Postdoc researchers

Pablo Medrano Vizcaíno

Pablo Medrano is a postdoc researcher from Ecuador that obtained his PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Reading. He is interested in landscape ecology, road ecology, conservation biology and macroecology. Pablo is currently working at IREC-CSIC in the ELECTROSTEPPE project, mapping hotspots of taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity of steppe birds, and addressing potential conflicts with renewable energy development projects. Further, he will apply ecological niche models to understand how the current and future distribution of key steppe bird species may be altered by the development of photovoltaic and wind energy projects in Spain.

PhD students

Iago Ferreiro Arias

Iago Ferreiro is an ecologist with broad interests in biodiversity conservation and global change biology. Currently he is a PhD student at the Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC) under the supervision of Eloy Revilla and myself. He is studying overhunting impacts across tropical forests by exploring connections between ecological networks, functional diversity and carbon storage along defaunation gradients. In his thesis he is using macroecological models of hunting impacts and detailed camera trap data to study defaunation across the tropics and how this may alter functional diversity and the structure of plant-frugivore ecological networks. He is also interested in mapping and identifying biodiversity-carbon co-benefits. He is working in the DEFNETCARBON and TROPECOLNET projects, and conducts fieldwork in the Medio Juruá region, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, in partnership with the Instituto Juruá, UEA and NMBU.

Carlos Merino Luna

Carlos Merino is a PhD student at the Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC-CSIC) studying the ecology and conservation of the pin-tailed sandgrouse. He is focusing on changes in habitat suitability in Doñana National Park based on historical and present occurrence data, the movement strategies of sandgrouse under dynamic environmental conditions (flooding and changes in resource availability), and the genetic connectivity with other populations. He is involved in the GANGAMOVE project and supervised by François Mougeot and myself. While he is affiliated with IREC-CSIC, he will be working during extended periods at EBD-CSIC, and will spend some time doing fieldwork at Doñana NP.

Andrea Zampetti

Andrea is an ecological modeller with a particular interest in biodiversity conservation. Currently he is a PhD student at Sapienza University of Rome and the National Museum of Natural Sciences, under the supervision of Luca Santini and myself. His primary research experience centers on camera-trapping methods for density and abundance estimation of wildlife populations, with a specific focus on integrating machine learning algorithms to automate the process. Currently, he is working on applying population density data to conservation studies across different spatial scales through modelling and integrated approaches. He is working in the TROPECOLNET project, and conducts fieldwork in the Medio Juruá region, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, in partnership with the Instituto Juruá, UEA and NMBU. He will develop an algorithm for automated species identification of arboreal primates.;

Junior researchers

Laura Paltrinieri

Laura Paltrinieri holds a MSc degree from Sapienza University (Italy) and she is currently funded with a 1-year grant to do research abroad. She is working with camera trap data from the TROPECOLNET project. Her project is focused on assessing assessing temporal niche segregation of sympatric Neotropical primate species along a defaunation gradient in the Juruá region (Brazil). Previously she was a STSM researcher from the COST Action CLIMBATS between Feb-March 23 and April-June 23. In this project she studied morphological responses of European bats to climate (temperature and precipitation) using spatial data and long-term monitoring data.

Laura Maeso Pueyo

Laura Maeso Pueyo holds a MSc degree in Ecology from  the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). She currently works as a Data Scientist in the ELECTROSTEPPE project. Her main interest is spatial analysis applied to ecological research, especially in relation to biogeography, ecological niche and species distribution models. She is currenly enroled in a MSc program in Data Science to broaden her analytical skills and master machine-learning methods that are applicable to these fields.

Brayan Cedeño Panchez

My passion lies in delving into the diverse forms of life that inhabit our planet. Alongside this, I find immense joy in disseminating the knowledge I’ve accumulated, fostering environmental consciousness among others. Recently, I achieved a Master’s degree in Biodiversity from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), where I conducted a detailed study on the female genitalia of beetles within the Pimelia genus.

Presently, I am an integral part of Ana Benítez’s research group, supported by a scholarship from the JAE program. Our project is centered on evaluating the temporal niche segregation of sympatric Neotropical primate species across a defaunation gradient in the Juruá region of Brazil. My responsibilities include documenting the findings from camera traps and aiding in species identification, while also analyzing their distinct activity patterns.

Aurora Murru

Aurora Murru holds BSc. degree in Biology and a MSc degree in Conservation and Management of Nature and Environment from the University of Cagliari (Italy). She did a thesis focused on the study of the interspecific relationship between two species, Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis and Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus, in the Regional Natural Park Molentargius-Saline that is a wetland of international importance in accordance with the Convention on Wetlands of 1971, Iran. She currently works for an internship on assessing exposure of tropical mammals and birds to hunting pressure and she is building a database of hunting sites.

MSc students

Hugo Díez Santaolalla

Hugo Díez Santaolalla is a student in the Master’s program in Biodiversity Conservation in Tropical Areas (UIMP – CSIC), currently working on his thesis on the activity patterns of mesopredators associated with the presence of wolves in the Iberian Peninsula. With a background in Environmental Sciences and Geography, he has been involved in various species conservation and territorial management projects. His interest in wildlife ecology and mastozoology has led him to research and environmental outreach experiences in the Colombian Orinoquía (Omacha Foundation) and the grasslands of Uruguay (Darwin200).

Contact me for potential MSc projects.

Undergraduate students

Past members

David Arbiza

David Arbiza holds a BSc. degree in Biology from the UAM. He did a one-month stay at MNCN-CSIC in my group to assist on the compilation of data on functional traits of tropical plants using literature sources, images, and image processing software. His work will help addressing several research questions within the DEFTROP, DEFNETCARBON and TROPECOLNET projects.

Davide Mirante

He is a PhD student at the Sapienza University of Rome studying the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on diel rhythms, home-range use, acoustic activity, and physiological response of wildlife. He did a 3-month research stay with me at the MNCN-CSIC, where he focused on doing a meta-analysis on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on glucocorticoid concentrations of mammals, birds and herps, which will be part of his thesis. More on Davide here.

Melinda de Jonge

Melinda de Jonge is currently a postdoc researcher at Radboud University (RU, the Netherlands). She defended her PhD dissertation “Advances in large-scale multi-species impact assessments” in October 2023, supervised by Mark Huijbregts and myself. Her thesis focused on disentangling the biotic and abiotic drivers of species distributions and modelling the impacts of anthropogenic activities on biodiversity.



All my work has benefited enormously by connecting and discussing research ideas with other academic peers. I maintain a large network of collaborators and regularly work with large collaborative teams, either as leader of participant. So far I have  co-authored papers with > 410 researchers from > 270 institutions located in 59 countries, with my main collaborators located in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Norway and Brazil. Most of my papers have been coauthored by international researchers (43/58, 74%). Additionally, I am a member of the GIAE (Grupo para la Investigación en Aves Esteparias), formed ca. 100 researchers from Spain and Portugal and with the goal of generating scientific knowledge that informs the conservation of European steppe birds.

Ana Benítez has been and is currently involved in several multinational and multiparner projects:

1) the European COST action CLIMBATS, where 48 researchers from 15 European countries are working alongside to assess the vulnerability of European bats to climate change (finished Oct. 2023);

2) the sRedList project, which brings together Red List practitioners and ecological modellers to develop an innovative, rapid and consistent framework for prioritizing IUCN RL assessments (finished in March 2024);

3) RIVAGE project, which includes 17 researchers across the world with the aim of assessing the vulnerability of island assemblages to climate change, land use change, and biological invasions.

4) TROPECOLNET project, funded by MICIN and including European (UK, Norway) and Brazilian researchers.

Location of researchers and institutions with whom I have collaborated. Point size of each researcher is proportional to the number of articles published in collaboration.