Dr Marc Macias-Fauria is an ecologist who focuses on cold environments. His research is mostly directed at understanding the coupling of physical and biological systems (biogeoscience). He employs long-term ecological records and modelling to understand ecological and biogeographic processes as they are constrained by the physical environment.
He gained a degree in Biology at the University of Barcelona, an MSc at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, and a PhD at the Department of Geology (now Department of Geosciences & Geography), University of Helsinki, where he studied the climate controls on boreal forest wildfires, tree-growth, and insect outbreaks.
We study the coupling between physical (abiotic) and biological processes. Our approach is:
- Strongly process-based, employing empirical data, mathematical, and statistical modelling;
- Interdisciplinary: approaches from geosciences, climatology, biology, physical geography;
- Biased towards cold ecosystems (arctic and alpine);
- Focused on long-term ecology: time-scales that span decades to millennia (palaeoecology); and
- Strongly field-based.
Holocene Arctic Sea Ice
This project constitutes a 5-year NERC Independent Research Fellowship and aims at answering questions related to the effects of Arctic sea ice on climatic and ecological processes by producing a pan-Arctic, spatially explicit Arctic Sea ice reconstruction for the Holocene using a suite of environmental proxies, and focusing on the unique characteristics of driftwood as a source of past information on sea ice extent and drift routes. Reconstructed sea ice extent and dynamics will be compared with genetic structures of many arctic populations that point to sea ice as a main driver of their dynamics, and modeled in sea ice and climatic models to quantify the coupling between sea ice and Arctic and hemispheric climate. A wide network of collaborators in this project includes researchers from the United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, and Spain. Further information on the project will shortly be available.
Tundra Vegetation Change
Terrestrial vegetation in the Arctic has shown in the recent decades a strong increase in productivity, which has been linked to increasing growing season temperatures and receding sea ice. This signal, termed 'greening of the tundra', is far from homogeneous and varies spatially with substrate, topography, and land use. We study the mechanisms leading to vegetation change in the Arctic tundra, with a strong emphasis on both physical environmental processes and grazing. Although our scope is pan-Arctic, most of our research takes place in Eurasia, mostly in Fennoscandia and Siberia. This research is done in collaboration with research groups from Finland (Arctic Centre), Sweden, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
Global Ecological Status
Increasing availability of remote sensing and biodiversity data provides ecologists with an unprecedented wealth of information that can be used to assess at very large scales (continental to global) and high resolutions the status of our planet's ecosystems. Our work aims at investigating the ways in which such information can be extracted in the form of realistic estimates. This research line employs large datasets of geo-referenced data and is done in collaboration with research groups at the Long-term Ecology Lab (University of Oxford) and the University of Bergen (Norway).
The transition between montane sub-alpine forest and alpine treeless environments is considered a 'cold ecotone', that is, an ecological transition mediated by low temperatures, especially in the growing season. We study the mechanisms of treeline formation from a spatially explicit, high-resolution approach, using geomorphology, remote sensing, climatology/meteorology, and intense fieldwork and computer modelling to tease apart the different processes finally determining the position of the forest edge and, in general, of trees on slopes. Our results show that many processes other than temperature alone explain treeline position, and that understanding them is key to plan future scenarios of montane forest. Our approach is global, although most of our research is performed in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, in collaboration with the Biogeoscience Institute at the University of Calgary.
Dr Macias-Fauria contributes to the core 'Methods and Techniques in Physical Geography' and 'Earth System Processes' courses for the Preliminary Examination. He also shares teaching of the Final Honour School Option foundational courses 'Earth System Dynamics' and the optional subject 'The Quaternary Period: Natural and human systems'.
He lectures on the core module 'Biodiversity Response to Climate Change' within the MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management.
Current Graduate Research Students
|Nicola Kühn (DPhil)||Trait-based modelling of vegetation distribution of biomes in South Africa under climate change (co-supervised with Prof Kathy Willis)|
|Alejandra Mora Soto (DPhil)||Modelling carbon sink in the Eastern Patagonian Kelp Forest|
|Georgia Hole (DPhil)||Towards a first high-resolution spatiotemporal reconstruction of Holocene Arctic Sea Ice dynamics|
|Andrew Martin (DPhil)||Optimization of EU conservation areas using species distribution modelling and palaeo-ecological data (co-supervised with Prof Kathy Willis and Dr Elizabeth Jeffers; registered in Zoology, Oxford).|
|Marcus Spiegel (MPhil)||TBC: Remote sensing in the pan-Arctic tundra|
Past Graduate Research Students
|Henrik Hannemann (DPhil)||Conservation Planning in Europe: Ecological, Financial, and Political Challenges. Successfully defended in August 2017|
|Nicola Kühn (MSc)||Long-term (1915-2015) land use and land cover change in the Pyrenees: a repeat photography analysis. Completed in 2015 (distinction)|
|Thomas Fieldsend (MSc)||Climate-change-induced range shifts in British odonates: implications for interspecific hybridisation. Completed in 2015 (distinction)|
|Andrew Martin (MSc)||'Desert 'greening' in Northern Africa during the Holocene: were woody species reliant on the hydrological network for northward migration and persistence?' Completed in 2013|
|Brendan Dillon (MSc)||'Climatic Drivers of Beta Diversity amongst Tree Taxa in the Sahara since the African Humid Period'. Completed in 2013|
|Henrik Hannemann (MSc)||'Conservation planning in Europe: Species Distribution Modelling with regard to tree species' range predictions under climate change'. Completed in 2012|
|Victoria Rose Robson (MSc)||'Treeline Dynamics in the Kananaskis Valley'. Completed in 2011|