This year's conference offers three keynote talks, two optional workshops and an optional post-conference excursion, in addition to the talk and poster sessions, mid-conference excursion and grassland party. We welcome Alfonso San Miguel, Monika Janišová and Frank Yonghong Li as our keynote speakers. The mid-conference excursion will take us to Aizkorri Natural Park, and a three-day optional post-conference excursion will take place mostly in Navarre (11–13th September), where participants will have the opportunity to enjoy grasslands and landscapes of three biogeographic regions: Atlantic, Mediterranean and Alpine. Below you will find the preliminary programme. On 7th September, participants have the opportunity to participate in two workshops: i) Meet the Editors of high impact ecology and vegetation journals, ii) workshop on Orthoptera, led by Rocco Labadessa.
7th September Workshops, registration
12:00-17:30 Introduction to Orthoptera (lunch in between, after the room session)
17:30-18:30 Meet the editors
18:30-20:00 Registration and welcome drink
8th September Talks and Poster Sessions I and II
9:00-9:20 Opening ceremony
9:20-10:20 Keynote lecture by Alfonso San Miguel
10:20-11:30 Talks and posters, with coffee break at 11:05
13:30-15:00 Lunch in Zerkausia (see map)
15:00-16:00 Keynote lecture by Monika Janišová
16:00-19:00 Talks and posters, with coffer break at 17:00
19:00 Touristic tour
9th September Mid-Conference excursion, Grassland Party and Auction
8:00 Departure of buses from Navarra bridge (see map)
19:00 Grassland Party in Arantzazu with Auction
22:00 Departure of buses from Arantzazu to Tolosa
22:30-22:45 Arrival at Tolosa
10th September Talks and Poster Sessions III and IV
9:00-10:00 Keynote lecture by Frank Yonhong Li
10:00-13:30 Talks and poster, with coffee break at 11:00
13:30-15:00 Lunch in Zerkausia (see map)
15:00-17:45 Talks and posters, with coffee break at 16:45
17:45-19:00 General Assembly and Closing Ceremony
11-13th September Post-conference excursion (optional, max. 40 people)
11 September, 8:00 Departure from Tolosa (Navarra bridge)
13 September, 20:00 Arrival at Biarritz (hotel with shuttle to airport)
Global change is one of the major threats of natural and semi-natural grasslands, which are facing important challenges for their conservation, caused by land-use and climatic change. The 17th EGC aims to improve our knowledge of the diversity and management of Palaearctic grasslands in face of global change. Palaearctic grasslands are among the most threatened in the world, and include both natural grasslands (mainly alpine grasslands and steppes) and semi-natural grasslands used for animal husbandry. Due to several factors - land-use abandonment and intensification being the strongest - these grasslands have declined in extent, integrity and diversity. Their conservation is crucial, as Palaearctic grasslands account for almost 40% of the World’s grasslands, and exhibit global maxima for small-grain plant species richness.
The conference intends to emphasize the following topics in focused sessions:
1. Succession and species turnover in abandoned grasslands
Ecological succession leads to shrub and tree encroachment of semi-natural grasslands after land-use abandonment. This session welcomes contributions dealing with the effect of land-use abandonment in any type of grasslands, including studies reporting data from permanent plots, monitoring of species and habitats, remote sensing, etc.
2. Biodiversity of urban grasslands
Across the Palaearctic urban grasslands are becoming a last refuge for endangered flora, fauna, and grassland habitats, especially when the surrounding rural landscapes experience either forest encroachment after abandonment, or management intensification, either through fertilization, afforestation or conversion to crops. Natural grasslands are declining in extent and quality due to overgrazing, but they are also converted to crops as irrigation becomes available. Therefore, throughout the Palaearctic, urban grassland patches may become conservation hotspots, and contribute value to urban communities. This session encourages studies focused on factors associated with diversity in urban grasslands, their contribution to the quality of urban life, and management for their persistence.
3. Above and belowground grassland diversity
In the Palaearctic Realm a major part of the biodiversity within most trophic levels and taxonomic groups is found in grasslands. This session will host studies dealing with alpha and beta diversity, at the taxonomic, phylogenetic or functional levels, including those reporting work on plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. Studies relating diversity patterns to variation in land use are especially welcome.
4. Grassland conservation and global change
This session will be focused on historical changes and future prospects on grassland extent and quality in the context of land-use trends and climate change. We encourage studies that examine the drivers of land-use change, economics of grassland conversion, projections of changing grassland extent and composition, and studies of the impacts of conservation and management policies in the real world, whether they address changing native or alien components of vegetation, or the management of habitat for grassland inhabitants.
5. Classification of Palaearctic grasslands and other open habitats
Studies developing and/or applying grassland typologies are welcome in this session. Specially encouraged are contributions from Asia, North Africa and European regions lacking recent/comprehensive classifications of grasslands and other non-forest vegetation. We also call for studies that link phytosociological syntaxa to broadly defined habitat or vegetation types, both those used for conservation (e.g., EUNIS typology) or those applied in mapping and ecologic studies.
Sheep herd grazing on Violion caninae, Gorbeia mountain, Basque Country. Photo: Juan Antonio Campos.