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Eva de la Peña

Eva de la Peña

Postdoctoral researcher JdC (IREC, UCLM)

Research Themes

I am a behavioural biologist interested in sexual selection and the trade-offs involved in reproductive investment. The main objective of my research is to explore the interplay between behaviour, physiology and environment in a reproductive context, and its consequences on senescence. I aim to quantify sexual selection on different behavioural, morphological, and genetic traits of both birds and mammalians under environmental factors. Under this goal, I am interested in the study of environmental factors (e.g., population density and structure, meteorological variables…) as modulators between the investment trade-off in reproduction and honest sexual traits, and physiological costs. I am curious to compare different mating systems, aiming to have a comprehensive view of the interaction between sexual selection and natural selection in heterogeneous environments for free-living individuals.



Curriculum Vitae

In 2013, I graduated in biology from the University Complutense of Madrid (UCM). I studied MSc Ethology in the University of Cordoba in 2013 and completed the master's thesis at the end of 2014. During 2016-2017 I enjoyed a PhD grant from the University of Cordoba to start the PhD at the Wildlife Research Unit (UiRCP) under the supervision of Juan Carranza and Jose Martín. In 2017 I was hired as a research assistant within the Life Biodehesa Project to develop a biodiversity indicator within the Andalusian dehesas, where I also had the chance to work in a multidisciplinary group. Until the end of this project in 2018, I made this work compatible with the development of my PhD. I was hired in charge of a research project of the Ministry of the Environment of the Junta de Andalucía where I collaborated on different national projects within the research group. I finished my PhD in 2020 that was awarded the Special Price for the Best PhD in Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the UCO. In my PhD I have started a very original line of research within the research group, unravelling the information contained in a visual and chemical signal in male Iberian red deer, the dark ventral patch. This was a novel topic that allows us to take a further step towards understanding the evolution of the mating system in this species. During 2020-2021 I have been part of the UiRCP thanks to a postdoctoral contract, a time in which I have been involved in different lab projects related to the detection of genetic traces of natural and artificial selection in red deer, and conservation projects of different species, supervising students and ongoing national and international collaborations. I have recently joined the Behavioural Ecology and Endocrinology lab as a Margarita Salas fellow, where I will approach the interplay between physiology, environmental factors and ornamental investment using spotless starling as model species. 


G. Vedel, E. de la Peña, J.M. Moreno-Rojas, J.C. Montenegro Gómez, J., Carranza. (2022). Carbon and nitrogen isotopic signature reveal management differences and hidden practices in wild boar populations. The Science of the Total Environment.

E. de la Peña, J. Pérez-González, J. Martín, G. Vedel, J. Carranza. The dark-ventral-patch of male red deer, a sexual signal that conveys the degree of involvement in rutting behavior. BMC Zoology 6(1), 1-13. 

E. de la Peña, I. Barja, J. Carranza (2021) Social environment with high intrasexual competition enhances the positive relationship between faecal testosterone and cortisol metabolite levels in red deer. Mammalian Biology 101, 207–215.

M. Fernández-Millán, J., Carranza, J., Pérez-González, J. Valencia, J., Torres-Porras, J.M., Seoane, E. de la Peña, S., Alarcos, C.B., Sánchez-Prieto, L., Castillo,  A., Flores, A., Membrillo (2021) Rainfall decrease and red deer rutting behaviour: weaker and delayed rutting activity though higher opportunity for sexual selection. PLoS One 16(1), e0244802.

J., Carranza, E. de la Peña, C., Mateos, J., Pérez-González, S., Alarcos, J., Torres-Porras, J., Valencia, C.B., Sánchez-Prieto, L., Castillo. The dark ventral patch: A bimodal flexible trait related to male competition in red deer. PLoS One 15(11), e0241374.

E. de la Peña, J. Martín, J., Carranza (2020) Ultrastructural morphological features of the hair in a sexual signal: the dark ventral patch of male red deer. Journal of Zoology 313(1), 66-75.

J., Carranza, J., Pérez-Barbería, C., Mateos, S., Alarcos, J., Torres-Porras, J., Pérez-González, C.B., Sánchez-Prieto, J., Valencia, L., Castillo, E., de la Peña, I., Barja, J., Seoane, M.M., Reglero, A., Flores, A., Membrillo (2020) Social environment modulates investment in sex trait versus lifespan: red deer produce bigger antlers when facing more rivalry. Scientifics Reports 10(1), 1-16.

E. de la Peña, J. Martín, I. Barja, J. Carranza (2020) Testosterone and the dark ventral patch of male red deer: the role of the social environment. The Science of Nature 107, 18.

E. de la Peña, J. Martín, I. Barja, R. Pérez-Caballero, I. Acosta, J. Carranza (2020) Immune challenge of mating effort: steroid hormone profile, dark ventral patch and parasite burden in relation to intrasexual competition in male Iberian red deer. Integrative Zoology.

E. de la Peña, J. Martín, J. Carranza (2019) The intensity of male-male competition may affect chemical scent constituents in the dark ventral patch of male Iberian red deer. PLoS One 14 (9), e0221980.

I. Galván, F. Solano, M. Zougagh, F. Andrés, K. Murtada, A. Ríos, E. de la Peña, J. Carranza (2019) Unprecedented high catecholamine production causing hair pigmentation after urinary excretion in red deer. Cellular & Molecular Life Science 76, 397-404.