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I use my training in biology and environmental sciences to study coupled human-nature systems applying traditional ecology and physical geography. My core research interests lie at the interface of limnology, palaeoecology and biogeography on questions related to the distribution of aquatic organisms and their use as sentinels of global environmental change. I use data across spatial (local to continental) and temporal (decades to millennia) scales, involving fieldwork, meta-databases and geospatial datasets.
I earned my PhD degree at the Aquatic Ecosystems Group (IRTA) and Center for Climate Change (University Rovira and Virgili), in Spain. My PhD dissertation investigated the structure of past, present and future coastal habitats of the Ebro Delta (NW Mediterranean Sea). In 2016, I joined Sheri Fritz’s lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as postdoctoral researcher in a NSF-funded project on the origin and evolution of biodiversity in the Amazon and Andean forests. In this role, I undertake a diatom biogeography study in South American tropical freshwaters. My postdoc has broaden my interest and motivated to study topics that are multidisciplinary by nature, such the effects of global environmental change in freshwater ecosystems. As result, I co-lead a National Geographic-funded project that aims at exploring the limnological response of tropical Andean lakes to recent warming across time and space under a multi-stressor framework.
At SESYNC, I will study palaeoecological-scale resilience, integrating social and biophysical records to understand the dynamics of complex socio-ecological systems. Determining regime shifts and their underlying mechanisms can be challenging to study, among other reasons, because environmental responses tend to be slow and lagged, and monitoring data rarely capture multiple transitions. The project focus on the issue of regime shifts in the high-altitude tropical Andes, where during millennia lakes have been instrumental in sustaining human communities that have altered, in turn, the quantity and quality of fresh water stored in these valuable ecosystems. The project’s overarching question is: What insights do abrupt transitions in the palaeoenvironmental record provide about the critical stressors and ecosystem response that give rise to the current state of Andean socio-ecological systems? This question will be addressed by studying long-term biophysical, ecological, and socio-economic data in tropical Andean lake-catchment systems. We will identify feedbacks between proxies for human activity in the catchment (land use change), and lake ecosystem responses, using diatom community time-series data to identify regime shifts. Subsequently, using a space-for-time substitution approach we will look for stable and/or transient lakes in a natural-rural gradient across the Andes. In that case, we will use spatial and temporal data sets of multiple stressors over the last decades to predict which lakes are about to experience (or have experienced) a regime shift. Our approach is novel because contrasting with most resilience research, our millennia-scale analysis should show multiple transitions between ‘basins of attraction’. Additionally, we will develop a robust quantitative framework that allows combining dataat two disparate temporal scales (palaeoenvironmental and contemporary). This framework will be readily transferable to systems with similar time-series data. Overall, our project will contribute methods and findings that should advance our understanding of regime shifts in complex socio-ecological systems to inform management policies and conservation strategies in much of the South American rural communities, where population growth and poverty threaten ecosystems services (water quality).