BGC Member Spotlight: Yanina Sica
Background: Yanina studied biology at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina where she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees. In her tesis de licenciatura, a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree, she studied how defaunation disrupts plant-disperser mutualisms in fragmented Atlantic forest. She then became interested in understanding the effects of land cover alterations on wildlife, and focused her PhD research on quantifying wetland loss in the Argentinean Pampas and how bird communities respond to land use changes. She even took her research a step further and explored how biodiversity would respond to future land use scenarios. In her work, Yanina used field-based and remote-sensed data with statistical modeling approaches to provide insights into how biodiversity is affected in disturbed areas. She took a detour and went even further south to characterize Antarctic wetlands using high resolution remotely-sensed data and biodiversity data she collected in the Antarctic Peninsula.
Research: Yanina is interested in applying biodiversity informatics techniques to documenting biodiversity patterns and trends in support of conservation. To address urgent questions around conservation, land-use change, and sustainability, biodiversity researchers and conservation practitioners need to be able to share and rapidly synthesize the different facets of past and present environmental and biodiversity observations. Yanina is working on addressing these needs through the Map of Life platform (https://mol.org/). She is also interested in open science and advocates for transparency and data sharing. In this regard, Yanina is leading an initiative to standardize and formalize biological inventory reporting to enable this type of data to be shared and re-used by the broader community of ecology and conservation practitioners.
At the BGC Center: As a research associate at Map of Life and the BGC Center, Yanina leads the data team that focuses on curating, integrating and mapping global biodiversity data. She is responsible for processing, analyzing and managing millions of geospatial biodiversity records and environmental datasets that are part of the ever-growing Map of Life database. She is part of the taxon expert group where she compiles up-to-date taxonomies for terrestrial vertebrates and she participates in the modelling group supporting global species distribution modelling. She also supports the generation of biodiversity status and trends indicators to inform global assessments and diverse conservation projects. With special love for South American wildlife, she coordinates the development of the biodiversity dashboards, a tool for conservation practitioners to spatially query Latin America’s biodiversity.