Visiting PhD student from Italian National Research Council and University of Basilicata

Italian PhD student, Civil-environmental Engineer with a MSc in Hydraulic Engineering and Violinist.

Antonella Dimotta comes from the Italian National Research Council and University of Basilicata (School of Agricultural School Forestry, Food and Environmental Sciences). Her PhD Program is on land, environmental and forestry science. At CEBAS-CSIC she will study the soil erosion process as affected by land use change, by using the Soil and Water Conservation Research Group’s experience with different environmental modelling and assessment approaches. Antonella applies the InVEST model to model soil erosion and various other incidences on the environmental economic scope at a regional scale (Basilicata, South Italy).

For this purpose, the main goals of her PhD research are the following:

  • Soil erosion modeling and methods application in the Mediterranean areas
  • On-site and off-site effects due to the soil loss by erosion
  • Economic and environmental assessment of the soil erosion effects and impacts
  • Economic and environmental impacts on the agricultural productivity
  • Landscape evolution and transformation in relation to different territorial scales
  • Land Management and Land Use Policy: insights and potential developments.

UNCCD COP13: decisions, new report and policy brief on SLM

Over the last 2 weeks (6-17 September), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) organized its Conference of the Parties (COP13) in Ordos (China). During this bi-annual meeting a series of decisions were taken emphasizing the importance of implementing Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices to deal with problems related to desertification, land degradation and drought as well climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The decisions include recommendations towards the country representatives to:

  • Consider the use of locally adapted SLM practices to contribute to prevent, reduce and reverse land degradation, while also contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives.
  • Overcome potential barriers for large scale implementation of SLM practices through:
    1. integration of SLM practices in land use planning,
    2. development of economic incentives form SLM implementation
    3. improving land tenure security,
    4. organizing capacity-building at all relevant levels of decision-making.
  • Institutionalize meaningful stakeholder engagement throughout the planning, implementation and monitoring phases of SLM strategies.

The COP decisions are based upon a new study and recommendations made by the Science-Policy Interface (SPI) of the UNCCD that can be downloaded here and here.

Dr. Joris de Vente, researcher at our group and member of the SPI, was one of the coordinating authors of the report that was developed in collaboration with ‘BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change’, and of the related Science-Policy Brief (SLM for climate and people) that can be downloaded here.

MOOC Landscape Restoration for Sustainable Development: a Business Approach

On 1th May a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was launched on the Coursera platform entitled ‘Landscape Restoration for Sustainable Development: a Business Approach’.
Our group participates in the development of this free online course as one of the partners of the ENABLE project within the European ‘ERASMUS+ Strategic partnerships’ program.
The European Network for Advancement of Business and Landscape Education (ENABLE) develops education on integrated landscape management based on sustainable business models. In the MOOC you will learn WHAT land degradation is, HOW it can be reversed, and WHO can grasp the opportunity. It is aimed at business students, professionals as well as anyone with an interest in business-driven landscape restoration.
The course offers learners comprehensive knowledge of landscape degradation and landscape restoration from an integrated perspective, including natural and social sciences, economics and business administration.

The course program covers diverse topics such as:

  • Land degradation and restoration of degraded ecosystems
  • Economics of land degradation and sustainable land management
  • Practical examples of Commonland restoration projects
  • Wicked problems and multi-stakeholder partnerships
  • How to design a sustainable business model?
  • Practical example of landscape restoration for sustainable development: a business approach for southeastern Spain.

More information:

Vídeo presentation:

Visiting students from Wageningen University

Two students from Wageningen University and Research (the Netherlands), Paula Duske and Felipe Castaño Díaz, are currently doing their MSc in Environmental Sciences with the focus on Environmental Systems Analysis. As part of their thesis project they will stay in CEBAS-CSIC. They will look into the impacts of sustainable land management practices on the provision of ecosystem services in the area of the Segura river catchment under the supervision of Dr. Joris de Vente. They will be working with the soil and water conservation research group for a period of two months (April – May).

Se busca candidata/os a beca FPU

Se busca candidato/as para hacer la tesis doctoral con una beca FPU en los siguientes temas:

Tema 1: El potencial del manejo agrícola sostenible en secano como proveedor de servicios ecosistémicos clave (Contacto María Martínez-Mena / Elvira Díaz Pereira).

Tema 2: Procesos de transporte y estabilización de carbono en sistemas fluviales mediterráneos. Importancia en los servicios ecosistémicos y en la mitigación del Cambio Climático (Contacto Carolina Boix-Fayos).

Tema 3: Efectos del cambio climático en la vegetación, microbiota y Carbono del suelo en matorrales semiáridos (Contacto Nacho Querejeta y Iván Prieto)

Interesado/as contactad con la persona de contacto antes del día 20 de Enero. 20140227_123600


  • Haber finalizado los estudios de grado o licenciado después del 1 de enero de 2013.
  • Estar matriculado en un programa de doctorado en el curso 2016-2017. O acreditar que posee título de master o estar matriculado en el curso 2016-2017 en un master universitario oficial que de acceso a un programa de doctorado en el curso 2017-18.
  • Expediente académico: nota media mínima: 8 para grado; 8.30 para master.

Otros: ver detalles en convocatoria


Visiting scientist Dr. Wei Ren from China

We welcome Dr. Wei Ren (Lecturer at the Southwest University at Chongquin, China), who is joining us as a Visiting Scholar funded by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) for one year, starting in December 2016. Dr. Ren is interested in the application of stable isotope techniques to plant ecophysiology research in karst ecosystems threatened by desertification.

PhD defence Lupe León Sánchez

We are happy to inform that the 14th of October our colleague Lupe León Sánchez successfully defended her PhD thesis at the University of Granada, entitled:

Effects of climate change on native plant communities in semiarid gypsum ecosystems.

Her thesis supervisor is: José Ignacio Querejeta Mercader.

20161014_111327_lrIn her thesis Lupe simulated the climate conditions projected for the second half of XXI century, by using open top chambers (1-2ºC temperature increase in the wintertime and 4-6ºC in the summertime; W treatment), rainout shelters (-30% rainfall exclusion; RR treatment) and their combination (W+RR treatment) to assess the effects of climate change conditions on the performance of three semiarid Mediterranean shrubland communities located in central (Aranjuez) and southeastern Spain (Sorbas and Sax) throughout 4 hydrological years (2011-2015).


Congratulations Lupe!

MSc thesis KU Leuven students

Recently  two students of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven, Belgium) performed their MSc thesis research in the Upper Taibilla catchment in collaboration with researchers from our group.

Both students now successfully presented their MSc thesis with the following titles:

Wim Verhoeven: Hill slope dynamics in a first order Mediterranean river catchment: Comparing long-term vs short-term erosion rates.

Noël Ghammachi: Soil carbon dynamics in a Mediterranean catchment. Assessing the influence of erosion and deposition on carbon sequestration.

MSc supervisors were G. Govers (KULeuven), C. Boix-Fayos & J. de Vente (CEBAS-CSIC). They were further assisted by B. Campforts and M. Van de Broek (mentors KULeuven) and P. Cutillas (CEBAS-CSIC).

The students performed intensive fieldwork during the summer of 2015 that included soil and deep sediment sampling after which they applied a range of state-of-the-art techniques to determine the sediments age, erosion rates, soil organic carbon stability, and assess the long-term human impact on soil erosion and carbon sequestration.

Congratulations Wim and Noële!

MSc. degree Maria Francesca Cataldo

The 10th of March Maria Francesca Cataldo received her MSc degree with the maximum qualification for her MSc thesis entitled:


Her supervisors were: Dr. Demetrio Antonio Zema, Dra. Carolina Boix Fayos and Dr. Giuseppe Bombino.

Francesca studied at the University of Mediterranean Studies of Reggio Calabria (Italy) and worked at our group on her MSc thesis between September 2015 and February 2016 supported by an Erasmus + fellowship. Her research analyses the hydrological response of a nested catchment in the Upper Segura River at different temporal scales.

The master thesis was developed between de Department of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Reggio Calabria and the Department of Soil and Water Conservation of CEBAS-CSIC.

Congratulations Francesca!

Visiting scientists from Italy

Between September 2015 and January 2016, our colleague from the AGRARIA Department of the University of Reggio Calabria (Italy), Dr. Eng. Demetrio Zema stayed at our group to work in the project Characterization and modeling of the hydrological response of semi-arid watersheds in southern Spain: integrating geomorphological and hydrological responses” supported by the Seneca Foundation (Research Agency of the Region of Murcia) with a senior visiting scientist fellowship. He has been working on the hydrological modelling of the Upper Taibilla and Rogativa watersheds together with members of our group (Carolina Boix-Fayos and Joris de Vente). IMG-20151211-WA0000

The cooperation between the Italian AGRARIA and the Spanish CEBAS group started in 2012, sharing experiences in the study of the hydrological and geomorphological response of Mediterranean watersheds, under different climatic, land use and management conditions. This collaboration already resulted in joint publications in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation and Ecohydrology.

In the framework of this cooperation, and supported by an Erasmus+ fellowship, Maria Francesca Cataldo, an MSc student in forestry, also stayed at our group during the same period to undertake her MSc thesis entitled: “Analytical characterization and modelling of the hydrological response of semi-arid watersheds in southern Spain”. Francesca demonstrated to be a very efficient and promising student and the colaboration with Demetrio and Francesca has been very productive and satisfactory. Francesca will defend her Master thesis next 10th of March in Italy.