My main research goal is to strengthen the link between biogeography and community ecology, focusing in understanding how processes occurring at different scales affect biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, in a context of global change.

My work can be grouped in three main research lines.


I have been working towards understanding species distributions and community assembly at the archipelago and island scales since the beginning of my career. This research line is intertwined with my second research line (see below), and indeed, a significant part of my research has focused on the distribution patterns of trait diversity on islands, both at global and regional scales, evaluating the effect of the regional pool on structuring island communities. I am also interested in understanding how traits evolve on island and how such changes translate into diversity patterns. Finally, I am also focus on understanding how global change affects island diversity.

Ongoing projects


Trait-based prediction of extinction risk and invasiveness for Northern Macaronesian arthropods.

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The world is amid a global wave of human-driven biodiversity loss. A growing number of studies prove clear evidence of an unprecedented and rapid decline in insects and other arthropods abundance, diversity and biomass across the biosphere. Such declines will undoubtedly cascade onto ecosystem services and human well-being, and society will face serious threats that must be urgently addressed.

To reach our aim, we will achieve the following objectives:

  1. To compile a large standardized database including abundance, distribution and traits for selected groups of Azorean and Madeiran arthropods.
  2. To quantify extinction risk and invasiveness of indigenous and exotic species, respectively, using spatial and temporal abundance data.
  3. To test correlations (positive or negative) between functional traits and extinction risk and invasiveness.
  4. To reassess the Red-list status of Azorean arthropods and initiate the Azorean and Madeiran exotic arthropods Black-List.


I am interested in evaluating cross‐scale variations of species richness, and functional and phylogenetic structure of island and mainland extinct and extant communities, from the local to the regional and global scales, and also across time. I am also interested in identifying the environmental factors and other spatially structured effects (e.g. regional species pool, historical factors and human impacts) that influence the geographical variations in functional and phylogenetic diversity, evaluating if these relationships change with scale. Finally, I am evaluating how data quality and the scale at which the data and environmental drivers are obtained influence diversity patterns and their interpretation.


Ongoing projects

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Effects of species pool and community assembly processes on dung beetle diversity and ecosystem functions in a warming world.

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Effects of species pool and community assembly processes on dung beetle diversity and ecosystem functions in a warming world

My most recent research line focuses on functional ecology and ecosystem functioning and services, being mostly centered on dung beetles (Coleoptera, Scarabaeioidea). I am using innovative field and laboratory-based experiments for evaluating the impacts of global change (temperature increase and habitat management) on the ecological functions and ecosystem services provided by dung beetles (e.g. dung removal, seed burial and nutrient supply).


Ongoing projects

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Effects of species pool and community assembly processes on dung beetle diversity and ecosystem functions in a warming world.

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Other ongoing research projects

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Structural and assisted connectivity improvement of Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) Iberian metapopulation.

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Evaluating the role of landscape mosaics and connectivity-generating structures in ecological restoration projects.

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CONMOSAICO aims to respond, from an ecological restoration perspective, to the processes of landscape simplification and connectivity loss, and their negative effects on biodiversity, the provision of ecosystem services and the ecological resilience of the territory. The proposal fits within the scope of the ecological transition and would contribute to several objectives of the Taxonomy Regulation: biodiversity protection and restoration, ecosystem protection and restoration, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

As a general objective, CONMOSAICO aims to develop ecological restoration techniques focused on the recovery of processes, patterns and structures generating spatial heterogeneity and connectivity, such as differential grazing, habitat mosaics and linear corridors, in order to recover multifunctional, resilient, adaptive and more biodiverse landscapes.

Three specific objectives will be addressed:

  • O1: To document the effects on biodiversity and ecological functioning of particular processes, patterns and structures that generate spatial heterogeneity in Mediterranean landscapes, in order to identify suitable reference states for ecological restoration projects.
  • O2: To evaluate the specific case of drove roads from the perspective of ecological restoration, analyzing the initial state of the network, the typology of actions carried out on them, and experimentally addressing some restoration techniques aimed to enhance their role as ecological connectors and reserves of biodiversity.
  • O3: To set up a demonstrative ecological restoration project in the Cantoblanco campus of the UAM, to test the effectiveness of different techniques for the generation of heterogeneous landscapes, to be monitored in the long term through the participation of the university community in service-learning projects, academic work and teaching practices.

We will work in the Community of Madrid, from a double experimental and observational approach, and with a multi-scale perspective, which will include biodiversity sampling, analysis of landscape configurations, testing of different ecological restoration techniques, measurement of ecological indicators and participatory processes with local stakeholders.

The work plan will be structured in 7 tasks:

(1.1) Evaluation of the effect of mosaic landscapes on biodiversity;

(1.2) Evaluation of the role of certain key structures on biodiversity;

(2.1) Diagnosis of the initial state and analysis of reference states in interventions on drove roads in the Community of Madrid;

(2. 2) Design of the ecological restoration experiment in drove roads;

(2.3) Establishment of the treatments and initiation of the experiment in drove roads;

(3.1) Design of the experimental and demonstrative restoration project on the UAM campus; and

(3.2) Establishment of the treatments and initiation of the experiment on the UAM campus.

CONMOSAICO expects to obtain an important scientific-technical impact, contributing to the incorporation of novel ecological restoration techniques that respond to specific problems, such as the particular cases of drove roads and intensified landscapes; as well as a tangiblesocial and economic impact associated to several dimensions of human welfare.





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Feel free to contact me!

Ana M. Coelho dos Santos

Dpto. Ecología, Edificio de Biologia, Ciudad Universitaria de Cantoblanco

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid

Grupo de Investigación en Ecología y Conservación de Ecosistemas Terrestres (TEG-UAM)
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