Associate Professor (UB)
My research focuses on the study of the diversity, ecology and conservation of mesophotic and deep vulnerable marine ecosystems dominated by corals and gorgonians, to provide understanding for the sustainable management and conservation of marine ecosystems.
This research is developed following a multidisciplinary approach combining fieldwork, experimental studies, and a highly diversified collection of laboratory analyses. In this sense, my research includes the study of taxonomy, spatial distribution pattern of species, the state of their populations (demography), energetic condition (lipid content), reproductive and trophic biology (stable isotopes and fatty acids composition), and metabolic processes (calcification, respiration, excretion rates). Combining sampling by scuba diving and the use of underwater technology (Remotely Operated Vehicles, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, Manned Submersible), coral and gorgonians species are studied over extensive areas and depth ranges covering their entire spatial distribution, as the best way to achieve a comprehensive understanding of their ecology and the variability of their responses to environmental features and human induced stressors.
My research experience began with the development of a research project on gorgonian reproductive biology to obtain my degree in Biological Sciences at the Università Roma Tre (Rome, Italy). During my PhD thesis at the Institut de Ciències del Mar in Barcelona, I focused my research on shallow and deep coastal gorgonian species as well as cold-water corals in the Mediterranean Sea. I studied the distribution pattern of species abundances, their population structure, energetic state, reproductive and trophic biology. My research has been further enriched by acquiring knowledge about the study of coral and gorgonian ecophysiology during my postdoctoral positions at the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (Principality of Monaco) and the Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh, Scotland). During my postdoctoral positions at the Universitat de Barcelona (Beatriu de Pinos Fellow) and at the Institut de Ciències del Mar (Juan de la Cierva Fellowship) I have carrier out intense aquaria experimentation with shallow and deep corals and gorgonians, and studied the viability of the ecological restoration of deep-sea corals and gorgonian populations. I have carried on this research as associate professor in zoology and marine biology at the Università del Salento, and now as associate professor in marine ecology at the Universitat de Barcelona.