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Evolution and Conservation Biology Group

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Scientic Supervisor / Contact Person

Name and Surname
Javier Pérez-Tris

Localization & Research Area

Faculty / Institute
Faculty of Biological Science
Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution
Research Area
Life Sciences (LIF)

MSCA & ERC experience

Research group / research team hosted any MSCA fellow?
Research group / research team have any ERC beneficiaries?

Research Team & Research Topic

Research Team / Research Group Name (if any)
Evolution and Conservation Biology Group
Website of the Research team / Research Group / Department
Brief description of the Research Team / Research Group / Department
We are broadly interested in evolutionary biology, biogeography, behavioural ecology and conservation biology. Our study models are mostly birds, although lately we have been much focused on the bugs and microbes that live in their blood or on the plumage, in particular malaria parasites and feather mites. Our recent interests have included the following:

The tempo and mode of evolution of phenotypic diversity: we have analysed the historical diversification of avian migratory behaviours, how this process has driven phenotypic divergence of birds, and how the latter has affected bird interactions with parasites and other symbiotic organisms.

The ecology and evolution of host-symbiont interactions: we have studied birds and their symbionts (parasites, mutualists or commensals), paying special attention to the biogeography of interactions (from within-host symbiont coexistence to global symbiont diversity) and the evolution of different host exploitation strategies among symbiont species.

The implications of life history variation in disturbed habitats: we have been looking at the impact of recreational activities on wild bird populations, aiming to produce knowledge that may help to reconcile nature recreation and wildlife conservation.

Javier Pérez-Tris leads the Evolution and Conservation Biology group at UCM, which has been evaluated as EXCELLENT by the Spanish Research Agency (February 2018).
Research lines / projects proposed
Ecological networks, the sets of links that connect species to one another through their ecological functions, constitute the foundation of biodiversity, and the understanding of their properties and dynamics represents one of the most important challenges for our society, faced with the global change of ecosystems. Most studies of ecological networks use species as basic interactors, assuming that all individuals of a species have the same ecological role. However, there is intraspecific variability in individual traits or properties related to the establishment of interactions among species. In mutualistic networks connecting plants with their pollinators and seed dispersers, an individual"s preference to feed on --and therefore disperse pollen or seeds of-- one or another plant species may depend on individual nutritional needs, which in turn depend on the health status of the individual. We are exploring these types of extrinsic influences on network properties using two study systems: the network that links hummingbirds with the plants they pollinate, and the one that links understory birds with the plants they help to disperse. We will analyze the effect of avian malaria and virus infections on the structure and properties of these networks. We hypothesize that diseased birds will prefer distinctive sets of plant species, particularly those that contain nutrients important for their maintenance in the face of infection.If network properties change predictably depending on which individuals (infected or healthy) are used to calculate network parameters, the architecture of mutualistic networks will depend on pathogen prevalence, an overlooked mechanism to explain disease impacts on ecosystems with important implications for ecology and conservation biology.

Application requirements

Professional Experience & Documents
Your complete CV, highlighting your two most important achievements.
A statement of your research interests
Letter explaining how will you benefit from working in our group, and how we will benefit from having you on board.
Two reference letters.
You can attach the 'One Page Proposal' to enhance the attractiveness of your application. Supervisors usually appreciate it. Please take into account your background and the information provided in Research Team & Research Topic section to fill in it.

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