Meet the




Research Scientist • Institute of Ecology (INECOL, Mexico)

Level III (top-level)  National System of Researchers (SNI)

Fellow  Mexican Academy of Sciences

Advisory Board Member • URBIO (International Network Urban Biodiversity & Design)

Associate Editor • Journal of Urban Ecology

Associate Editor • Urban Naturalist

Associate Editor • Huitzil, Mexican Journal of Ornithology

My research interests are broad. As a main research line, I have focused on assessing some of the ecological patterns (and more recently trying to untangle their related processes) that occur in human-dominated ecosystems. As an ornithologist, I have used birds as models to study their responses in a wide array of anthropogenic systems, primarily in or near towns and cities. Yet, I have most recently broadened the study of more wildlife groups though collaboration with experts of other fields. Besides this main research line, I am also fascinated by the complexity of biological invasions, the ecology of exotic species, and natural history in general (with a strong bias towards birds).

JOÃO C. PENA • Posdoctoral Fellow

I am a post-doctoral fellow at the Spatial Ecology and Conservation Lab at UNESP, Rio Claro (São Paulo, Brazil), currently developing part of my postdoc at INECOL (Xalapa). During the last few years, I have been studying the influences of urbanization on biodiversity and ecological processes. I am especially interested in understanding how environmental characteristics of urban landscapes, especially of the urban vegetation, affect taxonomic and functional characteristics of birds inhabiting the urban matrix. Currently I am leading a research network with the aim of assessing the effects of urbanization on predator-prey associations distributing dummy caterpillar models in all Brazilian state capitals. My research interests include ornithology, ecological modeling, spatial ecology, landscape planning and urban ecology. 



I’m in the lab to assist in many of the required steps to make research happen, including administration, logistics, organization, and research itself. Regarding the latter, I’ve been lately focused on literature reviews and field work. My personal research interests dwell in the realm of the anthropogenic impacts in tropical ecosystems, as well as the human representations of nature, anthropologically speaking. For my Master’s, I performed a study with a wetland palm species (Attalea butyracea) in the coastal-center of the State of Veracruz (Mexico) to assess its survival and growth in a highly disturbed context driven basically by cattle raising. For my Bachelor’s thesis, I focused on the identity of mammals depicted in the iconographic art of the pre-Hispanic cultures of the Center of Veracruz.



My main focus is the invasion biology of bird species and their relationship with their communities. For my Master's I focused on the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), one of the most widely distributed invasive species across the globe, and the role that this species has on the native avifaunal communities on small human settlements. In my Ph. D., I'm assessing the potential effects that all the existing invasive exotic species in Mexico could have on the bird communities inhabiting important urban areas across the Mexican Neovolcanic Axis, a region that has been identified as one of the most vulnerable to biological invasions. Particularly, I will also focus on sparrows assessing if their populations have changed in an ecological, morphological, and behavioral scale.


Past members




  • Carlos M. Trujillo Torres (2019) Acoustic transmission of a bird in the city of Xalapa*

  • Michelle García Arroyo (2018) Relationship between House Sparrows and bird diversity in Central Veracruz*

  • Miguel A. Gómez Martínez (2018) Bird-window collisions in the City of Xalapa and vicinities

  • Julián Ávila Campos (2017) Avian diversity in the periurban areas of a Neotropical green city*

  • Nihaib Flores Galicia (2015) Bird diversity and distribution in riparian corridors of Mexico City*

  • Richard Lemoine Rodríguez (2015) Conurbation projection between Morelia and Charo, Michoacán*

  • Claudia I. Delgado Ramírez (2015) Identification of the potential distribution of invasive species in Mexico*

  • Alejandro Malagamba Rubio (2013) Relationship between greenspace traits and bird communities in the city of Querétaro*


  • Anayani Rivera López (2013) Artificial nest predation along different urbanization intensities in the city of Xalapa, Veracruz*

  • Richard Lemoine Rodríguez (2012) Plant cover changes in the city of Xalapa and vicinities in the last decades (1990-2010)*

  • Miralba Conejo Gutiérrez (2011) Relationship between tree traits and damages on sidewalks and median-strips in Morelia*

  • Morelia Camacho Cervantes (2011) What do urban-dwellers from the city of Morelia think about their trees?*

  • Silvia López López (2010) Effect of urbanization on birds and butterflies of the city of Morelia*

  • Víctor H. López Flores (2008) Artificial nest predation pressure in an urbanization gradient*

  • M. Rubén Ortega Álvarez (2008) Effects of urban land-use on the diversity, structure, and composition of birds from Southwestern Mexico City*