Current lab members

Alejandra Zarzo-Arias


Alejandra is an spatial ecologist, studying the effects of species’ environmental niches and ecological interactions on their coexistence and responses to global change drivers. She is currently a Margarita Salas fellow at Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN-CSIC) and UAM in Madrid, under the supervision of Joaquín Hortal and Rubén G. Mateo. She studies populations and drivers of change in species distribution, behavior and ecology, to apply such knowledge to conservation, particularly of mammals. She is interested in modelling populations, predicting changes and assessing extinction risk considering different spatial scales. 

ORCID, ResearchGate, Google Scholar

Max Willian Tavares de Almeida

PhD student

Max Willian is a Brazilian ecologist and entomologist interested in macroecological patterns, knowledge gaps and ecology of extreme environments. He is currently a PhD student in Ecology and Evolution at UFG, working on gaps in the knowledge about global termites, under the supervision of José Alexandre Felizola Diniz Filho and Joaquín Hortal.

ORCID,  CV lattes, emailInstagram

Fernando Hurtado

PhD Student

Fernando is a PhD candidate working at MNCN-CSIC and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) under the supervision of Nagore G. Medina, Belén Estébanez and Pedro Aragón.  He is interested in species distributions, coexistence and particularly in colonization processes by sessile organisms. He is currently researching these topics in mosses at project SCENIC (previously at UNITED). He also enjoys and participates in popular science and has been disseminating science since he started studying biology in 2010.

ORCID, Twitter:@SushiMosses

Juliana Stropp


Juliana is a tropical ecologist investigating biodiversity in the African and Amazonian rainforests. Her research explores how the environment shapes species distribution and how patchy sampling and species discoveries affect our understanding of biodiversity. She is currently at MNCN-CSIC as MSCA-IF fellow, working on the project TAXON-TIME. In this project, she explores how the dynamics of species discoveries and taxonomic reclassifications impact established patterns of plant diversity and distribution.

ORCID,  Twitter:@taxon_time

Manuel Molina Bustamante

PhD student

Manuel is a PhD student and research assistant at Univesidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) under the supervision of Nagore G. Medina, Joaquín Hortal and Belén Estébanez. He studies the effect of scale in niche characterization and its implications in community ecology and biogeography modelling. He works with soil bryophytes, measuring their performance under different abiotic conditions in culture chambers and field experimental setups. He is also interested in applying automatic image identification and segmentation techniques in experimental data retrieving and processing. He currently works for SCENIC project, and previously in UNITED (2018-2020).

ORCID, Twitter:@mmolbus


André F. Mira

PhD student

André is a PhD student at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN-CSIC) in Madrid, under the supervision of Joaquín Hortal, Nagore G. Medina and Mari Cruz Díaz Antunes-Barradas. He is particularly interested in understanding how biotic interactions shape the distribution of species and the composition of communities. Currently associated with SCENIC project, he is tackling such subjects using soil bryophytes and dune plants, studying how the outcome of biotic interactions is affected by abiotic environmental conditions.

ORCID,  LinkedIn, Twitter:@AndrMira5


Cristina Ronquillo


Cristina is an ecologist interested in macroecology, ecoInformatics, Geographic Information Systems and biodiversity databases. Her research interests include the assessment of data quality and information gaps and how it affects our biodiversity knowledge. She is currently working as data technician in SCENIC project at MNCN, and she also participates in SoilSkin and Taxon-Time projects. She was research assistant at UNITED project between 2018-2020.


Former members

Pilar Hurtado

Pilar is a community ecologist assessing the response of epiphytic communities to different global change drivers (climate change and habitat fragmentation) along large geographical gradients. She held a Juan de la Cierva- Formación fellowship at MNCN-CSIC during 2022).  She is interested in evaluating the impact of global change on biodiversity and forest functioning, using experimental, field and data-based approaches in community ecology and biogeography to identify conservation priorities and design evidence-based conservation strategies that secure the persistence of key ecosystem services.

ORCID, ResearchGate

Fernanda Alves-Martins

Fernanda is a community ecologist and biogeographer, currently working on tropical biodiversity and ecosystems at CIBIO-InBio (Portugal) for project TROPIBIO. She did her PhD on Neotropical odonates at UFG (Brazil) under the supervision of Paulo de Marco Júnior and Joaquín Hortal, and a postdoc at MNCN (2017-2018) studying the diversity patterns of Neotropical organisms. Her research interests include understanding the local and large-scale determinants of biodiversity, how is it affected by anthropogenic stressors, and using new technologies and big data for conservation biogeography.


Jorge Ari Noriega Alvarado

Jorge Noriega is a dung beetle ecologist based at Colombia. He did his PhD in the effects of human impacts on the functional structure and temporal dynamics of dung beetle communities and the ecosystem services they provide, under the supervision of Ana M. C. Santos and Joaquín Hortal (2014-2018).

Verónica Rocio Espinoza

Verónica (Chío) is a entomologist and parasitologist, working as assistant professor at Universidad Central del Ecuador. She did her PhD at MNCN-CSIC on phenology and diversity of dung beetle communities along altitudinal gradients, under the supervision of Joaquín Hortal and Francisco J. Cabrero-Sañudo (2011-2015).

Sergio Chozas

Sergio is a plant community ecologist working as postdoc in the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c) of the University of Lisbon, with broad interests in Plant community ecology. During his PhD, completed in 2016, Sergio studied the spatial and successional dynamics of xerophytic shrubs in SW Portugal dunes, co-supervised by Joaquín Hortal and Otília Correia. He is interested in the development of sustainable management strategies in cork and holm oak wood pastures (Montados/Dehesas), particularly conciliating conservation and maximizing ecosystem services. He is also involved in the use and development of citizen science as a tool for promoting citizen involvement in urban ecology and fighting plant blindness. Currently, he works at the project PORBIOTA, focused on the integration of existing biodiversity data aiming to provide services to the administration, the scientific community and society.


Alice Francener

Alice is a computational macroecologist. She did her MSc at UFG  on the global patterns of species descriptions and species and taxonomic revisions of bats, under the supervision of Joaquín Hortal and Daniel Brito (2011–2013). After her PhD, she decided to study computing science, and is now working as IT consultant in Brazil.

Pablo Castro Sánchez-Bermejo

Pablo Castro is a PhD student working at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). He took a JAE-Intro scholarship at MNCN-CSIC (2020-2021) to study the relative importance of abiotic filtering and biotic interactions in the assembly of dung beetle communities in three deserts. His research interests include understanding the role of species traits in community assembly and niche complementarity.


Joaquín M. Calatayud Ortega

Joaquín is a community ecologist currently working as postdoctoral researcher at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid, Spain). He did his PhD  on geographical gradients of arthropod diversity, under the supervision of Joaquín Hortal and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (2013-2017).


Cristina de Oliveira Araújo

Cristina is an insect ecologist, currently working as biologist for a local government in Brazil. She did her PhD at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), studying the diversity and community structure of dung beetles along the elevational gradient of Itatiaia National Park (RJ, Brazil), under the supervision of Ricardo F. Monteiro, Júlio Louzada and Joaquín Hortal (2010-2014).

Nagore García Medina

Nagore did her PhD on  the diversity, biogeography and conservation status of the epiphytic bryophites from the Mediterranean forests of the Iberian Peninsula, under the supervision of Francisco Lara, Vicente Mazimpaka and Joaquín Hortal. She is currently Assistant Professor at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.


Rosa María Chefaoui

Rosa M. Chefaoui is an ecologist focused on marine, coastal and terrestrial environments. She is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid, Spain).  Rosa is interested in the effects of climate change on marine benthic species, from genetic diversity to spatial and temporal dynamics of communities. She is also interested in the application of multidisciplinary approaches involving physiological experiments, field surveys and varied analytical methods. She did her PhD at the MNCN from 2005-2010 working on methodology and applications of Ecological Niche Modelling for the conservation of threatened invertebrates  under the supervision of Jorge Lobo and Joaquín Hortal.

Webpage, Twitter:@RosaChefaoui

Carolina Ureta Sánchez

Carolina Ureta is a Mexican ecologist and biogeographer currently working as Associate Professor at the “Instituto de Ciencias de la Atmósfera y Cambio Climático” in UNAM. Her research interests are in the conservation of the biodiversity and agrobiodiversity under climate change scenarios. She was Joaquín Hortal’s MSc student at Imperial College and worked with a project called “Developing conservation strategies for two endangered Mexican cacti under climate change”. Afterwards she carried out her PhD at “Instituto de Biología” in UNAM.

Webpage, ORCID, email, Twitter:@CUSC81

Tiago Freitas

Tiago is an ecologist and ichthyologist, working as associate professor at the Federal University of Pará (Brasil). He did his PhD on knowledge shortfalls and evolution of diet of Neotropical fishes at the same institution under the supervision of Luciano Montag, Paulo De Marco Júnior and Joaquín Hortal. His research interests include general patterns of fish ecology such as feeding and reproduction aspects. He is also interested in using big data approache to reveal gaps in biodiversity knowledge.

CV lattes

Marcelo B. Pessôa

Marcelo Bruno Pessôa is a dung beetle ecologist, biogeographer, and macroecologist. He is interested in understanding how the functional aspects of dung beetle ecology shape the functioning of their communities at local and broad scales. He did his PhD on the drivers of the dung beetle latitudinal diversity gradient in the Neotropic, the effects of forest conversion on the functional structure of dung beetle communities, and the scale of trait filtering, under the supervision of Joaquín Hortal and Paulo De Marco (2015-2019).


Indra deCastro-Arrazola

Indra is a functional ecologist specialized at the community level interested in promoting the widespread use of traits across animal and plant taxa. He now works as data, field and lab technician. He did his PhD at MNCN and Universidad de Granada (2013-2018), working on a synthesis of the functional meaning of traits of dung beetles, an effect-traits experiment and a response-traits field study in three hot deserts of the world (Sahara, Kalahari and Chihuahua) under the supervision of Joaquín Hortal and Francisco Sánchez-Piñero. He participated in projects SCARPO (as PhD candidate) and UNITED (as a technician).


Geiziane Tessarolo

Geiziane is a biogeographer and ecologist actively working on macroecology and ecological models, with emphasis on methods in species distribution models, computational simulations and biodiversity data quality. She did her PhD at Federal University of Goiás (Brazil) under the supervision of Joaquín Hortal, working on uncertainty in species distribution models. In recent years she has focused on the development of methods and tools to analyze and quantify biodiversity data quality in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. She is currently working as postdoctoral researcher at State University of Goiás (Brazil) and also as data analyst at the Brazilian Foundation for Sustainable Development.

CV lattesGoogle Scholar, ORCIDResearchGate

Sidney F. Gouveia

Sidney is a macroecologist interested in theoretical ecology, pursuing first principles of biodiversity patterns. He did his PhD at Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil, from 2010 to 2013, with a stay at MNCN in 2012, working on integrating physiological data to address macroecological patterns, under the supervision of Prof. José Alexandre F. Diniz-Filho and Joaquín Hortal. He is now a member of the INCT-EECBio project, coordinated by Prof. Diniz-Filho. Sidney also coordinates his own projects, most aimed at integrating physical principles to understand species’ trait evolution and diversity. He is now Adjunct Professor at the Universidade Federal de Sergipe, and holds a research productivity grant from CNPq, Brazil.

Webpage, ORCID

Email, twitter:@gouveia_sidney, instagram:@sidfgouveia