susana Clusella-Trullas (Stellenbosch University); Bradford Hawkins (University of California, Irvine); Sally Keith (University of Copenhagen); Ingolf Kühn (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ); Brezo Martínez (University Rey Juan Carlos); Carsten Rahbek (Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate); Laura Rodríguez (University Rey Juan Carlos); Alexander Singer (iDiv); Jennifer Sunday (McGill University); Fabricio Villalobos (Universidade Federal de Goiás)