I am doing my PhD at the Integrative Ecology Department. My thesis is entitled “Road to collapse: the consequences of the extinction of the Canarian Giant Lizards for Neochamaelea pulverulenta“
My research focuses on understanding how frugivorous vertebrates shape demography and genetic of plants through seed dispersal. More specifically, I try to asses how the disruption of these dispersal mutualisms will have lasting signals in both, demographic and genetic issues of plant populations. Due to island biogeographic characteristics, plants inhabiting islands are dispersed by a small array or even by a single species of frugivorous vertebrates. Thus, this phenomenon provides us with a perfect scenario to test our hypothesis.
Our model species (Neochamaelea pulverulenta) is an endemic Canarian shrub dispersed exclusively by a single species of lizard (Gallotia spp.) in each of the three islands where it is present. Large-sized lizard species (G.stehlini) disperse optimally Neochamaelea seeds in Gran Canaria, medium-sized lizards (G.galloti) disperse them sub-optimally in Tenerife,whereas the dispersal is absent in La Gomera (dispersers extinguished at least 500 years ago).
The major aim of my thesis is to understand through these scenarios (islands), how the extinction of Giant Lizards affects demography and genetic of Neochamaelea pulverulenta populations. I will apply an integrated study combining island ecology theory, population genetics and movement ecology under a spatially explicit framework
Supervisors: Pedro Jordano
Fellowship: FPI Grant (MINECO)