I awoke early on my first Monday in Sevilla to prepare my things and head to the offices of la Estación Biológica de Doñana (Doñana biological station, or EBD), my host institution for my time in Spain. More than a temporary research host, EBD is actually a place that I have dreamed of working since the very start of my PhD. When I began combing the scientific literature for research on my topics of interest (things like conservation biology, wetland ecology, waterbirds, and remote sensing), I found dozens of fascinating papers spanning these topics, all with authors from some mysterious research center in Spain. After a quick internet search and some hasty Wikipedia use, I found that EBD had a designated department of research group for each one of my major interests (I mean that literally; for example there are separate departments specifically for wetland ecology and conservation biology!), and was based around a famous national park, the Doñana wetlands.
EBD was founded in 1965 to research the ecology and conservation of Doñana, two years after the latter, an internationally-important, complex and historic landscape was purchased for protection by the World Wildlife Fund and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas or CSIC (pronounced “say-seek“; the Spanish National Council of Scientific Research). Fully dedicated to studying and protecting one of the most beautiful and unique ecosystems in Europe (more on Doñana later, I promise!), EBD has churned out impressive and important wetland- and endangered species-related research for decades and is one of CSIC’s flagship locations for the ecological sciences.
I am based in el Departamento de la Ecologia de Humedales (the department of wetland ecology), which hosts a variety of research labs studying topics ranging from the global evolution of amphibians to the effect of parasites on the survival of invasive diving beetles. EBD has a rich community of research scientists, interns, technicians, graduate students from local universities, and postdoctoral researchers like myself. In my own department, these include people from Colombia, the Netherlands, Germany, and the U.K., and another American.
My two collaborators and research hosts are Dr. Andy Green and Dr. Javier Bustamante, both principal investigators in the wetland ecology department. Dr. Bustamante’s work involves broad application of remote sensing (typically satellite-based images) to key ecological questions, including the spread of invasive species, environmental changes in Doñana, and monitoring of endangered Lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni) in Andalucia. Dr. Green studies a variety of topics in the ecology and conservation of Mediterranean waterbirds, including recent work on the role of waterbirds as key dispersers of seeds, living organisms, and even pollutants between wetland ecosystems.
So what will I be doing at EBD? What cool project is combining the interests of these experts with my own experience? Check out my forthcoming post, where I’ll take an in-depth look at my research theme and early work here in Sevilla.
Until next time!