Smithsonian Research Fellow
My research integrates behavioural ecology, sensory physiology, evolutionary ecology and genomics to examine the role of environmental change in shaping communication systems and ultimately the evolutionary trajectory of populations. I am fascinated by rapid ecological adaptation and its genetic and epigenetic underpinnings, particularly in aquatic environments. If there is water, and there are animals, I am interested!
My work at STRI focuses on divergence in ecological traits between sister species of coral reef fishes separated by the rise of the Isthmus of Panama. At the moment, I am examining how the visual system of sister fish species differentially adapted to the drastically different underwater light conditions between the two coasts (Pacific and Caribbean) of Panama.
Suzette works on plants but is otherwise quite a nice person. She can teach you things you never knew were possible with GIS. Watch out for her wicked tea making abilities handed down over generations
SENACYT & STRI Post-doctoral Fellow
My research sits between the established disciplines of biodiversity, ecology, chemical ecology and mineralogy in the context of the global change using bryozoans as model organisms.
My current research aims are (a) to present new data on bryozoan species richness and the spatial patterns from poorly known regions, (b) to evaluate the ecological and applied effects of their natural compounds and (c) to deepen current understanding of skeletal geochemistry so that we can assess better how they will respond to global change.
Why study bryozoans?
Bryozoans are ubiquitous and important members of many benthic communities with high productivity, biodiversity and many ecosystem services and their global species richness is still largely underestimated. Biodiversity and biogeographical baseline studies are starting points for monitoring and rapidly assessing changes associated with threats such as climate change and the establishment of invasive marine species.
They inhabit depths between the intertidal to abyssal plains, and at all latitudes in the oceans. The broad bathymetrical and geographic ranges of some species make them useful organisms for evaluating depth and/or geographical-related changes.
They are known to produce natural products (NPs), such as alkaloids and terpenoids, although research in NPs and their role in an ecological context have focused mostly on other phyla.
They are often dominant skeletal-carbonate producers in temperate and polar waters that secrete skeletal calcite containing significant amounts of Mg-calcite. Their skeletons are more soluble than skeletons with low Mg content, and consequently, more susceptible to ocean acidification, as the solubility of calcite increases with its Mg-calcite content.
STRI Post-doctoral Fellow
I am a taxonomist and primarily use fish otoliths to explore systematic and ecological questions. Much of my work uses sea bottom otolith assemblages as a study system, but I also work on fossil materials to address their paleoecological, biogeographical and evolutionary aspects.
Post-doc (Universidad de Los Andes)
My research focuses in the understanding of multiple factors influencing freshwater biodiversity over time. I am interesting in the synergies between the introduction of exotic species, water pollution, hydrological alterations and climate change affecting lake assemblages in the Anthropocene. My work integrates paleolimnological techniques, historical data and contemporary monitoring data in human-impacted tropical lakes to:
- Assess how tropical lake communities respond over time (decadal to centennial) to environmental change (e.g. eutrophication, climate change and lake water level alterations).
- Determine if dominance of exotic aquatic plants and fish are a direct consequence of competitive exclusion with native species; or whether dominance is an indirect cause from direct negative effects of habitat disturbances on native communities.
- Explore if there have been positive impacts from the introduction of exotic species (e.g. carbon sequestration.
Quantifying Ecological Changes in Reef-Building Corals over Historical Timescales
Coral reefs are declining worldwide but we do not know what a natural reef should look like because their degradation appears to have begun long before scientists began to survey reefs. Focusing on Bocas del Toro, Panama, this project aims to quantify the differences in the ecological structure of reef-building corals from a 7000 year old fossil reef versus a modern reefs. The fossil reef and modern reefs respectively developed before and during the period when human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Understanding how reef-building corals have changed over historical timescales can help marine managers to assess the decline of Caribbean reefs relative to their condition before the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.