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University of Tartu
Plant Ecology Laboratory
employee David Garcia de Leon Tartu,, Estonia

PhD David Garcia de Leon

Post-doc researcher


Global change negatively impacts the provision of ecosystem goods and services. Mitigation and adaptation to such impacts are a world-class priority. Therefore, disentangling the ecology of terrestrial ecosystems and their vulnerability to global change is a major concern for scientists and general society. This is particularly important in Baltic regions, as they are valuable, unique biodiversity reservoirs, and severely threatened by global change drivers.

One of my scientific priorities has been to understand the effects of major global change drivers (climate and land use changes) affecting the sustainability and management of ecosystems. I started as an undergraduate student contributing to the conservation of steppe birds threatened by fragmentation and land use intensification. During my doctoral studies, my research focused on the effects of climate change on plant demography, with an emphasis in agricultural systems. Specifically, I contributed to the understanding of the interactions between climate variables and weed populations in order to assess the potential impacts of climate change on their temporal dynamic and biogeography.

After my doctoral dissertation, awarded with distinction and an international mention in 2014, I went a step further and I focused on the importance of plant-plant and plant-soil organism interactions in coping with synergistic effects of global change drivers. In particular, I worked on the relationships among plants and their fungal symbionts, using next-generation DNA sequencing along secondary succession gradients, from bare soil to mature grasslands, and assessed the multiscale effects of land-use intensification on the distribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. In the next few years, I intend to combine the knowledge acquired during my doctoral studies in Spain with that from my postdoc in Estonia and go a step further towards my maturation and establishment as a senior researcher, with an emphasis in crop research.

Overall in last seven years, I was able to produce 12 peer review international publications, predominantly in Q1 scientific journals, and 12 conference proceedings. I paid close attention to maintain a balance among leading research, collaborating with domestic and international colleagues, developing teaching skills, increasing the outreach of my research outcomes both in the scientific community and general society, refereeing for international journals and applying for competitive funding.

For further info, see my CV  and the list of my publications

Selected publications

García de León, D., Davison, J., Moora, M., Öpik, M., Feng, H., Hiiesalu, I., Jairus, T., Koorem, K., Liu, Y., Phosri, C., Sepp, S. K., Vasar, M. & Zobel, M. 2018. Anthropogenic disturbance equalizes diversity levels in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities. Global Change Biology 24:2649–2659.

García de León, D., Cantero, J. J., Moora, M., Öpik, M., Davison, J., Vasar, M., Jairus, T. & Zobel, M. 2018. Soybean cultivation supports a diverse arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal community in central Argentina. Applied Soil Ecology 124C:289-297. 

García de León, D., Moora, M., Öpik, M., Neuenkamp, L., Gerz, M., Jairus, T., Vasar, M., Bueno, C. G., Davison, J. & Zobel, M. 2016. Symbiont dynamics during ecosystem succession: co-occurring plant and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 92:fiw097.

Referral supervisors

Prof. Martin Zobel 
Dr. Mari Moora 
Dr. Maarja Öpik
Dr. José Luis González-Andújar
Prof. Mauricio Lima Arce