Generic placeholder image I am a post-doc working at Florida State University working in coastal systems and marine biodiversity within Dr. Rassweiller lab.
I did my PhD in marine ecology in the University of the Balearic Islands and the Mediterranean Institute for advanced studies. The main purpose of my PhD was to understand the effect that changes in environmental factors have in plant defense strategies against herbivory and how these changes affect the palatability of the plant, and herbivore behavior. During my PhD I have visited different research groups and institutions (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Oregon State University and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and I have complemented my education with different formation courses in a wide range of topics (data analysis, science communication, evolution and effects of increased CO2).
For more information see my list of publications and C.V.

Last 3 published papers

  • [5] Galbán-Malagón, C., G. Hernan, E. Abad, J. Dachs, (2017): Persistent Organic Pollutants in Krill from the Bellingshausen, South Scotia, and Weddell Seas. STOTEN 610-611, 1487-1495 Link
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    Abstract: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) reach Antarctica through atmospheric transport, oceanic currents, and to minor extent, by migratory animals. The Southern Ocean is a net sink for many POPs, with a key contribution of the settling fluxes of POPs bound to organic matter (biological pump). However, little is known about POP transfer through the food web in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters, where krill is an important ecological node. In this study, we assessed the occurrence of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD/Fs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) from the Bellingshausen, South Scotia and Weddell Seas around the Antarctic Peninsula. The concentrations of PCDD/Fs, PBDEs and PCBs in krill showed a large variability and the average were higher (generally within a factor 3) than those previously reported for eastern Antarctica. This result highlights regional differences related to atmospheric transport and deposition, and also probable regional sources due to human activities. Bioaccumulation and biomagnification factors for PCBs in krill were estimated using previously reported phytoplankton and seawater concentrations for this region. These suggested a near water-krill equilibrium for PCBs, which was not observed for water-phytoplankton partitioning. The estimated removal settling fluxes of PCBs due to the biological pump were several orders of magnitude higher than the estimated fluxes of PCBs transferred from phytoplankton to krill.

  • [4] Hernan, G., M.J. Ortega, A.M. Gandara, I. Castejon, J. Terrados and F. Tomas, (2017): Future warmer seas: increased stress and susceptibility to grazing in seedlings of a marine habitat-forming species. Glob. Chang. Biol. 00:1-14. Link
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    Abstract: Increases in seawater temperature are expected to have negative consequences for marine organisms. Beyond individual effects, species-specific differences in thermal tolerance are predicted to modify species interactions and increase the strength of top-down effects, particularly in plant-herbivore interactions. Shifts in trophic interactions will be especially important when affecting habitat-forming species such as seagrasses, as the consequences on their abundance will cascade throughout the food web. Seagrasses are a major component of coastal ecosystems offering important ecosystem services, but are threatened by multiple anthropogenic stressors, including warming. The mechanistic understanding of seagrass responses to warming at multiple scales of organization remains largely unexplored, especially in early-life stages such as seedlings. Yet, these early-life stages are critical for seagrass expansion processes and adaptation to climate change. In this study, we determined the effects of a 3 month experimental exposure to present and predicted mean summer SST of the Mediterranean Sea (25°C, 27°C, and 29°C) on the photophysiology, size, and ecology (i.e., plant-herbivore interactions) of seedlings of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica. Warming resulted in increased mortality, leaf necrosis, and respiration as well as lower carbohydrate reserves in the seed, the main storage organ in seed- lings. Aboveground biomass and root growth were also limited with warming, which could hamper seedling establishment success. Furthermore, warming increased the susceptibility to consumption by grazers, likely due to lower leaf fiber content and thickness. Our results indicate that warming will negatively affect seagrass seedlings through multiple direct and indirect pathways: increased stress, reduced establishment potential, lower storage of carbohydrate reserves, and increased susceptibly to consumption. This work provides a significant step forward in understanding the major mechanisms that will drive the capacity of seagrass seedlings to adapt and survive to warming, highlighting the potential additive effects that herbivory will have on ultimately determining seedling success.

  • [3] Hernan, G., L. Ramajo, L. Basso, A. Delgado, J. Terrados, C.M. Duarte and F. Tomas, (2016): Seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) seedlings in a high-CO2 world: from physiology to herbivory. Scientific Reports 6, doi:10.1038/srep38017 Link [PDF]
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    Abstract: Under future increased CO2 concentrations, seagrasses are predicted to perform better as a result of increased photosynthesis, but the eects in carbon balance and growth are unclear and remain unexplored for early life stages such as seedlings, which allow plant dispersal and provide the potential for adaptation under changing environmental conditions. Furthermore, the outcome of the concomitant biochemical changes in plant-herbivore interactions has been poorly studied, yet may have important implications in plant communities. In this study we determined the eects of experimental exposure to current and future predicted CO2 concentrations on the physiology, size and defense strategies against herbivory in the earliest life stage of the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica. The photosynthetic performance of seedlings, assessed by uorescence, improved under increased pCO2 conditions after 60 days, although these dierences disappeared after 90 days. Furthermore, these plants exhibited bigger seeds and higher carbon storage in belowground tissues, having thus more resources to tolerate and recover from stressors. Of the several herbivory resistance traits measured, plants under high pCO2 conditions had a lower leaf N content but higher sucrose. These seedlings were preferred by herbivorous sea urchins in feeding trials, which could potentially counteract some of the positive eects observed.

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    cv_gema_hernan_spanish.pdf 101 KB
    cv_gema-hernan_french.pdf 100 KB
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