Rafael Rodrigo, president of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and of the Fundación General CSIC (FGCSIC), and Emilio Botín, president of Banco Santander, today awarded the first Proyectos Cero funding for projects on Threatened Species at a ceremony held in the CSIC’s assembly room.
The event was opened with a speech by Javier Rey, Director of the Fundación General CSIC, who outlined the foundation’s goals and its strategic lines, one of which addresses the issue of threatened species. He highlighted the Foundation’s activities and in particular its Proyectos Cero call for project proposals on ageing, and presented the special issue of the Foundation’s journal Lychnos devoted to the topic of threatened species.
Next, Enrique Macpherson, coordinator of the evaluation panel for the call for proposals, gave a talk entitled «Entre el deseo de salvar al mundo y el deseo de saborear el mundo» (Between the desire to save the world and the desire to savour the world) in which he made a number of interesting points about the sea and marine biodiversity.
The final part of the session was devoted to a presentation on each of the projects receiving funding, and the principal investigators of each project were given their official award documentation by Emilio Botín and Rafael Rodrigo. The winners were Lluís Brotons (Centre Tecnològic Forestal de Catalunya), Pablo Vargas (Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid), José Templado (Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales), José Antonio Godoy (Estación Biológica de Doñana) and Jaime Bosch (Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales). A video was then shown with a description of each of the projects.
Emilio Botín highlighted the importance of the funded projects and announced that Banco Santander intended to continue backing the Proyectos Cero initiative beyond the end of the current round of projects.
The event was closed by Rafael Rodrigo, who said that «Proyectos Cero is a driver of knowledge transfer and a focal point at which public research and the private sector converge.»
Five projects with the aim of preserving biodiversity
The project «Un paso adelante. Aves esteparias, prácticas agrícolas y viabilidad económica: hacia la conservación de especies amenazadas en paisajes humanizados» (A step forward. Steppe birds, farming practices and economic viability: towards the conservation of threatened species in humanised landscapes), led by Lluís Brotons, from the Centre Tecnològic Forestal de Catalunya (CTFC), will provide the tools needed to successfully conserve Spain’s steppe zones. It is also hoped that the methodologies used in this research will be of use in other zones and habitats facing the difficult challenge of allowing biodiversity conservation to coexist with sustainable economic development.
Pablo Vargas, from the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (CSIC), is the principal investogator for the project entitled «¿Tienen todas las especies amenazadas el mismo valor? Origen y conservación de fósiles vivientes de plantas con flores endémicas en España» (Do all threatened species have the same value? Origin and conservation of endemic living fossil flowering plants in Spain), focusing on a study of five genera of flowering plants: Avellar, Castrilanthemum, Gyrocaryum, Naufraga and Pseudomisopates, all catalogued as being in the «critically endangered» category, which is just one step short of «extinct plant.»
«Plan de acción para las propuestas de viabilidad de la lapa en peligro de extinción, Patella ferruginea» (Action plan on proposals to ensure the viability of the endangered Patella ferruginea limpet ), led by Annie Marchordom, at the Museo de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), aims to take a closer look at the reproduction of this limpet species in nature and captivity. The project aims to use aquaculture techniques to obtain juveniles so as to allow populations to be restored if they are hit by a natural disaster.
«La secuenciación del genoma del lince ibérico» (Sequencing the genome of the Iberian lynx), led by José Antonio Godoy, at the Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC), is based on the idea that sequencing the genome of this mammal will enable valuable information to be gathered that might be lost if the species were to become extinct. At the same time it will generate valuable resources and tools for research into the biology and evolution of the species, and for its conservation.
The fifth project, «Mitigación de enfermedades en poblaciones de anfibios en declive» (Mitigating diseases in declining amphibian populations), led by Jaime Bosch Pérez, from the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), will try out new techniques to mitigate the disease caused by a fungus that attacks amphibians in the wild. The aim is to model the dynamics of the disease in amphibian populations, and to achieve a degree of immunity for these animals by bolstering their resistance to the fungus.