Dr. María Soledad Andrade-Díaz
Institute of Applied Mathematics of San Luis
IMASL CONICET- Argentina
My name is María Soledad Andrade-Díaz, I am a Postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Applied Mathematics of San Luis (IMASL CONICET- Argentina), under the supervision of Dr. María Piquer-Rodríguez and Dr. German Baldi. As a biologist with a strong commitment to conservation practice, I am convinced that to balance conservation and land change uses, stakeholders and different social actors need a pool of options available to take conservation decisions. For this reason, throughout my career, I have focused my research on conservation planning linking existing knowledge, social-environmental contexts, and potential threats to identify gaps and opportunities for action. Currently, along with Dr. Piquer-Rodríguez, we are working on the study and prioritization of paleochannel grasslands in a heterogeneous and transformed ecosystem by agricultural activities such as the threatened Argentinean Dry Chaco. Our project is the first to systematically assess grasslands in this region, and specifically, we are (1) generating a paleochannel map in the Argentinean Dry Chaco; (2) describing the spatial and functional configuration of paleochannels with different percentages of grasslands; (3) exploring the relationship between the paleochannel structure and the surrounding matrix including direct and indirect factors that could affect their spatial structure; (4) quantifying the anthropogenic fragmentation of paleochannels considering land cover and infrastructure and; (5) quantifying the percentage of paleochannels included in protection schemes. During my Ph.D., I also identified priority areas for the conservation of the herpetofauna in native forests (Yungas and Chaco) using ecological niche models (ENMs) and optimization algorithms for designing and selecting conservation priority networks. In these analyses, I considered the impact of the deforestation rates in their distributions, the influence of Human Footprint, the climate change scenarios, and the Argentinean Forest Law. Moreover, I worked on the identification of the distributional patterns and the biogeography reconstruction of a clade of lizards endemic to South America. To sum up, my main goal is to identify spatial conservation opportunities/strategies that could potentially lead to landscape and biodiversity conservation together with the current land use management activities.