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Isabel Margarita Rojas Viada

Investigadora Posdoctoral Socio-ecología de Riberas

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Villarrica, Chile

Líneas de Investigación


Mi visión de mi programa de investigación es mejorar la sustentabilidad de los paisajes a través de la protección, restauración y manejo sustentable de las riberas a lo largo de las cuencas.

Educación

  •  Landscape ecology applied to conservation, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON. Estados Unidos, 2019
  •  Plant invasion and conservation in urban wetlands, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON. Chile, 2013
  •  Science, PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE. Chile, 2003
  •  Forestry, PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE. Chile, 2008

Experiencia Académica

  •   Postdoctoral Researcher Climate Change and Conservation Full Time

    SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY

    San Diego, Estados Unidos

    2019 - A la fecha

  •   Research Assistant Restoration Ecology Part Time

    UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

    Madison, WI, Estados Unidos

    2011 - 2012

  •   Research Assistant Plant and Fauna Ecology Part Time

    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE

    Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry

    Santiago, Chile

    2008 - 2011

  •   Research Assistant Wildlife Monitoring Part Time

    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE

    Santiago, Chile

    2010 - 2010

  •   Research Assistant Wood Properties Part Time

    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE

    Agronomy and Forestry

    Santiago, Chile

    2009 - 2009

  •   Project Assistant Educational Program Part Time

    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE

    Agronomy and Forestry

    Santiago, Chile

    2008 - 2008

  •   Lecturer Organic Urban Farming Part Time

    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE

    Agronomy and Forestry

    Santiago, Chile

    2008 - 2009

  •   Project Coordinator Bahía Exploradores Part Time

    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE

    Santiago, Chile

    2010 - 2010

  •   Lecturer Conservation Biology Part Time

    UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

    Madison, WI, Estados Unidos

    2019 - 2019

  •   Profesora Curso de Magíster Part Time

    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA DE CHILE

    Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal

    Santiago, Chile

    2021 - 2021

  •   Postdoctoral Researcher Full Time

    UNIVERSIDAD DIEGO PORTALES

    San Diego, Estados Unidos

    2019 - 2021

Experiencia Profesional

  •   Consultant Landscape Planning and Organic Farming Part Time

    Food and Agriculture Organization

    Santiago, Chile

    2010 - 2011

Formación de Capital Humano


I am a Forest Engineer (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), with a Master in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development and a PhD. in Forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am currently a Postdoctoral researcher at San Diego State University, in California (USA).
My interest is to advance understanding of and promote solutions for environmental problems using scientific methods. I seek to find ways to balance human demands for natural resources with the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. By combining a variety of tools, such as ArcMap, R, Fragstat and Guidos, with theoretical frameworks from landscape ecology, forest ecology and land use planning in spatial analysis, my research and professional career focuses on issues of conservation of biodiversity and sustainability across human-dominated landscapes (e.g. farmlands). I have a special interest in understanding land use processes associated with riparian biodiversity. This application, if successfully awarded, will allow me to advance my long-term research program. Particularly, this proposal will help me gain new skills to develop rigorous assessment of the effect of social and ecological drivers on land use processes within riparian zones in farmlands, across multiple spatial scales.
My training in broad-scale assessment of land use and scenario modeling to develop scientific knowledge has great potential to inform plans to create sustainable landscapes at various decision-making levels. In a recent publication (Rojas et al., 2020), I showed that restoration along riparian ecosystem could greatly improve habitat connectivity for forest fauna in Chile, according with existing forest regulation. Results from my research, using all 99 large watersheds of Chile, can guide both nationwide and local restoration programs aiming to improve ecosystem services.
Throughout my career, I have developed an extensive experience collecting field data for plants and birds in a diverse set of ecosystems such as chaparrals, forests and wetlands, in the Midwest of USA and Chile. Many of these experiences led to new scientific understanding of the association between productive activities and biodiversity, proposing opportunities for more sustainable practices in productive systems (e.g., Ibarra et al., 2017). Other monitoring experiences were targeted to quantify the effect of restoration techniques to control plant invasion in wetlands (Healy et al., 2015).
Moreover, I developed skills to design biodiversity surveys using a landscape ecology lens, and to analyze these field-based data using different statistical approaches. For instance, for my masters’ research, I used linear mixed-effect models to explore the effect of an invasive plant on native plant diversity in an urban wetland. I found that the negative effect of plant invasion on native plants persisted across multiple spatial scales (Rojas and Zedler 2015). I have also applied sophisticated statistical approaches, such as density models, that incorporates a hierarchical structure. I used this approach to study the abundance of birds accounting for imperfect detection (Rojas 2019 see dissertation summary). I am currently developing new analytical skills to understand key concepts of climate science (Postdoc position since July 2019). To do this, I am advancing my computational skills to handle and analyze time series data to develop measures of climate change exposure. These new skills are essential to tackle the prioritization analysis I am proposing in this application.
Throughout my career, I have developed a strong interest in promoting sustainable agriculture. For instance, as a consultant for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Chile, I developed a program to promote sustainable small-scale family farming in Navidad, Chile. We assessed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, using both open-ended interviews and participatory activities, to identify strategies to promote resilience after catastrophic events. This previous experience working in close collaboration with farmers will contribute to the assessment of farmers’ social characteristics in my proposal.
During my career, I have developed capacities to work in close collaboration with colleagues from a diversity of disciplines. For instance, in my current position, I have been able to work with a multi-disciplinary team of climatologist, geographers, hydrologists and urban planners. In particular, I have been leading the development of a conceptual framework to assess landscape exposure to multiple drivers of global change simultaneously, including climate warming, changes in fire and water regimes, and intensity of recreational activities. We aim in advancing our scientific understanding regarding the spatial variation of multiple drivers that can cause landscape degradation (e.g., biodiversity loss, farmland degradation).
Finally, to meet my research goals and objectives, I have successfully applied to National fellowships (Becas Chile 2009, 2013) to fund my graduate training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (master and PhD program). I have also been successfully awarded with International funding sources (e.g., Wilson Ornithological Society) to support my graduate program and fieldwork. This funding was useful to develop my research and to train field assistants on biodiversity survey and mentoring them to help them advance in their professional careers.


Difusión y Transferencia


I have previous experience developing outreach/extension material to communicate scientific knowledge and conservation needs to stakeholders in rural and urban settings. As a product of my work as consultant for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Chile, we developed an outreach material that inform sustainable farming practices that can secure access to food while reducing the negative effects of agriculture on biodiversity (See brochure Navidad).
In another experience, as part of my master’s degree (Rojas and Zedler 2015), I coordinated a citizen science program to assess the role of wetlands on cleaning urban runoff. We found that wetlands can clear runoff water, but high levels of nutrient in runoff promote exotic plant invasion. As a product of this experience, I developed a brochure about strategies that neighbors could implement to reduce contaminant in runoffs to halt plant invasion and sustain native plant communities (See Brochure Wetlands).
Finally, and based on my experience presented above, I want to build an outreach and extension program that aim to create bridges between academia and our society. If funded, we plan to organize an international seminar to identify key knowledge gaps in the science and practice of sustainable farming to implement climate-smart strategies. To do this, we will gather with international collaborators, representatives from national agencies, farmers and a diversity of stakeholders associated with the management of farmlands. This experience will help to build-up a community of practices that can inform policy and facilitate the development of appropriate strategies that aim to protect and restore farmlands sustainability and promote adaptation and mitigation across the broader landscape.


Premios y Distinciones

  •   Luis Agassiz Fuertes Research Grant

    Wilson Ornithological Society

    Estados Unidos, 2016

    Field work in Chile to study birds-habitat relationships in riparian forest within farmlands. (UD $ 2,000)

  •   Becas de Magíster en el Extranjero

    COMISION NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACION CIENTIFICA Y TECNOLOGICA

    Chile, 2009

    Chilean Government Scholarship for Master Programs Studies in a foreign country (UW-Madison, USA).

  •   Becas de Doctorado en el Extranjero

    COMISION NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACION CIENTIFICA Y TECNOLOGICA

    Chile, 2013

    Chilean Government Scholarship for PhD Programs Studies in a foreign country (UW - Madison, USA).

  •   “International workshop of IUCN Categories for Threatened Plants Species”.

    Red Latinoamericana de Botánica

    Honduras, 2009

    “International workshop of IUCN Categories for Threatened Plants Species”. Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

  •   Thinker-Nave Field work Grant

    University of Wisconsin

    Estados Unidos, 2012

    Department of Latin American, Caribbean & Iberian Studies Program. Field Research grant (USD 2,000)

  •   Thinker-Nave

    UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

    Chile, 2016

    Department of Latin American, Caribbean & Iberian Studies Program. Field Research grant (USD 2,000)

  •   ASSESSING THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL DRIVERS ON RIPARIAN BIODIVERSITY TO PLAN CLIMATE-SMART FARMLANDS IN CHILE.

    FONDECYT

    Chile, 2021

    La protección de zonas ribereñas naturales, áreas que se extienden desde el borde de los ríos hasta las tierras altas con poca influencia del cauce del río, se asocia a múltiples beneficios para la sustentabilidad de la producción agrícola, incluyendo mantener paisajes agrícolas biodiversos y ayudar a mitigar los efectos del cambio climático. Sin embargo, las zonas ribereñas han sido degradadas por los usos históricos y actuales de la agricultura más intensiva lo que limita los beneficios que puede proveer. El objetivo de nuestro proyecto es hacer una evaluación rigurosa, a través de múltiples escalas de paisaje a nivel nacional y algunas cuencas seleccionadas, incluyendo cuenca del río Toltén, de los factores sociales y ecológicos que influencian las decisiones de agricultores y agricultoras a mantener o convertir las zonas ribereñas naturales. Estos resultados los integraremos en un modelo de priorización de uso de la tierra en conjunto con mapas de exposición a cambio climáticos actuales y escenarios futuros, para identificar predios agrícolas donde estrategias climáticas inteligentes son más necesarias. De esta manera, nuestro proyecto busca hacer una contribución a la planificación y manejo produciendo información espacial explícita sobre la protección de zonas ribereñas en paisajes agrícolas a los largo del gradiente latitudinal de Chile, y un mapa de priorización a escala local y regional para planear estrategias climáticamente inteligentes.


 

Article (9)

A landscape-scale framework to identify refugia from multiple stressors
Restoring riparian forests according to existing regulations could greatly improve connectivity for forest fauna in Chile
Sotobosque de bambú: hábitat esencial para la biodiversidad del bosque templado andino de Chile
Seasonal dynamics of avian guilds inside and outside core protected areas in an Andean Biosphere Reserve of southern Chile
Adaptive Control of Phalaris arundinacea in Curtis Prairie
An invasive exotic grass reduced sedge meadow species richness by half
Leopold's Arboretum Needs Upstream Water Treatment to Restore Wetlands Downstream
Rufous-legged Owl (Strix rufipes) and Austral Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium nanum) stand use in a gradient of disrupted and old growth Andean temperate forests, Chile
Relationship between fragmentation, degradation and native and exotic species richness in an Andean temperate forest of Chile

BookSection (4)

Jardines: una oportunidad para cohabitar con la biodiversidad nativa
Comunidades cerros Chena y Lonquén
Flora de los Cerros Chena y Lonquén
Vegetación de los cerros Chena y Lonquén

BookWhole (1)

Hábitos de nidificación de las aves del bosque templado Andino de Chile

ConferencePoster (13)

Domains of Refugia for Conservation in a Changing World. North American Congress of Conservation Biology
Recreational refugia on conserved lands. North American Congress of Conservation Biology.
Regional Watershed Sustainability II: Hydrologic Alteration and Impacts to Biodiversity. American Geophysical Union
Restoring riparian forests according to existing regulations could greatly improve connectivity for forest fauna in Chile. International Association for Landscape Ecology
The association of riparian forest characteristics and landscape context with birds with varying feeding and habitat guilds in farmlands. XII Chilean Congress of Ornithology
Contribution of riparian forests to structural corridors of Chile. International Association of Landscape Ecology
Long-term bird monitoring promotes knowledge exchange: the “Huala” team in the wetland “Salinas de Pullally”. XI Chilean Congress of Ornithology
Sedge meadows dominated by reed canary grass are less diverse across spatial scales. Society of Wetland Scientist
Learning to manage urban runoff that reaches UW-Madison Arboretum. Wisconsin Wetlands Association.
Floristic characterization of the estuary Salinas de Pullally, in Central Chile. IV Reunión Binacional de Ecología
Ranita de Darwin (Rhinoderma darwinii Duméril & Bribon 1841) habitat characterization in the temperate forest of southern Chile. I Coloquio de Conservación de Anfibios y Reptiles
Composition, seasonality and habitat preferences of birds in the Ligua-Petorca rivermouths wetland. IX Chilean Congress of Ornithology
Monitoring of temporal relationships between birds in the primary and anthropogenic forests of Araucania. IX Chilean Congress of Ornithology
26
Isabel Rojas

Investigadora Posdoctoral Socio-ecología de Riberas

Centro de Desarrollo Local

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Villarrica, Chile

2
Tomás Altamirano

Investigador Asociado

Departamento de Ecosistemas y Medio Ambiente

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Santiago, Chile

2
José Ibarra

Profesor Asistente

Campus Villarrica & Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal (FAIF)

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Villarrica, Chile

2
Cristian Bonacic

Profesor Titular

Ecosistemas y Medio Ambiente

PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATÓLICA DE CHILE

Santiago, Chile

1
Julián Caviedes

PhD student

Facultad de Ciencias

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona

Barcelona, España