Maria Loreto Castillo

PhD Candidate, Stellenbosch University

I am a biologist and my research interests include conservation biology, ecology, plant invasion biology, evolutionary ecology, spatial ecology and landscape genetics.

Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Invasion Biology - Stellenbosch University. My research focuses on the drivers of spread and the mechanisms underlying the invasion success of Prosopis in Eastern Africa. This study forms part of an international project: “Woody invasive alien species in Eastern Africa: assessing and mitigating their negative impact on ecosystem services and rural livelihoods” under the auspices of the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI). I am also an IPBES fellow for the assessment of invasive alien species.

Besides, my work includes studies of niche requirements and potential habitats of native and non-native species, demographic responses of populations and patterns of variation in traits and life history along altitudinal gradients in plant species.