Maria Paulina Viteri Espinel
Advisor: Lisette Waits
Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences
I want to develop theory and methods to study and conserve biodiversity in our planet. In 2003 I completed my undergraduate education in Biology at the University San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. In 2007 I obtained a Master degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Idaho in USA. My MS thesis contains information on genetic diversity and population size of Andean (spectacled) bears (Tremarctos ornatus) in Northeastern Ecuador using non-invasive genetic sampling (Viteri 2007, Viteri et al. 2009). In August 2007 I started the PhD program in Natural Resources at the University of Idaho. I use genetics, spatial modeling and social sciences to address conservation of Andean bears and mountain forest and Paramo ecosystems in the Andes region. My dissertation contains three chapters: 1) Phylogeography of Andean bears using ecological niche models and sequence data. 2) Landscape genetics of Andean bears in three protected areas in Northeastern Ecuador, and 3) Effectiveness of collaborative approaches in conservation: integrating science and Traditional Ecological knowledge (TEK) in conservation efforts in Northeastern Ecuador.
Since 2008, I am serving on the Andean Bear Expert Team as a member of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN. Recently, I co-authored the National Strategy for Andean bear conservation in Ecuador (Castellanos et al. 2010). In the future, I want to expand my research to other types of ecosystems and species in Ecuador and the tropics. I also want to promote environmental justice, conservation policy and education, especially for Ecuadorian women.