Flora and fauna of the New World
I have collaborated fruitfully with the GRISO team of the Universidad de Navarra, which is the most important research group dedicated to the study of Spanish literature during the 17th century. The massive amount of research they do includes the editing and recovering of the chronicles written by the first Western entering South and Central Americas. Such texts represent a key testimony of how the New World was back then, included all kind of nature-related information. I have contributed to some of their recent works from a biologist perspective.
Seed size role in Mediterranean pastures
During my MS in Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (2008-2009) I worked with Begoña Peco to understand why large-seeded species increase their abundance in Mediterranean annual grasslands in growing seasons with dry autumns. One possible explanation is that large-seeded species have larger seedlings, which provide an advantage under drier conditions. We conducted an experiment with six grassland legume species of different seed sizes, subjected to six different watering regimes, monitoring survival and shoot and root growth for 40 days. We found that large seeds provide an advantage for seedling survival, but in extreme drought conditions, seedling survival in small-seeded species equals that of seedlings from large-seeded species. Seedlings from larger seeds are larger than those of small-seeded species, but have a lower root/shoot biomass ratio, leading to greater potential evapotranspiration, which could explain their loss of relative advantage under extreme droughts. Therefore, the hypothesis that seedlings from large-seeded species survive better than small-seeded species under drought conditions was not supported. Germination behavior seems to be a more plausible explanation for the increased abundance in the field of large-seeded species in growing seasons with dry autumns.
Angadenia berteroi ecology in sub-tropical pineland rocklands
While staying in Florida International University in 2008 I collaborated with Beyte Barrios to investigate the effects of fire and habitat fragmentation on the performance of Angadenia berteroi (A.DC.) Miers, a threatened species of the southern Florida pine rockland. These ecosystems are a fire-dependent forest associated with outcroppings of limestone. Pine rockland plants have several adaptations to fire, and for many species burns increase plant growth, flowering, and seedling establishment. The pine rockland forest has been reduced and fragmented in recent decades. Outside of Everglades National Park, only two percent of the original pine rocklands remain, and are in the form of small fragments. Habitat fragmentation may have a negative effect on the biology of plants. We estimated the density and flowering of A. berteroi using adaptive cluster sampling in six study sites with different fire and disturbance histories. A. berteroi is more abundant in the largest fragments, and those having experienced fire most recently. However, fragmentation and lack of fire did not appear to have a great impact on flowering or fruit production.
During 2007 and 2008 I did some money (not too much) working as an editor for a divulgative science website, then called "Genciencia", now "Xataka Ciencia". If you are fluent in Spanish, feel free to check any of my 68 published articles.