Emerging invasive diseases, degrade forest ecosystems, notably riparian forests, which are key to preserve fundamental ecosystem services as water quality, flood mitigation and biodiversity maintenance (prioritized by the Sustainable Development Goals and the Green Deal main goals: EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030). The importance of ecosystem restoration in degraded ecosystems has been highlighted by the United Nations. Conventional river restoration techniques have often failed, revealing unable to recover ecosystem functions. Improving restoration effectiveness and sustainability, requires integrating biological factors and their interactions and a more process-based approach that addresses the causes of the degradation to recover the ecosystem processes (e.g. nutrient cycling) that sustain these habitats. Alders – as foundation species – are key to maintain N2 fixation and biodiversity on priority habitat 91E0* (EU classification) but suffer massive decline and mortality due to the invasive pathogen Phytophthora xalni. However, the interactions with other potentially beneficial biotic factors are understudied. Indeed, Nature-based Solutions (NbS, as defined by IUCN) offer novel cost-effective opportunities to restore alder forests while contributing to both societal (water protection, climate change mitigation) and ecological (biodiversity) benefits. Yet, to foster NbS implementation, it is imperative to understand their effects on target ecosystems, develop reliable decision-support tools and make them accessible to stakeholders.

BIORIVER aims to study the effect of intra-specific (plant communication) and interspecific (structure and functionality of soil microbiota) biotic factors on alder resistance to biotic (invasive Phytophthora) stresses. The implications of the effects of these biological interactions will be considered for process-based (e.g. communication signals) and cost-effective (e.g. species selection that maximize alder resilience) NbS.

SCIENTIFIC OUTPUTS (as Iberus Experience researcher)

Oral presentations in seminars

Vieites-Blanco, C., Rodrigues, A., González-Prieto, S.J., Gomes Marques, I. Cupertino, A., Caperta, A., & Rodríguez-González, P.M. (2023, April 14) Transgenerational effect of alder decline on regeneration under water stress [Seminar presentation]. Final Seminar ALNUS project: Screening alder resilience as a basis for riparian restoration, Lisbon, Portugal.