I am a functional plant ecologist. I have worked on diverse topics and study systems, including functional phenomorphology of Mediterranean plants, macroevolution of leaf size, multi-trait interactions, or local adaptation along altitude gradients.
Now I am trying to apply Ecological tools and concepts to gain knowledge on how crop evolution has proceeded. I am lucky on this, because it happens that modern Ecology, in comparison with Genetics, Archaeology and other disciplines, has participated comparatively little to the domestication literature. But Ecology has certainly LOTS to contribute to the understanding of domestication processes and the mode and functional consequences of plant evolution under cultivation.
Why? read this, or this, or this, or that, for a start.
Currently, I am testing whether predictions of Trait-based Ecology help to explain phenotypic differences between crops and their recognized wild progenitors, and whether domestication has impacted on the ecosystem services delivered by crops. Initial results are in several of the pdfs below. Funding for this research comes from regional (Madrid), national (Spanish government), and European agencies. Also, you can see photos of our experiments in the pictures button of the navigation toolbar.
Publications in SCI journals (with links to pdfs)
Milla, Rubén; Bastida, JM; et al. 2018. Phylogenetic patterns and phenotypic profiles of the species of plants and mammals farmed for food. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2, 1808–1817.
Martín-Robles, Nieves; Morente-López, Javier; Freschet, Grégoire; Roumet, Catherine; Poorter, Hendrik; Milla, Ruben. in press. Root traits of herbaceous crops: pre-adaptation to cultivation or evolution under domestication? Functional Ecology https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13231.
Martín-Robles, Nieves; Lehmann, Anika; Seco, Erica; Aroca, Ricardo; Rillig, Matthias; Milla, Rubén. 2018. Impacts of domestication on the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses of 27 crop species. New Phytologist 218: 332-334.
García-Palacios, et al. Crop traits drive soil carbon sequestration under organic farming. Journal of Applied Ecology, early view.
Iriondo, JM; Milla, R; Volis S; Rubio de Casas, R. 2018. Reproductive traits and evolutionary divergence between crops and their wild relatives. Plant Biology 20-S1: 77-88.
Matesanz, S.; Milla, R. 2017. Differential plasticity to water and nutrients between crops and their wild progenitors. Environmental and Experimental Botany, in press. Reviewed at Darwinian agriculture blog
Milla, R; García-Palacios, P; Matesanz, S. 2017. Looking at past domestication to secure ecosystem services of future croplands. Journal of Ecology 105: 885-889. (Special Feature on Ecological Solutions to Global Food Security)
Milla, R; Matesanz, S. 2017. Growing larger with domestication: a matter of physiology, morphology or allocation. Plant Biology, in press. Covered at BBC news. Highlighted at F1000
Delgado-Baquerizo, M.; Reich, PB; García-Palacios, P.; Milla, R. 2016. Biogeographic bases for a shift in crop C : N : P stoichiometries during domestication. Ecology Letters 19: 564–575
Milla, R; Osborne, C; Turcotte, M; Violle, C. 2015. Plant domestication through an ecological lens. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30: 463-469. (press release here, interview here)
Delgado-Baquerizo, M.; García-Palacios, P.; Milla, R.; Gallardo, A.; Maestre, F. (2015) Soil characteristics determine soil carbon and nitrogen availability during litter decomposition regardless of litter quality. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 81: 134-142
Milla, R; Morente-López, J. (2015) Limited evolutionary divergence of seedlings after the domestication of plant species. Plant Biology 17: 169–176.
Milla, R; Morente-López, J., Alonso-Rodrigo, JM, Martín-Robles, N, Chapin III, FS (2014) Shifts and disruptions in resource-use trait syndromes during the evolution of herbaceous crops. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20141429. Data deposited in Dryad
Fernández-Marín, B; Milla, R; Martín-Robles, N; Arc, E; Kranner, I, Becerril, JM, García-Plazaola, JI (2014) Side-effects of domestication: cultivated legume seeds contain similar tocopherols and fatty acids but less carotenoids than their wild counterparts. BMC Plant Biology 14:1599
García-Palacios, P.; Milla, R.; Delgado-Baquerizo, M.; Martín-Robles, N.; Álvaro-Sánchez, M.; Wall, D. H. (2013). Side-effects of plant domestication: ecosystem impacts of changes in litter quality. New Phytologist 198: 504-513. (see commentary by Cornwell & Cornelissen)
García-Palacios, P.; Milla, R.; Álvaro-Sánchez, M.; Martín-Robles, N.; Maestro, M. (2013). Application of a high-throughput laboratory method to assess litter decomposition rates in multiple-species experiments. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 57: 929-932.
García-Palacios, P.; Maestre, F. T.; Milla, R. (2013). Community-aggregated plant traits interact with soil nutrient heterogeneity to determine ecosystem functioning. Plant Soil 364: 119-129.
Giménez-Benavides, L.; Milla, R. (2013). Comparative germination ecology of two altitudinal vicariant Saxifraga species endemic to the North of Spain. Plant Biology 15: 593-600.
Milla, R.; de Diego-Vico, N.; Martín-Robles, N. (2013). Shifts in stomatal traits following the domestication of plant species. Journal of Experimental Botany 64: 3137-3146.
Milla, R.; Vélez del Burgo, A.; Escudero, A.; Iriondo, J. M. (2012). Kinship rivalry does not trigger specific allocation strategies in Lupinus angustifolius. Annals of Botany 110: 165-175.
Yan, E.-R.; Milla, R.; Aarssen, L. W.; Wang, X.-H. W. (2012). Functional relationships of leafing intensity to plant height, growth form and leaf habit. Acta Oecologica41: 20-29.
Milla, R.; Escudero, A.; Iriondo, J. M. (2011). Congruence between geographic range distribution and local competitive ability of two Lupinus species. American Journal of Botany 98: 1456-1464.
Milla, R.; Reich, P. B. (2011). Multi-trait interactions, not phylogeny, fine-tune leaf size reduction with increasing altitude. Annals of Botany 107: 455-465.
Montserrat-Martí, G.; Palacio, S.; Milla, R.; Giménez-Benavides, L. (2011). Meristem growth, phenology, and architecture in chamaephytes of the Iberian Peninsula: insights into a largely neglected life form. Folia Geobotanica 46: 117-136.
Milla, R.; Castro-Díez, P.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2010). Phenology of Mediterranean woody plants from NE Spain: synchrony, seasonality, and relationships among phenophases. Flora 205: 190-199.
Milla, R. (2009). The leafing intensity premium hypothesis tested across clades, growth forms, and altitudes. Journal of Ecology 97: 972-983.
Milla, R.; Escudero, A.; Iriondo, J. M. (2009). Inherited variability in multiple traits determines fitness in populations of an annual legume from contrasting latitudinal origins. Annals of Botany 103: 1279-1289. Ver portada de la revista
Milla, R.; Forero, D. M.; Escudero, A.; Iriondo, J. M. (2009). Growing with siblings: a common ground for cooperation or for fiercer competition among plants?Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 276: 2531-2540. Ver portada de la revista
Milla, R.; Giménez-Benavides, L.; Escudero, A.; Reich, P. (2009). Intra- and interspecific performance in growth and reproduction increase with altitude: a case study with two Saxifraga species from northern Spain. Functional Ecology 23: 111-118.
Montserrat-Martí, G.; Camarero, J. J.; Palacio, S.; Pérez-Rontomé, C.; Milla, R.; Albuixech, J.; Maestro, M. (2009). Summer drought constrains the phenology and growth of two coexisting Mediterranean oaks with contrasting leaf habit: implications for their persistence and reproduction. Trees 23: 787-799.
Milla, R.; Giménez-Benavides, L.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2008). Replacement of species along altitude gradients: the role of branch architecture. Annals of Botany102: 953-966.
Milla, R.; Reich, P. B.; Niinemets, U.; Castro-Díez, P. (2008). Environmental and developmental controls on specific leaf area are little modified by leaf allometry.Functional Ecology 22: 565-576.
Palacio, S.; Milla, R.; Albuixech, J.; Pérez-Rontomé, C.; Camarero, J. J.; Maestro, M.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2008). Seasonal variability of dry matter content and its relationship with shoot growth and nonstructural carbohydrates. New Phytologist 180: 133-142.
Milla, R.; Palacio-Blasco, S.; Maestro-Martínez, M.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2007). Leaf exchange in a Mediterranean shrub: water, nutrients, non-structural carbohydrates and osmolytes dynamics. Tree Physiology 27: 951-960.
Milla, R.; Reich, P. B. (2007). The scaling of leaf area and mass: the cost of light interception increases with leaf size. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 274: 2109-2114.
Palacio, S.; Escudero, A.;Montserrat-Martí, G.; Maestro-Martínez, M.; Milla, R.; Albert, M. J. (2007). Plants living in gypsum: beyond the specialist model. Annals of Botany 99: 333-343.
Milla, R.; Castro-Díez, P.; Maestro-Martínez, M.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2006). Costs of reproduction as related to the timing of phenological phases in the dioecious shrub Pistacia lentiscus L. Plant Biology 8:103-111.
Milla, R.; Cornelissen, J. H. C.; van Logstestijn, R. S. P.; Toet, S.; Aerts, R. (2006). Vascular plant responses to elevated CO2 in a temperate lowland Sphagnum peatland. Plant Ecology 182: 13-24 (special issue: Global change and plant response).
Milla, R.; Palacio-Blasco, S.; Maestro-Martínez, M.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2006). Phosphorus accretion in old leaves of a Mediterranean shrub growing at a phosphorus-rich site. Plant and Soil 280: 369–372.
Castro-Díez, P.; Milla, R.; Sanz, V. (2005). Phenological comparison between two co-occurring Mediterranean woody species differing in growth form. Flora 200: 88-95.
Milla, R.; Castro-Díez, P.; Maestro-Martínez, M.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2005). Environmental constraints on phenology and internal nutrient cycling in the Mediterranean winter-deciduous shrub Amelanchier ovalisMedicus. Plant Biology 7: 182-189.
Milla, R.; Castro-Díez, P.; Maestro-Martínez, M.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2005). Does the gradualness of leaf shedding govern nutrient resorption from senescing leaves in Mediterranean woody plants?Plant and Soil 278: 303–313.
Milla, R.; Castro-Díez, P.; Maestro-Martínez, M.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2005). Relationships between phenology and the remobilization of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in branches of eight Mediterranean evergreens. New Phytologist 168: 167–178.
Palacio-Blasco, S.; Milla, R.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2005). Phenological hypothesis on the termophilous distribution of Pistacia lentiscus L. Flora 200: 527–534.
Milla, R.; Maestro-Martínez, M.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2004). Seasonal branch nutrient dynamics in two Mediterranean woody shrubs with contrasted phenology.Annals of Botany 93: 671-680.
Castro-Díez, P.; Milla, R.; Montserrat-Martí, G. (2003). Comparison of methods to study plant phenological patterns. The case of Halimium atriplicifolium. Phyton43: 59-78.