Sergio Estrada Villegas

Postdoctoral Associate

The central theme of my research is to understand the underlying mechanisms of ecological succession after farmland abandonment in tropical ecosystems. I take a community ecology approach to investigate the simultaneous interplay of plants and animals as communities change through the first decades of succession by looking at (1) how plants provide a structure that filters the community composition of plants and animals, and (2) how animals help to form the plant community via interspecific interactions (e.g. seed dispersal). On the one hand, I have studied how effects of edaphic factors and initial conditions shape the structure, biomass and composition of trees and lianas (woody vines) after farmland abandonment. Within this theme, I have also studied how plant-plant competition suppresses forest biomass accumulation during early stages of forest succession. On the other hand, I have studied bat seed dispersal, and the factors that modulate bat richness, abundance and composition across gradients of forest fragmentation and rainfall. By studying different taxonomic groups, I am able to grasp the intricacies of ecological succession at a much deeper level, and contribute to conversation actions in tropical ecosystems during the early stages of regeneration from a multi-taxonomic point of view.
Education
Bachelor: Universidad de los Andes
MSc. McGill University
PhD. Marquette University