An OPPORTUNITY each for Lindsay Banin (CEH) and José Ramírez-Valiente (INIA)
In the second OPPORTUNITY call, it was a tough decision for the EVOLTREE Executive Committee, with no less than 16 competing high quality project proposals.
The committee members settled on two excellent project proposals which matched all evaluation criteria (see below). Good luck to these two successful candidates and thank you to the other candidates for their proposals. OPPORTUNITY has closed for this year.
Intra- and interspecific leaf trait variation, decomposition processes
and the ‘home-field advantage’ in European woodlands
Lindsay Banin (CEH)
Lindsay Banin is a research scientist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Edinburgh, UK, an associate member institution of the EVOLTREE network.
In collaboration with Stephen Cavers (also at CEH), Emma Sayer (Lancaster University), and intensive study site coordinators, Jan Kowalczyk (Blizyn), Egbert Beuker (Punkaharju) and Martina Peter (Valais), Lindsay developed a project to examine the effects of inter- and intra-specific leaf trait variation on decomposition processes.
The project utilises three geographically separated and climatically distinct, unmanaged forest sites where trees may have become locally adapted to environmental conditions. This means that even trees belonging to the same species may be expressing differences in functional traits.
Typically, research has focused on inter-specific variation in plant traits causing differences in rates of decomposition and belowground processes. Here, we specifically want to test whether similar differences occur within species too.
The project will also test for ‘home-field advantage’; i.e., that decomposition is more efficient for individuals and species on their home soil due to conditioning of soil microbial communities to ‘native’ leaf litter.
The EVOLTREE network provides an excellent springboard for this research through the knowledge of the tree species distributions within each ISS. The research team hope that this new collaboration will establish a new science direction for the network and the project also aims to train junior scientists in assessing plant-soil interactions.
Understanding the factors driving species
diversification in the roburoid oak complex
José Alberto Ramírez-Valiente (INIA)
José Alberto Ramírez-Valiente is an associate postdoc at Juanjo Robledo-Arnuncio lab at the Spanish National Institute for Agriculture and Food Research and Technology (INIA).
His EVOLTREE OPPORTUNITY project aims to elucidate the roles of sympatric and allopatric speciation on species divergence in the 'roburoid' oaks.
'Roburoid oaks' refers to a set of nine closely related species (Q. robur, Q. petraea, Q. canariensis, Q. pubescens, Q. faginea, Q. fruticosa, Q. pyrenaica, Q. macranthera and Q. infectoria) distributed in western Eurasia and northern Africa.
Different evolutionary factors such as vicariance, ecological adaptation and hybridization have been proposed as the main mechanisms shaping patterns of genetic structure and genetic differentiation among these species.
Using a multidisciplinary approach by conducting a phenotypic characterisation under common garden conditions together with genomic analyses using RADseq and niche modeling, this project will shed light on the phylogenetic relationships within this group of closely related species and will contribute to understand the evolutionary factors promoting speciation and intraspecific differentiation in oaks.
The genomic and phenotypic data derived from this project will be made publically available by including them in one of the EVOLTREE repositories. Aliquots of DNA from all analysed individuals will be sent to the EVOLTREE Repository Centre and the results from this project will also contribute to TreeType.
José's research focuses on the evolutionary processes driving population differentiation and speciation in plants with a particular emphasis on the study of intraspecific variation in forest tree species. He currently participates in the EU funded GENTREE project, coordinated by Bruno Fady. He is involved in the assessment of patterns of genetic variation, local adaptation and plasticity in early fitness traits of Pinus, Betula and Populus species, which is led by Dr. Robledo-Arnuncio.