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 speakers 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
Critically evaluating the functional role of freshwater mussels and their ecosystem services
Dr. Carla L. Atkinson
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, USA
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
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.
Ecotoxicology of Bivalves
Dr. Camilla Della Torre
Department of Biosciences, University of Milano, Italy
Bivalves are considered valuable biological models to investigate the presence and potential impacts of anthropogenic contaminants in aquatic ecosystems. These ecotoxicological studies pointed out that environmental pollution could compromise the health status of feral bivalve populations. The session aims to provide an overview of the emerging threats to bivalves related to environmental contamination in a changing environment. We will also discuss the challenges and criticalities related to the use of bivalves for environmental monitoring, focusing in particular on the development of robust and ecologically relevant biomarkers for the assessment of possible impacts of pollution to imperiled species. Special attention will be also given to the research of mechanisms that promote tolerance and adaptation to environmental contamination, which are still largely overlooked.
From Mollusks to medicine
Dr. Mandë Holford
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, CUNY Hunter College, United States
Patterns of land snail diversity and communities
Professor Michal Horsák
Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
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
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
Biogeography and Quaternary malacology
Dr. Nicole Limondin-Lozouet
Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, CNRS, Meudon, France
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
CIBIO/InBio – Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto, Portugal
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
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
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.
Impact of anthropogenic pressures on marine and estuarine molluscs
Professor Rui Rosa
Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, University of Lisbon, Portugal
After the Industrial Revolution, the initial atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 280 ppm have increased up to the current 415 ppm, with an associated drop in ocean pH from approximately 8.2 to 8.1. Further increases are expected to happen, with CO2 concentrations of 760-900 ppm expected to be attained by the end of the century, with a simultaneous drop of 0.3-0.4 in pH by 2100. At the same time, it is expected that the average global sea surface temperatures will increase 0.3–4.8 °C by the end of the 21st century and the frequency/severity of extreme temperature events will increase over the next decades. Large-scale oxygen concentrations have also been decreasing worldwide at alarming rates, a process known as ocean deoxygenation. Concomitantly, the enhancement of contaminants’ toxicity to the marine biota and its potential negative effects on seafood safety is also a key aspect related to climate change. The understanding of interactive effects of multiple stressors is greatly needed, as the biological responses are frequently non-linear. In fact, such responses are highly dependent on the degree of increase (or decrease) and consistency of each environmental stressor, the phenotypical plasticity, and genetic potential of individuals, among many other factors. Under this context, here we will discuss how such interactive multi-stressor scenarios may elicit severe biochemical, physiological, and ecological challenges for marine and coastal molluscs in the ocean of tomorrow.
Conservation of freshwater mollusks in the Anthropocene
Professor Ronaldo Sousa
Department of Biology, University of Minho, Portugal
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
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
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.