Mariano Moreno de las Heras

Mariano Moreno de las Heras
University of Barcelona | UB · Department of Geography

PhD

About

90
Publications
14,945
Reads
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Introduction
I am a dryland eco-geomorphologist with a strong emphasis on applied research. My work is devoted to the integration of multidisciplinary knowledge derived from the ecological, soil sciences, hydrological and geomorphological disciplines for the study of arid, semiarid and subhumid landscape dynamics in the context of both land degradation and landscape restoration. I have participated in a variety of research projects over a broad range of landscapes in Spain, central Australia and SW USA.
Additional affiliations
October 2020 - September 2021
King Juan Carlos University
Position
  • Lecturer
October 2019 - August 2020
Spanish National Research Council
Position
  • Researcher
September 2017 - August 2019
Spanish National Research Council
Position
  • Fellow
Education
March 2005 - March 2009
University of Alcalá
Field of study
  • Ecology
October 2002 - February 2005
University of Alcalá
Field of study
  • Global Change and Sustainable Development
September 1997 - June 2001
University of Alcalá
Field of study
  • Environmental Sciences

Publications

Publications (90)
Article
The management of reclaimed slopes derived from industrial and civil activities (e.g. surface mining and road construction) requires the development of practical stability analysis approaches that integrate the processes and mechanisms that rule the dynamics of these ubiquitous emerging ecosystems. This work describes a new modelling approach focus...
Article
Full-text available
1] In Earth and ecological sciences, an important, crosscutting issue is the relationship between scale and the processes of runoff and erosion. In drylands, understanding this relationship is critical for understanding ecosystem functionality and degradation processes. Recent work has suggested that the effects of scale may differ depending on the...
Article
Dryland vegetation frequently shows self-organized spatial patterns as mosaic-like structures of sources (bare areas) and sinks (vegetation patches) of water runoff and sediments with variable interconnection. Good examples are banded landscapes displayed by Mulga in semiarid Australia, where the spatial organization of vegetation optimizes the red...
Article
Large areas of desert grasslands in southwestern USA have shifted to sparse shrublands dominated by drought-tolerant woody species over the last 150 years, accompanied by accelerated soil erosion. An important step towards the understanding of patterns in species dominance and vegetation change at desert grassland-shrubland transitions is the study...
Chapter
Badlands are erosive landforms of highly dissected morphology that are pervasive on soft bedrock in a variety of climate conditions. Although these systems share common geomorphological features, badlands may show diverse erosive activity, age and dynamic behaviour, which complicates the analysis of the reasons for badland initiation. This study’s...
Article
Full-text available
The use of ecohydrologically suitable microsites, such as sink patches (i.e. zones intercepting and infiltrating runoff) and nurse shrubs, have largely been proposed as tools to improve the establishment of late-successional trees in Mediterranean reclaimed landscapes. Nonetheless, this technique needs to be accurately tested along with the influen...
Article
Full-text available
Adaptive forest management (AFM) is an urgent need because of the uncertainty regarding how changes in the climate will affect the structure, composition and function of forests during the next decades. Current research initiatives for the long-term monitoring of impacts of silviculture are scattered and not integrated into research networks, with...
Article
Empirical evidence of the vulnerability of dryland ecosystems to suffer abrupt changes in response to global change is highly needed to assess the applicability of threshold models, understand the underlying mechanisms and anticipate the onset of abrupt shifts. We study the onset of abrupt changes in Mediterranean holm oak (Quercus ilex) woodlands,...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Badland areas are present in all continents, excluding Antarctica, and play a critical role in establishing local erosion and sedimentation rates. The presence of unconsolidated rocks (e.g., marls, sandstone, mudstone etc.) is a major driver controlling the distribution of badlands, which together with other environmental components, such as climat...
Data
Code for computing in Maple13 the rill erosion-vegetation dynamic model proposed in Moreno de las Heras et al. (2011, ESP&L 36: 1367-1377): In this document we provide the Maple13 (Maplesoft, Waterloo, Canada) code that will enable other users to: (i) represent the phase diagram and the associated separatrix of the model, and (ii) obtain predictio...
Data
In this document we provide the Maple 9.5 (Maplesoft, Waterloo, Canada) codes used in Moreno de las Heras et al (2015, Biogeosciences 12: 2907-2925) to simulate dryland biomass dynamics for an herbaceous and a shrub species (Code 1), and to decompose single time series of NDVI into partial components for herbaceous and shrub vegetation applying the...
Article
Full-text available
Connectivity has emerged as a useful concept for exploring the movement of water and sediments between landscape locations and across spatial scales. In this study, we examine the structural and functional controls of surface-patch to hillslope runoff and sediment connectivity in three Mediterranean dry reclaimed mining slope systems that have diff...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Digital elevation models (DEM) are mathematical representations of the Earth's bare surface in computer-readable format. The underlying measurements are often obtained by remote sensing and photogrammetry methods and processed into continuous raster data. Each of these data sources, however, provides imperfect information, and further processing st...
Presentation
Full-text available
Digital Elevation Models (DEM) are an important source of data in many earth science domains - but their uncertainties are rarely considered. Therefore, we propose a way to statistically assess DEM uncertainty and show some first results when applying a Gaussian white noise generator to airborne LiDAR DEM data (5m spatial resolution) in a small Med...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Badlands are unique landscapes that are extensively developed on unconsolidated sediments or poorly consolidated bedrocks that are covered by little or no vegetation. They are widely observed landscapes in Turkey similar to arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Turkish badlands are commonly formed on Miocene and Plio-Quaternary deposits, especia...
Article
In arid and semi-arid ecosystems, shortage of water can trigger changes in landscapes’ structures and function leading to degradation and desertification. Hydrological connectivity is a useful framework for understanding water redistribution and scaling issues associated with runoff and sediment production, since human and/or natural disturbances a...
Article
Opencast mining is an activity that caters to many economic sectors; however, it has a large impact on society and the environment. After mining, the major concern is to restore the previous land cover, which was generally a natural vegetation cover. Establishing permanent vegetation cover can restore landscape connectivity and previous ecosystem f...
Article
Full-text available
Rainfall is the key factor to understand soil erosion processes, mechanisms, and rates. Most research was conducted to determine rainfall characteristics and their relationship with soil erosion (erosivity) but there is little information about how atmospheric patterns control soil losses, and this is important to enable sustainable environmental p...
Preprint
Full-text available
Abstract. Runoff and soil erosion in Mediterranean landscapes are affected by multiple factors that interact at a variety of spatial scales with variable degrees of connection. In these systems, connectivity has emerged as a useful concept for exploring the movement of runoff and sediments between landscape locations and across spatial scales. In t...
Chapter
The Mediterranean basin has been characterized by intense human presence and landscape transformation for centuries. Recent land-use changes point to a general expansion of shrub and forest cover in low-productive mountain areas, especially in the countries on the northern side of the Mediterranean, as a consequence of farmland and grazing abandonm...
Poster
Full-text available
Digital terrain models (DTM) provide a continuous mathematical representation of the Earth’s bare surface. In catchment hydrogeomorphological modelling, DTMs are the most important data inputs. Adequate representation of landscape elements is often limited by intrinsic errors related to the data acquisition process as well as preprocessing steps us...
Article
Soil degradation by water is a serious environmental problem worldwide, with specific climatic factors being the major causes. We investigated the relationships between synoptic atmospheric patterns (i.e. weather types, WTs) and runoff, erosion and sediment yield throughout the Mediterranean basin by analyzing a large database of natural rainfall e...
Article
Soil degradation by water is a serious environmental problem worldwide, with specific climatic factors being the major causes. We investigated the relationships between synoptic atmospheric patterns (i.e. weather types, WTs) and runoff, erosion and sediment yield throughout the Mediterranean basin by analyzing a large database of natural rainfall e...
Article
Traditional cultivation terraces are one of the most ancient and conspicuous agricultural landscapes in mountain and hilly regions of the Mediterranean basin. Spreading out from Asia, the first terraces in the Mediterranean region date from the Bronze Age and the classical Hellenic and Roman periods, reaching their greatest spatial extent during th...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Accurate representation of both artificial elements (e.g. agricultural terraces, drainage channels, roads) and naturally dominant geomorphological landscape features (e.g. rock outcrops, topographical depressions) in digital terrain models (DTMs) is considered as a major requirement for catchment hydro-geomorphological modelling in Mediterranean ar...
Article
Full-text available
Digital terrain models (DTMs) are a fundamental source of information in Earth sciences. DTM-based studies, however, can contain remarkable biases if limitations and inaccuracies in these models are disregarded. In this work, four freely available datasets, including Shuttle Radar Topography Mission C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SRTM C-SAR V3 DE...
Article
Full-text available
The effects of ecosystem degradation are pervasive worldwide and increasingly concerning under the present context of global changes in climate and land use. Theoretical studies and empirical evidence increasingly suggest that drylands are particularly prone to develop nonlinear functional changes in response to climate variations and human disturb...
Preprint
Full-text available
Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) are currently a fundamental source of information in Earth Sciences. However, DTM-based studies can contain remarkable biases if limitations and inaccuracies of these models are disregarded. In this work, four freely available datasets such as SRTM C-SAR DEM, ASTER GDEM V2 and two airborne LiDAR derived DTMs (at 5 and...
Article
Soil water-content (SWC) variability in forest ecosystems is affected by complex interactions between climate, topography, forest structure and soil factors. However, detailed studies taking into account the combined effects of these factors are scarce. This study's main aims were to examine the control that throughfall exerts on local spatial vari...
Article
Anthropogenic activities and climate change are imposing an unprecedented pressure on drylands, increasing their vulnerability to desertification. The spatial organization of the sparse vegetation cover is fundamental for the healthy function of the system, and disturbances can trigger cascading feedbacks leading to catastrophic system collapse. He...
Conference Paper
This contribution results from international collaborative efforts of different research groups around the Mediterranean basin focusing on soil conservation and water management. We will present the most complete database of runoff and soil erosion information and analyze the records from 68 locations, including more than 22458 detail events betwee...
Article
This paper presents the main results obtained from the study of hydrological processes in the Vallcebre Research Catchments since 1988. Distributed hydrometric measurements, environmental tracers and hydrological modelling were used to understand Mediterranean catchment behaviour and to provide new data to help assess the global change effects on t...
Article
Basin management demands a sound understanding of sediment dynamics, particularly in Mediterranean mountain catchments with badlands, which affect water bodies and freshwater ecosystems. Connectivity has emerged as a framework for understanding how sediments move between geomorphic zones. We analyse the feasibility of excess lead-210 (210Pbex) to s...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Arid and Semiarid sites are very sensitive to climatic or anthropogenic pressures. Several previous studies argue that ecosystem function in these areas tends to display critical degradation thresholds which make rehabilitation efforts considerably difficult. This threshold behaviour is linked to coevolving eco-geomorphic processes triggered by cli...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Dryland vegetation is very sensitive to climatic and anthropogenic pressures and prone to critical degradation thresholds which make rehabilitation efforts considerably difficult. In many dryland areas of Australia, the spatial structure of vegetation is tightly linked to overland flow redistribution through feedback mechanisms that are likely to e...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change and the widespread alteration of natural habitats are major drivers of vegetation change in drylands. In the Chihuahuan Desert, large areas of grasslands dominated by perennial grass species have transitioned over the last 150 years to shrublands dominated by woody species, accompanied by accelerated water and wind erosion. Multiple...
Article
Dryland ecosystems are often characterized by patchy vegetation and exposed soil. This structure enhances transport of soil resources and seeds through the landscape (primarily by wind and water, but also by animals), thus emphasizing the importance of connectivity ? given its relation to the flow of these materials ? as a component of dryland ecos...
Preprint
Climate change and the widespread alteration of natural habitats are major drivers of vegetation change in drylands. A classic case of vegetation change is the shrub-encroachment process that has been taking place over the last 150 years in the Chihuahuan Desert, where large areas of grasslands dominated by perennial grass species (black grama, Bou...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Drylands are particularly sensitive to climatic or anthropogenic pressures, frequently showing critical degradation thresholds which make rehabilitation efforts considerably difficult. The spatial structure of vegetation is closely linked to the hydrologic connectivity of these systems and determines the spatial distribution of sources and sinks of...
Presentation
The arid zone of Western Australia is an area of both fascinating biodiversity and great economic importance. The Workshop, organised by the Kwongan Foundation, aims to enhance awareness of Western Australia’s arid zone biodiversity by creating a forum to communicate research outcomes, policy and environmental management practices related to this r...
Poster
Full-text available
Hydrological connectivity has emerged in recent years as a critical factor for understanding the transference of runoff, sediments and nutrients across scales. Here we examine its relevance for the successful reclamation of water-limited environments in which vegetation stability largely depends on optimal redistribution of water and soil resources...
Conference Paper
Slope reclamation from surface mining and road construction usually shows important constraints in water-limited environments. Soil erosion is perceived as a critical process, especially when rill formation occurs, as rills can condition the spatial distribution and availability of soil moisture for plant growth, hence affecting vegetation developm...
Presentation
Full-text available
It is well known that overland flow plays a major role in the functioning of natural ecosystems in drylands, where water is the main limiting factor. However, in reclaimed ecosystems its role is not so well understood. This study shows a synthesis of the research conducted in constructed slopes from coal mining reclamation at El Moral field site (T...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We study the dynamics of runoff connectivity patterns in semi-arid areas with patchy vegetation using a modelling approach and field data. Runoff connectivity emerges from the interaction between hydrologic, vegetation and erosion patterns. These patterns are spatially and temporally dynamic as they respond to a variety of processes acting at vario...
Conference Paper
Nonlinear interactions between physical and biological structures affect the coevolution of soils, landforms and vegetation in drylands, and lead to the emergence of distinct landform-vegetation patterns. These patterns are intimately linked to the spatial redistribution of resources and, therefore, to the productivity and carrying capacity of the...
Article
[1] Nonlinear interactions between physical and biological factors give rise to the emergence of remarkable landform-vegetation patterns. Patterns of vegetation and resource redistribution are linked to productivity and carrying capacity of the land. As a consequence, growing concern over ecosystem resilience to perturbations that could lead to irr...
Chapter
Full-text available
Este capítulo aborda un aspecto de la restauración ecológica en minería que tiene que ver con el necesario ajuste entre lo abiótico y lo biótico, con las interacciones entre procesos hidrológicos, geomorfológicos, edáficos y de las comunidades biológicas. Se trata de los procesos eco-hidrológicos, cuyo conocimiento y buen manejo son una parte esenc...
Presentation
Full-text available
Mining restoration is a complex activity with natural abiotic processes developing interactively with ecological succession within newly constructed environments. Ecohydrological processes are imperative for the functioning of such ecosystems, with the behaviour of slopes in particular playing a significant role in the evolution of restored landsca...
Article
We have conducted a field experiment to ascertain the role of ecohydrological interactions between run-off source areas and sink patches in the dynamics of artificial slopes derived from open cast coal mining in central-eastern Spain. We analysed the effects of run-off interruption on soil moisture, on the leaf water potential of woody species and...
Article
We compare the performance of the latest version of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission elevation model (SRTM V4) with the ASTER-derived model (ASTER GDEM Version 1) for the determination of hydrological and geomorphological descriptors in low gradient Australian landscapes. The vertical quantization of these models (1 m) limited the landform repr...
Article
Vegetation, soil, and hydrology in drylands often collec-tively exhibit strong ecohydrological interrelationships in which vegetation both influences and is influenced by runoff, particularly on sites with more gradual slopes. These two-way relationships have important implica-tions for ecological restoration of disturbed sites, such as those being...
Article
Full-text available
Tree architecture has important consequences for tree performance as it determines resource capture, mechanical stability and dominance over competitors. We analyzed architectural relationships between stem and crown dimensions for 13 dominant Iberian canopy tree species belonging to the Pinaceae (six Pinus species) and Fagaceae (six Quercus specie...
Article
Full-text available
Hydrological heterogeneity is recognized as a fundamental ecosystem attribute in drylands controlling the flux of water and energy through landscapes. Therefore, mosaics of runoff and sediment source patches and sinks are frequently identified in these dry environments. There is a remarkable scarcity of studies about hydrological spatial heterogene...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Dryland vegetation frequently shows self-organized spatial patterns as mosaic-like structures of sources (bare areas) and sinks (vegetation patches) of water runoff and sediments with variable interconnection. Good examples are banded shrublands displayed by Mulga (Acacia aneura F. Muell) in semiarid Australia, where the spatial organization of veg...
Conference Paper
Arid and semi-arid areas function as tightly coupled ecohydrological systems with strong feedbacks occurring across at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. The vegetation of these regions usually consists of patches with mixed herbaceous and woody plant species that display both negative (competition) and positive (facilitation) interactions....
Preprint
Full-text available
Hydrological heterogeneity is recognized as a fundamental ecosystem attribute in drylands controlling the flux of water and energy through landscapes. Therefore, mosaics of runoff and sediment sinks and source patches are frequently identified in these dry environments. There is a remarkable scarcity of studies about hydrological spatial heterogene...
Article
Spatial vegetation patterns are recognized as sources of valuable information that can be used to infer the state and functionality of semiarid ecosystems, particularly in the context of both climate and land use change. Recent studies have suggested that the patch-size distribution of vegetation in drylands can be described using power-law metrics...
Presentation
Full-text available
Semiarid and arid environments are frequently structured in different vegetation patches that heterogeneously distribute water resources. The existence of hydrological heterogeneity has been studied in Mediterranean restored rilled slopes from opencast coal mining, where reclamation is especially complex because they are a special case of primary e...
Article
Soil moisture is considered the main limiting factor governing the structure and dynamics of vegetation in drylands. Soil erosion is perceived as a critical process affecting these systems, especially when rill formation occurs, as rill networks can condition the availability and spatial distribution of soil moisture. To assess the impact of soil e...
Article
Soil erosion in reclaimed mines may affect plant colonization and performance, and may compromise restoration success; however, the magnitude of this effect has seldom been quantified. We monitored the dynamics of vegetation (seed bank density, seedling emergence, plant mortality, and seed production) during a growing season (2003–2004) in three co...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Dryland vegetation frequently shows self-organized spatial patterns as mosaic-like structures of sources (bare areas) and sinks (vegetation patches) of water runoff and sediments with variable interconnection. Good examples are banded shrublands displayed by Mulga in semiarid Australia, where the spatial organization of vegetation optimizes the red...
Chapter
Full-text available
Como se ha señalado en varios apartados de este manual, la inestabilidad geomorfológica tiene efectos negativos sobre el éxito de la restauración de las laderas construidas. En efecto, la erosión hídrica condiciona los procesos ecológicos que conducen al establecimiento y desarrollo de la vegetación, así como la edafogénesis. Se ha indicado que el...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Hydrologic, geomorphic and vegetation processes in drylands are tightly coupled through feedback mechanisms. These feedbacks have implications for the equilibrium and resilience of the emerging vegetation and landform patterns, and are particularly important for potential degradation effects under climate and anthropogenic pressures. Here we analyz...
Conference Paper
Semiarid ecosystems are especially sensitive to the effects of both climate change and human disturbance, frequently showing critical degradation thresholds which make rehabilitation considerably more difficult. Recent studies suggested that the patch-size distribution of vegetation in drylands can be described using power law metrics, and that the...