Welcome to our speakers’ page, here you can find information about our key-note conferences and invited speakers. This year´s Euromal will gather some of the most relevant minds in the field, the topics have been selected to represent the forefront of current malacological research. If you wish to know more about any of our key-note speakers hover with your mouse over their picture.


Welcome to our speakers’ page, this year´s Euromal will gather some of the most relevant minds in the field, the topics have been selected to represent the forefront of current malacological research.You are in the mobile version of this page, here you will find the abstracts of our key-note conferences, if you wish to read more about our invited speaker´s background please click here.

Applied malacology: from pure science to environmental monitoring,
ecological restoration and aquaculture

Dr. David Aldridge

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

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David Aldridge is a senior lecturer and head of the Aquatic ecology group in the Zoology Department at the University of Cambridge. His research spans many different fields within applied ecology, with a special emphasis on freshwater bivalves, this includes conservation of rare species in threatened ecosystems, the biology and control of invasive species, and the development of sustainable remediation and monitoring programmes for degraded waterbodies. His research often involves collaboration with the water industry, NGOs, and government agencies around the world, Dr Aldridge is also the co-founder and director of BioBullets Ltd. a company that has developed a novel and environmentally friendly way of controlling zebra mussels and other invasive pests. Additionally, he is a member of the Cambridge Global Food Security Research Centre as part of the of Food Landscapes and Food and health subject groups.

 

Critically evaluating the functional role of freshwater mussels and their ecosystem services

Dr. Carla L. Atkinson

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, USA

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Dr. Carla L. Atkinson is an assistant professor in aquatic ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Missouri State University, a M.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia, a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Oklahoma, and received post-doctoral training in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. Her research in the field of aquatic ecology is strongly oriented towards the advancement of both basic scientific understanding as well as better conservation prioritization of biodiversity and ecosystems, encompassing a broad set of long-standing questions in ecology such as the linkages between community structure and ecosystem function, food web structure and dynamics, landscape-scale patterns dictating community assembly, and the importance of interactions between ecology and evolution for community and ecosystem processes. To address these questions, her lab employs a combination of observational approaches, field experiments, mesocosm, and laboratory studies. The fundamental theme linking these diverse topics in both basic and applied ecology is her deep interest in the role biodiversity plays in ecological function.

Freshwater mussels are among the most imperiled faunal group in the world and essential to the functioning of many freshwater ecosystems. Freshwater mussels contribute to water purification through their filter-feeding activities, can strongly influence nutrient recycling and storage, and impact food webs through bottom-up provisioning. While the importance of mussels to freshwaters to ecological function is becoming increasingly understood, their linkage to human well-being is generally still overlooked. It is essential to understand how ecological and human well-being will be affected by declining mussel abundance and diversity and shifts in mussel community composition under global change. This session aims to critically evaluate the ecological functions and consequential ecosystem services provided by mussels by facilitating linkages among ecologists, social scientists, and economists.  

Island biogeography, systematics and ecological constraints

Professor Robert A. D. Cameron

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

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Robert Cameron is an honorary Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Sheffield and an honorary Research Associate at the Natural History Museum, London. He earned a BA in zoology at the University of Oxford and a PhD from the University of Manchester. He worked successively at the Universities of Portsmouth, Birmingham and Sheffield and has continued research at Sheffield in an honorary capacity since retirement. Robert Cameron’s research has had three strands: the ecological genetics of polymorphic land snails, the structure and composition of forest snail faunas in relation to ecology, biogeography and evolutionary history, and the diversity of island land mollusc faunas in relation to within-island and within-archipelago evolution and their interaction with environmental history. His work has involved collaboration with colleagues from many countries, most significantly from Poland, Czechia, Greece and Portugal, in the last case primarily on Madeira and the Azores. Current interests concern the relationships between taxonomic differentiation and functional diversity within and among island and other land mollusc faunas.

Land mollusc faunas have played an important role in the development and testing of theories of island biogeography, taking them far beyond the original, simple but heuristic model of MacArthur and Wilson. New approaches to systematics and phylogeny, primarily based on molecular taxonomy, and the use of increasing amounts of fossil records are enabling us to refine such models even further. Ecological constraints on the diversity and composition of island faunas are less well-known.  Given the disastrously high levels of human-induced extinction caused by invasive species and habitat destruction, integrating such constraints into our models has practical applications in conservation as well as in further increasing the explanatory power of our models. The session will offer opportunities to explore developments across these fields.

Patterns of land snail diversity and communities

Professor Michal Horsák

Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

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Michal Horsák is a professor of zoology at Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic). He likes to study the ecology of land mollusc communities and the effect of contemporaneous environmental conditions and historical processes for shaping their diversity. He is interested in the role of niche-based and dispersal-based processes for metacommunity structuring in both terrestrial and aquatic systems. His passion is to explore the historical development of selected habitats or landscape since the full glacial based on land-mollusc fossil records and modern analogies.

Land snails with over 35,000 species are by far the most diverse group of all molluscs. Although good knowledge on drivers of their species richness (calcium, moisture, vegetation, litter and soil properties, historical continuity, etc.) emerged from many local and regional scales, a consensual model linked to macroclimate and evolutionary processes is still missing. While species richness increases towards the calcium-rich environment, several other variables can modify the final pattern of regional species diversity and composition upon the main limiting factors in the system. These region/habitat-specific rules are crucial for the effective protection of endemic and endangered species.

Crowdsourcing: a neglected research approach in malacology

Dr. Ivan Jarić

Institute of Hydrobiology, Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Department of Ecosystem Biology, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic

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Dr. Ivan Jarić is a researcher at the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the University of South Bohemia. He earned a B.S. in Ecology and Environmental Protection from the University of Belgrade, a M.S. in Management of Biological Diversity from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, a Ph.D. in Environmental Management from the University of Belgrade, and received post-doctoral training at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin. Dr. Jarić’s research spans diverse topics, but mainly the field of aquatic ecology and conservation, fish ecology and fisheries management, population modeling and extinction risk assessments, biological invasions and the development of novel model-based risk assessment approaches. He is also involved in research related to conservation culturomics and iEcology, two emerging research areas focused on the use of digital data and culturomics tools within the fields of ecology and conservation science. He is also actively promoting these research areas as a board member of the newly established Conservation Culturomics Working Group of the Society of Conservation Biology.

Current levels of conservation research, monitoring and practice are considered insufficient to cope with the complexity and magnitude of anthropogenic impacts, which can also occur faster than the rate at which they can be actively monitored or studied. Future research and monitoring efforts are
expected to rely to a large extent on novel, alternative sources of data, including emerging crowdsourcing approaches. Increased public participation in monitoring and research through different types of citizen science initiatives has a great potential to provide valuable data, promote communication between scientists and the wider public, and advance science, management, and
policy. At the same time, rapid increases in Internet use, amount of digital data generated, and diversity of available information have created novel opportunities and areas of research that the scientific community is only now beginning to explore. Emerging passive crowdsourcing approaches, including conservation culturomics and iEcology, are able to provide large amounts of data with low sampling costs and high spatio-temporal resolution. The session aims to provide an overview of different crowdsourcing tools and approaches and their potential applications in
malacology.

Biogeography and Quaternary malacology

Dr. Nicole Limondin-Lozouet

Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, CNRS, Meudon, France

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Dr. Nicole Limondin-Lozouet is a senior researcher in Quaternary malacology at CNRS in the Laboratoire de Géographie Physique (UMR CNRS 8591). She earned a Ph.D. in Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and received a post-Doctoral training in the Department of Zoology at Cambridge University (UK). She is co-Head of the LGP, teaches graduate courses at Paris 1 University and the National Natural History Museum of Paris and trained Ph.D. students working on Quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstructions inferred from bioproxies. Her research in the field of Quaternary palaeoenvironments focuses on land-snails from the Palaearctic domain. Her research encompasses questions on palaeobiodiversity evolution during interglacial periods, patterns of malacological recolonization of continental Europe during late-glacial times, species extinctions and modification of snail geographic ranges in response to climatic and anthropogenic impacts. Her methodological approach includes fieldwork, the study of taphonomical processes and multidisciplinary comparisons.

Mollusc shells are one of the most abundant fossils remains preserved in calcareous sediments. Successions of malacological assemblages within Quaternary deposits provide information about landscape modifications related to climatic changes and/or anthropogenic impact. Quaternary molluscs are commonly studied over Central and Western Europe but the evolution of the mollusc fauna remains poorly documented in many European areas. In addition, the distribution of taxa in time and space provides information on biostratigraphy and biogeography allowing a better understanding of the diversity and modern range of snails. Furthermore, phylogeography constitutes a powerful complementary tool to propose hypotheses on taxa migration routes that can be assessed with fossil data.

From shells to genomes, systematics, phylogeny and biogeography of molluscs

Manuel Lopes-Lima

CIBIO/InBio – Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto, Portugal

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Manuel Lopes-Lima is a researcher in CIBIO/InBio – Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto. He is also the (IUCN/SSC) Coordinator of the Red List Authority on Freshwater Bivalves within the Mollusk Specialist Group. He earned a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biodiversity, Evolution, and Genetic Resources, all from the University of Porto. His research interests are related to the global conservation of freshwater mussels including phylogeny, genetic diversity, and ecophysiology. He has multiple freshwater conservation projects in three different continents and is also an active promoter of international research efforts around this faunistic group.

Due to their conspicuous and beautiful shells Molluscs have always attracted the attention of collectors and naturalists. Shells were also used in the early classifications of this remarkable group of organisms and shell characters remained as the main diagnostic taxonomical characters for hundreds of years. Throughout the ages other morphological, ecological and behavioural characters have helped to understand the evolutionary relationships of molluscs. By the last decades of last century the genetics, soon followed by the genomics revolution provided statistical tools that were able to test and better understand the evolution, diversity and biogeography of this amazing group.This session includes all studies related with the Phylogeny, phylogeography and genetic diversity patterns of all molluscs.

Terrestrial Gastropod Macroecology and Macroevolution

Dr. Jeffrey C. Nekola

Department of Zoology and Botany, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

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Jeff Nekola has established an internationally recognized research program ranging from community ecology, macroecology and large scale biodiversity analyses to phylogenetics and macroevolution through an integration of theory and empirical data across multiple scales in both contemporaneous and paleo-environments. While now based out of Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, the great majority of his published works (one book and 82 peer-reviewed papers with over 7000 total citations) is based on research centered on North America.

Terrestrial gastropods represent an ideal system to address macroecological and macroevolutionary topics: with over 35,000 global species they are the second most diverse molluscan group. Their taxonomy is relatively mature in some areas where the description of new species has slowed to less than 1% of the total fauna per decade. Community-scale datasets are the most extensive of any invertebrate group, minimally representing 6000+ species and 5+ million individuals from almost 50,000 global sites. This session will summarize large-scale evolutionary and ecological patterns and processes to illustrate how land snails are alike and yet also different from other taxa groups.

Monitoring of mollusks using eDNA and other innovative methods

Dr. Vincent Prié

Institut Systématique et Biodiversité, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle – Paris, France

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Vincent Prié works on freshwater mollusks, mainly freshwater bivalves, and subterranean Hydrobioids, with a focus on taxonomy, phylogeny, and conservation. Scuba diver and speleologist, he loves to explore unfamiliar, obscure and overlooked environments. He has recently developed eDNA-based metabarcoding methods for freshwater bivalves surveys in Western Palearctic and South America and is now exploring gastropods eDNA metabarcoding in order to investigate more deeply into caves.

Aquatic habitats are difficult to sample, mainly because of depth, turbidity, current, navigation, drifting object,, and sometimes unfriendly creatures. Moreover, some aquatic organisms are difficult to identify in the field. This is particularly true for bivalves and Hydrobioids. Modern technics are being developed nowadays both for prospecting hard-to-reach environments and for securing species’ identifications. Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is one of the main promising technics for this purpose. Several approaches have been developed in recent years for a wide variety of essentially aquatic organisms. This session proposes to share experiences, both good and bad, on the development of eDNA and other innovative methods of investigation.

Conservation of freshwater mollusks in the Anthropocene

Professor Ronaldo Sousa

Department of Biology, University of Minho, Portugal

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Ronaldo Sousa has broad interests in aquatic conservation combining empirical and theoretical approaches. Research topics include biological invasions, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning, biogeography and conservation mainly using invertebrates as surrogate species. R Sousa received a Ph.D. from the University of Porto (Portugal) in 2008 and since September 2009 he is a Professor at the University of Minho (Portugal). R Sousa published more than 100 scientific papers (31 as first author) in international peer-review journals (including Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Biological Reviews and Fish and Fisheries), with more than 6000 citations (h-index=36) in Google Scholar. R Sousa completed the supervision of 3 post-doctoral, 2 Ph.D. and 18 MSc students and he is currently supervising 6 Ph.D. and 3 MSc students. He is Associate Editor for the journal Biological Invasions (since 2016) and a member of the IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (since 2013)

Freshwater molluscs are one of the most threatened faunal groups on the planet. Using examples from deserts to tropical forests (Europe, North Africa, and South-eastern Asia) we will discuss the scientific background, main threats and future challenges concerning the conservation of these animals and their ecosystems. Although the problems are distinct in the different continents main threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat, water abstraction, overexploitation, pollution, introduction of invasive species and climate change. Several examples will be given and their significance will be discussed. Special attention will be given to the impacts generated by invasive species. Finally, in situ and ex situ conservation initiatives devoted to the conservation of these animals will be discussed.

Current advances in propagation methods of endangered mollusks

Dr. Frankie T. Thielen

natur & ëmwelt / Fondation Hëllef fir d’Natur (NGO), Luxembourg

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Frankie Thielen is a project leader at the nature conservation organization natur & ëmwelt / Fondation Hëllef fir d’Natur in Luxembourg. He earned his master degree at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany in zoology and botany and thereafter made his Ph.D. at the Institute of ecology & parasitology from the same University. After a short research stay at the University of Duisburg Essen at the institute of aquatic ecology, Frankie started to work for natur & ëmwelt. One of his first tasks was to set up a rearing facility for endangered freshwater mussels. After several years of research in ecological parasitology, mainly working with fish parasites, the work of Dr. Thielen Frankie became a more applied orientation during his work on two LIFE nature project. Restauration and monitoring of stream habitats, as well as the propagation of freshwater mussels, were part of these projects. To foster and improve the freshwater mussel culture, Frankie keeps up the regular exchange between breeding facilities, with the aim to conserve some of our highly endangered mussel populations. Freshwater mussel monitoring and especially environmental education are aspects treated recently in his work.

Because of the rapid decline of populations of freshwater mollusks around the world, one of the key areas of interest in conservation is the artificial rearing and propagation of endangered and key species. Coupled with other conservation initiatives, the propagation can tackle the decline and help restore the loss of ecosystem services. However, the propagation of freshwater mollusks requires the implementation of specific technologies and methods addressing different parts of the life cycle, that include the collection of larvae, the method of culture, the collection and rearing of juveniles, the selection of sites for the introduction and the mechanism to follow up populations after propagation. Different approaches to these problems have been used in the past around the globe with varying degrees of success, moreover, the propagation of endangered mollusks is still a growing field, with many applications and methods still being developed. In this talk we will take a journey through the science of freshwater mollusk propagation, describing the inherent complexities of their biology, the techniques used more widely, and the importance of such efforts for preserving mollusk biodiversity. These topics will be presented alongside real-life examples of propagation.

Modern approaches to species delimitation in molluscs

Prof. Dr. Thomas Wilke

Department of Animal Ecology and Systematics, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany

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Tom Wilke graduated with a diploma in Biology from the Potsdam College and Humboldt University, Berlin. He received his doctorate in Zoology from the University of Potsdam and habilitated in Zoology at the Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. He held positions at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and at The George Washington University Medical Center, Washington DC, before taking a full professorship at Justus Liebig University Giessen. There he is currently head of the Systematics and Biodiversity Group. His malacological research focusses mainly on evolutionary processes in microgastropods (Hydrobiidae s.l.). His particular interest is in the timing and the biotic and abiotic drivers of diversification in isolated ecosystems, which are often characterized by species-rich and unique endemic faunas. There, incipient speciation and non-adaptive radiations often hamper the precise identification and delimitation of closely related species, requiring the application of modern genetic, morphological and ecological tools. Recently, he has become interested in the introduction of -omics techniques to malacology as a basis for efficient and accurate species identification and delimitation using machine-learning approaches and automated species identification systems.

Over the past 250 years, taxonomy yielded ca. 76,000 validly named mollusk species. However, the actual number of species is estimated at ca. 200,000. Some scientists are deeply concerned that many species will disappear before being named. Yet, the number of taxonomists is surprisingly small for most mollusk groups, and thorough species delimitation is often time-consuming and costly. However, it is not straightforward to significantly reduce the share of undescribed species and increase the accuracy of species identification, because there is an inherent conflict between two main interests of taxonomy – quality and speed of species delimitation. In this session, we will, therefore, discuss exciting new developments in species identification and delimitation, including cyber specimens, niche modeling, innovative genetic, genomic and proteomic approaches, 2D and 3D morphometrics, machine-learning aided species identification and automated species discovery systems.