External File

Strategic Plan of Azorean Biodiversity Group for 2011-12

The excellence of islands as natural laboratories for ecological and evolutionary studies is well established since Darwin and Wallace. Their isolation allows controlling and measuring most effects with accuracy. Oceanic islands host a high proportion of endemic species, many of which are in danger as a consequence of recent human occupancy, so there are very few places where the ‘biodiversity crisis’ is as apparent and in need of urgent action. The “Azorean Biodiversity Group” (CITA-A) conducts basic and applied research in ecology and related disciplines (e.g. taxonomy, biogeography, evolutionary biology, conservation, science communication), to understand and predict the functioning of island communities and ecosystems. Our specific aims are: - The study of biological diversity. How many species exist in the Azores?; - To study mechanisms/processes of differentiation (biodiversity origin/speciation) and extinction; - To study the processes which link populations and whole communities in island ecosystems; - To understand the consequences of Human impacts upon Azorean ecosystems; - To apply the results of fundamental and applied research in the conservation and management of natural and agro-ecosystems populations and their habitats; - To contribute for the control of pest species (e.g. urban termites); - To evaluate human risk perception (termites, climate change, biodiversity loss/ecosystem services loss) and communication devices to mitigate risks; - To evaluate public environment perception and contribute to environmental education; - To communicate efficiently the results of our science to different kinds of audiences using a diversity of strategies. We are particularly interested in assessing the effects of habitat fragmentation and exotic species on the endemic fauna and flora. Our course of action is being made around four articulated approach levels: i) data production, that includes the long-term monitoring of the diversity and rarity patterns several taxonomic groups, and the assessment of public perspectives about nature and the environment; ii) data integration; iii) science communication and iv) networking. The “Azorean Biodiversity Group” research Agenda for the next five years addresses six key themes:

1. ECOLOGY – Study of the species environment and patterns of diversity, distribution and abundance - Macroecology - Ecophysiology - Marine Ecology - Applied Ecology - Ecotoxicology - Conservation biology

2. BIOGEOGRAPHY – study of species distribution at several scales with emphasis on the insular biogeographical models - Insular biogeography - Species area relationships (SAR) - Macroecology - Phylogeography

3. EVOLUTION – linking ecological, genetic and evolutionary processes - Evolutionary ecology - Phylogeography

4. TAXONOMY – discover and classify the Azorean species - Describe new taxa and prepare local and regional lists of species. - Phylogenetic systematics

5. SUSTAINABILITY – potential for long-term maintenance of human well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions. - Conservation biology - Pest management and control (with emphasis on termites) - Applied Ecology - Ecotoxicology - Risk communication - Environmental education - Sustainable development - Public participation

6. SCIENCE COMMUNICATION – interdisciplinary approach that aims the diffusion of knowledge, and the communication of science and technology among professionals and to the public - Web portals - Books for the general public - Environmental education (- general public talks –photo contests; science open days at the University)