RESEARCH INTERESTS

Biodiversity conservation

Tropical biodiversity hotspots

Spatial modeling

Species distributions and movements, conservation decisions

Bird ecology

Habitat use and land-cover change impacts on bird communities

Biodiversity friendly practices

Tropical crops and the bridge between conservation and production

Bird-window collisions

Patterns of collisions and mitigation strategies

Currently I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Ecosystem Management group at ETH Zurich under an ETH postdoctoral fellowship. My focus is on bird functional connectivity in oil palm landscapes in Borneo, Colombia, and other palm oil producing countries

Overview

My research focuses on the ecology and conservation of tropical biodiversity, particularly of endemic and threatened species, and with a strong focus on birds. Through the use of spatial tools, I study the impacts of antropogenic activities on biodiversity to design strategies to improve conservation in biodiversity hotspots, including protected areas, sustainable agriculture, and rural development.

 

I am also interested in urban conservation issues, especially those related to bird-window collisions and their mitigation.

 

Using species distribution ranges, and readily available geospatial data, I asess species' extinction risk and refine conservation priorities from global, to national, regional and local scales.

 

In Colombia, an important biodiversity hotspot for birds and other taxa, I worked on down-scaling national conservation priotities for birds to local actions in two cases: for the Western Andes by advising the purchase of a large area for conservation, and in the Central Andes by combining priorities for bird conservation with landslide prevention. Also in the Western Andes of Colombia, I did extensive fieldwork to evaluate the impact of deforestation on species' altitudinal ranges.

 

At the global scale, I led a collaboration asessing extinction risk and refining conservation priorities for endemic forest birds in six biodiversity hotspots: Atlantic Forest of Brazil, Western Andes of Colombia, Madagascar, Central America, Sumatra, and Southeast Asia. Using publically available geospatial data, we refined bird ranges by elevation and available forest and show that species are more threatened than previously thought.

 

   

 

Extinction risk and conservation priorities

Background map from www.biodiversitymapping.org

Bird-window collisions

An estimated one billion birds die after hitting windows each year in North America, this is only second to cats when analyzing human-caused bird deaths. At university campuses in the United States and Colombia, and at residences, I have been studying bird-window collisions and strategies to prevent them. At Duke University, I led a group of students and faculty to document collisions on campus, and advocate for the retrofitting of the building that caused the most bird deaths. At my residence in Colombia, we showed that by applying off-the-shelf deterrent decals, collisions are reduced by 87%.

 

Oil palm and biodiversity

Oil palm is the world's most used vegetable oil, and one blamed for environmental degradation in the tropics. I study the impacts of current oil palm plantations on the distributions and connectivity of birds and mammals in forests in Borneo and Colombia. 

Given that palm oil demand continues to increase, I contribute to finding better ways to produce oil palm by designing biodiversity-friendly oil palm landscapes (that enhance connectivity), and providing spatial planning for responsible expansion globally.

Bird tracking

Migration is one of the most fascinating natural phenomena, yet we know very little about it. I am interested in all types of migration, but especially in the poorly known local and altitudinal movements of tropical birds.

 

Currently, I am colaborating with a team of researchers studying regional migration of the Orinoco Goose (Neochen jubata), Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger), and Large-billed Tern (Phaetusa simplex). As a researcher for the "Fundacion Horizonte Verde" and a co-PI on our National Geographic grant, I am in charge of attaching satellite transmitters to birds from the Colombian Llanos populations.

© Updated October 2019

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