Research Interests

I have always been fascinated by nature, and early in my life I chose to study biology. As an undergraduate, I was trained as a plant ecologist in Mexico. As a graduate student, I developed my interests on the evolutionary ecology of plant-animal interactions and this remains as one of main lines of research interest. In this field I started by studying the evolution of anti-herbivore, defensive mechanisms of plants in British meadows. In particular I did experiments and observations to understand how/why some plants have evolved the cyanogenic capacity (the production of hydrogen cyanide upon damage by herbivores) and the implications of such plant traits for coevolutionary responses of both plants and animals. In Mexico I have been doing studies along those lines in plants from tropical ecosystems. My work in tropical ecology has involved dozens of students. As a researcher in tropical ecology I have become aware of the tremendous anthropogenic impact on tropical rain forest ecosystems and my current lines of research include the study of the patterns of tropical deforestation, its consequences for biodiversity, and the disruption of ecological relationships of plants and animals in deforested and fragmented habitats. Within this field I have popularized the notion of "defaunation" to convey the view that tropical ecosystems are losing their medium/large animals at rates as dramatic as those of deforestation. My current work on conservation biology emphasizes the need of amalgamating the traditional interests of the conservation of taxa with the increasingly needed conservation of ecological processes.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology