Writing in the mountains: back from our annual group retreat

This past week we had our annual group retreat, first time after the COVID pandemic. This year we planned a writing retreat, with several hours of writing every day, plus group discussions, hikes, board games, and shared meals.

For the retreat we stayed at Alejandra Medero’s house in Las Carditas (¡gracias Ale!), a mountain village 80 km from Mendoza city. Each day we wrote in the morning, each group member worked on their own paper, thesis chapter, grant proposal, or whatever they wanted to write. We set goals at the start of the retreat and reported regularly on our progress. In the afternoons we had a discussion on writing tips, a debate on how to go about addressing applied questions using what we have learned with our own research, a couple of hikes, and an excursion to a local brewery. During the evenings we played board games while sharing a bottle of wine or two. All in all, a productive week, a nice break from the daily routine, and a great way to stimulate group cohesion.

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Congratulations Miranda Lede for defending her thesis on the influence of climate and phenology on solitary bees

Yesterday, Miranda Lede defended her undergraduate (licenciatura) thesis at the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the National University of Cuyo. Miranda was interested in how climate and mismatches in the timing (phenology) of flowering and bee nesting influenced the demography of solitary bees. To address this question she used data from our group’s database on flowering and solitary bee nesting between 2006 and 2019. She worked in Villavicencio Nature Reserve, a private protected area north of the city of Mendoza. Her study was based on five species of solitary bees that fall in a gradient of specialization, from highly specialized species feeding mostly on pollen of a single plant species, to generalists feeding on several plant species. Miranda found that phenological mismatches and climate tend to influence the reproductive success of the most specialized bee species, while climate alone seems to influence the reproduction of the most generalized bees. The two examiners of the thesis praised Miranda for her excellent work. Congratulations Miranda!

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Rosario Miranda defended her undergraduate thesis on the role of aggressive behavior on the structure of plant-pollinator networks

This morning Rosario Miranda defended her undergraduate (licenciatura) thesis at the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the National University of Cuyo. For this project she used mathematical models and computer simulations to explore how the presence of species with aggressive behavior influence plant and pollinator assemblages and their interactions. Her results indicate that the presence of aggressive species may have strong consequences on community structure.

Rosario is now off to Belgium to start a Master degree in tropical biodiversity and ecosystems, during which she will spend extended periods in Belgium, Madagascar, and French Guiana. Best wishes Rosario for this new stage in your career!

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New doctor in the group: Alisa (Lisi) Álvarez successfully defended her thesis

Alisa (Lisi) Álvarez defended today her doctoral thesis, an ecological study of plant invasions in mountain ecosystems of Mendoza. Congratulations Lisi for an outstanding study with important practical implications!

Lisi’s thesis combines observational and experimental studies to assess the effect of two drivers of plant invasions in the mountain environments of our region: tourist trails and livestock. As a whole, her results indicate that mountain hiking trails and livestock may facilitate plant invasions in the region. This work represents a valuable contribution to the understanding of the ecological processes regulating the spread of non-native plants, and offer useful information for management actions.

One of the chapters of Lisi’s thesis is already published as a journal article in Biological Invasions. And stay tuned for more publications coming soon!

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End-of-year group gathering

As we try to do every December, yesterday we had our end-of-year get-together. We had a fun time in a pot luck dinner which included lots of home-made food, drinks, and even some dancing. A nice way to wrap up a great year doing science together.

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Congratulations Benjamin Schwarz for a successful Ph.D. defense!

Earlier this month, Benjamin Schwarz defended his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Benjamin’s thesis focused on the temporal dynamics of plant-pollinator networks, with a nice combination of literature synthesis and field observational and experimental work. He was mentored by Jochen Fründ, Carsten Dormann and myself.

In case you are curious, two of his thesis chapters are already published, one published in Oikos and another in Oecologia. Check them out!

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Yamila Leguizamón defended her thesis on the impacts of honeybees on native bee diversity

Yamila defended today her undergraduate (licenciatura) thesis at the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the National University of Cuyo. She studied the impacts of managed honeybees on the abundance, diversity and composition of native bees in Villavicencio Nature Reserve.

The thesis examiners agreed in that Yamila had conducted an interesting study that addressed questions relevant for understanding how apiculture may influence the native pollinators in natural ecosystems. Congratulations Yamila for the excellent work!

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Beca doctoral en ecología de abejas e interacciones planta-animal

See English version below

Tema: Estudiar los determinantes de la variación geográfica y temporal en las poblaciones de abejas solitarias nativas y las redes de interacciones ecológicas entre estas abejas, plantas y parasitoides en el Desierto del Monte de Argentina. Ver más detalles sobre el proyecto.

Tipo de Beca: Inicial (doctoral) del FONCYT (código de proyecto PICT-2018-1272).

Duración: 3 años, con posibilidad de solicitar dos años adicionales de beca doctoral tipo II del CONICET.

Directores: Diego Vázquez y Adriana Aranda Rickert

Lugar de trabajo: Instituto Argentino de Investigaciones de las Zonas Áridas (IADIZA), CCT CONICET Mendoza, Argentina.

Requisitos: Graduado/a reciente en Ciencias Biológicas o carreras afines, con buen desempeño académico. Conocimientos generales en ecología, botánica y entomología, familiaridad con herramientas estadísticas, preferentemente en el entorno R. Fluidez para expresarse en inglés, especialmente en forma escrita. Licencia para conducir, conocimiento de manejo de vehículos 4×4 y disponibilidad para viajar a las distintas localidades del proyecto.

Postulación: Enviar CV completo, breve carta de motivación explicando las razones para realizar un doctorado en ciencias y para trabajar en los temas del proyecto, y los nombres y direcciones de e-mail de dos o tres personas que puedan dar referencias sobre la/el candidata/o.

Fecha límite de postulación: 31 de julio de 2020.

Fecha de inicio de la beca: 1º de septiembre de 2020.

Contacto: Diego Vázquez (dvazquez_[arroba]_mendoza-conicet.gob.ar), Adriana Aranda Rickert (ardrickert_[arroba]_gmail.com).

Opportunity for Ph.D. in bee population ecology and plant-animal interaction networks

Topic: Determinants of geographic and temporal variation in solitary bee populations and plant-bee-parasite networks in Argentina’s Monte desert. See more details on the project.

Funding type: Ph.D. fellowship (beca inicial) funded by FONCYT (project code PICT-2018-1272).

Duration of funding: 3 years, with the possibility of applying for another two years of CONICET funding to finish Ph.D.

Mentors: Diego Vázquez and Adriana Aranda Rickert

Host institution: Instituto Argentino de Investigaciones de las Zonas Áridas (IADIZA), CCT CONICET Mendoza, Argentina.

Qualifications: Graduate in biology or related disciplines. Background in ecology, botany and entomology, familiarity with statistical tools, especially in the R environment, ability to communicate in English, driver’s licence to drive vehicles in the field.

Application: Send CV, a brief letter expressing reasons to undertake a Ph.D. in ecology and to work in the project’s topics, and the names and e-mail addresses of two or three persons who can provide references.

Application deadline: July 31, 2020.

Fellowship start date: September 1, 2020.

Contact: Diego Vázquez (dvazquez_[at]_mendoza-conicet.gob.ar), Adriana Aranda Rickert (ardrickert_[at]_gmail.com).

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Congratulations Micaela Santos for defending her Ph.D. thesis!

Micaela Santos successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis through videoconference. She studied the consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation on plant-insect herbivore-parasitoid food webs in a dryland landscape. Her research allows understanding how habitat connectivity and area influence interaction diversity and network structure and robustness in this system. This is also a pioneering study in terms the valuable natural history information is generated. Bravo Mica!

One of her thesis chapters has already been published in Ecology, and others will be forthcoming.

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