Geoecology and Desertification

- from physical to human factors -

International Symposium in memory of Prof. Juan Puigdefabregas

20-22 Feb 2019, Almería, Spain

EcoDesert International Symposium


Human populations, like any other species, persist and thrive in natural landscapes. In contrast with most species, however, changes made by humans in ecosystems can be detected in a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Such changes result from two components. First, stress between ecosystem self-organization and the simplification associated with the human exploitation of natural resources. Second, shifts of the scale at which bio-physical factors, ultimate drivers of ecological functions, perform their controls. But relationships between humans and landscape dynamics are not unidirectional, and relevant feedbacks caused the former to incorporate, individual and culturally, opportunities and constraints posed by the latter. Those adaptations enable human persistence within a far from equilibrium system where land degradation must be precisely regulated.

Prof. Juan Puigdefabregas dedicated his scientific life to generate, lead and inspire research on relationships between humans and their natural landscapes, focusing his attention on a wide array of combinations of the components mentioned above: overmature landscapes in Tierra del Fuego that were only rejuvenated by natural catastrophes; alpine landscapes in the Pyrenees finely tuned to exploitation and physical drivers; and dryland landscapes in the Mediterranean showing clear symptoms of abuse and land degradation. This symposium is homage to his scientific legacy.

Symposium structure

Drylands are largely controlled by physical factors and their interactions with organisms, are particularly vulnerable to human intervention, and their specific issues are addressed by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. For these reasons they make an ideal benchmark for this symposium’s aims and will be, with appropriate exceptions, the main focus of the discussions that will take place there.

EcoDesert is intended to identify and explore ground-breaking aspects derived from the core topics described above and their interactions, rather than to present state-of-the-art thematic contributions to individual disciplines. Contributions may be both conventional scientific studies and unfinished works or conjectures with a supporting basis.

Section 1
Effects of abiotic factors on ecosystems
  • Hillslope processes in drylands
  • Climatic, hydrologic, and geomorphic process interactions with natural ecosystems
  • Environmental controls of organism performance...
Section 2
Transitions between ecosystem maturity and exploitation
  • Land degradation
  • Effects of land abandonment
  • Marginal lands and ecosystem services...
Section 3
Spatial / temporal scales of ecosystem response to Global Change
  • Spatial patterns of vegetation cover
  • Fractals in ecosystems
  • Long-term ecosystem monitoring...
Section 4
Feedbacks between natural landscapes and human populations
  • Positive and negative feedbacks between land condition and exploitation; desertification
  • Hunters and nomads in the 21st century
  • Adaptive roles of human emotions and culture...

Symposium Development

The four thematic sections will occur sequentially during days 20 and 21 February. All sessions will be plenary to facilitate an integrative framework.

EcoDesert will be optimized to foster synergetic discussions from different perspectives. A small series of brief oral presentations will be selected for their potential to convene and centre the Sections described above, and to generate and lead discussions. Excepting them, all the remaining contributions will be considered as posters, which become that way the default type of contribution. Posters will not have topic restrictions as long as they fit reasonably at least in one of the Sessions.

The event schedule will be planned to maximize time for organized and random discussions, rather than for listening to sequential presentations. Posters, playing a substantial role in EcoDesert, will receive appropriate dedication.

A field trip will be made to Sierra de Gádor on the 22 February to discuss and interpret problem-oriented evidences. Some highlights include a tour by scenarios of inherited desertification associated with mining-ore processing in the XIX century, greenhouses as a syndrome of current desertification, hillslope water harvesting in traditional aljibes, the role of the Sierra highlands in the replenishment of lowland aquifers, and CO2 emissions related to deforestation. A detailed visit will be made to an EEZA experimental station for environmental monitoring in the highlands. Moderate walking in flat paths at the Sierra divide will be required.


Please consider these deadlines:

Date Who Action
15-Oct-2018 Authors Abstract submission
01-Nov-2018 Organization Contribution acceptance and instructions to authors
for poster or extended abstract preparation
31-Dec-2018 Attendees Reduced registration fee (290 €); 390 € onwards.
Authors Extended abstract submission
31-Ene-2019 Organization Event program and documentation, travel hints


Hotel NH Ciudad de almería - Jardín de Medina, s/n 04006 - Almería - España

The event will be held in the Hotel NH Ciudad de Almería. Plenary sessions will take place in the Filabres Assembly Hall, and posters will be exhibited in a dedicated hall. The hotel has several lounges for bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Morning and afternoon coffee breaks, as well as lunch, will take place in the hotel and are included in the event fee. Free Wi-Fi will be available throughout the hotel.

Accommodation is not included in the event fee. Please make your choice in the Registration page (see below), where several hotels are offered at competitive rates. Should you prefer to look somewhere else, this will not be a problem.

Social Event

A social dinner will be held on the 21 February in a nearby restaurant yet to be determined. It will aim at gastronomic processes in Western Mediterranean, and for that purpose a selection of tapas and main courses will be offered along with necessary wine and other drinks. Regional songs and demonstrations of eternal friendship by the event attendees will be permitted.

If you register for that dinner (not included in the event fee), please do not forget reporting any dietary requirement you may have. It will receive due attention.

Abstract Submission

The default format of contribution is poster, which may host case studies at any scale, conventional experiments, and even conjectures.

Posters are expected to become a visually appealing portfolio of ideas around the EcoDesert scope, and at the same time will allow margin both for plenary and thematic discussions. Further, they will be reproduced in an eBook after EcoDesert, which is rarely done but maximizes overreaching of the proceedings though eye-catching figures.

Such a discussion-oriented event design poses obvious time limitations for oral presentations beyond the invited keynote paper at the beginning of each session. For that reason, only a few oral presentations can be accepted, always on the basis of their convening potential, rather than on their state-of-the-art contents

Submitted abstracts will have the same format both for posters and oral contributions. They should not exceed 400 words (core text). Please provide also up to 5 keywords. The name of a corresponding author should be underlined. Authors’ affiliations including email, institution name, address and URL should be also provided. Superscripts to indicate multiple affiliations are permitted. Any file format that can be imported to .docx (MS Word) is acceptable, but please do not use .pdf. A MS Word template may be found here for your convenience.

Please submit your abstract by email to, including the keywords ‘ABSTRACT SUBMISSION’ in the subject field and indicating your Session preference in the message body. If you aim at an oral presentation, please add a short comment of why you think it should be oral in view of EcoDesert scope.

Contributions accepted for oral presentation will be requested an extended abstract.

You can use this Ms Word template for submission

download template

Symposium Proceedings

Accepted contributions will be published in an open-access eBook with ISBN, along with a small essay by Juan Puigdefábregas with his latest thoughts on humans in their landscapes.

In that eBook, each poster contribution will occupy a double A4 spread, the left page with the abstract and the right one with a reproduction of the poster. Instructions to authors will be issued in due time along with a template to harmonize the style and legibility of contributions.

Oral presentations will be represented in the eBook by an extended abstract.


Organizing Committee

Gabriel del Barrio

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

Yolanda Canton

Agronomy Dept. (University of Almería), Almería

Almudena Delgado

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

Francisco Domingo

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

Roberto Lázaro

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

Rosario María Peregrín

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

Alberto Ruiz

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

María E. Sanjuan

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

Albert Solé

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

Jaime Valderrama

Arid Zones Experimental Station (CSIC), Almería

Scientific Committee

To be listed in short time