Relationship between temperature and ecological interactions on Galapagos reefs.

Metabolic scaling theory predicts metabolic rate on ectotherm will increase with temperature. In consequence as ocean gets warmer the energetic demands of marine fish an invertebrate would also increase. This is the topic I am currently exploring as part of my PhD research. I am combining experiments in the field and in the lab to measure how temperature model predation on marine invertebrate and reef fishes in the Galapagos Archipelago. 

Whelk feeding on barnacle in Galapagos

Does structural complexityexplain fish assemblage structure on coral reefs?

Reef fish depend on reef substrate to find refuge and food. During my masters I used videos and photos to build 3D reconstructions and digital mosaics that allowed me to estimate different proxies of structural complexity and measure live cover in coral reefs in Los Roques, Venezuela.  I used these variables to predict abundance, biomass, diversity and structure of the fish community. 


Fish swimming around stands of A. cervicornis in Los Roques National Park, Venezuela

Spatial patterns of fish and coral assemblage along Venezuelan reefs.

Venezuela possesses long coastlines and numerous islands with very different types of reefs facing a myriad of environmental conditions. We recently published a paper describing these patterns on coral assemblage, and we are now working on a paper describing spatial patterns of fish assemblage structure and diversity. 

Socio-ecological baseline for the conservation and management of threatened coral species at Archipelago Los Roques National Park

Los Roques National Park is the oldest marine protected area (MPA) and contains the most important coral reef system in Venezuela. It is likely one of the largest and healthiest coral reef systems in the Caribbean. Between 2014 and 2016 we worked to determine the distribution and health status of the most endangered Caribbean corals – pillar, elkhorn and staghorn – along with identifying their threat level and defining conservation priorities. Furthermore, this study set a baseline to better understand the flow of economic benefits derived from coral reefs ecosystem service. 

Lionfish invasion in Venezuela and the Caribbean

Invasive species are considered to be a leading cause of biodiversity loss. For this reason many scientists are paying particular attention to the invasion of the exotic species P. volitans (lionfish) throughout the Caribbean. After lionfish reached Venezuela in 2009, we have monitored their presence along our coast and islands. Through collaboration with other research groups, we are gaining a better understanding of the connectivity processes that could explain its fast spread. 

Juvenile lionfish found in Morrocoy National Park, Venezuela