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 will be researching the behavioural ecology of the European badger (Meles meles) in our own Wytham Woods. I’ll be examining the environmental dynamics of availability for earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris), their main food item, as well as when individual badgers determine it is worth allocating resources to foraging for them. Finally, my research will examine the effects of climate change and increasingly variable weather patterns on the energetic ecology of badgers, as linked to foraging strategies.