Native and alien flora: diversity, collections, and conservation

This research group is devoted to the study of native and alien flora (with special emphasis on the latter) of the Mediterranean basin and East Asia, with an integrative focus. With this objective, the group’s staff perform studies using different approaches and tools, which can be divided into three main axes: (1) diversity, (2) collections and (3) conservation. Both geographic regions are large reservoirs of plant diversity at a global level but at the same time are among the areas of the planet with a greater degree of human disturbance. Our research covers two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Climate Action (13, particularly 13.3), and Life on Land (15, especially 15.5 and 15.8). The practical aspect of our research should also be highlighted, since it provides very valuable data to the administrations that manage the land and biodiversity.

Research group objectives

In the field of Diversity:

  • Continuing the cataloging of the alien flora of Catalonia, with special emphasis on the coastal regions (for example, the Costa Brava will be the subject of intensive field work, while it is planned to complete the cataloging of the non-native flora of the mountain of Montjuïc). The catalog of the alien flora of the Pyrenees will also be carried out.
  • Studying how hybridization processes affect invasion processes, through analyses of ecological niche and landscape genetics. We will work especially on genera Carpobrotus and Kalanchoe, but also as a meta-analysis by covering all botanical orders to seek for patterns.
  • Characterizing the flora of East Asia (gymnosperms, genera Castanopsis and Glyptostrobus, other relict species) biogeographically (patterns of geographic distribution, identification of climatic refuges).
  • Developing methods, protocols and pipelines for the study of the ecological niche, including the design of new bioclimatic variables (e.g., climatic stability).

In the field of Scientific Collections:

  • Identifying specimens of taxonomic and/or nomenclatural interest for typification studies (such as taxa described by Sennen or Costa), specimens of threatened and endemic taxa for conservation studies, specimens of alien species for introduction and invasion studies (particularly in the western Mediterranean basin) and specimens with medicinal uses and with vernacular names for ethnobotanical and ethnolinguistic studies.
  • Characterizing the collections of BC Herbarium by making them available to the scientific community (e.g., enhancing the photo voucher and fusion voucher methodology or publishing data papers of the collections), thus evidencing the importance of herbaria for the development of floristic studies, as well as of the evolution of the climate and the effects of global warming.
  • Developing and/or improving protocols for the publication of floristic data in iNaturalist-type biodiversity portals.
  • Contextualizing the formation of the historical collections of the BC Herbarium, as well as the cultural and/or political circumstances that led to its creation.
  • Participating in the platform “Patrimonio abierto: Investigación y Sociedad [Open Heritage: Research and Society]” (PTI-País) through the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, by proposing new methodologies and protocols for the conservation of the specimens to make them available to other researchers (e.g., new methodology of tissue bank conservation).
  • Participating in the “Plataforma Temática Interdisciplinar para la Síntesis de Datos de Ecosistemas y Biodiversidad [Interdisciplinary Thematic Platform for the Synthesis of Ecosystem and Biodiversity Data]” (PTI-ECOBIODIV), by providing biodiversity data of both physical and virtual collections following the FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable).

In the field of Conservation:

  • Carrying out population genetic studies of species from the Mediterranean basin and East Asia, with phylogeographic/evolutionary but especially conservation purposes.
  • Developing a management plan for the threatened flora of the mountain wetlands of the National Park “Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici”.
  • Completing the red list of the Pyrenean flora.
Ongoing projects

  • Genómica del paisaje y dinámica de nicho en plantas invasoras de origen híbrido – Agencia Estatal de Investigación-Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (PID2020-119163GB-I00)
  • Scientific Collections on the Move: Provincial Museums, Archives, and Collecting Practices (1800-1950) – European Union through MSCA-RISE-2020 programme (Research and Innovation Staff Exchange, Program Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge European Union).