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Department Seminar - Dr Cristina Banks-Leite

Embracing diversity at all levels: understanding the role of intraspecific variation in birds

  • Date 25 Oct 2023
  • Time 1-2pm, followed by Meet the Speaker 2-3pm
  • Category Seminar

Dr Cristina Banks-Leite - Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London

We know intraspecific variation exists – we see it everywhere – but most of the time we choose to ignore it. However, recent studies have shown that within a single species of bird, some populations may be more or less affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, and some populations may have stronger or weaker interactions with other bird species. My research group has shown that this incredible diversity within species is highly structured in space and time, and can be used to explain the mechanisms driving species decline and the various roles species may have in the ecosystem. Understanding diversity, both between and within species, will be crucial to improve predictions of biodiversity change and increase the efficacy of conservation actions.


Dr Cristina Banks-Leite is a Reader in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London and investigates the causes and consequences of species turnover and extinction in fragmented landscapes of tropical regions. Her research proposed a threshold of 30% forest cover for effective restoration of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, results which provided subsidies for the implementation of two environmental resolutions and a federal decree in Brazil. Her research has also had impact in Costa Rica, protecting one of the last remnants of primary forest. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Dr. Banks-Leite did her MRes at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA) and received her PhD from the Universidade de São Paulo (USP). She was then awarded with a NERC and Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship to conduct her research at Imperial College, were she assumed an academic position in 2013. Winner of multiple awards, she was featured as one of 15 influential female researchers in the UK. She has served as Board member for the council of international ecological societies, editorial boards for leading Brazilian and international journals in ecology and conservation and she is currently a panel member for two funding agencies. She also has two small children and is a strong advocate for minorities in science.


Host: Cristina Garcia



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