Laura I. Gonzalez, University of Texas at Austin





Grad students





Current Projects

1. Species geographic ranges

All species have a defined and dynamic geographic distribution across space. I am interested in understanding the general processes that underlie the spatial variation in abundance of organisms and ultimately determine the boundaries of species geographic ranges. This information is critical for solving basic and applied questions in ecology and evolutionary ecology. In my research, I use large-scale sampling approaches to characterize variation in perceived stress and demography across heterogeneous environments and how they relate to patterns of abundance across space. The goal is to recognize the relative importance of local and regional processes on the abundance and distribution of species.  To this end, I have used both birds and marine intertidal invertebrates as model systems.  This research has been funded in part by CONACyT, PISCO, UC-Mexus, and the University of Texas at Austin.

2. Dynamics of small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur

Small-scale fisheries engage over 90% of the world’s fishers and produce over half the worlds annual marine fish catch, and are one of the dominant influences on coastal ecosystems. I am co-PI in an interdisciplinary research project lead by Stanford University in collaboration with Rutgers University, University of Maine, University of California at Santa Barbara, Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste, Centro de Investigacion Cientifica y Educacion Superior de Ensenada, Colegio de la Frontera Norte y la Federacion de Cooperativas Pesqueras seeking to explain the variation in performance of small-scale  fisheries and associated coastal marine ecosystems along the Pacific coast of Baja California. Performance is evaluated in terms of resource productivity, economic yield, sustainability of human activities and communities, and persistence of marine populations and ecosystems. I will participate in the development of integrated biophysical, agent-based, and bioeconomic models, and statistical analysis and retrospective analyses of historical trends in catches, effort, and oceanographic conditions. I will be strongly involved in planning and conducting field surveys of target fisheries species, lobster and abalone, and of their habitats.  This will be done in conjunction with ethnographic studies and collection of socioeconomic descriptors at six locations along the Baja California coast.  Additionally, I will lead the outreach component of the project designed to interactively engage US and Mexican  elementary students to science through the findings of our research program. The project will provide a framework for examining the possible outcomes of environmental change, changes in fisheries regulations and incentives, and the new and future uses of coastal resources in Baja California with anticipated population increases and coastal development.  This project is funded by a NSF Biocomplexity grant.