Having grown up on Easter Island, Chile, I’ve always had an appreciation for the natural world and for the limited nature of natural resources. During my undergraduate years at Harvard University, I learned to apply that appreciation to conservation research. I became fascinated with the effects of climate change on animal behaviour, and the in situ changes in ecosystem processes and management strategies that will and must follow. I conducted my undergraduate research on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) habitat selection in the Italian Alps, and the effects of variable snow patterns on the same. I was drawn to WildCRU because it could take me further down this path in behavioural ecology, and link it more directly to conservation.
In December 2016, I was lucky enough to be awarded a Marshall Scholarship to complete a DPhil with WildCRU, and I now spend my time examining the behavioural ecology of the European badger (Meles meles) in Wytham Woods. I focus on the ways that individuals differ within populations: how inter-individual heterogeneity arises (early-life effects vs. later-life plasticity), how it is maintained (metabolism, alternate energy expenditure patterns), how it manifests (heterogeneous condition, differential survival/reproduction), and what its implications are (resilience to future change). To truly understand how populations as a whole will respond to human-induced rapid environmental change, we must recognize and understand the diversity of strategies therein.