Dr. Rafael Achury

Chair for Terrestrial Ecology

Department of Ecology and Ecosystemmanagement
Technische Universität München
Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 2
D-85350 Freising-Weihenstephan

Phone: +49.8161.71.3713
Fax:     +49.8161.71.4427
E-mail: rafael.achury[at]tum.de

Curriculum vitae

2020- present Postdoctoral researcher at Chair for Terrestrial Ecology, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Technische Universität München, Germany
2013- 2019 Ph.D in Entomology, Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, USA. Andrew V. Suarez advisor
2012 Fulbright Program. Scholarship for graduate studies in the US (Colciencias-Fulbright)
2008 Ant Course (California Academy of Sciences), August 9-19, Rancho Grande, Parque Nacional Henri Pittier, Venezuela
2007- 2011 Master of Science – Biology, Department of Biology, Universidad del Valle, Colombia. Patricia Chacón de Ulloa advisor
2000- 2007 B.S. with emphasis in Entomology, Department of Biology, Universidad del Valle, Colombia

Research interest

In light of the current biodiversity crisis my academic career has been focused in examining the response of native communities to the combined effects of habitat loss, fragmentation and invasion. Specifically, the prevalence and relative impacts of these processes and their change over time on native ant biodiversity and community composition.
My interest in current and future research will continue towards elucidating underlying mechanisms governing species distributions, and fundamental knowledge about links between habitat’s conditions and functional traits of species.
I am also interested in quantifying the importance of mechanistic processes as interspecific competition to comprehend patterns of species segregation along environmental gradients of intensification in land use. 


Core project of the Biodiversity Exploratories: Arthropod diversity (current project):
Focused on forest and grasslands across Germany, the main objective of this project, which is funded by the DFG (German Science Foundation), is to investigate the long-term effects of land use on arthropod diversity and to understand the underlying processes of land-use effects on community composition and ecosystem processes.

Impacts of fragmentation and invasion on ant communities (2017-2019)
This study examined a fundamental ecological question: how do habitat loss and fragmentation interact with invasion to shape community structure? This project was developed in scrub habitat fragments in southern California and supported by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of California San Diego. We compared ant communities across this landscape 20 years apart, addressing questions like how has the range and abundance of an invasive species in this system (the Argentine ant) changed over time, and have native ant communities continued to lose species or show signs of recovery?

Characterization and monitoring of ant communities in Colombian dry forests (2015-2016)
This project, funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Humboldt Institute (Colombia), focused on understanding how the loss of vegetation cover in the tropical dry forest, a priority ecosystem for conservation due to its high level of threat worldwide, affects different plant and animal groups. I was involved with documenting the current conservation status of ant biodiversity under historical contexts of transformation and land use.

Environmental management plan of the Javas, Pampas and San Bartolo farms in the municipality of Yondo?, Antioquia (2012-2013)
Developed in the complex of humid forests and swamps in the middle valley of the Magdalena River, which are part of the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity hotspot, the objective of this study was to characterize different components of fauna: Funded by the Biodiverse Foundation (Colombia), my work consisted in identifying changes in the richness and composition of ant species in different elements of the landscape, taking into account a gradient of disturbance forest - pastures

Structure and competitive relationships in the ant community of Tropical dry Forest (2006-2010)
Colombian tropical dry forest is a highly fragmented and threatened ecosystem, where the little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) is negative correlated with the abundance and richness of other ants. This project aimed to explore the environmental and biological triggers of the little fire ant invasive behavior within its native range. Funded by Universidad del Valle and Humboldt Institute (Colombia), I studied how disturbance and habitat loss and fragmentation influence species interactions, specifically the role of interspecific competition in structuring ant communities.


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