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As a quantitative ecologist, I am interested in quantifying large-scale patterns of plant biodiversity. Broad-scale synthesis of biodiversity information is a critical step toward the discovery of general ecological patterns. Under the supervision of Prof. Milan Chytrý, we explored the spatial variation in the diversity and structure of European forests and grasslands. We tested different hypotheses regarding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of plant diversity, including the role of phylogenetic niche conservatism, and non-random extinctions of particular clades. We also aimed to quantify the effect of niche filtering in driving species abundances within grassland communities.


Some outputs:


Phylogenetic structure of European forest vegetation


Plant taxonomic and phylogenetic turnover increases toward climatic extremes and depends on historical factors in European beech forests

Mapping species richness of plant families in European vegetation


Spatial patterns in the (a) leaf economic spectrum (LES) and (b) plant size spectrum (PSS) of European forest understory vegetation. From: Padullés Cubino et al., (2021). The leaf economic and plant size spectra of European forest understory vegetation. Ecography, 44, 1311-1324.

Urban biodiversity

I have extensively worked on understanding what factors determine plant species diversity and composition in urban environments, and more particularly in residential gardens or yards. During my Ph.D. thesis, I inventoried the flora of more than 250 in the Costa Brava region in Catalonia. I also contributed to sampling residential yards in Minneapolis-Saint Paul during my postdoc at the University of Minnesota with Profs. Jeannine Cavender-Bares and Sarah Hobbie. I combined techniques both from natural and social sciences, including the identification of plant species or the collection of ecological data, and the use of social surveys and interviews to collect data from urban residents.


Some outputs:


Floristic and structural differentiation between gardens of primary and secondary residences in the Costa Brava (Catalonia, Spain)


Linking yard plant diversity to homeowners’ landscaping priorities across the U.S


Drivers of plant species richness and phylogenetic composition in urban yards at the continental scale


A conceptual framework for studying community assembly in urban areas at multiple spatial scales. From: Cavender-Bares, Padullés Cubino et al. (2021). Horticultural availability and homeowner preferences drive diversity and composition in urban yards. Ecological Applications, 30, e02082.

Phylogenetics and functional ecology

During my postdocs, I have developed notorious skills in the study of plant communities from a phylogenetic and functional perspective. Studying phylogenetic relationships between species in the same communities is important because the ability of a species to persist within a particular range of ecological conditions is constrained by its evolutionary history. Examining trait variation of plant species is crucial to understanding key functional aspects of ecosystems such as energy flow, food chains, biogeochemical cycling, ecosystem development, and ecosystem regulation and stability.


Some outputs:

The leaf economic and plant size spectra of European forest understory vegetation


Climatic filtering and temporal instability shape the phylogenetic diversity of European alpine floras


Taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional composition and homogenization of residential yard vegetation with contrasting management


Schematic representation of the four scenarios of phylogenetic structure. From: Padullés et al., (2021). Phylogenetic structure of European forest vegetation. Journal of Biogeography, 48, 903-916.

Invasion ecology

Invasive alien species can have severe negative effects on natural ecosystems across spatial scales. I am interested in revealing how alien naturalized species assemble into plant communities and how they impact native diversity. My research has implications for the expansion of invasive ornamental species and their associated effects on urban biodiversity. I have also studied with Profs. Tim Curran and Hannah Buckley the effect of invasive species on the flammability of alpine grasslands in New Zealand.


Some outputs:


Alien plants tend to occur in species-poor communities


Phylogenetic structure of alien plant species pools from European donor habitats


Contribution of non-native plants to the phylogenetic homogenization of US yard floras



Example of transect where exotic species most increased in abundance over the time period (January 1986 (a) and January 2007 (b)) in New Zealand. From: Padullés Cubino et al., (2018). Community-level flammability declines over 25 years of plant invasion in grasslands. Journal of Ecology, 106, 1582-1594.

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