About a year ago, I made quite an important decision when I decided to move to the Basque Country to start my PhD thesis. The main reason that encouraged me to take this step was that I really wanted to be part of this project since the first time that I heard about it. Up to then, the only think that I had clear was that I wanted to work in whatever related with Ecological Restoration so I felt that this opportunity would enable me to work on this field and also to discover if my real vocation is to become an ecologist.
Its temporal-and-non-at-all-impressive title is “Stability recovery of interaction networks in template forests after mining impacts caused during the Middle Ages”.
Our main objective is to know more about how ecosystems recover their complexity in order to define restoration actions able to effectively assist this process.
The place of study is a mature beech forest in Navarra (North of Spain), which was exploited for iron extraction between XIV and XX centuries. Since the mines were abandoned, no human disturbance has taken placed. This enables us to study the long-term evolution of more complex variables than those traditionally used (stability or architecture of interaction networks) to measure ecosystem recovery. We expect to find these new metrics by studying the interactions between trees, ectomycorrhizal fungi and insects that feed on the carpophores.
For me, this is a very challenging and motivating goal, especially because our results might have very important implications for restoration practice and regulation. If the real magnitude of unavoidable impact degradation is higher than what it is now assumed, fairer compensatory measures should be applied. Furthermore, our results might help to better understand the dynamics of recovery in time of communities. Then, restoration and conservation efforts could be prioritized towards key ecosystem components, accelerating the recovery process.