Our research activities are focused on understanding the complex network of ecological and social processes affecting the biodiversity and sustainability of the coastal ecosystems in central Chile.
To this end, we carry out studies with the aim of increasing our knowledge about…
… the ecology of coastal species:
- we estimate the population size of several species, many of which are of a commercial interest (e.g. loco, keyhole limpet, vieja, sea-urchin), over space and time;
- we combine multiple approaches (genetics, modelling, larval behaviour) to investigate the dispersal of larval phases, in order to better understand the spatial scale of the connectivity among populations and, therefore, draw conclusions on their dynamics;
- we investigate the interaction among species;
… the natural and human-induced changes in the environment that may affect coastal species:
- we analyze the physical characteristics of the coastal environment such as water temperature, tides, currents, shape of the coastline and climatic events, and their influence on the productivity and dynamics of coastal ecosystems;
- we study the effect of humans on the spatial distribution of species, comparing the mosaic of marine protected (MPAs) and open-access areas;
… the ecological and social factors that influence the effectiveness of MPAs:
- we compare patterns of biodiversity and species abundance along a wide range of environmental conditions and levels of human impact (inside and outside MPAs);
- we evaluate society’s willingness to engage in conservation initiatives in the coastal ecosystem;
- we study the socio-economic revenues of marine protected areas.
We are therefore able to draw conclusions from our multidisciplinary research network to propose alternative conservation and management plans in central Chile, as well as aiming to promote the involvement of the private sector in local and regional conservation projects.