With us at the MEG: I am a PhD student in groundwater biology and a biospeleologist. I won a doctoral position in Sustainable Development and Climate Change, coordinated by the University of Pavia and collaborating with the University of L’Aquila. My main PhD tutor at University of L’Aquila is Prof. Diana M. P. Galassi, an expert on groundwater ecosystems. However, since Dr. Stefano Mammola is my co-tutor, I will spend part of my PhD at MEG Verbania, especially for developing spatial models.
My scientific activity focuses on studying specialized groundwater fauna (stygofauna) from a conservation-oriented perspective, given that subterranean environments and their inhabiting organisms are increasingly threatened by human activities, particularly climate change.
The groundwater realm hosts an endemic invertebrate fauna of great intrinsic value due to the high incidence of phylogenetically and functionally unique species. Despite this evidence, the biodiversity of the subsurface is barely known both for the terrestrial and aquatic domains, making it challenging to achieve effective conservation plans.
Through a cross-disciplinary approach, my project aims to assess the main Anthropogenic Threat Complexes (ATC) by compiling datasets on main drivers (e.g., climate change, pollution, human population density, land use) from selected hydrogeological units up to the continental scale based on the hypothesis that ATCs may alter in different ways and intensity different groundwater habitats across space and time.
I will first calibrate this experimental methodology at finer spatial scales to examine the uncertainties related to the target group's responses to the different environmental variables. Subsequently, through an iterative and self-corrective process, the work scheme will be applied to broader contexts, from the Mediterranean basin to the continental scale in Europe. The overarching goal is to understand on a wide scale the main ATCs in different groundwater bodies across the areas of study, reporting such information in thematic maps.
As the ultimate conservation-oriented goal of my project, I will develop guidelines for defining and limiting the effect of the ATCs in diverse groundwater habitat types. These outputs will be based on Species Distribution Models obtained under different sets of ATCs and on different species sensitivity.
Methods: statistical modelling, geostatistical analyses, remote sensing