My PhD is on “The impacts of visual predators on behavior, life history and demography of Falkland shorebirds” with supervisors Innes Cuthill (University of Bristol, UK), Tamas Székely and Robert Kelsh (both from the University of Bath, UK).
The Adult Sex Ratio (ASR) is a fundamental concept in population biology and recent research by Szekely, Cuthill and colleagues shows that ASR predicts mate choice, pair bonds and parental behaviour in wading birds. ASRs are highly variable, although the causes of this variation have yet to be identified. Pilot data on plovers point to a key role of predation, acting through sex differences in the conspicuousness of chicks; this is the focus of my thesis.
Plovers (Charadrius spp.) are ideal organisms to test hypotheses of sex-ratio evolution and sex roles since different populations exhibit different breeding systems and sex ratios, and we have established successful fieldwork protocols. The Falkland Islands have some notable advantages for such a project: different islands have different histories of predation risk, with some never having been colonised by introduced rats or cats, some having these invasive species removed at different time-points, and some still having invasive predators.
My first degree was a Bachelor Degree in Veterinary Science from the Universidad de Concepción, Chile, with the main focus being Chilean bird parasites. However, my broader interests are Chilean wildlife, specifically birds. I also hold a professional Degree in Veterinary Science, equivalent to a DVM in the USA. For my PhD I won a Scholarship from the Government of Chile (CONICYT).