Dr Alba Estrada
I completed my PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Malaga (Spain) in 2008. I then obtained a postdoctoral fellowship at the Research Institute of Game Management (IREC) of the Spanish National Research Agency in Ciudad Real and then worked in the same institution as a postdoctoral research assistant in three different research projects. In May 2013 I joined the Rui Nabeiro Biodiversity Chair at the University of Évora (Portugal) where I am working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Biodiversa project EC21C (European Conservation for the 21st Century).
My main research fields are biogeography and macroecology and additionally I am highly motivated for working in conservation and concerned about the applicability of the science I am involved in. My research interests include the detection of changes in biodiversity patterns according to forecasted climate and land uses at large scales. I am very interested in methodological exercises that allow the detection of the most transferable modelling techniques in space and time. I have also experience in detecting the degree of overlap between natural protected areas and important conservation areas for biodiversity and in the inclusion of fuzzy logic in conservation biogeography.
Dr Alicia Montesinos-Navarro
I am interested in understanding the assembly rules structuring natural communities and their implications in ecosystem functioning. I have explored the role of multi-guild biotic interactions (above & below ground) in structuring plant communities combining different approaches. I have used molecular techniques & traced stable isotopes in field experiments and applied analytical tools such as structural equation models, ecological network analyses and community phylogenetic structure metrics to approach my research questions.
During my PhD, I approached the effect of abiotic factors on the distribution of ecologically relevant plant traits using the model species Arabidopsis thaliana to study the process of life-cycle divergence of winter and spring annuals along a climatic gradient. My project yielded new information on the distribution of natural genetic variation across environments along a climatic gradient and allowed the linking of specific trait-associated molecular changes with the environments in which the changes occurred. In my first postdoctoral position I shifted to study the role of biotic interactions in plant community assembly rules. I used complex network theory to test the similarity in network characteristics of plant-fungal mutualistic interactions to other mutualistic networks.
My Second postdoc focuses on exploring the effects of climate change on plant community dynamics in the Iberian Peninsula. I will use plant co-occurrence data and Bayesian network inference to elucidate positive and negative plant-plant interactions across a climatic gradient at regional scales.
I completed my PhD in July 2016. It focused on human-wildlife conflict and the spread of Japanese Knotweed in the UK. Japanese Knotweed is a highly invasive plant that can cause widespread economic and environmental problems. Using an inter-disciplinary approach the research explored anthropogenic processes contributing towards plant invasions in human-dominated landscapes, how invasive plants are managed in domestic gardens, the impacts invasive plants can have, and possible long-term sustainable solutions to challenges invasive plants present.
On completing my PhD I started work for a Wildlife Conservation charity called WildTeam. In a nutshell, we give conservationists the skills to design and deliver amazing conservation projects that help to save more wildlife. We design best practices, we don’t re-invent the wheel we just combine what works really well into a straightforward and practical approach. We have a sister charity in Bangladesh with whom we design and test these methods. We run workshops, have online courses and provide a consultancy service, working with wildlife conservation charities all over the world, helping them tailor what they’ve learnt in the training courses to the specific challenges of their conservation projects. You can find out more about us at www.wildteam.org.uk.
Dr Beth Robinson
"My Masters by Research project looked into the Range Expansions of a Natural Coloniser, the Small Red-Eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum), in the UK. This species is native to Europe, and has been expanding it's North and West range margins due to climate change. Evidence suggests that they arrived in the UK without human interference, and I was interested in whether they had the potential to be as damaging as human-introduced invasive species. I used Bayesian modelling techniques to project it's future range margins based on it's expected climate, environmental, and biotic tolerances.
Currently, I'm a PhD candidate at Lincoln University in New Zealand exploring range margins and niche limits of common Dock species (Rumex spp.). In particular we are interested in whether any niche shifts have occurred between it's native (UK) and introduced range (NZ).
I'm combining modelling techniques with a 2 year transplant experiment to determine whether NZ genotypes have experienced a niche shift since being introduced."