2018 Status CONICET Postdoctoral Fellow at Laboratory of Ecology and Animal Behavior, University of Buenos Aires "My interests in the scientific field are framed in the use of genetic techniques to solve enigmas of evolutionary biology, animal behavior, ecology and for the conservation of animals in danger of extinction. I participated in projects framed in these themes in various species, from plants and opiliones, to birds."
2017 Profile: *-Organization name: Aves Argentinas
*-Organization street address: Matheu 1246, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.
*-Work phone: (54-11) 4943-7216
*-Work fax: (54-11) 4943-7216
Aves Argentinas is an association of national scope that is authority in knowledge and conservation of wild birds but also biodiversity in general. Since 1916, NGO Aves Argentinas seeks to conserve wild birds and their habitats. In order to achieve that we:
1. design, plan and implement effective conservation actions,
2. promote mechanisms and integrate initiatives to mitigate the impact of human population on nature,3. promote and communicate scientific research,
4. transmit the knowledge about nature and facilitate the exchange of experiences throughout the country, and
5. develop activities to stimulate in people the passion for birds and nature.
(PHotos above and below right: Citizens of different regions participating in the Yellow Cardinal Census in 2015)
ROLE IN THE ORGANIZATION:
My role there is to guide the investigation and actions taken to analyze the distribution and current situation of the populations of yellow cardinal in Argentina and to raise awareness about wildlife illegal trade. I also provide scientific advice for other NGO projects. In particular, one of the aims of my present project is to model environmental variables of influence for the yellow cardinal. The yellow cardinal, Gubernatrix cristata (Thraupidae), is a passerine bird endemic to southern South America, which at present is categorized by IUCN as Endangered (BirdLife International 2016). In the past, this species was widely distributed in the thorny deciduous shrubland forests of central Argentina (Espinal region), most of Uruguay and parts of southern Brazil. However, for over a century there has been a continuous removal of individuals to commercialize them as cage birds. This, in addition to the conversion of their forest habitat to agriculture and cattle pasture, has caused a marked decline in range and population size.
During breeding seasons of 2015 and 2016 I have coordinated two national censuses of yellow cardinals. We have done this with NGO Aves Argentinas and it was a beautiful example of citizen science since many birdwatchers, partners of Aves Argentinas, rangers, scholars and educators participated. Thanks to the voluntary participation of almost 100 people, it was possible to carry out the most complete census so far for this species. It is a clear example of how fundamental citizen science is since involvement of society is crucial in the conservation of a species and it environment. In this way, we managed to cover most of the historical distribution of yellow cardinal by sampling 10 provinces within the Argentine territory. Nowadays, the information about distribution and situation of yellow cardinals is outdated and this is why I consider the information generated by citizen science is very valuable. The surveys were also used to make diffusion about the problem of conservation that yellow cardinals are facing. We deliver to participants communication material, such as posters and stickers, to be distributed in their villages. By this, we seek to make a big communication campaign in order to have an effect and decrease the illegal capture of individuals from nature. We established a protocol and asked people to participate and share with us their records. The initial goal of surveys was to determine presence/absence of cardinals in order to identify priority conservation areas and the approximate size of existing cardinal´s populations in Argentina. However, we were interested not only in the points of presence of this species but we also asked people to register some environmental variables, as data about the vegetation and the level of degradation around the sampling point. With all this information I expect to discover potential suitable sites where cardinals could be present in order to guide next year census. During the breeding season of 2017 (from October to December) we will focus our effort to study these potential sites.
history of your personal work in conservation and GIS: I do not have much history to rely on GIS because I started to work with geographic information systems recently and I have little experience. However, in a self-taught way I have learned how to use QGis and elaborated nice maps.
Since I was a child a love for nature and a strong commitment to conservation grew inside me. Later, as a teenager, I became interested in conservation and read conservation magazines. This is when I started to worry about the fast rate of extinction of species that are gone forever. During my first years studying Biology at the University of Buenos Aires I participated as a volunteer in many research projects. That way I was allowed to work in the field, which I loved, with more advanced biologists and learned from them different field techniques. My PhD thesis was about the conservation of the Yellow Cardinal. I have studied the genetic, morphological and behavioral differentiation of the species in Argentina and Uruguay. I discovered important information and found unknown populations, but most important, I felt the obligation to commit myself to the conservation of the species not only by studying it but also by carrying out concrete actions. This is why I started working ad honorem with the NGO Aves Argentinas.
your connection to the local SCGIS chapter: Yamil DiBlanco, an argentinian participant of the 2014 workshop, recommended me to apply.
what is most unique and the most challenging about the conservation/GIS work that you do: This kind of project is unique since it requires linking different institutions under a consensual strategy. The times and interests of the parties involved can hinder the scope of the objectives. In this sense, the supervision and articulation of this conservation project is a challenge. On the other hand, it is also a great challenge to develop a communication campaign like the one that this project proposes. The capture and possession of wild animals as pets is deeply rooted in a significant portion of the population and changing perceptions about it will not be a simple task.
2017 Conference Paper: Distribution and habitat use of the yellow cardinal (Gubernatrix cristata) in Argentina andperspectives on its conservation
*-Abstract/summary The yellow cardinal, Gubernatrix cristata, is an endangered passerine from southern South America. Populations are declining due to continuous extraction of individuals, mainly males, to commercialize them as cage birds, and the loss of their natural habitat, which causes a discontinuous distribution. We present the results of searches for the Yellow Cardinal in Argentina during two population surveys in 2015 and 2016. The sites with the highest counts were San Luis (n = 11), Buenos Aires (n = 11) and Corrientes (n = 10). Some of the sightings carried out are new for some localities. For example, in the province of La Rioja there were no documented records of the species and in Sierra de las Quijadas National Park due to the absence of sightings for years the species was considered extinct within this protected area. We also model the potential distribution of the species, taking into account environmental variables, in order to investigate in the future the presence of the species in unstudied but suitable sites.
(Map : "Previous project: Elaboration of a map with QGis in order to identify priority zones for the creation of protected areas for threatened grasslands birds")
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