Applied ecology

Research unit (AE) - Investigating the effects of global changes and biodiversity loss on Alpine species, and related eco-systemic interactions

The mission of the Applied ecology unity is to generate knowledge on the effects of global changes and biodiversity loss on Alpine species, and related eco-systemic interactions, including host-pathogens dynamics. These objectives are pursued with a multi-disciplinary approach that combines molecular epidemiology and genomics, mathematical modelling and statistics, animal and behavioural ecology, and the use of bigdata managed through innovative IT platforms. In addition, innovative technologies, such as wireless sensor networks, or machine-learning algorithms, are used to study the relationships between individual animal behavior, including animal movement, and abiotic and biotic variables The development of interdisciplinary research activities within the unit permits to implement large-scale projects covering several research topics in collaboration with the main International agencies (Programme Horizon 2020, WHO, OIE, ECDC, CDC, ESA, NASA).  These research activities are essential to deeply understand the complexity of the Alpine ecosystem where the effect of global change are particular evident, favouring, for instance, the re-emergence of endemic diseases, due to varied abiotic and biotic conditions, or the introduction of new invasive alien pathogens. This would increase the risk and economic damage to public health and to the local animal husbandry affecting the health and quality of agro-food and dairy products as well as for the welfare of the resident population and tourists.

The main research lines developed within the unit are the following:

 -Eco-health. In this line of research, we study the consequences of global changes on the spread of medical and veterinary infections focusing on the dynamics of the interaction between pathogens, vectors and reservoir hosts. For this purpose, we develop predictive mathematical models to quantify the risk of vector- and rodent-borne infections for agro-forestry workers, employees of the livestock sectors, as well as for living populations.

-Conservation and Movement Ecology. In this line of research, the study of individual animal behaviour, and movement in particular, is used to disentangle the proximate response and resilience of ecosystems to climate and landuse change. By means of innovative methodologies and approaches (biologging, mathematical modelling and data sharing of big data), we propose mitigation and  develop predictive models at the local, regional and continental scale, and identify mitigation and conservation solutions to improve and promote human-wildlife co-existence in the high human-density European (and Alpine in particular), landscape.

- Spatial Ecology. This research line deals with the spatial characterization of the landscape at local, regional and global scales from an orographic and bioclimatic point of view, with applications in the following fields: i) animal epidemiology,  ii) biodiversity, agricultural suitability, estimate of the spatial spread of alien species under climatic changes. We are making use of throughput spatial analysis techniques supported by an advanced hardware platform and by the development of open source software for geostatistical analysis.

Person in charge


Name Phone Mobile Email
ANNAPAOLA RIZZOLI 0461615433 3316950304
DANIELE ARNOLDI 0461615693 3386225800
FAUSTA ROSSO 0461615680
FRANCESCA CAGNACCI (ResearcherID) 0461615604
GIOVANNI MARINI (visit his research gate profile) 0461615381
LUCA DELUCCHI (private homepage) 0461615570 3386812277
ROBERTO ZORER 0461615570
VALENTINA TAGLIAPIETRA 0461615679 3386210948