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María del Carmen Cobo

PhD candidate

Assistant Professor

at University of Jaén, Spain


I joined Michael Palmer´s lab in 2000, when I had recently started to work on my Ph-D project in Spain. From that moment, also I became a quasi-permanent Visiting Researcher in the Department of Botany, Oklahoma State University. From the beginning, my interests have been focused in soil-plant relationships and spatial variability in species composition and soil properties, especially related to extreme environments, succession and different types of disturbance. In addition, my research interests spread on a variety of aspects related to Plant Diversity, Soil Biogeochemistry and Landscape Ecology. Since May 2004, I am an Assistant Professor in the Area of Ecology, University of Jaén, Spain.


My origin as a researcher is the University of Jaén, Spain, where I graduated in Biology in 1996. However, my interest on Biology appeared much earlier, especially due to my summer fascination on Marine Ecology. But my winter interests, some years later, moved from marine invertebrates to Plant Ecology, due to a new fascination on plant diversity and succession.
In 1992 I started going out to the field as an undergraduate student with the botanists in my Department. In 1994 I accepted my first project in the Area of Botany and Plant Physiology, which became the subject of my Master thesis, presented in 1998. In 1995 I received a grant for this project, which included the study of the halophytic plant species and communities in Jaén province, together physiological studies of salt stress and germination of species in those saline environments (Fig 1).
In 1999 I received a four-year grant for a new project, "Small-scale spatial heterogeneity and soil-plant relationships in semiarid ecosystems of SE Spain", the subject of my Ph-D thesis in the Area of Ecology of my Department. Together my advisors, José A. Carreira in Spain, and Michael W. Palmer in U.S.A., I have studied during the last years the spatial patterns in soil and vegetation in semiarid ecosystems of Spain, and their relation to different ecological processes, especially disturbance regimes (fire) and topography-conditioned land uses (Fig 2; Fig 3).
Other research subjects have included the relation between plant diversity and landscape fractal geometry (Fig. 4), collaboration in successive projects studying the relictic forests of Abies pinsapo Boiss. in S Spain (Fig 5.), and my participation in Michael W. Palmer projects, above described.
Since May 2004, I am an Assistant Professor in the Area of Ecology at the University of Jaén, Spain. I teach "Ecology" and "Environmental Impact Assessment" in the Graduate Studies in Environmental Sciences, and "Tourism and Environment" in the Graduate Studies in Tourism.
I am also a member of the Andalusian Government Research Group (P.A.I): RNM-296 ("Forest Ecology and Landscape Dynamics").

Fig 1. Brujuelo Salty Pond, Jaén, Spain.

Fig 2. Sierra de La Almijara, Málaga, Spain.

Fig 3. Upper Guadiana Menor River Basin, Jaén, Spain.

Fig 4. Torcal de Antequera, Málaga, Spain.

Fig 5. Sierra de Las Nieves, Málaga, Spain.