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Ainara Cortés-Avizanda

Ainara Cortés-Avizanda

Post-Doc Researcher

Post-Doc Researcher
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Postdoc researcher at the group coordinated by Prof. Henrique M. Pereira at the Portugal Infrastructures Biodiversity Chair, CIBIO-InBIO, Portugal.

My main research line focuses on the behaviour, ecology and conservation of endangered vertebrates, in particular, how the presence of carcasses in the wild shapes other components of the ecosystem. I am especially interested on the ecological implications of pulsed resources both periodic (seed masting) or random (carcasses) on ecosystem functioning.


In my PhD I studied in depth the implications of predictability of carrion resources both in scavenger guilds and on communities of species not related to carrion consumption. I did so by monitoring the scavenger guilds when feeding on experimental carcasses with different degrees of spatiotemporal predictability in different ecosystems. I also performed experiments to study the predation risk in relation to aggregation of facultative scavengers at predictable carcasses. Moreover, by confronting individual-based models with field data I study the mechanism behind the social foraging behaviour of vultures.

During the last years I became progressively interested on the ecosystem services that avian scavengers provide. While these species are charismatic and offer both cultural and ecosystem services (ecotourism and fast elimination of carcasses) they also have to deal with the progressive abandon of traditional agro-grazing practices (main food source). Currently, I am involved in the study of how the abandonment of farmland areas can be considered as a key opportunity for restoring biodiversity (rewilding). I am particularly interested in how to reconcile the conservation of charismatic endangered species but also sensitive to human presence (e.g. long-lived birds of prey) with cultural ecosystem services of rewilded farmlands.


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