Hatchlings of Podocnemis unifilis
Turtles captured for market
Photos by Tibisay Escalona and Andres Roseinchein
Iowa State University
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
261 Bessey Hall
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
My research interest focuses on the study of species ecology, life history evolution and conservation of endangered Neotropical reptiles. I have worked most intensively on riverine turtles of the genus Podocnemis, which are distributed across the Northern part of South America. Like many other turtles Podocnemis species are threatened due to human related activities such as over-harvesting (i.e., adult meat, eggs) and environmental changes (i.e. deforestation, pollution). As a result, some populations have been severely reduced or extinct in many areas throughout its range. This means that turtle movements and distribution patterns are strongly influenced by natural and human induced effects, which may cause loss of genetic variation. Because I am concerned about the rapid decline and disappearance of these endangered species, a more recent avenue in my research derives from the realization that ecological knowledge from field studies can be substantially aided by modern molecular methods that enhance conservation efforts as they help our understanding of important population parameters. With this in mind, I have integrated population genetic aspects into my research. My long term goal is to continue to explore ecological and genetics issues related to endangered species and to integrate these topics not only in theory but in practice. This will greatly enhance our understanding of the processes responsible for existing patterns of genetic variation within a species. Such information should be fundamental in designing any conservation management plan. In addition, I am interested in incorporating scientific information into conservation education as well as community outreach efforts and policy design.