Verónica Ferreira

Verónica Ferreira
University of Coimbra | UC · MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre & Department of Life Sciences University of Coimbra

PhD in Ecology
Assistant researcher at the University of Coimbra

About

124
Publications
43,976
Reads
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5,031
Citations
Citations since 2017
59 Research Items
3289 Citations
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Introduction
I am a stream ecologist with >15y experience in addressing the effects of natural and human-driven environmental change on stream biota and processes. I have done so with laboratory microcosms, indoor mesocosms, field correlative studies (at local, regional, global scales), field manipulative studies (including manipulations at the whole-stream level), and systematic reviews. Nutrient enrichment, warming, forest change, and functional biondicators are recurrent topics in my research.
Additional affiliations
May 2015 - present
University of Coimbra
Position
  • Auxilliary investigator
May 2015 - April 2020
University of Coimbra
Position
  • Researcher
June 2007 - April 2015
University of Coimbra
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • in collaboration with EcoLab, CNRS, Toulouse, France School of Biological Sciences, Holloway University of London, Egham, UK
Education
February 2003 - January 2007
University of Coimbra
Field of study
  • Biology, Stream Ecology
September 1997 - June 2002
University of Coimbra
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (124)
Article
Full-text available
Small streams constitute the majority of the water courses in a catchment and have specific characteristics that distinguish them from larger streams and rivers. Despite their small size and frequently remote locations, small streams contribute to ecosystem services that are important for humans. Here, we have identified 27 ecosystem services that...
Article
Plant litter is the major source of energy and nutrients in stream ecosystems and its decomposition is vital for ecosystem nutrient cycling and functioning. Invertebrates are key contributors to instream litter decomposition, yet quantification of their effects and drivers at the global scale remains lacking. Here, we systematically synthesized dat...
Article
Os ribeiros de floresta e a floresta que os ladeia (floresta ripária) estão intimamente ligados, influenciando-se mutuamente. A floresta ripária determina em grande medida as características abióticas (e.g., morfologia, qualidade da água) e bióticas (comunidades e processos aquáticos) dos ribeiros. Assim, alterações na floresta ripária podem ter gr...
Article
Full-text available
Human impacts, particularly nutrient pollution and land-use change, have caused significant declines in the quality and quantity of freshwater resources. Most global assessments have concentrated on species diversity and composition, but effects on the multifunctionality of streams and rivers remain unclear. Here, we analyse the most comprehensive...
Article
Full-text available
Colonization and decomposition of litter produced by invasive Acacia dealbata and native tree species by stream microbial decomposers Changes in forest composition and litter inputs to streams due to invasion by exotic tree species can affect the functioning of freshwater ecosystems. Acacia dealbata is an important invasive tree species in Mediterr...
Article
Full-text available
Microbes play a critical role in plant litter decomposition and influence the fate of carbon in rivers and riparian zones. When decomposing low‐nutrient plant litter, microbes acquire nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from the environment (i.e., nutrient immobilization), and this process is potentially sensitive to nutrient loading and changing clima...
Article
1. Nitrogen (N)-fixing Acacia species are often aggressive invaders outside their native range. When invading native riparian temperate forests, they can decrease tree species diversity, alter the quality of litter inputs to streams and increase water N concentration. Although the effects of riparian tree species diversity and nutrient enrichment o...
Article
• Invasive tree pathogens threaten forests worldwide, but their effects on streams are poorly understood. Nevertheless, tree infections that lead to changes in the characteristics of litter inputs to streams may affect stream communities and ecosystem processes. • We studied cross-ecosystem effects derived from Phytophthora cinnamomi, Phytophthora...
Article
Leaf litter decomposition in streams is a fundamental ecosystem process that allows for the cycling of nutrients. The rate at which leaf litter decomposes is greatly controlled by its intrinsic characteristics. However, intraspecific variation in leaf litter characteristics poses a major challenge for large-scale studies aiming at identifying the e...
Article
Full-text available
Litter decomposition is an ecological process of key importance for forest headwater stream functioning, with repercussions for the global carbon cycle. The process is directly and indirectly mediated by microbial decomposers, mostly aquatic hyphomycetes, and influenced by environmental and biological factors such as water temperature and litter qu...
Article
Full-text available
Litter decomposition is an ecosystem process that allows energy and nutrients transfer from dead plant matter into detrital food webs. Several studies revealed that leaf litter decomposition rates differ across biomes, but the reasons for these differences are not yet clear. Here, we test the role of several leaf litter physical and chemical charac...
Article
Organic-matter decomposition has long been proposed as a tool to assess stream functional integrity, but this indicator largely depends on organic-matter selection. We assessed eight decomposition-based indicators along two well-known environmental gradients, a nutrient-enrichment gradient (0.2–1.4 mg DIN/L) in central Portugal and an acidification...
Article
Full-text available
Non-native nitrogen-fixing Acacia species have been invading riparian ecosystems worldwide, potentially threatening stream communities that strongly depend on allochthonous litter. We examined the effects of the invasion of native deciduous temperate forests by Acacia species on litter decomposition and associated fungal decomposers in streams. Lit...
Chapter
Excess nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) inputs to streams occur globally, and affect not only stream autotrophs, but also heterotrophic microbes and detrital carbon processing. Detrital carbon, such as leaf litter, supports stream food webs and their connectivity via downstream detritus fluxes. Nutrient enrichment increases litter decomposition rate...
Chapter
The physiology, biochemistry and diversity of aquatic microbial decomposers have been largely investigated in low-order streams. However, some aspects still need further attention to better ascertain how microbial decomposer diversity can ensure ecosystem processes and services, particularly under the challenges posed by global environmental change...
Chapter
The decomposition of plant litter in freshwaters is an integrative process involving multiple organism groups and connecting terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. The quantification of leaf litter decomposition has been advocated as an effective indicator of ecosystem functional integrity in the bioassessment of freshwaters. Indeed, variation in l...
Chapter
The need for tree-derived industrial products is causing an increase in the land surface covered by fast-growing monoculture plantations throughout the world. Species planted are selected mostly prioritizing their rapid growth, with less consideration to minimizing the negative environmental effects they create. Among the various ecosystems that ca...
Article
The effects of mixing different leaf litter species on litter decomposition in streams have received considerable attention in recent years. However, contrasting results have been reported and the mechanisms behind the effects of litter diversity have been poorly examined. We compared the decomposition rates and associated fungi for two contrasting...
Article
The decomposition of plant litter is a fundamental ecological process in small forest streams. Litter decomposition is mostly controlled by litter characteristics and environmental conditions, with shredders playing a critical role. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of leaf species (Maprounea guianensis and Inga laurina, which have c...
Article
Biological invasions are a major threat to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Forest invasion by alien woody species can have cross-ecosystem effects. This is especially relevant in the case of stream-riparian forest meta-ecosystems as forest streams depend strongly on riparian vegetation for carbon, nutrients and energy. Forest invasion by wo...
Article
Full-text available
The invasion of native riparian forests by exotic tree species can lead to profound changes in the ecological integrity of freshwater ecosystems. We assessed litter decomposition of native (Alnus glutinosa and Quercus robur) and invasive (Acacia melanoxylon and Acacia dealbata) tree species, and associated microbial activity and community structure...
Article
Full-text available
Streams and rivers provide important services to humans, and therefore, their ecological integrity should be a societal goal. Although ecological integrity encompasses structural and functional integrity, stream bioassessment rarely considers ecosystem functioning. Organic matter decomposition and ecosystem metabolism are prime candidate indicators...
Chapter
Many terrestrial, freshwater and coastal environments receive abundant plant litter as an important source of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus for microorganisms and detritivores. Therefore, the dynamics of these elemental pools in litter provide important ecological information on carbon and nutrient cycling. This chapter describes methods for quan...
Chapter
Litter decomposition in freshwaters has been studied for over 60 years with several questions being addressed repeatedly. However, due to differences in experimental approach and design, environmental conditions, sample size, and magnitude of the effect, results vary across studies making general conclusions difficult, especially by non-specialists...
Article
Full-text available
Aquatic hyphomycetes are a phylogenetically heterogeneous group of fungi living preferentially in fast flowing, well-aerated forest streams. These fungi have worldwide distribution, but with the exception of Articulospora tetracladia , no aquatic hyphomycete taxon was previously recorded on Madeira Island. Aquatic hyphomycetes were sampled from 40...
Article
Full-text available
Shredders play a crucial role in litter decomposition in streams. However, in oceanic islands, many streams have low shredder density and richness, and microbes seem to be the main litter decomposers. Here, we evaluate the effects of shredders and aquatic hyphomycetes on litter decomposition in insular streams. Three leaf species differing in physi...
Data
Study area Madeira is a typical oceanic island with unique biodiversity under increasing pressure. Madeira island is located 600 km off the Atlantic coast of North Africa, has an area of 742 km2 and a maximum altitude of 1861 m (Pico Ruivo). Madeira island comprises approximately 126 catchments and 200 streams ranging from 1st to 6th order. Funding...
Article
Shredders play a crucial role in litter decomposition in streams. However, in oceanic islands, many streams have low shredder density and richness, and microbes seem to be the main litter decomposers. Here, we evaluate the effects of shredders and aquatic hyphomycetes on litter decomposition in insular streams. Three leaf species differing in physi...
Chapter
Freshwater fungi are important components of heterotrophic food webs in woodland streams. These organisms are pioneer colonizers of submerged litter derived from the terrestrial surroundings, and through their activities, they mineralize litter carbon and nutrients and convert dead organic matter into biomass, establishing the link between basal re...
Article
Riparian forests are subjected to multiple disturbances, such as tree diseases caused by invasive pathogens , whose consequences on stream functioning are unknown. We assessed the impact of Phytoph-thora cinnamomi infection, and interactions with temperature, on microbial decomposition of Castanea sativa leaves. Leaves from healthy, symptomatic and...
Article
Full-text available
Forest change is a major environmental problem worldwide. Forest streams, with their large aquatic–terrestrial interface and strong dependence on terrestrially derived organic matter, are highly sensitive to forest changes. Fast-wood plantations can be particularly threatening if they markedly differ from native forests. Eucalyptus plantations, in...
Article
Full-text available
Forest change is a major environmental problem worldwide. Forest streams, with their large aquatic–terrestrial interface and strong dependence on terrestrially derived organic matter, are highly sensitive to forest changes. Fast-wood plantations can be particularly threatening if they markedly differ from native forests. Eucalyptus plantations, in...
Article
The metabolism of forest streams depends on the decomposition of plant litter of terrestrial origin. In turn, the rate at which litter decomposes depends on litter characteristics, decomposer activity, environmental characteristics, and their interactions. Atmospheric changes, such as increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) an...
Chapter
Full-text available
Os pequenos ribeiros de floresta constituem parte integrante da paisagem, estando representados em elevado número e ocupando uma posição de cabeceira nas bacias hidrográficas. Nestes ribeiros decorrem processos que podem afetar o balanço energético e o ciclo dos nutrientes a grandes escalas. Estes ribeiros, sendo ensombrados, obtêm da matéria orgân...
Book
Full-text available
O livro Rios de Portugal: Comunidades, Processos e Alterações surge num contexto em que se reconhece a grande importância dos rios para a sociedade e em que há um intenso desenvolvimento científico e técnico sobre os ecossistemas aquáticos em Portugal. Em 17 capítulos da autoria de mais de 60 investigadores portugueses pretendeu-se cobrir as várias...
Article
The metabolism of forest streams depends on the decomposition of plant litter of terrestrial origin. In turn, the rate at which litter decomposes depends on litter characteristics, decomposer activity, environmental characteristics and their interactions. Atmospheric changes, such as increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) and...
Article
Global patterns of biodiversity have emerged for soil microorganisms, plants and animals, and the extraordinary significance of microbial functions in ecosystems is also well established. Virtually unknown, however, are large-scale patterns of microbial diversity in freshwaters, although these aquatic ecosystems are hotspots of biodiversity and bio...
Article
Full-text available
River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to...
Article
Full-text available
River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to...
Article
Full-text available
River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to...
Article
Full-text available
River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to...
Article
Full-text available
Human appropriation of water resources may induce water stress in freshwater ecosystems when ecosystem needs are not met. Intensive abstraction and regulation cause river ecosystems to shift towards non-natural flow regimes, which might have implications for their water quality, biological structure and functioning. We performed a meta-analysis of...
Conference Paper
Leaf litter from riparian vegetation is the main energy for forest streams. Litter is decomposed mainly by microbial and detritivore macroinvertebrates, thus diversity and abundance of decomposers will be determinant of litter decomposition. Oceanic freshwater systems tend to be species poor but rich in endemism due to their physical isolation. The...
Article
It has been widely reported that shredders play an important role in leaf decomposition, especially in continental temperate streams. However, the paucity of shredders in many oceanic island streams leads to a relatively greater contribution of microbes to litter decomposition in these streams. In the present study we investigated the importance of...
Article
Full-text available
Aquatic ecosystems worldwide have been substantially altered by human activities, which often induce changes in multiple factors that can interact to produce complex effects. Here, we evaluated the combined effects of dissolved nutrients (nitrogen [N] and phosphorus [P]; three levels: concentration found in oligotrophic streams in the Cerrado biome...
Article
Full-text available
Plant litter represents a major basal resource in streams, where its decomposition is partly regulated by litter traits. Litter-trait variation may determine the latitudinal gradient in decomposition in streams, which is mainly microbial in the tropics and detritivore-mediated at high latitudes. However, this hypothesis remains untested, as we lack...
Article
Biofilm is an important component of small streams and it is highly sensitive to variations in water temperature, therefore it is expectable that the warming predicted for this century will be reflected in its communities. In this study we investigated the effects of experimental warming on biofilm growth in a small forest stream in Central Portuga...
Article
Full-text available
Nutrient enrichment of soils and water will intensify in the future and has the potential to alter fundamental ecosystem processes, such as litter decomposition. We tested the direct (via water nutrient enrichment) and indirect (via changes in leaf chemistry) effects of nutrient enrichment on microbial activity and decomposability of Quercus robur...
Article
Atmospheric acid deposition affects many streams worldwide, leading to decreases in pH and in base cations concentrations and increases in aluminum (Al) concentration. These changes in water chemistry induce profound changes in the diversity, structure and activity of biological communities and in ecosystem processes. However, monitoring programs r...
Article
Oceanic freshwater communities tend to be species poor but rich in endemism due to their physical isolation. The ecology of endemic freshwater species is, however, poorly known. This study assessed allometric relationships, feeding preferences, growth and survival of larvae of the endemic stream insect Limnephilus atlanticus (Trichoptera, Limnephil...
Article
Forest change occurs worldwide, especially on islands where space is a limiting factor for human activities. The replacement of diverse native forests by tree monocultures and subsequent changes in litter input characteristics can have strong effects on stream communities and processes. Aquatic decomposers and litter decomposition can be particular...
Article
Full-text available
The decomposition of leaf litter of terrestrial origin is a fundamental process in aquatic ecosystems in forest contexts. Little is known about what drives leaf litter decomposition in oceanic islands. We examined the relative importance of leaf litter identity (Acacia melanoxylon, Pittosporum undulatum, Morella faya) and environmental conditions o...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Os pequenos ribeiros de floresta constituem a maioria das linhas de água em muitas bacias hidrográficas. Dada a sua pequena dimensão e grande rácio superfície/volume, estes ribeiros de floresta são muito sensíveis a alterações nas condições ambientais do meio envolvente. O aumento da temperatura da água, quer promovido por variadas actividades huma...
Article
Full-text available
Small forest streams and their riparian vegetation are closely linked ecosystems. Stream consumers obtain most of their energy from leaf litter provided by the terrestrial vegetation. Thus, understanding the relationship between riparian vegetation, aquatic communities and litter decomposition may help explaining the variability in aquatic communit...
Article
Full-text available
RivFunction is a pan-European initiative that started in 2002 and was aimed at establishing a novel functional-based approach to assessing the ecological status of rivers. Litter decomposition was chosen as the focal process because it plays a central role in stream ecosystems and is easy to study in the field. Impacts of two stressors that occur a...
Article
Full-text available
Ongoing climate change is expected to affect the diversity and activity of aquatic microbes, which play a key role in plant litter decomposition in forest streams. We used a before-after control-impact (BACI) design to study the effects of warming on a forest stream reach. The stream reach was divided by a longitudinal barrier, and during 1 year (a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The decomposition of leaf litter of terrestrial origin is a fundamental process in aquatic ecosystems in forest contexts. However, little is known about what drives leaf litter decomposition in oceanic islands, especially in lentic ecosystems. Here, we examine the relative importance of leaf litter identity (Acacia melanoxylon, Pittosporum undulatu...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The decomposition of terrestrial derived litter is a fundamental ecosystem process in forest streams. The transfer of carbon and nutrients from litter into higher trophic levels is highly dependent on the activity of microbes, in particular aquatic hyphomycetes. Aquatic hyphomycetes are a phylogenetically heterogeneous group of fungi, composed main...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Leaf litter decomposition is an important process in many streams. The flow of carbon and nutrients to higher trophic levels generally depends on litter characteristics and environmental conditions, and is mediated by the activities of detritivores and microbes. However, little is known about what drives litter decomposition in Atlantic islands, wh...
Chapter
Freshwater fungi are important components of heterotrophic food webs in woodland streams. These organisms are pioneer colonizers of submerged litter derived from the terrestrial surroundings, and through their activities, they mineralize litter carbon and nutrients and convert dead organic matter into biomass, establishing the link between basal re...
Article
Plant litter breakdown is a key ecological process in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. Streams and rivers, in particular, contribute substantially to global carbon fluxes. However, there is little information available on the relative roles of different drivers of plant litter breakdown in fresh waters, particularly at large scales. We presen...
Article
1. Leaf litter decomposition is an important process in many streams. The flow of carbon and nutrients to higher trophic levels generally depends on litter characteristics and environmental conditions, and is driven by the activities of microbes and invertebrate shredders. However, little is known about what drives litter decomposition in oceanic i...
Article
Many streams worldwide are affected by heavy metal contamination, mostly due to past and present mining activities. Here we present a meta-analysis of 38 studies (reporting 133 cases) published between 1978 and 2014 that reported the effects of heavy metal contamination on the decomposition of terrestrial litter in running waters. Overall, heavy me...
Article
Native forest replacement by plantations and invasions by exotic plant species are occurring worldwide. We conducted a meta-analysis of studies reporting the effects of these forest changes on litter decomposition in streams. Overall, forest change significantly inhibited litter decomposition rate by ca 18%. However, only the replacement of native...