PhD Estación Biológica de Doñana

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Erica Pacífico

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My PhD in the Conservation Biology Department is under supervisor of Dr. José L. Tella. We started working together in March 2014 in an investigation of the deterministic and stochastic effects that may be acting upon the dynamics of the remaining population of the endangered Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari), an endemic species from the Caatinga (Brazilian tropical dry forest), using a multidisciplinary approach with molecular tools, ecological modeling, stable isotope analysis and indices of breeding success.
The Lear’s Macaw nesting and roosting sites are sandstone cliffs walls in the Raso da Catarina Ecoregion, in the Bahia state of Brazil and the Licuri Palm fruit, Syagrus coronata, is their main food item in part of the year. The entire population of 1263 birds (estimated in 2012), of which only 20% are breeders, is concentrated in two localities, and it may be the outcome of a recent demographic increase from the two hundred birds estimated before the 2000s. If the population does not expand geographically, the continuous increase could result in the saturation of environmental resources and generate negative density dependent effects. In this context, to better understand the population dynamics, the following questions need to be answered: Do breeding site and food availability constrain the breeding success and the distribution of the Lear’s Macaw population? Is the genetic diversity of the current population constrained as a result of a genetic bottleneck? Is there sexual bias in the current population? Can the viability of the population be affect by any of these processes?



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