People
Meet the people that give life to our group!
Ian MacGregor-Fors, Principal Investigator

My passion for biodiversity, particularly birds, since adolescence has led me to study biology and pursue an academic career. Over the past 15 years, I have devoted most of my research effort on untangling the response of wildlife communities to anthropogenic ecological disturbances, mainly urbanization, as well as the ecology of invasive bird species and drivers of bird diversity.

I am highly committed to filling knowledge gaps regarding the ecology of cities, and am keen on generating evidence-based urban ecology knowledge available to promote systemic decision making. As an Advisory Board member of the International Network Urban Biodiversity & Design (URBIO), I seek to promote the implementation of the United Nations ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’ (CBD) in urban areas.

I am currently the Editor-in-Chief at Urban Naturalist (Eagle Hill Institute), and am an appointed Associate Editor at Ecology (ESA), Ecological Monographs (ESA), Journal of Urban Ecology (Oxford University Press), and Birds (MDPI).

I am confident that the use of evidence-based knowledge from the physical, ecological, and social components of human-modified systems can result in the development of biodiverse and healthier landscapes, for which willingness of all implied stakeholders is a keystone.

ian.macgregor@helsinki.fi

Michelle García-Arroyo, Doctoral student

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 native avifaunal communities in small human settlements across Mexico.

For my Ph.D., I'm assessing the bird communities of the biggest urban areas of Finland, analyzing their relationship with the surrounding landscape. I'm particularly focusing on the city of Lahti, an outstanding example of a sustainable city with unique environmental characteristics. There, I'm carrying out extensive research linking its bird diversity and the different elements of urbanization using a city-wide survey approach. Additionally, assessing an array of different behavioral responses of urban birds is also an important part of my project. Please feel free to contact me via email.

michelle.garciaarroyo@helsinki.fi

Jonathan Morales Contreras, Doctoral student

My academic and research interests are based on the ecology, conservation, and evolution of Neotropical bird populations and communities. In my academic career, I have had a special interest in vulnerable bird species; for my Master's, I evaluated the population density of the Cozumel Curassow (Crax rubra) and its response to different biotic, abiotic, and anthropic factors. In my Ph.D., I'm assessing the diversity, composition, and abundance of birds in different cities in central and southern Mexico to understand how various factors related to urbanization affect bird communities with the aim that the information generated can be useful for forming cities that are resilient and sustainable from a socio-ecological context.

Meri Back, Master's student

I am studying in Ecology and Evolutionary Master’s program in the University of Helsinki. I have a Bachelor’s degree in biology. In my Bachelor’s thesis, I familiarized myself with the trophic cascade phenomenon in Yellowstone National Park. Now, my biggest interests focus on the urban environment in our everyday life. In my Master’s thesis, I am exploring the local- and landscape-scale drivers of bird diversity across the greenspace network of the city of Lahti. My goal during our project in Lahti and in my remaining studies is to gain knowledge not only of the urban bird community, but also of how the land-use management can be improved in city planning and how I can contribute to that.

meri.back@helsinki.fi

Camilo E. Sánchez-Sarria, Master's student

As a biologist who was born and raised in the Colombian Andes, I’m fascinated and in love with Neotropical landscapes and their vast biodiversity. Hence, my research interests are broad, but narrow down to urban ecology, biological conservation, ecological interactions, and human-nature relationships.

Currently, my main goal is to understand how species interact between each other, with humans, and with the landscape that they inhabit, with the aim of assuring the persistence of the mighty biodiversity in the future.

As an undergrad student, I assessed how habitat loss and climate seasonality shaped the structure of a seed-dispersal network in a Neotropical dry forest. Now, as a Master's student at the Institute of Ecology (Instituto de Ecología, A.C.; INECOL, Mexico), I am evaluating how the reduction of human activities in cities during COVID-19 lockdowns might affect the functional diversity and composition of birds across urban Colombia.

csanchezsarria23@gmail.com