2010- Present. PhD Student, Ecology, Evolution & Systematics, University of
Missouri- St. Louis
2010. MSc. Ecology, Evolution & Systematics. University of Missouri- St. Louis. Thesis: Galapagos hawk dispersal patterns and relationship of survivorship with an introduced herbivore eradication program.
2007. Licenciado en Ciencias Biologicas. Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador. Thesis: Evolutionary implications of the vocalizations of three species of forest falcons (Falconidae: Herpetotherinae) in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
I am interested in speciation mechanisms in sympatric and broadly distributed species and community assembly. I am particularly interested in parasite community assembly; understanding host breadth and parasite specificity related to host behavior and trophic cascade effects. Another major area of interest is the applications of understanding community assembly rules to agriculture and sustainable development.
For my MSc I worked in modeling the survivorship of the Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis). I was interested in how their chances of survival are influenced by different factors, including: a) intrinsic factors of the birds such as their sex and body size, b) behavioral factors such as the size of their polyandrous breeding group, and c) environmental factors such as vegetation cover (as a measure of prey accessibility). I also wanted to understand possible unforeseen negative effects of the goat eradication program on the island of Santiago. Goat eradication had a direct effect on adult hawk survivorship, significantly lowering the estimated survivorship. The other factor significantly contributing to adult hawk survivorship was polyandrous group size per year becoming more important after the goat eradication; this provides some insight about the relationship of polyandry with dealing with presumably harsher conditions.
My PhD project is still shaping up, but will be an experimental approach to analyze parasite specificity and host breadth in bird parasites, to better understand how host feeding habits, territorial behavior, and resource distribution affect parasite community assembly.