I’m currently associated to WildCRU and to the Remote Sensing Division of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Brazil. I’m passionate about the innovative potential of applying complex systems theory to ecology and conservation.
Research-wise, I’m now developing an individual-based model (IBM) for African Lions in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, which aims at uncovering the combined effects that resource dispersion and richness, social dynamics and trophy hunting play in determining lion population abundance and distribution. Its purpose is to inform conservation and management of the resident lion population. This research is being carried out in close collaboration with Dr. Andrew Loveridge, Prof. David Macdonald and Dr. Marion Valeix.
The lion model is based on a new empirical modelling approach, called RADA-IBM, which we’ve been developing as part of my post-doc research at WildCRU. RADA-IBM’s main novelty is that it allows for creating virtual animals with habitat requirements and behaviours of wild animals and then predicting their distribution and abundance within a real landscape represented by a land-cover map. This allows modelling an animal population within real, variable landscapes of any extent – hence RADA-IBM is a landscape-explicit modelling approach. RADA-IBM achieves this by combining a habitat analysis technique, termed Resource-Area-Dependence Analysis (RADA), with IBM – it blends empirical information derived from wild animals with computational modelling. Data requirements are modest comparatively to other available techniques, and the simplified data collection methods and intuitive modelling process are particularly suitable for involving citizen scientists. RADA-IBM was initially tested by modelling the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, in the UK.
In parallel to this research, I’ve been collaborating with Dr. Cedric Tan and Mrs Jennifer Lynch to develop a conservation role-based board game for teaching in a fun, interactive way, some of the challenges and dilemmas common to conservation. The game is based on concepts from complex systems theory. Its board version is currently under testing phase, and a computer version of it will soon follow.
During my undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences from Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), Brazil, I discovered what it was like to live months at sea in close contact with whales and dolphins. The experience made me passionate about the fields of ecology and conservation, and resulted in a profound love for doing fieldwork in places where humans still feel very intimately related to the rest of nature. This undergraduate experience paved the way for my MSc., which I did at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. My MSc research was in the field of bioacoustics. Specifically, I carried out the first characterization of the song of the Brazilian population of Humbpack whale Megaptera novaeangliae. This was done under the supervision of late Dr. Jacques Vielliard (UNICAMP), with full field support from the Humpback Whale Institute (IBJ) and benefitting from the valuable advice of Dr. Douglas H. Cato, Defence Science and Technology Organization (DSTO), Australia. To collect data I had to spend months at sea recording whale songs, including, for research purposes, close dives with large male humpback whales (15-18m long) while they were singing – these dives are amongst the most fascinating experiences I’ve had in life so far!
In my PhD at the Remote Sensing Division of INPE, Brazil, I studied the migration of Amazonian manatees Trichechus inunguis in the Western Amazon. Again, research involved months of fieldwork, this time in River Solimões’ floodplain, Western Amazon, with the purpose of collecting data on Amazonian manatee movements using radio-telemetry and the samples for making the satellite image classifications of the area. This research blended fieldwork with remote sensing and geographical information systems. It was supervised by Dr. Evlyn Novo and Dr. José Mantovani (INPE), and carried out in close collaboration with Dr. Miriam Marmontel from the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development (IDSM) and Prof. David Macdonald, WildCRU’s Director, and Dr. Robert Kenward, researcher at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK. As part of my PhD, in 2007 I spent 6 months at WildCRU.
Having finished my PhD but still wanting to discover more of the Amazon, I spent two years coordinating and participating in fieldwork in Western and Central Amazon floodplains (Rivers Solimões and Purus). This was part of a large research project aiming at characterizing wetland flooding dynamics by means of optical and radar remote sensing.
In 2010 I moved to INPE’s then newly created Earth System Science Centre (CCST). There, I was appointed Executive Secretary (ES) of the Brazilian Research Network on Global Climate Change (Rede CLIMA) and of the National Institute of Science and Technology for Climate Change (INCT-MC). Overseen by the Coordinator of Rede CLIMA and INCT-MC, Dr. Carlos Nobre, and supported by a team of 9, I had the duty of preparing an integrated science report showing the connections between research done by sub-networks or sub-projects as diverse as climate modelling, biodiversity and ecosystems, economics, agriculture, regional development, hydric resources and coastal zones. As ES, I also managed the projects’ funds, as well as outreach activities, which included workshops in public squares, exhibitions in public and private schools, field trips for students, among other things. I left this interesting multi-disciplinary job to pursue my dream of becoming a researcher, which is what brought me again to WildCRU.
On a personal side, my path has involved a series of works with different species, environments, power structures and human cultures. This has shown me the importance of trying as much as possible to live by the principles I advocate. As the Amazonian poet Thiago de Mello said in his poem “O muro invisível” (The invisible wall): “É inútil minhas palavras ultrapassarem fronteiras, se eu ainda permaneço. Muro invisível existe entre o dizer e o fazer e, talvez, à sua sombra apenas envelheçamos.” (It’s useless for my words to trespass frontiers if I don’t. An invisible wall exists between saying and doing and, maybe, at its shade we merely age”.)