I´m Carolina Soto and I’ve just finished my PhD at Conservation Biology Department. Along with my supervisor Dr. Francisco Palomares Fernández we have explored how habitat selection patterns are influenced by differences in species’ ecological traits and by inter-specific interactions using as a model of study a carnivore guild in the Mediterranean protected area DoñanaNational Park.
We have explored the ecological structure of the carnivore community using methods aiming at analyze niche segregation between species and we have analyzed how species in upper positions at the guild affect negatively the habitat selection patterns of species with lower competitive advantages, displacing them potentially to suboptimal habitats called “refuges of predation”.
In parallel we have analyzed the incidence of domestic species such as the domestic dog in the protected area. The presence of domestic species in natural areas is an increasing world-wide conservation concern. These species represents a conservation problem due to competition, predation and/or disease transmission to native species and there is a huge demand for more knowledge about and experience with this type of situation in order to help prevent or diminish their impacts on native fauna. Additionally we have carried out the first study about the conservation status of the European wildcat in the Doñana area, a species which exhibit a surprisingly low abundance in the area probably due to the historic negative interaction with the Iberian lynx as a main explicative factor.
This four-year period has been really enriching. I feel lucky to work in a research institute of international renown where moreover I have met really great people! I encourage all present and future PhD students to work hard on their projects because it’s really worth!
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