PhD Estación Biológica de Doñana

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Macroecology at ETH-Zurich

For a couple of months I’ll be in Zurich visiting Levine’s Lab. I came to work with one the post-docs of the group, Jeff Diez, who I met in my first year PhD at University of Michigan. We are currently working on identifying niche shifts of non-native species between the native and the invaded range. You can have a look at a similar study recently published in Science where they found that plant niches are rather conservative between both ranges.  We’re going to build upon their methods using Oxalis pes-caprae  (soursop EN, vinagreta ES, suring AF) as our model species. As it is a ruderal species in both native and invaded range we expect not only to analyze climate shifts but also disturbance and habitat type. So far the analyses are looking great and we already found some niche changes. They aren’t amazingly huge but reflect a trend towards more disturbed sites in the invaded range than in the native one.

Besides my work, I am learning a lot about the projects currently running on the lab. ETH experiment at CalandaThey have very interesting projects about spread of invasive species, competition… Specially they have one on the Calanda mountain near Chur, where using transplanting experiments they try to understand the relative importance of biotic interactions and climate for shaping species’ responses to climate change. I was impressed by the amount of work and resources this project have. Even they had an helicopter to help with the transplanting and during the growing season they are every week up there measuring survival, growth and many more things. I am trying to implement a similar experiment on Sierra Nevada, of course without such amount of resources. Everything will depend on how good I am doing with my PhD, the support of the Ecology Lab from Granada and the required permits. Anyway it seems a really good approach to test how well invaders will perform in future climates. You can have a look at the whole set up of the experiment in this video.

Lake of ZurichAnd of course, everything isn’t research while abroad. Zurich is a lively city full of activities, a great lake to hang around and enjoy, gorgeous mountains to hike nearby and really nice people. Of course, prices are really high here. For example I got a very cheap room for Zurich standards in a shared apartment for only 400€ a month! Considering that it isn’t in downtown it’s more than double what we’re paying back home in Sevilla. Anyway there are always cheap ways to enjoy the city such as making barbecues close to the lake or the open air festivals that every weekend some neighborhoods are organizing. Definitely, Zurich is a fancy and expensive city where you never can get bored but at the same time the mountains around and the impressive amount of green areas make you feel in a very comfortable place to enjoy why not, a very well paid post-doc!