Faculty of Biology
Aquatic Ecology
Universitätsstrasse 5
D-45141 Essen

Room S05T03B08
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I am a guest PhD student from Lisbon University (although I am from Spain). Before starting my PhD I worked as research assistant in Potsdam University (2017-2018) studying how fear affects the foraging choices of rodents; in Wageningen University (2013-2014) researching how agricultural intensification promotes liana infestation in central Amazon forests; and in Oviedo University (2010-2011) studying the role of mammals as seed dispersers. I studied a BSc in Biology at Oviedo University (2006-2011) and a MSc in Ecosystem Restoration at Alcalá University (2012-2014)

My PhD project aims to characterize the functional connectivity provided by woody riparian vegetation for aquatic macroinvertebrates. It is attached to the OSCAR project and the Portuguese PhD program FLUVIO.

Woody riparian vegetation can act as a corridor for the dispersion of many different organisms, including mammals, insects or even plants. This is especially true for aquatic insects belonging to the mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera = EPTs), because aerial dispersion is key in their life cycle as they need to reach the upstream stretches of the river they live in, as well as (re-)colonize nearby river catchments. The importance of riparian forest for the dispersion of EPTs has been studied at small spatial scales, but the dispersion process needs to be understood at larger spatial scales up to the catchment and even between-catchment scale. This is because the EPT assemblage of a given location not only depends on the local environmental conditions but also on the connectivity with the rest of the catchment. The higher the connectivity, the higher the probability of EPTs dispersing from other sites to reach the location.

I aim to quantify the relevance of woody riparian vegetation for EPT dispersion at catchment scale, while taking into account characteristics of the landscape (land use, ecoregion, topography) and ecological conditions (pollution, hydromorphology, river type).