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author:("luigi, Miguel")
1.  Novel communities from climate change 
Climate change is generating novel communities composed of new combinations of species. These result from different degrees of species adaptations to changing biotic and abiotic conditions, and from differential range shifts of species. To determine whether the responses of organisms are determined by particular species traits and how species interactions and community dynamics are likely to be disrupted is a challenge. Here, we focus on two key traits: body size and ecological specialization. We present theoretical expectations and empirical evidence on how climate change affects these traits within communities. We then explore how these traits predispose species to shift or expand their distribution ranges, and associated changes on community size structure, food web organization and dynamics. We identify three major broad changes: (i) Shift in the distribution of body sizes towards smaller sizes, (ii) dominance of generalized interactions and the loss of specialized interactions, and (iii) changes in the balance of strong and weak interaction strengths in the short term. We finally identify two major uncertainties: (i) whether large-bodied species tend to preferentially shift their ranges more than small-bodied ones, and (ii) how interaction strengths will change in the long term and in the case of newly interacting species.
PMCID: PMC3479747  PMID: 23007079
climate change; ecological networks; body size; predator–prey interaction strength; range shifts; diet specialism
2.  Climate change impacts on body size and food web structure on mountain ecosystems 
The current distribution of climatic conditions will be rearranged on the globe. To survive, species will have to keep pace with climates as they move. Mountains are among the most affected regions owing to both climate and land-use change. Here, we explore the effects of climate change in the vertebrate food web of the Pyrenees. We investigate elevation range expansions between two time-periods illustrative of warming conditions, to assess: (i) the taxonomic composition of range expanders; (ii) changes in food web properties such as the distribution of links per species and community size-structure; and (iii) what are the specific traits of range expanders that set them apart from the other species in the community—in particular, body mass, diet generalism, vulnerability and trophic position within the food web. We found an upward expansion of species at all elevations, which was not even for all taxonomic groups and trophic positions. At low and intermediate elevations, predator : prey mass ratios were significantly reduced. Expanders were larger, had fewer predators and were, in general, more specialists. Our study shows that elevation range expansions as climate warms have important and predictable impacts on the structure and size distribution of food webs across space.
PMCID: PMC3479748  PMID: 23007094
emergent ecosystems; ecological networks; vertebrates; alpine environment; climate warming; body size
3.  Strategies for annotation and curation of translational databases: the eTUMOUR project 
The eTUMOUR (eT) multi-centre project gathered in vivo and ex vivo magnetic resonance (MR) data, as well as transcriptomic and clinical information from brain tumour patients, with the purpose of improving the diagnostic and prognostic evaluation of future patients. In order to carry this out, among other work, a database—the eTDB—was developed. In addition to complex permission rules and software and management quality control (QC), it was necessary to develop anonymization, processing and data visualization tools for the data uploaded. It was also necessary to develop sophisticated curation strategies that involved on one hand, dedicated fields for QC-generated meta-data and specialized queries and global permissions for senior curators and on the other, to establish a set of metrics to quantify its contents. The indispensable dataset (ID), completeness and pairedness indices were set. The database contains 1317 cases created as a result of the eT project and 304 from a previous project, INTERPRET. The number of cases fulfilling the ID was 656. Completeness and pairedness were heterogeneous, depending on the data type involved.
PMCID: PMC3504476  PMID: 23180768
4.  Automated experimentation in ecological networks 
In ecological networks, natural communities are studied from a complex systems perspective by representing interactions among species within them in the form of a graph, which is in turn analysed using mathematical tools. Topological features encountered in complex networks have been proved to provide the systems they represent with interesting attributes such as robustness and stability, which in ecological systems translates into the ability of communities to resist perturbations of different kinds. A focus of research in community ecology is on understanding the mechanisms by which these complex networks of interactions among species in a community arise. We employ an agent-based approach to model ecological processes operating at the species' interaction level for the study of the emergence of organisation in ecological networks.
We have designed protocols of interaction among agents in a multi-agent system based on ecological processes occurring at the interaction level between species in plant-animal mutualistic communities. Interaction models for agents coordination thus engineered facilitate the emergence of network features such as those found in ecological networks of interacting species, in our artificial societies of agents.
Agent based models developed in this way facilitate the automation of the design an execution of simulation experiments that allow for the exploration of diverse behavioural mechanisms believed to be responsible for community organisation in ecological communities. This automated way of conducting experiments empowers the study of ecological networks by exploiting the expressive power of interaction models specification in agent systems.
PMCID: PMC3117761  PMID: 21554669

Results 1-4 (4)