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Alejandro Rios Chelén

2007-2010 Postdoctoral researcher

Research Themes

I am interested in all aspects of animal behaviour, though I am most interested in studying the processes of sexual selection and animal communication. I have specifically studied the acoustic communication in an intra-sexual context in the vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus), a suboscine bird, and the effects of urban noise in different bird species. I am interested in the subject of urban noise and birdsong not only because it can have applications at a conservation level, but also because it can help us better understand what strategies birds use to deal with this kind of sound pollution. An appealing side of this is to evaluate whether or not those strategies are adaptations. On the other hand, I think it is fascinating to study the biological basis of sexual preferences: what kind of information is conveyed by different phenotypic characteristics? What kind of benefits can animals get by choosing a particular mate? How did these sexual preferences evolve? Understanding these processes, as well as animal behaviour in general, can help us better understand human behavior (for instance with studies that correlate phenotypic characteristics with individual quality- e.g. fertility, genetic or other aspects of quality).

Curriculum Vitae

I studied Biology in the Faculty of Science at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). I started my bachelor thesis with Dr Constantino Macías Garcia, who then went for a Sabbatical, so I finished doing my thesis with Dr. José Luis Osorno (who was my official thesis director). In this thesis I evaluated a model of Ideal Free Distribution with the black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) in different feeding patches. Later on I did my PhD with Dr. Constantino Macías Garcia at the Instituto de Ecología (UNAM), studying the intra- and inter-individual variation in the songs of the vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus), as well as its possible adaptive function and meaning in the context of intra-sexual selection. As part of my PhD I also went for a research stay at Leiden University with Dr. Katharina Riebel. Later on, I did a Postdoc in a joint project between the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Natural (Madrid, MNCN), with Dr. Diego Gil, and the Instituto de Ecología (Mexico DF, UNAM) with Dr. Constantino Macias García, evaluating the effect of urban noise on 21 different species of oscine and suboscine birds. As part of this research, I went to the MNCN for an academic stay with Dr. Diego Gil. Now I am doing another Postdoc at the University of California (Davis), with Dr. Gail Patricelli, studying the effects of urban noise on the songs and visual displays of red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). For this project, I am using a correlative and experimental approach.