My general research interests are ecology, evolution, and conservation in tropical ecosystems. I have primarily used birds as a study system, but I have experience working with C. elegans, lice and butterflies as well.
For my doctoral work, I was advised by Scott Robinson in the Ordway Lab of Ecosystem Conservation at the Florida Museum. I worked on habitat specialization of birds living in patches of white sand forests around Iquitos, Peru. These forests are called “varillales”, they are patchily distributed and they grow on extremely nutrient-poor white sand soils. They are stunted forests and have a very unique vegetation composition with several endemic plants. The bird community is also different from the surrounding “regular” upland rainforests’ bird communities, with several habitat specialist species that exhibit different degrees of specialization for this forest type or poor soils in general. I tested hypotheses regarding community dynamics using population genetics of focal species, mark-recapture techniques and observations as well.
This research was motivated by my interest in:
- Amazonian forest bird communities
- ecological mechanisms of habitat specialization
- movement and dispersal between patchy habitats
- metapopulation theory, landscape ecology, and population genetics
- community phylogenetics of tropical birds
- host-parasite coevolution in birds and lice
As a Postdoctoral Fellow at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute – Migratory Bird Center, my research was focused on migratory and resident birds in coffee farms in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia. Details of the expedition can be found here.