Begoña Peco

I have been a lecturer at the Department of Ecology, Autónoma University of Madrid (UAM) since 1982, and Professor of Ecology since 1996.

Over the years, I have actively promoted research by my Department into ​​terrestrial ecology. I have placed particular emphasis on scientific rigor by teaching experimental design and statistical analysis skills applied to Ecology.

Since 1992, I have headed my Department's Terrestrial Ecology group of lecturers and post-graduate researchers. Our group has gained an internationally reputation for its work on the effects of different types of agricultural practices and land uses on the conservation of Mediterranean extensive systems. We have also participated in the design of European strategies for the conservation of steppe grasslands and mountain areas.

Within the group, I am personally responsible for the Grassland and Shrubland Ecology research area, the main focus of my research for the past 30 years. Using a multidisciplinary approach involving biological and socioeconomic aspects, our landscape-scale projects have addressed the effects of land-use changes in rural landscapes on biodiversity, in particular the problems arising from the abandonment of agriculture and grazing. We also analyze the effects of agri-environmental measures aimed at alleviating the problems of agricultural intensification and abandonment.

At the vegetation community scale, we have mainly addressed the mechanisms that drive vegetation dynamics when faced  with changes of use, primaly focusing on seed availability of seed and seedling survival (seed banks and dispersal). Recently we have also analyzed changes in structural and functional diversity due to grazing abandonment.

Some of my recent work has involved the application of our experience in the functional dynamics of grassland and shrubland to the practical aspects of road embankment restoration.

I have also been working on vegetation traits at the global level with colleagues at the University of New South Wales (Australia).