Welcome Elisa Bonaccorso - new SE
Submitted by Michi on 9 February 2023.
We are thrilled to introduce Elisa Bonaccorso as a new subject editor for Journal of Avian Biology!
Keywords: biogeography, phylogeography, molecular systematics, neotropics
1. What is your main research focus at the moment?
My research interests are focused on birds´ evolutionary biology, ecology, and conservation locally in Ecuador and in the Neotropical region. Currently, with numerous collaborators, I am working on three main research lines: systematics, biogeography, and evolution of Andean species (e.g. about the blue-throated hillstar in southwestern Ecuador), ecology of avian malaria infections, and the use of geographic information systems to propose the creation of new protected areas in Ecuador.
2. Can you describe your research career? Where, what, when?
I am Venezuelan. I grew up by the beach in eastern Venezuela (close to Trinidad) and moved at the age of 17 to Caracas to study engineering but then realized that I wanted to be a biologist. After graduating, I worked for a while on ecology (habitat use, natural history) and a bit of parrot management. Then I moved to the United States (University of Kansas) to do my PhD, where I changed my focus to phylogenetics and biogeography. My PhD is in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, but I really only did a bit of macroecology. I am more comfortable with calling myself an evolutionary biologist that studies birds. After my PhD I moved to Ecuador and I now work as a professor at Universidad San Francisco de Quito.
3. How come that you became a scientist with an interest in birds?
I became interested in birds because of their beautiful colors and songs. I did my undergraduate research thesis with a species of Wood Quails, Odontophorus columbianus, in the mountains of northern Venezuela. These birds are tough to see, but you can hear their songs a world apart, so I learned to appreciate vocal interactions in this species. Then, I was genuinely euphoric on the few occasions when I could see them. Later, I tilted toward biogeography because of its potential for understanding speciation, so birds became my windows to learning about evolution.
4. What do you do when you're not working?
I love cooking, especially with my kid. Lately we have been experimenting more and more with Asian food and chocolate. I love reading fiction novels and playing padel (not very good at it, but enjoy it a lot!).
Elisa with her collaborators of the 'Hillstar Dream Team', a group of people coming together to understand the ecology and reproductive biology of the blue-throated hillstar, an endemic and critically endangered hummingbird of southwestern Ecuador (from left to right, Juan Freile (author of the Birds of Ecuador Helm Field Guide), Boris Tinoco (professor at Universidad del Azuay), and Paúl Molina (field biologist)). Picture taken by Agustin Carrasco, also part of team. Blue-throated hillstar in the paramos of southern Ecuador. This species has a roughly estimated population size of less than 750 individuals, and it is increasingly threatened by habitat transformation. Photo by Francisco Sornoza.