Tuesday, December 11, 2007

alfa returns!

Good news: there will be a call for alfa III in 2008:


Sunday, April 03, 2005


I just found out that the 2005 rounds of the alfa programme are canceled.
Read more by following this link.
We just have to put our ambitions in the fridge for a year (hopefully).
Thanks for the interest and reading, and hope to see you next year...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

First Draft

Here is the first sketch of the proposal.
It can also be downloaded as a rtf file which can be saved and opened in Microsoft Word.

Management of Evolving Natural Resources

Project objectives

The aim of reaching a sustainable exploitation of natural resources sets new challenges to ecology. Through a century of patient study of natural systems, ecology has emerged as a fully-fledged fundamental scientific discipline with a firm theoretical foundation, an elaborated methodology and strong links with many other disciplines (population genetics, applied mathematics, biological chemistry, etc). Time has come to apply the developed insights. Naturally, the largest impact is expected in applications where natural populations need to be managed, in such a way that their exploitation is sustainable and does not threat biodiversity now and in the future. We want to prepare students such that they can both contribute to the development of the discipline and implement evolutionary management.

One of the main forces of the development of ecology has been the awareness that living beings are the result of evolution through natural selection and that populations come into existence as a consequence of the interactions of individuals. This evolutionary approach, the core of Evolutionary Ecology (and its different sub-disciplines) has been particularly instrumental in the scientific development of ecology. An evolutionary approach is also essential in applications. For example, human intervention such as fishing or hunting often creates new selective pressures that make sustainable exploitation more difficult.

As our aims are directed towards general understanding of the functioning of nature, fundamental issues and general problem-solving, this project will not be cantered in a particular group of animals. Specialist working on insects, fish, birds, mammals, and also theoreticians will work collectively to achieve the best training of young scientists. The species studied are chosen either because they make excellent natural models to study key issues, by their importance in key concrete problems, or in some cases, because they fulfil both requirements. In all cases there are groups studying similar problems with complementary approaches and skills.

Network objectives

This project has a double aim. On the one hand, to train Latino-American young scientist in evolutionary ecology, particularly in behavioural ecology, life history evolution and in the skills they call for: field and laboratory work, mathematical modelling and statistical analysis.

This training will consider fundamental aspects and the implication of ecology for the management of natural resources on an equal footing. On the other hand, our aim is to establish a network of Latino American and European laboratories that would work on synergy, exchange expertise by working on issues of trans-national impact. For the success of this venture we rely on the multiple and successful collaborations already established by different laboratories on the two continents.

These aims will be achieved through courses, exchange of graduate students and the joint supervision of PhD students.

Once a year, we will organise a one-week course on different aspects of evolutionary ecology (fundamental issues, applied implications or methodological tools) in a different Latino-American country. These courses will be aimed to young scientist of different South American countries, participating or not in other activities of the network. Both Latino-American and European specialists from the network will teach these courses. We will also organise smaller workshops on fundamental topics of particular interest. In these workshops trainee scientists will present the latest advances in their field. All participants can discuss the research problems they face under the couching of specialists on the subject.

A tentative list of workshop themes is

Key techniques:

- Statistical Analysis using generalized linear mixed models. Analysis techniques are covered which are, for example, used to estimate genetic variances in the field and the potential for further evolution.
- State dependent modeling. Many biological systems are structured: individuals can be in different states (e.g. physiological condition or age) and often change state. Most often the state of the animal shapes its behaviour or alters its life history traits. This workshop uses population structure as a theme to introduces many key ideas in behavioural ecology and life history evolution, by a hands-on training in techniques such as dynamic programming.

Recent Advances:
- Population management using behavioural ecology and life history theory. Exploited natural resources (hunting, fishing) often respond adaptively to exploitation, by behavioural and life history changes. This workshop covers recent advances in taking adaptive change into account when managing natural resources.

- The statistical analysis of life history decisions. Recently, it has become possible to model the speed of certain developmental processes and the rate of life history processes using time-to-event analysis. Specific for biological systems, these new types of analysis can take the individual life history such as the individual growth curve into account. Students are trained in these techniques, and learn to apply the result in population management models.

In order to enhance the impact of our project we will maintain an active web site where materials for the courses and pre-prints of publications will be made available to a larger number of interested people. This website can serve as a basis for further synergy within the network and with others.

Expected results

The success of this project will be reflected on the quality of training obtained by the young scientists, the journals in which their work will be publish and the synergy achieved. We will promote the participation of South American ecologists in European meetings and discussion, and coach young scientists to publish in first-rate journals.

We expect that on a slightly longer timescale, some of our trainees will develop careers in ngo's and government institutions of different South-American countries.

Added value of the project

Although some of the teams involved in this project have now collaborated successfully for many years, no restricted group of laboratories can combine the different skills this project calls for and achieve the continent-wide impact we aim to. Focusing on a particular group of animals or on particular kind of problem is bound to give a biased view of the problems nature sets to us and of the approaches we should use. Furthermore, it is from the synergy of ideas, experiences and methods that will emerge the multiplicative effect of the project.

First draft nearly ready

The first text ready for discussion will be sent to a number of participants soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Carlos Bernstein and Juan Carlos Reboreda are invited to join the ecoalpha blog.

Alfa preparations started

Even though we are beta's, the preparations of an EU alfa grant submission have started.