1. Ecology and conservation of inland fish in rivers, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands

Permanent researchers: Emili García-Berthou, Ramon Moreno-Amich, Anna Vila-Gispert, Lluís Zamora

Fish are keystone species in many freshwater ecosystems and among the most threatened taxa worldwide. The freshwater ecosystems of the Iberian Peninsula are rich in endemisms, most of which are threatened and declining. GRECO has extensive experience on the ecology and conservation biology of inland Iberian fish, including fish from streams, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. We have studied the ecology of many species such as the cyprinodont Aphanius iberus, the Mediterranean barbel (Barbus meridionalis), the chub (Squalius laietanus) or eel (Anguilla anguilla), among others. We are especially interested in invasive species (see Research line 6). We have studies sites such as Lake Banyoles, Alt Empordà wetlands, Baix Empordà wetlands, a number of Catalan reservoirs or rivers Ter, Muga, Fluvià or Tordera among others. We have extensive experience using electrofishing, traps, nets, morphometrics, radio-tracking and ultrasonic telemetry, marks (PIT-tags, coded wire tags, etc.), geographical information systems (GIS), and advanced data analysis. We are particularly interested in how anthropogenic alterations (e.g. habitat degradation, hydrological alteration, water pollution, etc.) affect the abundance and life history (growth, reproduction, mortality, etc.) of inland fish. We are also interested in how natural gradients (e.g. temperature, longitudinal variation) affect the abundance and ecology of fish.

Representative publications

Angeler D., Allen C.R., Vila-Gispert A. & Almeida D. 2014. Fitness in animals correlates with proximity to discontinuities in body mass distributions: contrasting patterns in stressed and near-pristine ecosystems. Ecological Complexity 20: 213-218.

Benejam L., Angermeier P.L., Munné, A., García-Berthou E. 2010. Assessing effects of water abstraction on fish assemblages in Mediterranean streams. Freshwater Biology 55: 628-642.

Benejam L., Saura-Mas S., Bardina M., Solà C., Munné A. & García-Berthou E. Ecological impacts of small hydropower plants on headwater stream fish: from individual to community effects. Ecology of Freshwater Fish: in press. doi

Murphy C.A., Casals F., Solà C., Caiola N., de Sostoa A. & García-Berthou E. 2013. Efficacy of population size structure as a bioassessment tool in freshwaters. Ecological Indicators 34: 571–579.

2. Limnology of Mediterranean lagoons and wetlands

Bassa del Pi La Pletera

Permanent researchers: Dani Boix, Stéphanie Gascón, Xavier D. Quintana


3. Stream ecology and ecotoxicology

Permanent researchers: Helena Guasch, Anna Romaní, Sergi Sabater

River ecosystems play a key role in the carbon and nutrient cycling by biotic processes (decomposition, uptake, photosynthetic production) and abiotic processes (retention, adsorption). In low and medium order streams, often forested and tightly connected with the watershed, riparian vegetation may act as a filter for materials. In Mediterranean streams the input of material is also determined by the hydrologic cycle, characterized by a dry period (summer) and heavy rains in autumn and spring.

The organisms which develop on the river benthic substrata (rocks, cobbles, sand, leaves, wood) are the main responsible for the organic and inorganic matter flow in low order streams.

The benthic biological community is composed by autotrophic organisms (algae and cyanobacteria), and heterotrophic organisms (fungi, bacteria, microfauna, macrofauna) which are embedded within a polysaccharide matrix, making up what is called biofilm.

The main objective of this research line is to determine how the different compartments of the river biofilm are structured in relation to input of organic and inorganic nutrients in the river, and how the biological community contributes to the process of uptake and/or recycling of these nutrients. The role of the riparian vegetation as a buffer zone is also emphasized.

The trophic and structural relationships between the different organisms living within the river biofilm are also investigated. The aim is the definition of the benthic microbial loop. As basic methodologies field work by monitoring and/or experimental designs (nutrient addition, colonization of substrata), and laboratory experimental work (incubations in microcosms, artificial channels) are used.

The main techniques used are: analysis of biomass and composition of the biofilm (bacteria, algae, fungi, microfauna, macrofauna), river metabolism (extracellular enzymatic activities, photosynthetic activity, respiration), open metabolism (oxygen dynamics), biofilm structure (C, N, P content, polysaccharide content, Scanning Electron Microscopy, Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy, Microelectrode measurements), trophic relationships, composition and biodegradability of dissolved organic carbon (fractionation by molecular weight, analysis of biodegradable DOC).

Ecotoxicology of periphyton

A major aim of ecotoxicological research is the understanding of the effect of toxicants on ecosystems. Among ecosystems, the increasing input of land-derived toxicants to flowing waters has generated much concern about the potential effects on their biota. Our research group is investigating the effect of model toxic compounds: zinccopper and atrazine on periphyton. A field-orientated approach is followed. This is based on the assumption that the presence of toxic substances in the aquatic ecosystems should be considered as another environmental factor that natural

Short-term effects of model compounds on the photosynthesis of periphyton from different lotic systems are used to investigate the influence of the environmental variability on the ecotoxicological response of natural communities (Guasch et al. 1998; Guasch and Sabater 1998; Blanck et al. 2003). Furthermore, the effects of chronic exposure on the structural and functional parameters of periphyton are investigated on artificial rivers (Guasch et al. 2002). Following the same approach, a watershed scale study is currently performed to relate differences in land uses with the integrity of the aquatic ecosystem. Investigations focusing on the uptake, bioavailability, bioaccumulation and/or biodegradation of toxicants in lotic systems are in curse. The knowledge of the magnitude of the effects of toxicants on lotic systems is the basis to predict their self-purification capacity and guaranty their ecological integrity, the final objective of this line of research.

Periphyton ecotoxicology is also being investigated in an extreme case study: the Mar Menor, a hypersaline coastal lagoon located in the SE Mediterranean coast of Spain. In this lagoon, high metal concentration can be found in the sediment of some areas influenced by a former mining area. In order to investigate the possible transfer of metals to the aquatic food web, periphyton community composition, metal concentration and tolerance induction are being investigated.

Stream biofilms and applications for water quality

Drinking water companies have installed sophisticated treatment facilities to prepare drinking water. However, the quality of the raw water remains important, because increasing urbanization, industrialization and agricultural treatments. It is imperative for the drinking water sector to improve environmental technologies increasing water quality prior to treatment.

Biofims are sites of biological activity, that abound in all natural rivers and lakes, as well as in all stages of the drinking water system. The aim of this research line is to develop our knowledge of natural biofilms to optimize their capacity to regulate organic matter content in water, retention of toxicants and particles.

Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and, especially, the biodegradable fraction of DOC, is used fast by the heterotrophic community of the biofilm (bacteria, fungi, protozoa). On the other hand, autotrophic organisms may be both DOC and BDOC consumers and producers.

In Mediterranean countries, maintaining the quality of raw water for drinking water is becoming increasingly critical. Water sources become scarcer and the treatments grow more and more expensive and complicated. Taste and odours of organic origin in the raw water are some of the main problems arising from the use of surface waters. Conditions of high nutrient concentration allows huge development of nuisance algae (e.g. cyanobacteria) which produce these odours. The environmental features related to the production of metabolites causing nuisance odours and taste to the water (mainlygeosmin) have been relatively well described in planktonic systems, but are still poorly known in benthic systems. Experimental and field work performed in the Llobregat River (Catalonia, Spain), where geosmin odour arrives at the water distribution system. The causes and dynamics of the production of geosmin have been analysed in this river and related to the growth of cyanobacterial mats under certain conditions (low discharge, imbalance of N and P, effect of grazing, conversion of the microbial mat to a floating mat).

Representative publications:

Bonet B., N. Corcoll, A. Tlili, S. Morin & H. Guasch. 2014. Antioxidant enzyme activities in biofilms as biomarker of Zn pollution in a natural system: an active bio-monitoring study. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 103: 82-90.

Ginebreda A., Kuzmanovic M., Guasch H., López de Alda M., López-Doval J.C., Muñoz I., Ricart M., Romaní A.M., Sabater S. & Barceló D. 2014. Assessment of multi-chemical pollution in aquatic ecosystems using toxic units: Compound prioritization, mixture characterization and relationships with biological descriptors. Science of the Total Environment 468–469: 715–723.

Mora-Gómez J., Elosegi A., Mas-Martí E. & A.M. Romaní. 2015. Factors controlling seasonality in leaf litter breakdown for a Mediterranean stream. Freshwater Science 34: 1245-1258.

Romaní A.M., Amalfitano S., Artigas J., Fazi S., Sabater S., Timoner X., Ylla I., Zoppini A. 2013. Microbial biofilm structure and organic matter use in mediterranean streams. Hydrobiologia 719: 43-58.

Timoner X., Acuña V., Borrego, C. & Sabater S. 2014. The dynamics of biofilm bacterial communities is driven by flow wax and wane in intermittent streams. Limnology and Oceanography 59: 2057-2067.

4. Structure and functioning of freshwater communities and ecosystems

Permanent researchers: Dani Boix, Stéphanie Gascón, Helena Guasch, Xavier D. Quintana, Anna Romaní, Sergi Sabater

The three main goals of this research topic are: 1) comparative of taxonomic and functional approaches in the study of aquatic community structure; 2) Size-based approaches in the study of trophic interactions in aquatic communities; and 3) canvis Spatial and temporal changes in community structure.

An approximation based on organism size is complementary to a taxonomic approach, not redundant . Thus, the combination of taxon-based and size-based approaches in the study of community structure leads to a better understanding of the ecological functioning of aquatic ecosystems. Both approaches help us in order to understand temporal and spatial patterns observed in aquatic communities, as well as to identify the main driving factors of ecological processes such as seasonal succession, dispersion, diel migration, predation, competition or microhabitat selection.

Representative publications:

Boix D et al. 2011. Environmental influence on flight activity and arrival patterns of aerial colonizers of temporary ponds. Wetlands 31: 1227-1240.

Compte J. et al. 2016. Microhabitat selection and diel patterns of zooplankton in a Mediterranean temporary pond. Hydrobiologia 766: 201-213

Gascón S. et al. 2013 The effects of Aphanius iberus predation on an aquatic community: diel changes and the role of vegetation. Fundamental and Applied Limnology 182: 75-87.

Quintana X.D. et al. 2015. Predation and competition effects on the size diversity of aquatic communities. Aquatic Sciences 77: 45–57.

Ruhí A. et al. 2013. Nestedness and successional trajectories of macroinvertebrate assemblages in man-made wetlands. Oecologia 171: 545-556.

5. Response of freshwater ecosystems to climate change and other anthropogenic perturbations

Permanent researchers: Dani Boix, E. García-Berthou, Stéphanie Gascón, Helena Guasch, R. Moreno-Amich, Xavier D. Quintana, Anna Romaní, Sergi Sabater, Anna Vila-Gispert, Lluís Zamora

Freshwater ecosystems suffer from numerous anthropogenic disturbances (e.g. damming, pollution, habitat alteration, invasive species), including climate change (changes in the hydrological regime, drought, temperature increase). The effect of these disturbances is studied under almost all other GRECO research lines and so it is a main focus of our investigation

Representative publications:

Mas-Martí E., A.M. Romaní, I. Muñoz. 2015. Consequences of warming and resource quality on the stoichiometry and nutrient cycling of a stream shredder. Plos One 10: e0118520.

Murphy C.A., Grenouillet G. & García-Berthou E. 2015. Natural abiotic factors more than anthropogenic perturbation shape the invasion of Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). Freshwater Science 34: 965-974.

Romaní A.M., Borrego C.M., Díaz-Villanueva V., Freixa A., Gich F., Ylla I. 2014. Shifts in microbial community structure and function in light and dark grown biofilms driven by warming. Environmental Microbiology 16: 2550–2567.

Ylla I., Canhoto, C., Romaní, A.M. 2014. Effects of warming on stream biofilm organic matter use capabilities. Microbial Ecology 68: 132–145.

6. Biological invasions in fresh waters: routes and vectors of introduction, life history and ecological impacts

Permanent researchers: Emili García-Berthou, Ramon Moreno-Amich, Anna Vila-Gispert, Lluís Zamora

Biotic homogenization through the introduction of exotic species and the extinction of native species currently represents one of the major threats to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The prediction of future invasive species and vulnerable ecosystems is vital from the scientific and practical point of view. The GRECO has extensive experience in the study of fish invaders, from the study of routes and vectors of introduction, to understand the distinctive features of invasive species, adaptation of life cycles of invasive species in different conditions and the impact of introduced species on native ones.

For example, we studied the distinctive life-history traits of invasive species by comparing the biological attributes, phylogeny and human use of invasive species successfully established and the native species of a particular biogeographic region (for instance, Catalonia or Iberian Peninsula). The establishment of the ecological profile of the attributes of invasive species in a particular region represents an important tool for the development of strategies for the conservation and management of inland water ecosystems.

We have also studied how mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) and catfish (Silurus glanis) adapt their life-history traits (growth, reproduction, etc.), its food and its morphology to different environmental conditions. We have also studied the impact of mosquitofish in endemic species as endangered killifish (Aphanius iberus).

These studies should allow preventing the introduction and spreading of new exotic species and mitigating its impact, contributing to the conservation and a cheaper management of inland water ecosystems.

Representative publications:

Alcaraz C., Vila-Gispert A. & García-Berthou E. 2005. Profiling invasive fish species: the importante of phylogeny and human use. Diversity and Distributions 11: 289-298.

Benito J., Benejam L., Zamora L. & García-Berthou E. 2015. Diel cycle and effects of water flow on activity and use of depth by Common Carp. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 144: 491–501.

Carmona-Catot G., Benito J. & García-Berthou E. 2011. Comparing latitudinal and upstream-downstream gradients: life-history traits of invasive mosquitofish. Diversity and Distributions 17: 214–224.

Naspleda J., A. Vila-Gispert, M.G. Fox, L. Zamora & A. Ruiz-Navarro. 2012. Morphological variation between non-native lake-and stream-dwelling pumpkinseed in the Iberian Peninsula. Journal of Fish Biology 81: 1915-35.

Yavno S., M.G. Fox, A. Vila-Gispert & Y. Bhagat. 2013. Morphological differences between native and non-native pumpkinseed in traits associated with locomotion. Environmental Biology of Fishes 96: 507-518.

7. Freshwater organisms as ecological indicators: algae, invertebrates, and fish

Permanent researchers: Dani Boix, E. García-Berthou, Stéphanie Gascón, Helena Guasch, R. Moreno-Amich, Xavier D. Quintana, Anna Romaní, Sergi Sabater, Anna Vila-Gispert, Lluís Zamora

Desenvolupament d’indicadors biològics a Catalunya

El GRECO ha tingut una tasca intensa de suport sobretot a l’Agència Catalana de l’Aigua (ACA) però també a la Confederación Hidrográfica del Ebro en la implantació de la Directiva Marc de l’Aigua, fruit de la seva expertesa en ecologia aquàtica continental i la valorització dels seus coneixements i resultats científics previs. hem contribuït per exemple a desenvolupar tipologies dels ecosistemes aquàtics de Catalunya i a definir i adaptar-ne mètriques i índexs per tal d’avaluar-ne l’estat ecològic. El resultat ha estat el desenvolupament de diversos nous indicadors ecològics que actualment està utilitzant l’ACA, com es pot comprovar en els informes i protocols següents (dels quals són autors diversos membres del grup):

  • Ajust de l'índex d'integritat biòtica (IBICAT) basat en l'ús dels peixos com a indicadors de la qualitat ambiental als rius de Catalunya (any 2010)
  • Anàlisi de viabilitat i proposta d'indicadors fitobentònics de la qualitat de l'aigua per als cursos fluvials de Catalunya
  • Avaluació de l'estat ecològic de les zones humides i ajust dels indicadors de qualitat. Índexs QAELS, ECELS i EQAT
  • Caracterització i propostes d'estudi dels embassaments catalans segons la Directiva 2000/60/CE del Parlament Europeu
  • Caracterització, regionalització i elaboració d'eines d'establiment de l'estat ecològic de les zones humides de Catalunya

Tots els informes i protocols d’aquests treballs es poden trobar a la web de l’ACA:


Periphytic diatoms as indicators for river water quality

The benthic algal community is composed by different taxonomic groups, each one showing different adaptations and useables as indicators. Diatoms are about 80% of the species which are found in rivers. The silicium squelethon with structural elements of diatoms permits their determination at species or variety level with quite good precision. Since they are little organisms with a high reproduction rate, diatom communities show a quick and sensitive response to environmental changes. Changes such as variations in species composition, favouring the more tolerant in new conditions can be detected.

Diatoms are very sensitive to variations in physical and chemical changes in the river, being then usable as indicators of the ecological health of the river. Furthermore, diatoms are cosmopolitan, easy to collect and preserve, as advantages for their use. In Catalonia, the use of these organisms as indicators of water ecological quality have been applied since a long time ago. Professor Ramon Margalef initiate this studies using organisms living in continental water to indicate the ecological health of the water bodies. From then, numerous information has been added about organisms living in continental aquatic ecosystems and their autoecology. In an European and international context, more precise tools to obtain relevant information such as quality indexes or statistical tools have been defined.

Therefore, diatom communities provide us of excellent information about biological integrity of the ecosystem and causes of perturbations. To do that, is essential to connect species taxonomy with geomorphological, physical, and chemical characters which define the environments where they live. In this way it will be possible to determine their optimal and the possible deviations from them.

Representative publications:

Basset A., Barbone E., Borja A., Brucet S., Pinna M., Quintana X.D., Reizopoulou S., Rosati I. & Simbour N. 2012. A benthic macroinvertebrate size spectra index for implementing the Water Framework Directive in coastal lagoons in Mediterranean and Black Sea ecoregions. Ecological Indicators 12: 72-83.

Boix D., Gascón S., Sala J., Martinoy M., Gifre J. & Quintana X.D. 2005. A new index of water quality assessment in Mediterranean wetlands based on crustacean and insect assemblages: the case of Catalunya (NE Iberian peninsula). Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 15: 635-651.

García-Berthou E., Bae M.-J., Benejam L., Alcaraz C., Casals F., Sostoa A. de, Solà C., Munné A. 2016. Fish-based indices in Catalan Rivers: intercalibration and comparison of approaches. p. 125-147 in Munné A., Ginebreda A. & Prat N. (eds.) Experiences from Surface Water Quality Monitoring: The EU Water Framework Directive Implementation in the Catalan River Basin District (Part I). Springer International Publishing, Switzerland. doi

Tornés E. & Sabater S. 2016. Use of diatoms to assess the ecological status in Catalan rivers: application of the WFD and lessons learned from the European Intercalibration Exercise. In: Munné A., Ginebreda, A., Prat N. Experiences from surface water quality monitoring: The EU Water Framework Directive Implementation in Catalan River Basin District (Part I), The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, DOI: 10. 1007/698_2015_344

8. Conservation and management of freshwater ecosystems

Permanent researchers: Dani Boix, E. García-Berthou, Stéphanie Gascón, Helena Guasch, R. Moreno-Amich, Xavier D. Quintana, Anna Romaní, Sergi Sabater, Anna Vila-Gispert, Lluís Zamora

GRECO has an important contribution in European Life projects, as well as in other conservation and restoration projects. The group has a strong interaction and gives support to municipalities and other local authorities or companies involved in management and conservation of inland waters. The group currently coordinates the project Life Pletera “De-urbanizing and recovering the ecological functioning of the coastal systems of La Pletera (LIFE13 NAT / ES / 001 001) in an area partly built on the coast of the Costa Brava. Previously, GRECO coordinated two other Life projects: “Arrangement and management of the Baix Ter coastal lagoons and marshes”(LIFE 99 NAT/E/006386) and “Recovery of the habitat of amphibians and Emys orbicularis in the BaixTer”(LIFE 04 NAT/ES/000059). Furthermore we also contribute in the following Life projects:

  • “Recuperation of the aquatic environment of Porqueres and the lake of Banyoles” (LIFE03 NAT/E/000067)
  • “'Conservation and Management of Temporary Ponds in Minorca (Life Basses)” (LIFE05NAT/ES/000058)
  • “Conservation of Aphanius iberus genètic stocks in Murcia” (LIFE04/NAT/ES/000035)
  • “Recovery of riparian habitats of the Ter river (Riparia-Ter)” (LIFE08 NAT/E/000072)

The group also has promotes the publication of the collection "Recerca i Territori," which includes papers on specific topics, designed to provide knowledge with the aim to support the management of coastal ecosystems. Details of these Life projects and volumes of this collection can be found on the website of the Càtedra d’Ecosistemes Litorals Mediterranis.

Representative publications:

Bagella S., Gascón S., Caria M.C., Sala J., Mariani M. A. & Boix D. 2010. Identifying key environmental factors related to plant and crustacean assemblages in Mediterranean temporary ponds. Biodiversity and Conservation 19: 1749-1768

Carmona-Catot G., Moyle P.B., Aparicio E., Crain P.K., Thompson L.C. & García-Berthou E. 2010. Brook trout removal as a conservation tool to restore Eagle Lake rainbow trout. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 30: 1315–1323.

Gascón S., Boix D. & Sala J. 2009. Are different biodiversity metrics related to the same factors? A case study from Mediterranean wetlands. Biological Conservation 142: 2602–2612.

Ruhí A., San Sebastian O, Feo C., Franch M., Gascón S., Richter-Boix À., Boix D. & Llorente G. 2012. Man-made Mediterranean Temporary Ponds as a tool for amphibian conservation. Annales de Limnologie - International Journal of Limnology 48: 81-93.

Sabater S. & A. Elosegi (eds.) 2013. River Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities. BBVA Foundation.

9. Statistical Ecology

Permanent researchers: Emili García-Berthou, Stéphanie Gascón, Xavier D. Quintana

Ecology statistics can be defined as the set of quantitative techniques for the analysis of ecological data. Some members of GRECO are interested in statistical ecology and contribute to the optimal implementation of statistical techniques in ecology, facilitating its use by computer programs such as R (https://www.r-project.org/). We have contributed to the implementation of techniques still little used as Expectile Poisson regression, negative binomial models (Negative binomial models) or seasonal growth curves.

On the other hand, and given the importance of the functional approach to understand the trophic interactions at community and population level, we have also developed in collaboration with the Statistics Research Group on Compositional Data Analysis of the Girona University (http://imae.udg.edu/Recerca/EIO/inici_cat.html), a statistical tool to measure the size diversity of communities and populations. Conceptually size diversity has the same interpretation of the species diversity. This new setting provides a measurement of the community and population structure, and as such, it has been shown that responds to both biotic and abiotic processes.

Representative publications:

García-Berthou E. 2001. On the misuse of residuals in ecology: testing regression residuals vs. the analysis of covariance. Journal of Animal Ecology 70: 708-711.

García-Berthou E., Alcaraz C., Benejam L. & Benito J. 2009. Diseño experimental y análisis de datos. p. 397-412 in Elosegi A. & Sabater S. (eds.) Conceptos y técnicas en ecología fluvial. Fundación BBVA, Bilbao.

García-Berthou E., Carmona-Catot G., Merciai R. & Ogle D.H. 2012. A technical note on seasonal growth models. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 22: 635–640.

Gascón S., Boix D., Sala J. & Quintana X.D. (2009) Patterns in size and species diversity of benthic macroinvertebrates in Mediterrannean salt marshes. Marine Ecology-Progress Series 391: 21-32.

Magellan K. & García-Berthou E. 2015. Influences of size and sex on invasive species aggression and native species vulnerability: a case for modern regression techniques. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 25: 537–549.

Quintana X.D., Brucet S., Boix D., López-Flores R., Gascón S., Badosa A., Sala J., Moreno-Amich R. & Egozcue J.J. 2008 A non-parametric method for the measurement of size diversity, with emphasis on data standardisation. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 6: 75-86.

10. Ecology of amphibians and aquatic reptiles

Researchers: Dr. Daniel Escoriza, Mr. Santi Poch and Dr. Dani Boix

The Mediterranean region is a point of high biological diversity and includes complex communities of aquatic reptiles and amphibians.

However these communities are severely threatened by the enormous anthropogenic pressure to which these habitats are subjected, including new threats such as the spread of exotic species and emerging diseases.

This group of organisms plays a key role in the trophic interactions of water bodies, particularly in Mediterranean temporary ponds.

The objectives of this line of research are:

- To assess the impact of exotic species on native amphibian and reptile communities.
- To analyse the environmental factors that determine the state of the native populations of amphibians and reptiles and/or favour the expansion of alien species, such as the painted frog or the red-eared slider.
- To study the ecological requirements of particularly sensitive and/or endemic species, such as the Iberian ribbed newt, the red-eyed grass snake and the European pond turtle.

Mediterranean common toad

Mediterranean common toad

Red-eyed grass snake

Red-eyed grass snake

Newts (Marbled newt & Palmate newt)

Newts (Marbled newt & Palmate newt)

European pond turtle

European pond turtle

Red-eared slider

Red-eared slider

Representative publications:

Escoriza, D. and Boix, D., 2012. Assessing the potential impact of an invasive species on a Mediterranean amphibian assemblage: a morphological and ecological approach. Hydrobiologia, 680: 233-245.

Escoriza, D., 2018. Patterns of occurrence of semi-aquatic reptiles in highly invaded Mediterranean rivers. NeoBiota, 38: 23.

Escoriza, D., Hassine, J.B., Boix, D. and Sala, J., 2020. Diet of larval Pleurodeles waltl (Urodela: Salamandridae) throughout its distributional range. Limnetica, 39: 667-676.

Escoriza, D., Franch, M., Ramos, S., Sunyer-Sala, P. and Boix, D., 2020. Demographics and survivorship in the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis): a 31‒year study. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 15: 41-48.

Poch, S., Sunyer, P., Pascual, G., Boix, D., Campos, M., Cruset, E., Feo, C., Fuentes, M.A., Molina, A., Porcar, A., Pérez-Novo, I., Pou-Rovira, Q., Ramos, S. and Escoriza, D. 2020. Alien chelonians in north-eastern Spain: new distributional data. The Herpetological Bulletin 151: 1-5.

Escoriza, D., Sunyer, P., Poch, S. and Boix, D., 2021. Habitat overlap and body condition in aquatic turtles: are there additive effects between invasive and native species?. Knowledge & Management of Aquatic Ecosystems, 422: 2.

11- GEMM

Bacterial Resistome
Line of research:
This line of research focuses on bacterial communities from both natural habitats (rivers, lakes and aquifers) and artificial systems (water-treatment plants) to determine how the presence of emergent pollutants, such as the antibiotics and other man-made pharmaceutical compounds, affect the composition of these communities and the emergence and propagation of antibiotic-resistance genes. We are working here with theCatalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA).

Bio-electrosynthesis and electroremediation
Line of research:
Ens dediquem a l’estudi de microorganismes que poden convertir el CO2 en compostos orgànics d’alt valor afegit (precursors de la síntesi o combustibles) amb ajuda de sistemes electroquímics. En aquests sistemes s’hi combinen els organismes i l’electricitat de forma sostenible com a mecanisme de producció de combustibles alternatius, o per afavorir l’eliminació de contaminants de l’aigua en un procés anomenat electroremediació. Utilitzem tècniques moleculars per investigar les estructures de les comunitats microbiananes en aquests sistemes i en mesurem la seva activitat.

Biogas Upgrade
Line of research:
The objective of this line of research is the isolation of microorganisms with the capacity to biodegrade volatile organic compounds that are presently in the biogas generated from the anaerobic digestion in urban wastewater treatment plants. One of the frequent waste products in these waters are organic silicones, the decomposition of which generates siloxanes. During biogas combustion these compounds are completely oxidated into silicon dioxide, which causes the systems that generate energy to corrode and consequently malfunction. The isolation of microorganisms with the capacity to biodegrade siloxanes would enable the biological elimination of these compounds to be combined with chemical adsorption in activated coal.

Environmental Microbiology
Line of research:
gEMM collaborates with other groups in different environmental microbiology and microbial ecology projects. The main objective, in all cases, is to understand the composition and structures of different bacterial communities and as these interact with their environment, studying the diversity and activity of these communities, among other aspects.

Current project

  • Microbial diversity in Mediterranean lakes
  • The archaea and the nutrient cycle in the lakes
  • Diversity and activity of the microorganisms that transform nitrogen
  • Effects of temperature on algal epiphytes
12- SEA HEALTH (Marine Biology Section)
  • Oceans and Human Health (OHH): relationships between marine ecosystems and the health and well-being of people:
    1. Healthy foods from the sea
    2. The benefits for physical and mental health linked to life on the coast and to the practice of activities at sea
    3. Health risks from marine ecosystems: parasites, pollutants, biotoxins, etc.
    4. The bioactive potential of marine organisms as a source of new medicines
  • Conservation of marine ecosystems and resources:
    1. Impacts of professional and recreational fishing on habitats and exploited species, especially the vulnerable ones
    2. Effect of climate change on marine resources and habitats
    3. The condition of fish as an indicator of fish and ecosystem health
    4. Usefulness of marine reserves as management tools to conserve marine ecosystems, fisheries resources and people's health
  • Integration of biological, socioeconomic and health criteria in the co-management of the seas and oceans
13- Biodiversity & marine resources research group

• Evaluation of the fish condition and reproduction in relation to the preservation of species, fisheries management and the health of the consumers

• Impact of fishing and of climate change on the marine resources

• Study of marine benthic communities: systematic study, taxonomy or ecophysiology of macroalgues

• Establish and evaluate the main impacts that alter marine flora and to develop strategies and plans for recovery and restoration