I am a researcher in the fields of the evolutionary ecology, behaviour and conservation. My research focus on the interplay between ecology and evolution, including evolutionary aspects of behavioural and population ecology. I aim to understand the key processes driving the spatial and temporal dynamics of animal populations and ultimately contribute to the conceptual and empirical development of ecology and evolutionary biology. I am concerned with the loss of biodiversity and therefore my research also intends to contribute to the field of conservation biology.
My research includes observational and experimental field studies integrating multidisciplinary approaches and tools, such as stable isotope, physiological, molecular, microbiological and contamination analyses. I also instrument animals with different sorts of devices to track their movements and activity.
My study model is primarily seabirds. My main research sites over the last few years are Macaronesic archipelagos, particularly Cape Verde and Canary Islands, as well as polar and subpolar regions.
In collaboration with several research teams I investigate on 5 main topics addressing complementary and multidisciplinary hypotheses:
1- Trophic and migratory ecology of birds: I investigate which and where are the main food sources and how they are exploited by birds. This includes the study of foraging movements as well as the migratory movements among breeding and non-breeding areas. This information is critical for determining important bird areas as well as to contribute designing networks of protected areas.
2- Spatial and temporal responses of birds to the marine environment: I investigate main factors, both physical and biological, explaining the distribution and abundance of seabirds in the marine environment at different spatial and temporal scales. Understanding these interactions allows us to predict their potential distribution and the current factors limiting it. This is a key knowledge to anticipate responses of seabirds to environmental changes, such as global warming.
3- Interactions and coevolution among birds, ectoparasites and micropathogens: I investigate the interactions among bird populations, their ectoparasites and some micropathogens. Birds can act as dispersers and reservoirs of important bacteria and viruses, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Borrelia and West Nile virus. However, the role of birds in the circulation and re-emergence of these pathogens is still poorly known. Knowing the evolutionary and ecological relationships among birds, parasites and pathogens is crucial to understand their potential impact on human health.
4- Environmental chemistry in the marine environment: I investigate the dynamics of heavy metals and organic contaminants in bird communities to understand the impact of human activities on the oceanic ecosystems. I am particularly interested in the ecological factors explaining contaminant levels, such as the trophic level and the differential use of food webs. Investigating the bioavailability and the bioaccumulation processes of contaminants is crucial to understand their ecotoxic impact on the marine ecosystems.
5-Molecular genetics and phylogeography of birds: I investigate the evolutionary relationships and the genetic structure of seabird populations as well as the historic and ecologic factors shaping them. I also use molecular tools to clarify taxonomic uncertainties and to determine the genetic health of the endangered species and populations.