9 – 13 January 2017, Tucson, Arizona
During the 8th Biennial Conference of the IBS (January 9-13 2017) in Tucson, Arizona, the ECOPOTENTIAL project was presented to the international biogeographical scientific community by Carl Beierkuhnlein. The IBS world congress attracts biogeographical researchers from all continents, resulting in a broad outreach. This year’s conference took place in Arizona and among other topics was dedicated to modelling of large-scale ecological dynamics, macroecology, experimental biogeography, and generally to patterns and processes at different scales. The presentation of ECOPOTENTIAL was held in the session on “Conservation Biogeography”. The talk focused on the importance of protected areas to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at the continental scale of Europe. Based on the analysis of large protected areas within the EU (National parks, Man and Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO World Heritage Sites), the spectrum and spatial patterns of uniqueness and irreplaceability of protected areas were analyzed. Challenges for adapted decision-making and management strategies require local case studies but also a continental perspective in order to assess threats and to identify priorities. However, data quality and availability differs between sites. This is why in a first approach, the distribution and richness of species, which are reported in the frame of the European Bird and Habitat Directives, were taken as a standard tool to detect regional patterns. Additionally, the climate of all ECOPOTENTIAL sites was related to the spectrum of environmental conditions all across the European continent, illustrating the broad cover of habitats through ECOPOTENTIAL. Feedback of biogeographers was manifold and will result in additional cooperation and networking within Europe and beyond. The next IBS world congress will take place between January 7 and 11 2019 in Malaga, close to the ECOPOTENTIAL sites Sierra Nevada and Donana. Field trips into these protected areas are planned and will offer the opportunity to present and discuss ECOPOTENTIAL findings and approaches with international researchers and practitioners.