My main research interest is Chronobiology, the study of biological rhythms in wild animals, ranging from mechanisms to ecology. I try to take an integrative approach and look at several levels, for example: (a) the understanding of underlying mechanisms of rhythmicity (e.g., endogenous rhythmic expression and how biological rhythms are generated and controlled); (b) how the orchestration of distinct rhythms take place (e.g., interaction of rhythms, hormonal control); (c) animals’ distinct timing strategies in their natural context (e.g., activity patterns, phenology); (d) how rhythms are shaped by natural selection (e.g., fitness consequences of mistiming, trade-offs, carry-over effects).
This integrative approach allows me to tackle complex applied questions such as how organisms can adapt to environmental changes, such as climate change.
Avian annual temporal organization in a changing world
I study the annual rhythms of birds, more specifically the interaction of migration, moult and reproduction of the European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca).
I try to answer the question on how animals organize their annual cycle and how this organization can be disrupted by climate change. There is a balance between being on time and not overlapping consecutive stages, which is one of the essences of trade-offs throughout the annual cycle. Birds are interesting organisms for the study of annual rhythms due to the possibility of combining very different approaches to understand how organisms with complex annual cycles schedule the events throughout the year and respond to environmental changes. Their annual cycles involve at least a breeding and a moult event, but can be much more complex, especially in long-distance migrants.
Long-term data collection on annual rhythms can span decades for certain birds species. Moreover, no other taxon has such a number of specialised field techniques and equipment to study all sorts of behavioural and ecological traits as birds.
Activity patterns in subterranean rodents
This project was part of a Brazil-Argentina cooperative research investigating the natural entrainment of the Tuco-tuco (Ctenomys aff. knighti), a South American subterranean rodent. In this work, I focused on the tuco-tucos’ daily activity patterns, combining field and laboratory studies. The results were an interesting contribution to the growing body of investigation on lab-field duality and the meaning of day-time activity in rodents.
You can read more about this work by clicking [HERE].