ECOPOTENTIAL Science School in La Palma

17 February – 3 March 2017, La Palma (E)

 This year’s La Palma Science School was dedicated explicitly on the ecological characteristics of protected areas. Different categories of protected areas, that are established on the island, were taken into consideration (National Park Caldera de Taburiente, La Palma World Biosphere Reserve, Natura 2000 sites, Sites of special conservation values). Questions that were addressed covered a broad range of topics. Examples are: Forest Fire 2016 – Are there spatial patterns of impact and recovery that can be explained by site conditions? Limits to Accessibility – Quantifying the area (in 2 and 3 Dimensions) with scarce knowledge both from in In-situ and from Remote Sensing approaches! Growth Forms and Ecosystems – Is morphology and plant shape rather resulting from adaptation to climate or from the competition for resources? Differentiating Ecosystems for Earth Observation – Spectral and structural characteristics of major vegetation types! Pressures and threats through invasive species on Protected Areas on La Palma! Is topographical isolation with altitude linked with an increase in endemism? Transitions or complementarity in species distributions along elevational gradients! Before the stay on the island, February 17th to March 3rd, the accepted students had chosen priorities in research topics and formed groups to tackle the respective questions and problems. Specific hypotheses and methodological approaches were decided upon together with the supervisors of the themes. When arriving at the island, two days of excursion introduced into the ecosystems, site conditions, key species and cultural as well as societal aspects of this isolated region. The excursion was accompanied by Dr. Felix Medina from the Cabildo Insular de La Palma, who is responsible for nature conservation. After this days of introduction, seven groups of students then started implementing and adapting their research approaches. Distributed over the whole island, students recorded their own data. 21 students (both MSc. and PhD students) from seven countries participated in this year’s science school. The whole course was accompanied by local experts and by international professors (partly members of the ECOPOTENTIAL consortium) that are experienced in biodiversity research and island biogeography. Professors met students in the field and helped to optimize their research agenda. Additionally, in evening hours, courses on scientific writing were given. Here, students profit from the experience of the supervisors as editors of important international journals. After the end of the field stay, students are now analyzing their data and preparing manuscripts that are going to be reviewed by the experienced researchers. In June 2017, a final meeting with presentations will take place at the University of Bayreuth. The products of the school are made available to local park managers and decision makers. The La Palma Science School 2017 was guided by: Prof. Carl Beierkuhnlein, Prof. Anke Jentsch, Dr. Severin Irl (Univ. Bayreuth, Germany); Prof. Ole Vetaas (Univ. Bergen, Norway); Prof. Alessandro Chiarucci (Univ. Bologna, Italy); Prof. Richard Field (Univ. Nottingham); Prof. José-Maria Fernandez-Palacios (Univ. La Laguna, Spain).