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Veronica Zamora Gutierrez

Biography:

I am a biologist (Hons) from the Universidad de Guadalajara graduated in 2007. I developed my undergraduate thesis in the Chocó-Darien biodiversity hotspot, Colombia assessing human impact on biodiversity. During my bachelor studies, I was part of an exchange program from 2005-2006 with the University of Alberta. In 2010 I obtained a Master's degree in Biology, specialized in Sustainability and Biodiversity at Leiden University. I did my master thesis in collaboration with Wageningen University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute using advanced radio tracking technology to study vertebrate-plant interactions. From 2006-2011 whilst being an undergraduate student, I was a research assistant at the project “Conservation and Management of wildlife at the Colima Volcanic Complex National Park”, Universidad de Guadalajara. I participated as wildlife consultant in several Environmental Impact Assessments for environmental and governmental offices in Mexico.  I was an Instructor/Lecturer in Evolution, Biodiversity and Biogeography at Universidad de Guadalajara. I have been a Ph.D. Student at the University of Cambridge since October 2011.

Research Group

Conservation Science Group:
PhD Candidate

Research Interests

My research areas are within the fields of macroecology, land scape and community ecology and biogeography. I seek to explain the distribution of species at large and local spatial scales, and to understand current spatial association and the processes by which distribution change over time.  I have a keen interest in conservation, environmental education, protected area management, environmental evaluation and monitoring, links between science, policy and management.

My current research focuses on the use of niche models to investigate impacts of climate and land use change on species’ distributions and biodiversity conservation. Climate change will cause gradual but extreme changes in ecosystems that will reduce the suitable habitat for several species. Coupled with this, land use will further cause faster degradation and transformation of that remaining suitable habitat by conversion into man-made covers. Protected areas reduce habitat and biodiversity loss by decreasing and preventing land conversion, yet these are less effective in mitigating the effects of climate change.  Bats are an important component of biodiversity and they provide essential ecosystem functions such as pollination, seed dispersal and insect regulation; nevertheless there are no current studies evaluating the effect of land transformation and its interaction with climate change on bats. During my PhD, I will model current and future habitat and climate associations of bat species to look at the potential impacts of forthcoming environmental changes in Mexico on bats current and future distributions. The goal is to better understand how global environmental change may affect patterns of species richness and distributions and if protected areas might help species cope with such changes. This project is important in a mega diverse region with one of the highest rates of biodiversity loss and where climate and land cover are expected to change dramatically. The outcomes of this work are intended to inform policy-makers and managers in order to include different threat scenarios in the planning of new areas for protection. 

In addition, I have the medium-long term goal to ensemble a national library of full-spectrum bat calls by recording ultrasonic bat calls through extensive field work in Mexico together with the international bat calls library Echobank, and in collaboration with other Mexican researchers. My objective is to develop a countrywide classifier using reference echolocation calls by training complex machine learning algorithms to distinguish calls from bat species distributed in Mexico. Acoustic monitoring is a feasible alternative for developing countries to create biodiversity monitoring programs and developed volunteer networks. 

My PhD is funded by the Mexican Research Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the Cambridge Overseas Trust, University Cambridge. This project is supported by Bat Conservation International, The Rufford Small Grants, Latin American Student Field Research Award (ASM), Idea Wild, Whitmore and Hitchcock  Funds Cambridge.

Collaborators

Collaborators outside this directory

Key Publications

Suselbeek, L., W. Emsens, B. Hirsch, R. Kays, J. M. Rowcliffe, V. Zamora‐Gutierrez and P. Jansen. 2014. Food acquisition and predator avoidance in a Neotropical rodent. Animal Behaviour 88:41-48.

Jansen, P., B. Hirsch, W. Emsens, V. Zamora‐Gutierrez, M. Wikelski and R. Kays. 2012. Thieving rodents as substitute dispersers of megafaunal seeds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(31):12610-5.

Other Publications

Guevara-Carrizales, A. A., V. Zamora-Gutierrez, R. Gonzáles-Gómez y R. Martínez-Gallardo. 2013. Catálogo de los murciélagos de la región del delta del Río Colorado, México. Therya 4(1):47-60.