CAMS Role: Academic Associate
Room: 402 Westbury MountTelephone: 01248 38 2904
I am a senior lecturer in marine biology, specialized in larval ecology of benthic invertebrates and benthic ecology. In 1991, I graduated in Biological Sciences at Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. I did my MSc (1996) and PhD (2000) also in Uruguay, in the context of the Uruguayan Postgraduate programme (PEDECIBA) and the German academic exchange programme (DAAD). My theses were developed in the Marine Station of Helgoland, Germany, focusing on early development of marine brachyuran crabs. From 1992 to September of 2007, I had a position as Assistente Gr. 2 at Seccion Oceanología, also at Facultad de Ciencias, Uruguay. Between 2003 and 2005 I undertook postdoctoral research also at the Marine Station of Helgoland financed by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
My research interests are focused towards two closely related fields: larval ecology of marine crustaceans and benthic ecology of marine invertebrates. The main topics addressed within the field of larval ecology are:
(a) Larval eco-physiology: effects of environmental conditions on larval growth, development and survival
(b) Patterns of distribution, supply and settlement in relation to oceanographic conditions and transport processes
(c) Maternal, carry-over and latent effects along the complex life cycle
(d) Recruitment: effects of larval settlement and physiological condition on juvenile survival
The environmental conditions experienced by larvae may affect recruitment through density-mediated effects, i.e. through changes in the number of larvae reaching the bottom (the settlement rate) and trait-mediated effects, i.e. through changes in larval traits (e.g. growth rate) that affect juvenile survival. Density-mediated effects have been studied extensively within the framework of supply-side ecology. However, our understanding of trait-mediated effects, especially on how they operate under field conditions, is less advanced. My work has focused on trait mediated effects through experimental determination of how environmental conditions affect early life history characteristics and how these affect juvenile survival. This framework relies on interdisciplinary research (e.g. physical oceanography, marine community ecology and developmental physiology) as it addresses effects operating at the levels of populations and individuals.
Within the field of benthic ecology I have worked on intertidal soft-bottom habitats (sandy beaches, estuarine sandflats) of the Uruguayan coast, in particular on scale-dependent patterns of community structure and on the identification of potential processes affecting the patterns. Processes affecting natural communities operate at different spatial scales, leading to a scale-dependent pattern of community structure. Hence, the scale of the sampling or experimental design determines the kind of processes under study. Conclusions may therefore be contingent upon the scale of observation. In consequence, to reach a better understanding of the structure and function of communities it is necessary to consider several scales of observation.